Wednesday, January 15, 2003

I was very intrigued by a tidbit shared by Professor Fagan in his lectures on Roman history. He said that in 338 B.C., Rome actually won a naval battle at Antium with its meager fleet of primarily coastal defense vessels. It was common ancient practice to saw off the bronze ramming beaks of the enemy vessels and use them on new vessels of the conquering fleet. However, after the battle of Antium, Dullius transported six of them to Rome as trophies. There they were nailed to the speaker's platform in the Forum that was thereafter known as the rostrum since rostrum (the plural is rostra) was the Latin word for beak.

Augustus later mounted the rostra from the battle of Actium on the front of a temple he constructed to honor his adopted father, the "Divine Julius".

Here's a website with links to pictures of rostra: http://www.mmdtkw.org/VRostrum.html