Gazing on it today, a picturesque shambles of ruins and weeds, you would hardly guess that the forum was the symbol of civic pride for 1000 years. Its humble beginning, more than 3000 years ago, was a swampy cemeteryfor the orginal village on Palatine Hill. Gradually it rose, ever more glorified, as Rome's power grew. After the marsh was finally drained off in the 6th century BC, it took on its central role in the life of the republic. The Forum showed its most elegant face starting with the reign of augustus, the first Roman emperor, who is said to have turned the city from brick to marble.