VENUS ET ROMA, TEMPLUM
, Cass. Dio cit.):
the double temple
on the Velia built by Hadrian (Chron. 146; Hieron. a. Abr. 2147),
and dedicated to Venus Felix, the ancestress of the Roman people, and
to the genius of the city, Roma aeterna. The association of these two
divinities on a coin of C. Egnatius Maximus is noticed by Babelon (i. 472;
but cf. BM. Rep. i. p. 399, n. 3). It was also called templum urbis
Romae (Serv. Aen. ii. 227
), templum urbis (Amm. Marcell. xvi. 10
Hist. Aug. Hadr. 19; Cassiod. Chron.), urbis Venerisque templa (Prud.
c. Sym. i. 221
), and possibly templum Veneris1
(Hist. Aug. trig. tyr. 32).
The plans were drawn by Hadrian himself, and evoked sharp criticism
from his Greek architect, Apollodorus, who is said to have been put to
death in consequence (Cass. Dio lxix. 4
). The temple was dedicated
in 135 A.D. (Hieron. loc. cit.; cf. Athen. viii. 63
, p. 361, who erroneously
gives the day as the Parilia), but perhaps finished by Antoninus Pius
(Cohen, Hadrian 1420-1423, Pius 698-703, 1074-1076).
In accordance with Roman theory in such matters, it was necessary
to build a separate cella for each goddess, in this case not side by side, but
back to back, that of Venus facing east, and that of Roma west (Prud.
loc. cit.: atque Urbis Venerisque pari se culmine tollunt templa). In
307 the temple was injured by fire and restored by Maxentius (Chron. 148;
Aur. Vict. Caes. 40: urbis fanum) ; and the whole of the superstructure
dates from his time, as was first pointed out by Nibby (Roma Antica
cf. AJA 1912, 429
). It was one of the monuments that
aroused the special wonder of Constantius when he visited Rome in 356
(Amm. Marcell. xvi. 10
. 14), and was probably the largest and most magnificent temple in the city. It is mentioned in the Notitia (Reg. IV), and
somewhat later by Prudentius (loc. cit.), for the last time in antiquity.
The history of its destruction is unknown, but in 847-853 Leo IV built
the church of S. Maria Nova in its ruins (HCh 352), and this is one of the
chief arguments that it was the earthquake of his reign that wrought so
much harm in and around the forum (LPD ii. 108
, c. 20: terre motus
in urbe Roma per indictionem factus est x (i.e. before 30th August, 847)
ita ut omnia elementa concussa viderentur ab omnibus
). This church
was rebuilt in 1612 and is now called S. Francesca Romana. (Cf. p. 235).
The temple proper was built on an enormous podium of concrete
faced with travertine, 145 metres long and 100 wide, on the north side
of the Sacra via, between the Velia and the Colosseum, and on the line
of the main axis of the latter, necessitating the removal of the COLOSSUS
(q.v.). Owing to the slope of the ground, the height of the
podium at the east end is considerable, and chambers were constructed
in it for the storage of the machinery and apparatus of the amphitheatre.
On this podium was a peribolus formed of a colonnade consisting of an
outer wall and a single row of enormous columns of grey Egyptian granite
on the sides, and probably of a double row of columns only at the ends.
This colonnade had projections like propylaea at the corners and at the
middle of the long sides. See JRS 1919, 184
, for Ligorio's plan of it
(the genuineness of which is doubtful). At the west end of the podium a
wide flight of steps led down to the paved area in front of the temple;
but at the east end there were only two small flights. The temple
proper was raised on a platform, seven steps high, in the centre of the
peribolus. The two cellar ended in apses placed back to back; but a:
the side walls of the cellae were prolonged so as to meet, the external
appearance was that of one long rectangular building.
This temple was decastyle, of the Corinthian order, and pseudo-
dipteral (Cohen, Hadr. 1420-3,3
Pius 698-703, 1074-6; BC 1903, 19
columns of the peristyle being of white marble about 1.8 metres in
diameter. The cellae were narrower than the facade, and each pronaos
had only four columns between the antae. The building was constructed
of brick-faced concrete, and entirely covered with marble. Within
the cellae, on each side, were rows of porphyry columns supporting an
entablature. In the apses were five niches, alternately square and
semicircular, with columns and entablatures in front of them. In the
central niche of each apse was the statue of the goddess herself-Venus,
in one and Roma in the other. Within the precincts of the temple were
silver statues of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina, and an altar on which
sacrifice was made by newly married couples (Cass. Dio lxxi. 31
), a statue
of Minerva (Serv. Aen. ii. 227
), and doubtless many more (Hist. Aug.
trig. tyr. 32).
A single staircase, between the apses on the south side, led to the
roof of the temple (NA 1910, 631-638
; RA 131-132, 213-215), which
was covered with gilt tiles. A part of the west front of the temple, with
its sculptured pediment, is represented on two fragments of a relief, now
in the Lateran and Museo delle Terme (MD 3519; Benndorf-Schoene,
Lateran 20; S. Sculp. 238-240; Mitt. 1895, 248
; PT 227-228; see
which shows that on this west pediment were reliefs of Mars
visiting Rhea Silvia and of the she-wolf suckling the twins. Most of
the west cella has been destroyed; the apse and part of the east cella
still stand in ruins, with many fragments of the columns of peristyle
and peribolus (see DAP 2. xv. 368, and LS i. passim; ii. 220-222
particulars of building materials quarried on its site). This temple with
its enormous peribolus falls into the same category of buildings as the
imperial fora, of which it formed a virtual continuation (HJ 17-20; Gilb.
; HC 243-247; WR 293, 340; D'Esp. Mon. ii. 90-95
; Fr. ii.
; DR 185-190; RE Suppl. iv. 481-484
; Mem. L. 5. xvii. 525;
ASA 73, 74; HFP 51-52; JRS 1925, 218