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FORVM TRAIANI S P Q R OPTIMO PRINCIPI S C - View of one of the entrances of the celebrated Forum of Trajan. The summit of the edifice is occupied by a triumphal car, to which four horses are harnessed, and in which the figure of the emperor may be distinguished. To the right and left of the quadriga are trophies and statues. Obverse: IMP TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P CO VI P P (To the Emperor Trajan, Augustus, the German, the Dacian, Sovereign Pontiff; [invested] with the tribunitian power, consul for the sixth time, father of the country); first brass.

The forum of Trajan, built by command of that emperor, and named by him, was situated in the 8th district of the city, as P. Victor testifies. Dion names as its architect Apollodorus of Damascus, the same who constructed the wonderful bridge over the Danube.

It was to find a level and suitable situation for this renowned Forum, that Trajan ordered the Mons Quirinalis to be reduced in height exactly as many feet as the spiral column numbers. This fact has been expressly stated by Dion, and is confirmed by the inscription on the pillar itself; see COLUMNA. That it was embellished in every part with statues of men and horses,and with military ensigns, is shewn not only by the admirably executed coin from a finely preserved specimen of which the above cut has been engraved, but has also been recorded in history by Pausanias and Aulus Gellius; the latter of whom adds, that there was inscribed on its walls EX MANBIEIS (sic) that is, out of the spoils, namely those which were taken in the Dacian campaigns. Ammianus Marcellinus speaks of "its construction" as "marvelous from the concurrance of the deities themselves" (etiam numinum assensione mirabilem). And he states "its gigantic proportions to have been such as surpassed description, and could never again be produced by the agency of man" (L xiv). Among other pieces of sculpture with which it was decorated, the same writer mentions the statue of Trajan: "the very one (observes Eckhel) which, in my opinion, appears on his coins struck during his sixth consulate." But the splendor of this edifice has been alluded to, at a much later date, by Cassiodorus, where he says: Trajani forum vel sub assiduitate videre miraculum est. Nay, even at the close of the eighth century AD its remains were still so remarkable that Pope Gregory the Great, passing that way, was seized with such admiration for the genius of the prince who had raised so magnificent a monument, that he had the hardihood to supplicate the Supreme Being for Trajan 's exemption from the eternal pains of hell; a prayer which, as the story goes, was granted; though it is a matter of astonishment how Paul the deacon (in Vita S. Greg. M.) could have countenanced and published such a fable. D. N. Vet. vi 432.

The excavations executed by order of the French government is AD 1812 resulted in discovering the traces of divers edifices which formerly ornamented the Forum, and afforded to an able architect, Antonio di Romanis, the opportunity of laying out a plan for the Forum. This plan is given in the 3rd edition of Nardini 's Roma Antica, published at Rome in AD 1818, with notes and additions by Antonio Nebby, member of the Roman Academy of Archaeology. Lenormant, Iconographie Romaine, p 50.

The Forum contained within its spacious enclosure, besides the edifice represented in the gold as well as brass mint of Trajan, other architectural objects of great elegance of design, and richness of ornament. On one side was a temple; on the other the Basilica Ulpia, in which stood an equestrian statue of Trajan in bronze; also near it a library. And in the center rose a beautiful pillar, which exists in good preservation to this day.

In giving an engraving of the first brass coin, which represents a temple with lateral porticoes (and two figures sacrificing at an altar before the facade), M. Ch. Lenormant, in his Icongrahie, says: "This is the temple of Trajan. It was thought that Trajan had cause it to be erected in honor of some divinity; and that it was Hadrian who, after having deified his adoptive father, consecrated this temple to him. It is more probable. and it is what the legends of two medals give us to understand, that the temple in question was dedicated to Trajan during his lifetime by a Senatus Consultum." 

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