CLCV 116 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Imperial Fora, Dacians, Manumission

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Published on 10 Jul 2019
University of Illinois
Classical Civilization
CLCV 116
May 6, 2016
Final Writing Assignment
Dear Monica,
I’m so excited to be in Rome and to have visited Trajan’s Forum! I heard it’s the largest
of all the imperial forums so the trip was filled with a lot of walking; it took nearly the whole day
to see everything. When I started my journey to the forum, I had to walk on some of Rome’s
famous roadsthose things are so sturdy they can probably last forever! They have this
technique where they put large stones on the bottom and then a layer of smaller stones on top,
then gravel and sand on top of that, and then finally large, flat stones in concrete. Along with
some drainage ditches on the side, these roads will surely be useful for centuries.
Naturally, I had done some research first so as soon as I got to Trajan’s Forum, I saw the
similarities to the Forum of Augustus since it was modeled on it. Being from the 21st century, I
had already learned so much about Trajan’s Forum and Rome in general, but seeing drab pictures
of ruins could never compare to seeing the real thing. The dusty gray and brown ruins that I’ve
seen and pictured every time I thought of these amazing places are so different from how they
actually lookthe colors are surprisingly vibrant and the spaces are unbelievably grandiose in
Oh I wish you were here, as soon as I approached the forum I saw the beautiful triumphal
arch at the main entrance. We all funneled through the main entrance but on either side of us
were three columns with statues between them. And on top of the arch were even more
statuesTrajan stood there gloriously in a chariot pulled by 6 horses, leading the Dacians that he
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captured by chains. Oh and the color was so vibrantly red since it’s made from this porphyry
Anyway, then I went on to the Forum itselfwow that space is huge, but it feels much
more compact with so many people walking around. And in the middle my eye was immediately
drawn to the statue of Trajan on a horse. My eyes followed the sides of the interior, jumping
from column to column. There were so many columns that I didn’t even bother to count them as
they lined the edge of the rectangular court. I began walking to the right side of the Forum so
that I could go in-between the columns and step into one of the four hemicycles. The floor was
covered in colorful marble designsthere was a kind of checkered pattern with circles and
squares placed within the larger squares. It was a fairly hot day so it was nice to cool down a
little in the shade of the hemicycle before venturing out to explore the rest of the forum.
Next on the itinerary was to visit the Basilica Ulpia which is known for being one of the
most beautiful buildings in the Roman world. And let me tell you: it did not disappoint. The
fact that it’s made for legal and other civic proceedings might sound boring, but aesthetically it’s
astounding! The elongated rectangular space has two large semicircles on the left and right sides
with colored marble everywhere imaginable. And because of the natural lighting that streamed
in through the clerestory, the basilica lit up with extraordinary color. Encompassing the hall
were two rows of columnsthat also shared the same marble that was found in the steps and
panelsand a plethora of statues. Some of the statues and decorations inside showcased Roman
might as the art featured victories defeating bulls. Once I had examined the sides of the interior,
my eyes were drawn upwards to the intricate ceiling. The roof of the basilica was covered in a
layer of polished bronze with a repeated design all along it.
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