Roman Building Projects

A Marker of Social Organization and Military Success

Republic

Comitium

  • Although the Comitium was built late in the archaic (Regal) period, it was during the Republican period that it gained in importance. Consequently, the building program reflected its c1hanging fortunes.
  • Between 300 and 250 BC (around the time of the First Punic War), the Comitium was restructured
  • Modeled on Greek Ekklesiasteria
    • Circular
    • Stairs lead all the way down to the lowest central space
    • Representatives were seated while a speaker spoke from the tribunal or Rostra
Ekklesiasteria (Comitium) in Paestum, a Greek city in southern Italy. Romans were influenced by Greek architecture and culture around the time of the First Punic War.

Tribunal/Speaker’s Podium/Rostra (later Rostra Vetera)

  • The speaker’s platform next to the Comitium
  • Transformed into a monument celebrating the Roman naval victory over Antium (338 BC) by mounting 6 bronze ramming beaks (Rostra) on its side
  • In the later Imperial (Principate) period it was called Elder Rostra (Rostra Vetera)

Columna Maenia 338 BC

  • This was an honorary column celebrating Gaius Maenius for his victory over the Latins at the battle of Antium in 338 BC. It celebrates the same event as the Rostra

Graecostasis

  • The Graecostasis was a raised platform, perhaps made of wood, off to the side of the Comitium, but a functional part of it
  • Foreign diplomats and representatives were not allowed inside the Comitium or the Curia during deliberations, so they would stand on the Graecostasis and listen or speak to the assembly or Senate
  • They could also see and hear speakers orating on the Rostra. This structure was a place of honor
The Graecostasis was constructed of wood. It was a platform from which honored guests such as ambassadors or other visiting dignitaries could stand and listen to the debates in the Assembly, the Senate in the Curia or speeches from the Rostra.

Columns and Statues around and in the Comitium

  • The Comitium was populated by many dedicatory statues and columns
    • Rostrated Column dedicated to Maenius for his victory at Antium
    • Rostrated Column dedicated to Gaius Duilius, the first Roman to win a naval victory over the Carthaginians in 260 BC (First Punic War)
    • Statue of Horatius Cocles, defender of the bridge, early Republic
    • Hostus Hostilius, defender of the Roman Citadel against the Sabines and grandfather of the king Tullus Hostilius