Roman Archaeology Group

Perth, Western Australia

When in Rome: where Caesar was assassinated

X marks the spot… by Norah Cooper

The very place too where the senate was to meet seemed to be by divine appointment favourable to their purpose. It was a portico, one of those joining the theatre, with a large recess, in which there stood a statue of Pompey, erected to him by the commonwealth, when he adorned that part of the city with the porticos and the theatre. To this place it was that the senate was summoned for the middle of March; as if some more than human power were leading the man thither, there to meet his punishment for the death of Pompey
(Plutarch Lives translated by John Dryden)

Wherever you wander in Rome you can see wonders of the past, both ancient and more recent. Many of the sites you see are imbued with stories of events and famous people, and perhaps the most famous of all, is the assassination of Julius Caesar. If you visit the Largo di Torre Argentina, you are literally on the spot where this most significant of historical events occurred.

In 2012, Spanish National Research Council Archaeologists announced that they had found the actual site of Julius Caesar’s assassination on the 15th March (the Ides) in 44 BC. It is in the Largo di Torre Argentina (a name from AD 1503) which is 0.4 kms south east from Piazza Navona and 0.3 kms south from the Pantheon. The area you see today is the Sacred Area with the remains of four temples which dated from the fourth to the first centuries BC. The area is enclosed by four roads: to the north, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II; on the west, Via di Torre Argentina; to the south, Via delle Botteghe Oscure and to the east, Via di S. Nicola de Cesarini.

Model of Area

Originally the Theatre of Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus) and the Porticus Pompeiana abutted the Sacred Area which is now under buildings, and the western road, Via di Torre Argentina. The Porticus (also known as the Hecatostylon or Hall of a Hundred Pillars) which covered a massive 54,000 m2, was located directly behind the scaenae frons (stagearea of the Theatre), and it enclosed a large garden as well as arcades and colonnades through which citizens would stroll protected from the sun.

Photo of Largo di Argentina

The Senate meetings were usually held in the curia (a place of assembly in a building designated for that purpose) in the Forum. On the Ides of March 44 BC, the Senate was temporarily meeting at the Curia of Pompey, a small building attached to the Porticus. After Caesar’s murder, Augustus removed the large statue of Pompey under which Caesar reputedly died and Augustus had the building sealed with concrete. This is the place that archaeologists believe they discovered in 2012. It is roughly marked by me on the images with an X.

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This entry was posted on April 8, 2019 by in When in Rome and tagged , .
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