Rostra Rome

The Rostra was the name of the podium on which public speakers stood in the Roman Forum in Rome. It was located opposite the Curia Julia (the meeting room of the Roman Senate).

Rostra Rome

Practical information

The Rostra is located in the Roman Forum. Since a ticket to the Colosseum is a three-in-one with the Forum and Palatine, admission prices and opening hours are the same.

History Rostra Rome

The Rostra was the pulpit of Roman magistrates and orators and originally stood in the Comizio, where it occupied part of the circular staircase.

The name Rostra is explained by the fact that the podium was decorated with ship’s bows (rostri in Italian, rostra in Latin). These bows were covered with iron to ram enemy ships and had been captured at the Battle of Anzio (338 BC).

After the complete renovation of the Comizio, the platform was reconstructed on the west side of the Roman Forum, near the Arch of Septimius Severus.

The first inauguration took place in 44 BC.

It was from here that Mark Anthony, after the assassination of Julius Caesar that same year, began his famous speech with the words “Friends, Romans, Countrymen.”

A year later, Cicero‘s head and hands were to be displayed here after he had been sentenced to death by the second Triumvirate (Augustus, Mark Anthony, and Marcus Lepidus). Mark Anthony‘s wife, Fulvia, added insult to injury by sticking a hairpin through the famous speaker’s tongue.

Julia, the daughter of Augustus, was occupied with other things. She was said to prostitute herself at the Rostra, one of the reasons why she would be exiled. (It is probable that “prostituted” here was a euphemism for “committed treason.”)

A second inauguration took place after a major expansion in 29 B.C. The monument was then nearly 24 meters long, 12 meters wide and measured at a height of 3 meters.

The large tuff stone blocks of the facade are the only remains from that time. The parts made of smaller stones are the result of a restoration. At some spots you can see holes in the wall. This is where the ship’s bows were attached.

The back (facing the Capitol) consisted of a semi-circular staircase, which was probably part of the original platform.

The side facing the Arch of Septimius Severus was curved and lined with marble.

A brick widening of the tribune on the north side was added around the year 470. According to an inscription, it had been commissioned by the prefect Ulpio Giunio Valentino. This widening was called the Rostra Vandalica because it was built in honor of a victory over the Vandals.

Rostra, Forum Romanum, Rome


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