1 Theater of Marcellus & Portico D' Octavia

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Turtle Fountain, Portico D? Octavia, Synagogue, 1. Theater of Marcellus, 2. Arch of Janus, 3. Temple of Portunus, Bocca Verita, Cosmati, 4. Circus Maximus, Rose Garden, Aventine, Keyhole, Santa Sabina,5. Isola Tiberina, 6// Cloaca Maximus and 7. Tiber area.

1. . Theater of Marcellus & Portico D' Octavia

The Theatre of Marcellus (Theatrum Marcelli) in Rome was named after Marcus Marcellus, Caesar Augustus' nephew who died five years before its completion. Space for the theatre was cleared by Julius Caesar, who was murdered before it could be begun; the theatre was so far advanced by 17 BC that part of the celebration of the ludi saeculares took place within the theatre, which was inaugurated in 13 BC by Emperor Augustus and completed in 11 BC.

The Theatre of Marcellus could originally hold 15,000 spectators. It was an impressive example of what was to become one of the most pervasive urban architectural forms of the Roman world. The theatre was built mainly of tufa, cement and opus reticulatum brickwork, completely sheathed in white travertine. The network of arches, corridors, tunnels and ramps that gave access to the interiors of such Roman theaters were normally ornamented with a screen of engaged columns in Greek orders: Doric at the base, Ionic in the middle and Corinthian above.

Like other Roman theaters in suitable locations, it had openings through which the natural setting could be seen, in this case the Tiber Island to the southwest. The permanent setting, the scaena, also rose to the top of the cavea as in other Roman theaters.

The name templum Marcelli still clung to the ruins in 998 [1].In the Early Middle Ages the Teatro di Marcello was used as a fortress of the Fabii and then at the end of the 11th century, by Pier Leoni and later his heirs. The Savelli, heirs of the Fabii, held it in the 13th century. Later, in the 16th century, the residence of the Orsini, designed by Baldassare Peruzzi, was built atop the ruins of the ancient theatre.

Now its surroundings are used as a venue for small summer concerts; the Portico d'Ottavia lies to the north west leading to the Roman Ghetto and the Tiber to the south west.

> Portico d’ Ottavia

The Porticus Octaviae was built ostensibly by Octavia Minor, the sister of Augustus, but really by Augustus and dedicated in her name, at some time after 27 BC, in place of the Porticus Metelli (Metellus), around the temples of Jupiter Stator and Juno next to the Theater of Marcellus. The statement of Cassius Dio that it was built after 33 BC from the spoils of the war in Dalmatia, is due to confusion with the porticus Octavia. It was burned in 80 and restored, probably by Domitian, and again after a second fire in 203 by Septimius Severus and Caracalla. It was adorned with foreign marble, and contained many famous works of art. Besides the Temples (q.v.) there were within the enclosure a library erected by Octavia in memory of her son Marcellus, a curia Octaviae, and a schola or scholae. Whether these were different parts of one building, or entirely different structures, is uncertain. It was probably in the curia that the senate is recorded as meeting . The whole is referred to by Pliny the Elder as Octaviae opera. [Wikipedia]

In the medieval era, reused as a fish market.

[Another source: The Portico of Octavia was originally built by Quintus Merellus Macedonius in 149 B.C., and dedicated to his sister Octavia, whose name it now bears; it was later rebuilt by Septimus Severus and Caracalla. A number of columns and remains of the entablature, which are incorporated in the porch of the church of Sant'Angelo in Peschiera, now represent it. The portico, adjoining the Theatre of Marcellus, originally covered an area 115m/375ft by 135m/445ft in extent and contained numerous pieces of Greek and Roman sculpture.]

2. Arch of Janus

The only quadrifrons triumphal arch preserved in Rome, across a crossroads in the Velabrum / Forum Boarium in Rome. Built in the early 4th century of spolia, possibly in honour of Constantine I or Constantius II, its current name is probably Renaissance or later and not ancient, deriving from its four-fronted, four-arched structure.

In the Middle Ages it was transformed into a fortress by the Frangipane family and so survived intact up until 1830, when the attic and top were torn down because they were erroneously believed not to belong to the original structure. Fragments of the dedicatory inscription are still preserved inside the nearby church of San Giorgio al Velabro.

Although this 4 sided arch is named after Janus, the god with 2 heads looking in opposite directions, it was probably an honorary tribute to the Emperor Constantine and was erected in the most easterly part of the Forum Boarium, the cattle market, in the area known as Velabrum.

As well as being a monument, the arch provided shelter to the merchants during their business deals and negotiations. The parish Church of San Giorgio in Velabro (dating back to 5th century) stands behind the arch.

