Visiting the Forum / by Anthony Gibbins

The Pompeian Forum was a paved rectangle 40 meters wide and 150 meters long (130x490 feet). It was surrounded by a double colonnaded portico of white limestone and, behind that, by buildings of impressive architecture. In the centre were equestrian statues (the bases for over fifty have been found) honouring the emperor, imperial family and local dignitaries. Take a look at the picture;

In the upper left corner is the macellum, believed by most to be some kind of market building specialising in fish, meat and vegetables. As Mary Beard has noted, if it was indeed a meat market, then it was conveniently close to the sacrificial altars of some of Pompeii’s greatest temples. Was meat from the sacrifices then sold at the macellum?

The next two structures are, from left to right, a temple to the lares publici and a temple in honour of the genius Augusti. The lares were family gods worshiped at shrines in nearly every Pompeian home; the lares publici were the common lares of the entire Pompeian people. The genius of Augustus – the spirit of the emperor – was a way of not quite worshipping the emperor as a god.

The third building in this cluster is the Eumachia Building, but we will have more to say on this when Claudia visits. Beside this stood a voting hall, although it is absent from the model – I assume for reasons of space. At the foot of the Forum we see the facades of three municipal offices, the exact purpose of which are still debated. Most see them as a collection of offices, meeting halls and record storage.

In the bottom right hand corner, you can make out one side of the gate through which Claudia entered, although in reality it is a block or two further away. The long building displayed with an open ceiling – it was closed in reality - is the town’s basilica – or law court. (Churches have taken on the name basilica because of their similarly open design). Those of you familiar with the Cambridge Latin Course will remember Caecilius dragging Hermogones to the law court; tu, Hermogones, es mendax!

Left of the court is the temple of Apollo. And north of that is the imposing structure of Jupiter’s temple, or the temple of the Capitoline Triad. Again, we will have more to say on both when Claudia is there.

The forum was the focal point of Pompeii’s life, housing its institutions of government, its main market, and major cult buildings. It drew citizens and visitors alike to its colonnades, buildings and open space as people pursued their daily lives of marketing, attending meetings, dealing with officials and participating in religious festivals. John J. Dobbins

Soon I found the Forum. The Forum is surrounded by many buildings of great importance. I looked at all the buildings closely for a long time.

The Lego model of Pompeii is housed in the Nicholson Museum of The University of Sydney, Australia. Entry to the museum is entirely free, and you may visit Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 4:30. The Nicholson is Australia’s oldest University museum and contains the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere. 

The Pompeii model was commissioned by the Nicholson and constructed by LEGO Professional Builder Ryan McNaught. It is the third such model the museum has exhibited, following the Colosseum and Acropolis.  The Colosseum was returned to McNaught and recently exhibited around Australia. The Acropolis was denoted by the Nicholson to the Acropolis Museum in Athens. The Pompeii model is estimated to include 190 000 bricks and took 420 hours to complete.