In 509 BCE, the generally accepted date, the Etruscans were driven out of Rome. And the Roman Republic is said to have been established under the leadership of two consuls, with the checks and balances provided by a Senate and various committia, or assemblies. Although the influences from Etruscans and Greeks remained strong, Rome was now on its own, seeking to establish its own step on the peninsula of Italy. The early Romans were largely farmers Living in a small community. The Etruscans, when they conquered, brought a great deal of sophistication to Rome, since they were hydraulic engineers and great temple builders, even though they lacked access to the fine materials that one would find in Greece. By the time the Etruscan rulers were overthrown and forced out, around the traditional date of 509 BCE, the marshy area nestled below and among the Capitoline, Esquiline and Palatine hills had been drained, and filled in, and it became what we call the Roman Forum. The early leaders of this farming community became the nobility, traditionally referred to as the Patricians, while those with lesser means and influence became known as Plebians. And these are terms we still use in our society today. In the Roman forum that grew up in the 6th Century BCE and after, the northwest area became the government center. There were two major structures, the Comitium, where the assemblies of Rome often met, and the Curia, the Curia where the senators met. Representation in these assemblies could be determined by tribes of which there were originally only a couple. But as population increased, the number of tribes expanded to 35. The different popular assemblies were dominated by the wealthier families, who provided the principle support for the military. These assemblies had the power to declare war and peace, to put people to death, and to elect city officials. The major officials were the Consuls, two of them, elected every year. They responded to the legislation brought out in the senate and the assemblies, which functioned much as our own Senate and House of Representatives. Maybe they functioned even better. The number of Senators grew to 300 in the Republic, so that the building needed to be large. There were three steps, running lengthwise, on either side of the front door, on which the Senators were positioned inside. With a raised area in the back of the hall for the Princeps, or the chief of the Senate, to preside and give the first opinion on the matters of state. Senators needed to be at least 25 years old, which seems kind of young to us, but life expectancy was considerably shorter than it is today. They also had to have sufficient property, to be of significant standing in the community, a requirement that varied a bit over time. Among the important elected officials was the Aedile. A-E-D-I-L-E, whose name derives from the word Aedes, which means a temple or shrine. With the population boom, the Aedes had to keep pace, and erect all the public buildings necessary. Well, in the Roman Forum, that quickly became quite a task. With the overthrow of the last Etruscan kings, Tarquinius Superbus, believed to have occurred around as we said, 509 BCE, and the gradual conquest of Rome's Latin and Etruscan enemies in the surrounding countryside, Rome began to grow significantly. The installation of drainage in the forum and the principal sewer or what's called the cloaca maxima, made a big difference in allowing the construction of the major structures. To honor their most important Gods and Goddesses, the Romans, of course, erected shrines and temples. The temple of Saturn was erected in 498 B.C. to honor, not the car, but a Latin fertility divinity, who brought the blessings of agriculture to the Roman people. It was located near the Capitoline hill, which had been an early town center. Like the other buildings of the forum, once established, the sacred area had to remain where it was and it could not be moved. That is why the forum retained its integrity for over a thousand years. And visitors to it in 400 BCE would be visiting the very same areas where each cult building would still be standing in the seventh century CE. Saturn, as a special protector of the Roman people, looked after their wealth in the state treasury. Another small shrine, or fonun Was built to honor Castor and Pollux, special twins. Twin heroes, in fact, to the Roman people. And they were believed to have saved the Roman army in their resistance to the Etruscans and other Latin tribes trying to conquer Rome. Castor and Pollux were sons of Zeus, fierce fighters, horsemen, patrons of the Roman soldiery. And especially of the Roman Equites, that group of Roman cavalry, that core, that was drawn from well-connected and valorous families. This group celebrated every July 15th, with a dress parade on horseback, to honor the twins. Over in the East side of the forum was the House of the Vestal Virgins. And that was the place where these young ladies, who were in service of the cult of Vesta, were chosen sometimes from as young as six years of age. They'd serve for 30 years. 10 years to learn their trade, I guess they were slow learners. 10 years to practice it, and 10 years to be instructors. And they were chosen from the best families. They were very well respected, and admired in Ancient Rome, but they had to remain pure. They could not marry during this period of time. Well now that we've had a bit of background about the Roman forum and some of the buildings in there, why don't we come on over to Italy. Come with me, and let's take a brief visit to the forum and some of the buildings in it. Watch.