Forum of Caesar
The Forum of Caesar and the Temple of Venus Genetrix were opened in 46 BC, the last day of celebrations for Julius Caesar’s victory over Pompey. The construction of a new forum, destined to broaden the already congested spaces of the Roman Forum, had already been planned in 54 BC as documented in a letter by Cicerone to his friend Attico saying that he was instructed by Caesar (who was then busy in Gaul) to purchase the land. To complete the complex it was necessary to first make embankments on the slopes of the Capitoline Hill.
In 48 BC, before the decisive battle of Farsalo against Pompey, Caesar had promised a temple to Venus Vincitrix, even if the goddess already had a temple dedicated to her on the top of the mines in Pompey’s Theatre in Campus Martius. The Caesarean temple was built at the far end of the new Forum but instead was dedicated to Venus Genetrix, the mythical protector of gens Iulia (the Julian clan), who descended though Ascanius son of Aeneas of Troy.
The construction of the square took place during the rebuilding of the Curia, which was the seat of the Senate and whose traditional orientation according to cardinal points was modified in order to make it compatible with that of the new complex. The square was inaugurated while it was still incomplete with works being completed by Augustus, as he recalls in the Res Gestae (The Deeds of the Divine Augustus).
During Trajan’s era (113 AD) the temple of Venus Genetrix was entirely rebuilt. The new building retained the same plan as the previous one but the cella apse, which no longer rested against the Capitoline Hill, was hidden by two cross-bracing walls that were a continuation of the cella walls. The temple was richly decorated in marble.