; 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
, 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
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:
, constructed by Titus Sempronius, B.C. 171, and supposed
to have been between the Vicus Tuscus and the Velabrum.
, which was above the Comitium.
Basilica Pauli Aemilii
, or Basilica Aemilia
, called also
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
) 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.
, called also regia
, near the theatre
, 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.
, of the form on which the Christian churches were
, in the Forum of Trajan.
, 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
synonymously. See Forum