Velabrum was the ancient name given to the marshy ground beside the river; it was here that Faustolus found the twins Romulus and Remus in a floating basket. The basket had been snared by the roots of a fig tree on the bank of the Tiber. The area is one of the most symbolic of the legends that narrate the story of the birth of Rome.

Forum Boarium

The Forum Boarium was the open space close to the Tiber, which was home to Rome's large meat and fish market. The two small temples standing in this area are the best preserved temples from Rome's republican period (from 2nd century BC). Their survival is largely down to the fact that they were consecrated as Christian churches in medieval times

3. Temples of Portunus and of Hercules:

The small Temple of Portunus, named after the tutelary deity of the port, is located in the Forum Boarium, where the first bridges were built. It was restored in the first century BC and is so well preserved because the temple was converted to use as a church late in the ninth century. This view, from the back, shows the engaged Ionic columns around the cella. The temple also is commonly but mistakenly called the Temple of Fortuna Virilis.

The temple stood by the Portus Tiberinus in Roman times. The temple was dedicated to the god Portunus, protector of harbors and sea trade. In 872, it was turned into a Christian church. The small and elegant building stand on tall base and travertine columns has Ionic order.

The basic style of a temple was peripteros style in Greek times. In Roman times, the columns combined walls of the sacred room to pilaster. Similar temple is Mason Carree (Nimes, France), which is little bigger and has Corinthian style.

Temple of Hercules For a long time it was assumed that the little circular temple was in fact the Temple of Vesta. Today however one identifies the little round temple as the Temple of Hercules and its neighbor, which had been thought to be the Temple of Fortuna Virilis, as the Temple of Portunus.
Although the actual name of the temple may be a bit in doubt, it appears quite likely that it was dedicated to some form of Hercules, demigod of victory and commercial enterprise. (Claridge, 1998). This area, bordered by the Tiber, the ancient cattle auction and the Circus Maximus is supposedly the general location of Hercules’s victory over Cacus during his return from the eighth of his labors. According to legend, as he was passing through Rome, and I would imagine this site, on his return from stealing the cattle of Geryon, when the monster Cacus made off with a few cattle and hid them in a nearby cave. Hercules located them and killed the monster Cacus. To celebrate his victory over Cacus he made a sacrifice of some of the bulls at or near this site. The Great Alter (Ara Maximus) of Hercules Invictus is thought to have also been in this area and possibly today included in the site of the nearby church of S. Maria in Cosmedin.
The temple itself, which dates from some time in the late 2nd century to the early 1st BCE, is 50 RF (14.8 m) in diameter and consists of a circular cella wall surrounded by a circular colonnade consisting of 20 Corinthian columns. The columns are 36 RF (10.66 m) in height.
The design of the round temple is Greek and there were two types. The first was the monopteros, which consisted of a circular arrangement of columns, which supported a circular system of beams, which carried a cupola. Within this arrangement would be placed a representation of the deity the to whom the temple was dedicated. This type of temple did not incorporate a cella and therefore the statue of the god or goddess would be visible to passers-by. The second type of round temple was the peripteros, which did incorporate a cella, had a greater number of columns forming a circular colonnade carrying an entablature supporting with a beam system and roof or cupola. (Guhl and Kroner, 1995) The Temple of Hercules is of the second or peripteros type.
A doorway flanked by two rectangular windows achieved admittance to the cella. These are noted as being part of the original design and structure with the window on the right of the doorway falling between the 3rd and 4th columns (counter clockwise) while the one on the left is placed between the 17th and 18th columns. The general layout of the temple is pictured in these drawings from Claridge 1998, Figure 120, and page 255.
The plan figure as taken from Claridge did not include the windows, however a plan design from Guhl and Kroner did incorporate them. As I preferred the Claridge figure, I have added the windows in the cella wall to her plan.
Like many other buildings from ancient Rome, the fact that the round Temple of Hercules is still with us is due to its having been converted into a church. By 1132 CE it was known as St Stephen ‘of the carriages’. The upper part of the cella wall along with the original roof and marble entablature has been lost. The upper part of the cella was replaced with brick and concrete during the 12th Century. Claridge states that ‘further restorations (and a fresco over the altar) were made in 1475’ and there is a plaque in the floor dedicated by Sixtus IV. There are very good remains of the fresco which are pictured below. Whether this is the 1475 effort or is from a the 17th Century when the temple was rededicated as St Mary ‘of the Sun’ I am not certain but as can be seen from the following picture the fresco is quite well preserved.
Also on display in the temple are various artifacts from the site. The pieces of fluted column in this photo may have been from bits that were discarded during the restoration of the temple or they are from one of the 10 columns that had to be replaced during a 1st CE rehabilitation of the temple.
That marble entablature which would have supported the roof system would have rested on column capitals the excellent top portion of this capital is not one of either C2 BCE or C1 CE. These capitals were made in two pieces seen here by the imperfect alignment. Just below the misalignment on the stem of the carved leaves supporting the corner scrolls you can find two horizontal bands or rings carved on each of those stems. This is characteristic of the original capitals from the original construction in C2 BCE. A thicker but single band was carved on the later capitals that were used in repair of the temple. The vertical spacing between the levels of the leaves on the lower part of the capital were also different on the replacement capitals. As can be seen, the columns on either side of this one have lost the upper part of their capitals, which have been replaced by travertine blocks. Originally these columns would have supported the missing marble entablature, which would have supported the roof. The original roof and beam system would not have rested directly on the columns as it does now.
Around the temple can be seen part of the original base where it has been excavated (excavation by Valadier 1810). Notice the foot of the columns in this picture. On some of the more intact units you can see what appears to be a marble slab under the base. Actually, in the original state, the carving of the foot of the column shaft, the base of the column and the plinth were of one piece and integrated into the top step of the temple. Another reason why, besides the use of Grecian (Pentelic) marble, why this was a very expensive temple when it was built.
Continuing on to the back of the temple we come upon a little Christian graffiti from some time in antiquity.
Reference cited / used in the preparation of this article:

