ALEXANDRIA ON THE TIBER
Julius Caesar was a military tactician and colonizer before he became a builder. Campaigns in Asia, Gaul, Spain, Africa, Britain, and elsewhere introduced him to diverse civilizations with a wide range of religious and social customs as well as to the buildings, statues, and paintings that made concrete these different views of the world. Whether modest or monumental, these works of art could not have failed to make an impact on the ambitious Roman leader bent on making his mark. Caesar's military success enabled him to seize some of the works he favored, at least those that were readily transportable, and to convey them to Rome both as valuable plunder and also as prototypes for a new Roman art. Intense competition was arising in Rome among Republican friends and foes, who no doubt recognized that the valuable booty they amassed abroad could be exhibited or rapidly translated into funding for building projects through which they could celebrate and measure their relative accomplishments.
Prior to 48 B.C., Caesar's building activity, which some believe was begun as early as the late 60s, centered on the restoration of memorials to illustrious relatives and the building of monuments in important public spaces. Not one to think small, Caesar set his sights immediately on one of the most significant communal locations in Rome—the Forum. While his agents were accumulating prized property in the city center to allow the expansion of this space, a fire in 52 B.C. at the sepulchral pyre of Publius Clodius destroyed various basilicas and curias. This fortuitous event al