map of subura

Subura was a populous vicus or district in central Rome, situated in the low-lying area between the Viminal and Esquiline hills. A busy, crowded, noisy, dirty area, Subura housed trades and manufacturing, as well as crime, prostitution, and the poor. Inscriptions and epitaphs attest variously to the presence here of a Jewish synagogue, a shoemaker, an ironmonger, a wool merchant.
The region was approached by the Argiletum, a street of booksellers and cobblers which exited from the Roman Forum between the Curia and the Basilica Aemilia and ran parallel to the Cloaca Maxima (covered and paved over in the 2nd century BCE). This main thoroughfare leading to Subura was incorporated in 97 CE by Domitian (see paved section) into Nerva's Forum (see remains of the Forum Transitorium). Leaving the center of Rome, the road passed in view of the Baths of Trajan and split off into the clivus suburanus, which ended at the Porta Esquilina in the Servian wall.
Suetonius writes that Julius Caesar, before he became pontifex maximus, lived here in a modest house.
Propertius reminds Cynthia of their vigilacis furta Suburae, "stolen times of wakeful Subura" (El.4.7.15).
Juvenal locates a stall for training food carvers here, describing it in summer as ferventi Subura, "boiling hot" (Sat.11.51). To this unsavory district Juvenal connects mortal threats of fire, falling rooftiles, assaults, and mille pericula saevae urbis, "the thousand dangers of a savage city" (Sat. 3.8-9 ). Mocking Hannibal's lust for power, Juvenal quotes his desire to plant his banner in the middle of Subura (Sat.10.156). At a wealthy man's banquet, Juvenal's disgusted Poorman is served an ugly Tiber fish that grew fat in the Cloaca Maxima and hid in the mid-Subura drain (Sat.5.104-106).
Subura is cited in both Persius (Sat. 5.32) and Martial (Epigr. 2.17.1, 5.22.5-9, 7.31.12, 10.94.5, 12.18.2, 12.21.5).