Claridge, Amanda, Oxford Archaeological Guides Rome, Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 019288003-9

Guhl, E. and Kroner, W., The Romans Their Life And Customs, Tiger Books International, 1994, ISBN 1 85958 055 6

Platner, Samuel Ball, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome

4. Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus (Latin for largest arena) is an ancient arena and mass entertainment venue located in Rome.

Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills the location was first utilized for public games and entertainment by the Etruscan kings of Rome. Certainly, the first games of the Ludi Romani (Roman Games) were staged at the location by Tarquinius Priscus, the first Etruscan ruler of Rome. Somewhat later, the Circus was the site of public games and festivals influenced by the Greeks in the 2nd century BC. Meeting the demands of the Roman citizenry for mass public entertainment on a lavish scale, Julius Caesar expanded the Circus around 50 BC, after which the track measured approximately 600 metres in length, 225 metres in breadth and could accommodate an estimated 150,000 seated spectators (many more, perhaps an equal number again, could view the games by standing, crowding and lining the adjoining hills). In 81 AD, the Senate built a triple arch honoring Titus by the closed East end (not to be confused with the Arch of Titus over the Via Sacra on the opposite side of the Palatine). The emperor Domitian connected his new palace on the Palatine to the Circus in order that he could more easily view the races. The emperor Trajan later added another 5000 seats and expanded the emperor's seating in order to increase his public visibility during the games.

The most important event at the Circus was chariot racing. The track could hold 12 chariots, and the two sides of the track were separated by a raised median termed the spina. Statues of various gods were set up on the spina, and Augustus erected an Egyptian obelisk on it as well. At either end of the spina was a turning post, the meta, around which chariots made dangerous turns at speed. One end of the track extended further back than the other, to allow the chariots to line up to begin the race. Here there were starting gates, or carceres, which staggered the chariots so that each travelled the same distance to the first turn.

Very little now remains of the Circus, except for the now grass-covered racing track and the spina. Some of the starting gates remain, but most of the seating has disappeared, the materials no doubt employed for building other structures in medieval Rome.

The Obelisco Flaminio in Piazza del Popolo.This obelisk was removed in the 16th century by Pope Sixtus V and placed in the Piazza del Popolo. Excavation of the site began in the 19th century, followed by a partial restoration, but there are yet to be any truly comprehensive excavations conducted within its grounds.

The Circus Maximus retained the honour of being the first and largest circus in Rome, but it was not the only example: other Roman circuses included the Circus Flaminius (in which the Ludi Plebeii were held) and the Circus of Maxentius. The Circus still occasionally entertains the Romans; being a large, green area in the center of the city, it is often used for concerts and meetings

Cloaca Maxima

Cloaca Maxima

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Cloaca Maxima was one of the world's earliest sewage systems. Constructed in ancient Rome in order to drain local marshes and remove the waste of one of the world's most populous cities, it carried effluent to the River Tiber, which ran beside the city. It may have been initially constructed around 600 BC under the orders of the king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.

This public work was largely achieved through the use of Etruscan engineers and large amounts of semi-forced labor from the poorer classes of Roman citizens.

Although Livy describes it as being tunneled out beneath Rome, he was writing a great deal after the event. From other writings and from the path that it takes, it seems more likely that it was originally an open drain, formed from streams from three of the neighboring hills, that were channeled through the main Forum and then on to the Tiber. This open drain would then have been gradually built over, as building space within the city became more valuable. It is possible that both theories are correct, and certainly some of the lower parts of the system suggest that they would have been below ground level even at the time of the supposed construction.

