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στοὰ βασιλική; the pure Latin word being regia, sc. aula). A state building, used by the Romans as a hall of justice and a public meeting-place. The earliest basilica built at Rome was called the Basilica Porcia, after the famous M. Porcius CensoriusCato , who built it in B.C. 184, probably on the model of the στοὰ βασίλειος (“royal colonnade”) at Athens. It stood in the Forum near the Curia. The later basilicas usually bore the name of the persons who built them. Buildings of the same kind were constantly erected in the provinces to serve as halls of exchange or courts of justice. The form of the basilica was oblong; the interior was a hall, either without any divisions or divided by rows of pillars, with a main nave, and two, or sometimes four, side-aisles. Galleries for spectators were often added above. If the basilica was used as a hall of justice, a space (usually in the form of a large semicircular niche, and containing a tribunal) was set up at the end of the nave for the accommodation of the court.

Basilica of Trajan.

After the time of Constantine the Great, of whose great basilica, with its nave and two aisles, magnificent ruins still remain, many basilicas were turned into Christian churches, and many churches were built upon the same plan.

Besides the Basilica Porcia already mentioned

The Basilica at Trèves.

as having been the earliest Roman structure of the kind, there were at Rome fully twenty others erected at different periods, of which the following are most frequently mentioned by ancient authors:


Basilica Sempronia, constructed by Titus Sempronius, B.C. 171, and supposed to have been between the Vicus Tuscus and the Velabrum.


Basilica Opimia, which was above the Comitium.


Basilica Pauli Aemilii, or Basilica Aemilia, called also Regia Pauli by Statius. Cicero mentions two basilicas of this name, of which one was built, and the other only restored, by Paulus Aemilius. Both these edifices were in the Forum, and one was celebrated for its open peristyle of Phrygian columns, which Plutarch (Vit. Caes.) states was erected by L. Aemilius Paulus during his consulship, at an expense of 1500 talents, sent to him by Caesar from Gaul, as a bribe to gain him over from the aristocratical party.


Basilica Pompeii, called also regia, near the theatre of Pompey.


Basilica Iulia, erected by Iulius Caesar, in the Forum, and opposite to the Basilica Aemilia. It was from the roof of this building that Caligula scattered money among the people for several successive days.


Basilica Flavia, of the form on which the Christian churches were modelled.


Basilica Ulpia or Traiani, in the Forum of Trajan.


Basilica Constantini, erected by the emperor Constantine, supposed to be the ruin now remaining on the Via Sacra, near the Temple of Rome and Venus, and commonly called the Temple of Peace. Of all these magnificent edifices nothing now remains beyond the ground plan, and the bases and some portion of the columns and superstructure of several. The basilica at Pompeii is in better preservation; the external walls, ranges of columns, and tribunal of the judges being still tolerably perfect on the ground floor. See the illustration on page 199.

The Forum, or, where there was more than one, the one which was in the most frequented and central part of the city, was always selected for the site of a basilica; and hence it is that the classic writers not infrequently use the terms forum and basilica synonymously. See Forum.

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