Return to Imperial Fora

Forum of Caesar

"He built the temple of Venus Genetrix, according to his vow on the eve of Pharsalus, and around the temple he laid out a precinct which he made into a square for the Romans, not a market square but a place where people could meet to settle business."

Appian, Civil War (II)

The Forum Julium (Forum Caesaris) was the first of the imperial fora. Julius Caesar began to collect money to purchase the site in 54 BC, just a year after Pompey had dedicated his theater, with its own temple, to Venus Victrix. Caesar originally had vowed a temple to Venus Victrix before the battle of Pharsalus (48 BC), but Pompey's dedication to that goddess obliged him to dedicate his own temple to Venus Genetrix, the ancestor of the gens Julia. The cost of the land, says Suetonius, which already had been commercially developed, was more than a million gold pieces, paid for (ex manubiis) from the spoils of the campaign in Gaul. The Forum had not been finished when it dedicated in 46 BC and was completed by Augustus. A colonnaded square, with porticoes on the long sides in which offices (tabernae) permitted government business to be conducted, and dominated at the far end by the Temple of Venus Genetrix, the design was followed in the construction of all later fora.

References: Suetonius: The Twelve Caesars (1979) translated by Robert Graves (Penguin Books); Appian: The Civil Wars (1996) translated by John Carter (Penguin Classics).