There were many branches off from the main sewer, but all seem to be 'official' drains that would have served public toilets, bath-houses and other public buildings. Private residences in Rome, even of the rich, would have relied on some sort of cess pit arrangement for sewage.

The Cloaca Maxima was well maintained throughout the life of the Empire and there is evidence to suggest it was still working long after the traditional fall of the Western Empire. In 33 BCit is known to have received an inspection and overhaul from Agrippa,. Some passages have been connected to the modern-day sewage system, mainly to cope with problems of backwash from the river.

The Cloaca Maxima was thought to be presided over by the goddess Cloacina..

The outfall of the Cloaca Maxima into the river Tiber is still visible today near the bridge Ponte Rotto, and near Ponte Palatino. There is a stairway going down to it visible next to the Basilica Julia at the Forum.) Some of it is also visible from the surface opposite the church of San Giorgio de Velabro. .

The Cloaca Maxima was one of several large ditches that drained water from inhabited areas of the City of Rome. The Cloaca Maxima drained the valleys between the Esquiline, Viminal, and Quirinal Hills, as illustrated here, and then under the Forum:.

Eventually, it made its way to the Tiber River by way of the Velabrum. The debouche of the Cloaca into the Tiber can still be seen.:

Isola Tiberina:

On the famous temple of Esculapius, the Greek god of medicine, once the centre for pilgrimages of sick persons, rises the church of St. Bartholomew of the Island. The Ponte Fabricio, erected in 62 B.C. still almost intact today, and Ponte Cestio (46 B.C.) unite the island to the city.
Tiber Island

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A view from the south on the Tiber Island

The Tiber Island (Italian: Isola Tiberina, Latin: Insula Tiberina) is a boat-shaped island in the southern bend of the Tiber river in Rome. Approximately 270 m in length and 67 m at its widest, the island is well-known for being the site of an ancient temple to Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.


Legend has it that after the fall of the hated tyrant Tarquinius Superbus (510 BC), the angry Romans threw his body into the Tiber. It settled onto the bottom, where dirt and silt accumulated around it.

Another version says that the people gathered up the wheat and grain of their despised ruler and threw it into the Tiber, where it eventually became the foundation of the island.

Owing to its dark origins, the Tiber Island was, in Roman times, considered a place of ill omen. Until the temple was built, nobody went onto the island, and only the worst criminals were condemned to pass the remainder of their lives on it.

Construction of the Temple

The island's boat shape is all that remains of the great temple which once stood there. Accounts say that in 293 BC, there was a great plague in Rome. Upon consulting the Sibyl, the Roman Senate was instructed to build a temple to Aesculapius, the Greek god of healing, and sent a delegation to obtain a statue of the deity.

Upon its return trip up the Tiber river, a snake (a symbol of Aesculapius) was seen slithering off the ship and swimming onto the island. This was seen as the god's own choice for his temple's location, and the temple was built on the island, thus ending the plague.

This location was probably chosen for the temple due to its separation from the rest of the city, which meant that it would not be reached by plague and illnesses.

The island eventually became so identified with the temple it supported that, as a reminder of the miraculous event, it was modeled to resemble a ship. Travertine facing was added by the banks to resemble a ship's prow and stern, and an obelisk was erected in the middle, symbolizing the vessel's mast. Walls were put around the island, and it actually came to resemble a Roman ship. In the Christian age the obelisk was replaced by a column with a cross on the top. After it was destroyed in 1867, Pope Pius IX had an aedicula, called Spire, put in its place. This monument, designed by Ignazio Giacometti, is decorated with the statues of the four saints related to the island: St. Bartholomew, St. Paulinus of Nola, St. Francis and St. John.

Although little of the Aesculapius temple remains, the island can still be considered a place of healing, as a modern-day hospital (Fatebenefratelli Hospital) stands on the western section of the island.

In 998 Emperor Otto III had a new basilica, that of San Bartolomeo all'Isola, built over the temple's ruins. This was dedicated to his friend, the martyr Adalbert of Prague. The name of St. Bartholomew was added only later; today the church is commonly known as San Bartolomeo all'Isola.

Remains of the travertine are still visible at the east end of the island. Parts of the obelisk are now in the museum in Naples.

The island is linked to the rest of Rome by two bridges. The Ponte Fabricio is the oldest bridge in Rome, dating to 62 BC. It connects the island from the northeast to the Campus Martius. The Ponte Cestio, dating to 46 BC, connects the island to Trastevere on the south.

Entrance of the Fatebenefratelli Hospital

Aventine above the Forum and the Aedes Vestae
< Theater of Marcellus,
< Arch of Janus,
< Temple of Portunus,
< Circus Maximus,
< Portico D’ Ottavia:


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