The Saepta Julia
was a building in Ancient Rome
where citizens gathered to cast votes. The building was conceived by Julius Caesar
and dedicated by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
in 26 BC
. The building was originally built as a place for the comitia tributa to gather to cast votes . It replaced an older structure, called the Ovile, which served the same function. The building did not always retain its original function. It was used for gladiatorial fights by Augustus and later as a market place .
The conception of the Saepta Julia began during the rein of Julius Caesar (d.44 BC). Located in the Campus Marius, the Saepta Julia was built of marble and surrounded a huge rectangular space (c.300 95 m) next to the Pantheon. The building was planned by Julius Caesar who wanted it to be built of marble and have a mile long portico according to a letter written by Cicero
to his friend Atticus
about the building project (Cic. Att 4.16.14). The quadriportico
(four-sided portico, like the one used for the enclosure of the Saepta Julia) was an architectural feature made popular by Caesar.
The planning of the Saepta Julia began under Caesar. After he was murdered, and in the backlash of public support for the former ruler, men continued to work on projects that Caesar had set into motion. Marcus Aemilius Lepidus
, who used to support Caesar and subsequently aligned with his succesor Octavian
, took on the continuation of the Saepta Julia building project. The building was finally completed and dedicated by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa
in 26 BC. Agrippa also decorated the building with marble tablets and Greek paintings.
The Saepta Julia can be seen on the Forma Urbis Romae, or Marble Plan, a map of the city of Rome as it existed in the early third century. Built under the emperor Septimius Severus, this marble map was fixed to the side of the Forum Pacis and is today, the only surviving plan of a Roman city. Part of the original wall of the Saepta Julia can still be seen in Rome right next to the Pantheon.