On March 15, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar—the most famous Roman at home and abroad—was assassinated by a group of mutineer consuls in the Senate house, the Curia Pompeii. In a startling quirk of fate, his body slumped against a statue of Pompey the Great, his former political ally turned archrival, who fought the failed bid to stop Caesar from becoming a dictator.
The Curia, where the murder took place, was part of Pompey’s Theatre, built by the retired general in 55 B.C., as a lasting and spectacular reminder of his military achievements. Off its large colonnaded portico were several semi-circular halls, or exedrae, including the Curia Pompeii, which served as temporary meeting places for the Senate.
In 1926, while preparing for a luxury real estate development, several columns of four Republican-era temples, dating as far back as the 4th century B.C., first appeared. It is now called the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina. Although mostly covered by Via di Torre Argentina and current buildings, the Curia Pompeii was once located behind the circular temple devoted to Aedes Fortunae Huiusce Diei (the “Luck of the Current Day”). The exact place Caesar fell down may be under Via di Torre Argentina now. But do not forget to visit there on your next trip to Rome and feel the historical event.
When the Senate elected Octavian as the first emperor, Augustus, he began his reign by removing the statue of Pompey in the Curia and destroying all busts and images of him and of Caesar’s assassins.