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Forum of Vespasian

The Temple of Peace was separated from the Forum of Augustus by the Argiletum, which led from the Roman Forum to the Subura, a lively and somewhat unsavory commercial and residential neighborhood. Eventually, the thoroughfare was incorporated by the Forum Transitorium. The Neronian fire of AD 64, described by Tacitus in his Annals (XV.38ff), probably destroyed the market place (Macellum) and surrounding district, although the Forum of Augustus was protected by its high perimeter wall, as was the Basilica Aemilia. The Forum of Vespasian was built on the newly vacated site and followed a similar plan to the other fora, with porticoes surrounding a central piazza, like the tabernae or shops that enclosed a market place.

Even though it was another in the sequence of imperial fora, the precinct was not known as a forum until the fourth century AD, when it was referred to by Ammianus Marcellinus as the forum Pacis (XVI.10.14; Symmachus calls it the forum Vespasiani, Epistles, X.78). And, indeed, it is less pretentious than the others. Rather than long and narrow, the enclosed piazza was nearly square, with the temple on the shorter axis, its façade in line with the principle colonnade, instead of projecting into the courtyard like the other cult temples. Nor was the temple made more dominant by being elevated on a podium. The result was a harmony that comprised the whole precinct, which served, not only as a cult center, but a public park, sculpture garden, repository for art, and library.

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