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* the name given by the Romans to a very common type of building erected for business purposes and also for the accommodation of the courts. It usually consisted of a rectangular hall, of considerable height, surrounded by one or two ambulatories, sometimes with galleries, and lighted by openings in the upper part of the side walls. The hall often ended in an apse or exedra. There were numerous variants in detail from this type, but the general effect was the same. For discussions of the basilica in general, see RE iii. 83 ff.; DS. i. 677 ff.

The recent discovery of the underground basilica just outside the Porta Maggiore has somewhat modified the views previously held; Here we have a building, undoubtedly pagan, belonging to the first century after Christ, which already shows, fully developed, the plan of the Christian basilica with a nave and two aisles, separated by pillars supporting arches (Giovannoni in DAP 2. xv. 113). This basilica is not mentioned in classical literature, and was quite unexpectedly discovered in 1915. It was reached by a long subterranean passage, with two lightshafts (which has now been closed up, a new approach having been constructed from the via Praenestina), which led into a square vestibule with a larger shaft. (It was the earth falling into this shaft (which lay right under the Naples railway line) which led to the discovery of the basilica.} The vestibule was decorated with painted stucco; and from it a window over the entrance door threw scanty light into the basilica itself, which was decorated entirely with reliefs in white stucco. The subjects are very varied, and have given rise to much discussion. The basilica can be inferred from them to have served for the meetings of a neo-Pythagorean sect which believed in a future life, as they can all be referred to the adventures of the soul in its passage towards the otherworld, the scene in the apse showing the actual plunge into the purifying flood. The worship was obviously secret: and the building was probably constructed in such a way as to excite as little attention as possible, the piers having been made by excavating pits, which were then filled with concrete. The vaults and arches were supported until the concrete had set on the solid earth (not on scaffolding) which accounts for their irregularity: and it was only afterwards that the earth was cleared out from beneath.

See NS 1918, 30-52, for the original discovery; and Mem. Am. Acad. iv. 79-87, Strong and Jolliffe in JHS 1924, 65-111, and Carcopino, La Basilique Pythagoricienne de la Porte Majeure, Paris, 1927, for a full description, with references to the voluminous literature of the subject. Bendinelli's attempt in BC 1922, 85-126, to prove it to have been a tomb can hardly be accepted. A fully illustrated official account is to be expected.

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