Capitoline Museums

What better place to start my tour of Rome than the center of ancient Roman power: the Capitoline Hill. Above is a view of the middle of the Capitoline Hill today. Originally it was a two peaked hill, with the most important temple in Rome, the Temple of Jupiter Best and Greatest capping the taller of the two summits. The other summit, now crowned with a church, was the location of the Arx, the citadel of Rome. In between, in the saddle, was the Tabularium, the Roman hall of records. The Tabularium now provides the foundations for Rome’s city hall, and the nearby Capitoline Museums exhibit some of the greatest of Rome’s treasures excavated nearby in the Roman Forum.

Above is the famous Capitoline Venus, sculpted by a Roman copyist inspired by the ancient Greek sculptor Praxiteles. Long viewed as the ideal female nude, it stands in its own private alcove.

Above is just one example of the many river god statues found throughout Rome. River gods always appeared with long, flowing beards and reclining, surrounded by the attributes of their respective river.

Above is a low-relief sculpture from the Forum of Augustus, if I remember correctly. Originally, it would have been elaborately painted, like almost all ancient sculpture.

Above is the colossal head of Constantine the Great, found in the ruins of the Basilica of Constantine and Maxentius. It is truly a sight to behold, as one can only imagine how the original, gigantic statue would have dominated what was a giant building. Below is the right hand of the colossus.

Below are the ancient foundation stones of the Temple of Jupiter Best and Greatest. The blocks are made of tufa, a tough local stone used for the less glamorous portions of buildings such as the foundations. The temple is now gone except for small portions.

Below is a gallery of ancient Roman portrait busts, featuring a whole range of sculpture from the Roman Republic to the Late Empire.

Below is a sculpture frieze from the triumphal arch of Marcus Aurelius, depicting the famous Stoic emperor sacrificing on the Capitoline Hill.

And finally, an oddity. Here is a stolen Egyptian column that the Romans brought to Rome two thousands years ago. Carved from hard, Egyptian granite, it surely impressed the Romans as much as it does today.

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