#3: Portico of Gaius and Lucius Caesar

Walk down to the bottom of the ramp and stand in that little fenced section on the right, this will get ya out of the way of other people :-) . In front of you facing South is a section of the Via Sacra and on the other side of that is the Temple of Julius Caesar. Now turn right facing West: Looking down the length of the section between the Via Sacra and the Basilica Aemilia.

Later as you walk down the Via Sacra study this area. You will see steps (3-4 steps from the Via Sacra), column remains, bases, Corinthian capitals and some excellent decorative remains of this building complex (staircases were at each end). The Portico, Tabernae and the Basilica were all connected together and basically the same building. And for a while ranked as one of the most magnificent buildings in the Roman world. This is how you should picture this: Along the Via Sacra were a few steps where you entered a beautiful two-story arched and columned porticus called the PORTICO OF GAIUS AND LUCIUS CAESAR (2 BC). And inside that was the TABERNAE NOVA (commercial shops on both floors). It's that long brick wall with remains of the sidewalls still in place. There were always shops in that area but more upscale 2000 years ago.

The first shops were built during the reign of King Tarquinius Priscus (616-579 BC), they were just food shops (vegetables, meat, fish etc) back then. Later when the Forum became more upscale they were called the 'Tabernae Argentariae'. The Argentarii were money-changers or bankers and silversmiths/jewelers. Hannibal while encamped outside Rome put these rich shops up to auction but he never succeeded in entering Rome. After an even later rebuild because of a fire they were called the 'Tabernae Novae' which I believe refers to them being on the sunny side of the Forum (Sub Novis), the shops on the other side of the Forum where the Basilica Julia now stands was the shady side (Sub Veteribus). Hopefully these shops were insured because on March 18, 44 BC, they were looted for tables, chairs or anything that would burn. This material was then piled up across the street and became Julius Caesar's funeral pyre.

This area was open to the Basilica and you can see a door/archway still intact, along with two other openings minus the archway farther down. These large three doors main purpose was to allow air to flow into the Basilica during the summer's brutal heat, being a passageway was just an added benefit.

The three standing columns on the east end were from a rebuilding after the 410 AD fire (these three red granite columns were from a group of 16 and were just re-erected there and are not in their original location). Part of the Basilica and Porticus were rebuilt over in the sixth century by a large building but the great earthquake 847 AD destroyed it.

Also in this SE corner where you are standing you will notice some ruins that look out of place (a couple {down} stairs, a room, etc. These are the remains of a small Medieval building that occupied this corner of the Portico in later years.

Still standing at the bottom of the ramp on your right is what is known as 'The Large Dedicatory Inscription', ya can't miss it :-) . This dedication is to Lucius Caesar. The inscription and fragments of another similar inscription dedicated to Gaius Caesar probably came from the Parthian Arch which was rededicated (and renamed?) to the two brothers after their death. Poor Gaius and Lucius! Once grandpa died (Emperor Augustus) they would have ruled the Roman Empire at it's peak but Augustus outlived them both.

The Parthian Arch spanned the Via Sacra between this Portico and the Temple of Divus Julius. If you look across the Via Sacra to the Temple of Julius Caesar and to the left of the opening in the center of the temple, on the ground you will see the scant remains of a foundation (where the floodlight is). This was very likely the foundation for this triple arch. The arch was originally erected (19 BC) to celebrate Augustus' recovery of the army standards that had been lost to the Parthians by Crassus in 55 BC.

Lucius Lulius Caesar (17 BC - 2 AD) The son of Agrippa and Julia, and grandson of Augustus. Augustus adopted Lucius and his brother Gaius Caesar. At 15 he was admitted to the senate and given the title of Princeps Juventutis (his brother held this title before him). In 2 AD in Massalia (Marseilles, France) on his way to Spain he died of disease. Leaving his brother Gaius as heir to the Empire, who surprisingly enough for ancient Rome had nothing to do with his death :-) .

Gaius Lulius Caesar (20 BC - 4 AD) At 15 he was admitted to the senate and given the Consulship for 1 AD and also the title of Princeps Juventutis. After being Consul he went to Parthia with pro-Consular powers. Here he met the Parthian king, appointed a client king in Armenia and suppressed a revolt there. He was seriously wounded in a siege and died eighteen months later on his way back to Rome. With both Gaius and Lucius dead Augustus was without a male bloodline heir, so he was *forced* to adopt his stepson Tiberius (Augustus' second wife Livia's son).

If the brothers had lived the line of heirs would have gone a completely different route and we would have never really heard of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero :-) and those that followed after them. Think about this as a 'What If'! Without Nero...no Golden House...no later Colosseum by Vespasian...no Great Fire in 64 AD due to 50 years of very different events happening and different people being born and dying...no Christian persecution by Nero...no crucifixion of St. Peter in the Circus of Nero...no St. Peter's Basilica...no Vatican...What path would Christianity have taken? You and I would not be here right now, the events would have been far too major and World history would have taken a completely different course.

Next: #4: Shrine of Venus Cloacina
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