Temple of Venus Genetrix

April 23, 2012

Our photo today shows the Forum of Caesar, located in the north-east corner of the Roman Forum. Construction of Caesar’s Forum was begun in 54 BC. Three remaining columns indicate the location of the Temple of Venus in Caesar’s Forum.

Temple of Venus Genetrix, located in Forum of Caesar, Rome. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The temple was introduced at a slightly later stage, having been vowed by Caesar the night before the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC, during  his civil war with Pompey, to win over Pompey’s favored goddess Venus Victrix, though when inaugurated in 46 BC (while still unfinished) it actually honored Venus as Venus Genetrix, “universal mother,’ from which Julius Caesar’s family (and thus all the emperors from August to Nero) claimed descent. (Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, p.150).

Here is a close-up of the columns:

Temple of Venus Genetrix, close-up of columns. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Temple of Venus Genetrix contained an important collection of statues, paintings and engravings. A gilded statue of Cleopatra VII was erected, setting a precedent for dedications to notable women in the precinct. Paintings in the forum included one of Medea, mythological Greek hero of Euripides’ play Medea, as well as one of Ajax, mythological Greek hero of Sophocles’ Ajax, done by Timomachus. Perhaps more personal to Caesar were six collections of engraved gems. These surpassed in number the collection of Mithridates dedicated by Caesar’s rival Pompey. It is not known where or how Caesar obtained these six collections. (Wikipedia).

The location of a temple at the end of a long enclosure was a practice borrowed by the Romans from the Etruscans. This area suffered fire damage in AD 80; the temple was later rebuilt by Domitian and subsequently restored by Trajan.

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The Roman Forum

April 18, 2012

The Roman Forum was in ancient times at the very hub of western civilization.

Roman Forum At Night. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Roman Forum (Latin: Forum Romanum, Italian: Foro Romano) is a rectangular forum (plaza) surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum. It was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections, venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches, and nucleus of commercial affairs. Here statues and monuments commemorated some of the city’s most notable figures. Located in the small valley between the Palatine and Capitoline Hills, the Forum today is a sprawling ruin of architectural fragments and intermittent archeological excavations attracting numerous sightseers (Wikipedia).

It was here at the Forum, located between the Capitoline and Palatine hills, that justice was dispensed during the days of the Roman Republic and Empire (509 BC – AD 476). It is thought by some scholars that Paul’s appeal before Caesar would have been heard at the Basilica Julia.

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The Land of Geshur

April 14, 2012

The area of Geshur figures into the biblical history of King David. David’s “third son was Absalom, the son of Maacah daughter of King Talmai of Geshur” (2 Sam. 3:3). When tragedy struck David’s family internally, as Absalom killed his half-brother Amnon, because Amnon raped Absalom’s sister Tamar, “Absalom fled and went to King Talmai son of Ammihud of Geshur” (2 Sam. 13:17). I.e., he sought and received refuge from Talmai who was his grandfather.

Note the location of Geshur here:

Old Testament Geshur. Map by BibleAtlas.Org.

Geshur is inclusive of the site usually identified as Bethsaida.

This area of Galilee was included among the sites taken by the Assyrians, about a decade before the fall of Samaria (722 BC).

During Pekah’s reign over Israel, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel Beth Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, including all the territory of Naphtali. He deported the people to Assyria (2 Kings 15:29).

This invasion is dated at ca. 732 BC. Here is a view from inside the gate of Bethsaida, in the territory of Geshur. This Galilean site was included in the Assyrian attack in the above text. Occupants here would have seen the Assyrians setting fire to the gate.

City gate of Bethsaida. In territory of OT Geshur. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The heat intense fire caused the blocks in the gate area to burst. You can still see black carbon residue from the fire.

Blocks burst by intense fire during Assyrian invasion. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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Jonesboro, TN

April 13, 2012

We are enjoying seeing old friends and making new acquaintances in our series of lessons in Jonesboro, TN. This morning my wife and I took a few minutes to see some of the beautiful scenery in the area.

Farm in Jonesboro, TN. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Our series of lessons here on the Visualized Survey of the Bible goes through Sunday PM.

The weather here has been much cooler than in north Alabama.

Emperor Galba: The Year of the Four Emperors

April 12, 2012

Numerous factors came into play that resulted in Galba’s becoming Rome’s sixth emperor. When Nero died in AD 68, the senate pronounced Galba emperor. Nymphidius Sabinus, prefect of the praetorian guard, had bribed his men to abandon their loyalty to Nero. Galba thought the bribe to the guardsmen had been extreme, and refused to pay the promised bonuses.  This of course alienated the soldiers from Galba.

Roman Emperor Galba. Reigned June 68-January 69. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Our photo was taken last month at the Vatican Museum.

On January 15, 69, Galba was murdered by soldiers in the Roman Forum. The historian Tacitus stated that Galba “possessed the makings of a ruler–had he never ruled.” His is a study of what might have been.

AD 69 was the Year of the Four Emperors: Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian.


We are currently doing our Visualized Survey of the Bible in historic Jonesboro, TN, the oldest town in Tennessee. David Wheeler is the preacher here. We are close to North Carolina and to Virginia. Beautiful country.


Dr. James Hodges passed away this past Tuesday night, April 10. He had been a professor of biblical studies at Florida College in Temple Terrace, FL., for many years. Forty years ago I studied archaeology under him; at that time there were two semesters: Old Testament and New Testament Archaeology. I appreciated his scholarship, and thought highly of him.

Arch of Titus

April 6, 2012

The Arch of Titus was built to commemorate Titus’ defeat of Jerusalem which took place in AD 70.

Arch of Titus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Latin inscription at the top reads, “The Senate and People of Rome, to Divus Titus, son of Divus Vespasian, Vespasian August.” (The title Divus indicates that the arch was erected after Titus’ death).

Inscription on Arch of Titus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Titus died at the young age of 50 in AD 81. Deification of the Roman Emperors took place after death. His deified figure is depicted on the underside of the archway. He is portrayed flying heavenward on the back of an eagle.

Underside of Arch of Titus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Note the detail of the center coffer of the coffering.

Detail of deified figure of Titus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The arch was built in AD 81-82 by Titus’ brother, the Emperor Domitian.

A previous post on the Arch of Titus appeared here.

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