Rostra Caesaris

Richardson, L. jr

Rostra Caesaris: the rostra that Julius Caesar built at the northwest end of the Forum Romanum to take the place of the Rostra Comitii, destroyed probably when the Curia was dismantled sometime before Caesar's assassination in March 44 B.C. Dio (Cass. Dio 43.49.1) puts the construction of the rostra early in 44 and makes this the occasion for the restoration of the equestrian statues of Sulla and Pompey destroyed by the plebs (Suetonius Iul. 75.4; Cass. Dio 42.18.2). It would have been on the new rostra that Caesar sat to watch the celebration of the Lupercalia in February, when Antony publicly offered him a royal diadem, which he then refused (Vell. Pat. 2.56.4; Plutarch Caes. 6.1.1-4; Cass. Dio 44.11.2-3). It must have been here that two statues of Caesar were erected, one representing him with the oak crown, or Corona Civica, as savior of the citizens, and one as deliverer of the city from siege, with the Corona Obsidionalis, considered the highest possibly honor (Pliny HN 22.6; Cass. Dio 44.4.5). One of these must have been the equestrian statue mentioned by Velleius (Vell. Pat. 2.61.3). Here also must have stood the equestrian statue voted by the senate to Octavian in 43 (Vell. Pat. 2.56.4). All this argues that the Rostra Caesaris were of considerable size. They have been recognized in a concrete core, 3.50 m high and over 13 m long, built against and probably originally over the line of low vaults supporting the Vicus Iugarius along the stairs of the Temple of Saturn. This construction had a curving front facing the open square of the forum, a narrow platform at its summit, and a stair of probably seven steps behind, which eventually became the stair up to the Rostra Augusti. The platform is clearly inadequate to accommodate the accumulation of monuments that must have found place there, and we have our choice of extending it on supports in the fashion of the Rostra Augusti, or of finding a place for the Rostra Caesaris elsewhere. The former is in every way easier, in view of the line of the Vicus Iugarius and Clivus Capitolinus, but it is not clear how the extension would have been engineered, or how it would have functioned architecturally.

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