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As we advance down the Via Sacra, the first building which presents itself is the temple of Venus and Rome, which had the Emperor Hadrian for architect. It was pseudo-dipteral, decastyle, and in a fore-court, with a double colonnade of granite columns with Corinthian capitals. Dion Cassius speaks of it as being near the Via Sacra, and close to the Colosseum. Prudentius also mentions it as being on the Via Sacra. The back of the temple evidently faced the Via Sacra, while the entrance fronted the Colosseum. The original temple was burnt down in the reign of Maxentius, and the present ruins are considered to be the remains of the restoration by Constantine.*
The celebrated architect Apollodorus, having made some objections to the plan of this temple as designed by the Emperor Hadrian, so offended the emperor as to lead him to cause his death. The objections, according to Dion Cassius, were 'that Hadrian ought to have made it more lofty, and with subterranean accommodation for receiving, as occasion might require, the machinery of the theatre, and for giving it a more imposing aspect towards the Via Sacra.'
* The present remains—the two apses back to back-may, however, belong to the age of Hadrian, as apses in a similar position, of the age of Hadrian, have been lately discovered. Signor Lanciani writes in the Atheneum (July 28, 1883): 'Two large halls or basilicas, the tribunes, or hemicycles, of which stand back to back, like the apses of Hadrian's temple of Venus and Rome, have been discovered among the ruins of an imperial villa at Roma Vecchia. Their date is shown by brick stamps of the time of Hadrian, dated from A.D. 117 to 127.'
From this it is evident that the objections of Apollodorus were not, as generally supposed, that the temple ought to have been placed on another and higher site, but that the temple ought to have been built on a loftier basement or podium, which would have afforded space for theatrical machines, and given the temple a more imposing appearance from the Via Sacra. All the temples in the Forum are built on a lofty podium, which give them a more imposing appearance. The temple of Venus and Rome is built on the platform itself. The church of SS. Cosma and Damiano could never have been the temple of Venus and Rome, as suggested by Mr. Parker, as there is no room in that spot for the large peristylar temple, placed in a court surrounded with a double colonnade.
The atrium which formed the entrance-court to the golden palace of Nero was on the platform where the temple of Venus and Rome now stands, in the centre of which was the bronze statue of Nero. The atrium was destroyed by Vespasian, who had the statue placed on the Via Sacra. Hadrian had it afterwards removed to a pedestal in front of the Colosseum.
The next building is the basilica of Maxentius. It had two entrances; one turned towards the temple of Venus and Rome, and another on the Via Sacra; a flight of steps led down from the latter entrance to the pavement of the Via Sacra.
On our left are the remains of a portico 201 feet long, 24 feet wide, originally built of travertine.
They have been identified by Signor Lanciani with the Porticus Margaritaria, mentioned in the catalogue of the fourteenth region. Pilasters, fourteen in number in each row, rest on two parallel foundation walls of rubble work, which are not horizontal, but follow the incline of the Via Sacra; the difference of level between the two extreme points is not less than 8 feet. Ancient writers and tombstones mention very frequently tradesmen : Margaritarii de Sacra Via ;' pearl-merchants from the Sacra Via.
The portico built in front of their shops must have been named from them.*
On this same side was most probably the site of the temple of Jupiter Stator. Livy tells us that, the Romans being driven back by the Sabines over the whole ground now occupied by the Forum, Romulus vowed on that spot a temple to Jupiter. Ovid says, the temple of Jupiter Stator was in front of the Palatine, ‘ante Palatini ora jugi. Plutarch informs us it was ‘at the beginning of the Sacred Way, as you go up to the Palatine. Now, these passages tend to identify
' the site of the temple with this spot. We are here at the furthest end of the Forum, a little beyond the Regia, which, according to Servius, was on the borders of the Forum. This spot is in front of the Palatine ; and lastly, it is in the beginning of that portion of the Via Sacra, the Clivus Sacer, the sacred ascent, which
• According to Professor Fabio Gori, this porticus is of the Middle Ages, as is demonstrated by the construction in bad brickwork; it is simply a mediæval portico for the passage of
; the people.
led up to the Palatine.* It was in this temple that Cicero delivered his first speech against Catiline, the Senate being convened expressly in this temple to crush his ambition and murderous schemes.
The church of SS. Cosma and Damiano must evidently be identified with the chapel of the Penates,
ædes Deum Penatium,' mentioned in the “Monumentum Ancyranum,' and described by Dionysius as being in the street leading from the Via Sacra to the Carinæ, and in which were the images of the Trojan gods exposed to public view, with this inscription, AEMA, which signifies Penates. The old designation, as Mr. Burns writes, “temple of Romulus, applied by most Italian topographers to this temple, is certainly mistaken, and probably refers to some restoration of the temple by Romulus, son of Maxentius-a record of which may have been preserved in an inscription, and have given rise to the error of supposing that the temple was dedicated to Romulus.
Between this temple and the basilica of Maxentius is the pavement of the street which led from the Via Sacra to the Carina.
We come now to a part of the Via Sacra which may be truly called a classic spot, as it is expressly
* In this very exact spot, nearly opposite the temple of Romulus and in front of the Palatine, indications of constructions of an early date have been discovered (1882), probably those of the temple of Jupiter Stator.
The substructure on the Palatine, to which Signor Rosa has given the name of the temple of Jupiter Stator, cannot belong to that temple, as it was undoubtedly outside the wall of Romulus. This substructure is within the wall of Romulus.
indicated by the poet Ovid. In the first elegy of his third Book of the Tristia,' Ovid describes his book as being sent to Rome, to pray Augustus to pardon the poet pining in exile, and represents it as wandering through various parts of the city, and asking some one to show it the way to the palace of Augustus ; with much difficulty it at last gets some one to conduct it, who, as he leads the book, points out the several objects of interest on the way. On reaching this spot he says, “This is the way which
, derives its name from the sacred rites; this is the shrine of Vesta, which contains the palladium and the eternal fire; this was the little palace of the ancient Numa.' Then, bearing to the right, he said, “That is the gate of the Palatium ; this is the temple of Jupiter Stator. I may repeat on this spot the words of the guide, pointing to the several localities he mentions, and which are now in view.
The arch of Fabius spanned the Via Sacra at the foot of the slope of the Velia, which was called the Clivus Sacer. The arch was built of travertine on the outside surface only, the nucleus being of tufa and peperino. The diameter of the archway measured 394 metres.
It was a simple structure, scarcely with any ornament. Cicero notices this arch in the following passage of his speech for Plancius : 'When I am jostled in a crowd, as often happens,' he says, 'I do not blame the man who is at the top of the Via Sacra, while I am being pushed along near the Fabian Arch, but the person who actually runs against me, and pushes me.'