Pomerium

From Academic Kids

The pomerium (or pomoerium) was the sacred boundary of the city of Rome. Legally speaking, Rome only existed within the pomerium; everything beyond it was simply land belonging to Rome. Tradition maintained that it was inaugurated by Servius Tullius, but it did not follow the line of the Servian walls, and it is unlikely that he actually did establish the sacred boundary, which remained unchanged until the dictatorate of Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Several white cippi stones commissioned by Claudius have been found in situ and several have been found away from their original location. These stones mark the boundaries and relative dimensions of the pomerium extension by Claudius. This extension is recorded in Tacitus. Aulus Gellius also reports extensions by Caesar Augustus, Nero, and Trajan, but no other written or archaeological evidence supports this.

It was not a walled area (unlike the Chinese Forbidden City), but rather a legally and religiously defined one marked by white stones called cippus, and it did not encompass the entire metropolitan area, nor even all the proverbial seven hills (the Palatine Hill was within the pomerium, but the Capitoline and Aventine Hills were not). The Curia Hostilia and the well of the Comitia in the Forum Romanum, two extremely important locations in the government of the city-state and its empire, were located within the pomerium. The temple of Bellona was beyond the pomerium.

  • Religious and political constraints forbade any anointed sovereign from entering the pomerium. As a result, visits of state were somewhat awkward; Cleopatra, for example, never actually entered the city of Rome when she came to visit Julius Caesar.
  • Furthermore, (provincial) promagistrates and generals were forbidden from passing beyond it, and resigned their imperium immediately upon crossing it (as it were the superlative form of the ban on armies entering Italy). As a result, a general waiting to celebrate a triumph with his victorious troops was obligated to wait outside the pomerium until his triumph. The Comitia Centuriata, one of the Roman assemblies, consisting of centuriae (voting units, but originally military bataillions within the legions), was obligated to meet on the Campus Martius outside the pomerium.

Pompey's Theater, where Julius Caesar was murdered, was also outside the pomerium and included a Senate chamber where the Senate could meet with the attendance individual senators who were forbidden to cross the pomerium and thus would not have been able to meet in the Curia Hostilia.

Weapons were also banned inside the pomerium for religious and traditional reasons. Pretorian guards were allowed in only in civilian dress (toga), and were then called collectively cohors togata. But it was possible to sneak in daggers (the proverbial weapon for political violence, see sicarius). Since Julius Caesar's assassination occurred outside this boundary, the senatorial conspirators could not be charged with 'blasphemy' for carrying weapons inside the 'sacred' city.

External link

See also

de:Pomerium fr:Pomœrium it:Pomerium nl:Pomerium pl:Pomerium

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