"But when he came to the Forum of Trajan, a creation which in my view has no like under the cope of heaven, and which even the gods themselves must agree to admire, he stood transfixed with astonishment, surveying the giant fabric around him; its grandeur defies description and can never again be approached by mortal men."
The historian Ammianus Marcellinus (c.330 - c.391-400) is referring to a visit to Rome in 357 by the emperor Constantius II (r. 337-361), the son and successor of Constantine the Great.
The Forum of Trajan, the last and most magnificent of the Imperial Fora, comprised a large colonnaded space (with a bronze equestrian statue of Trajan at its centre), the Basilica Ulpia, and a 100-foot-high column flanked by two libraries, one Latin the other Greek.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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