is used in a distinctive as well as
collective sense, to designate a particular part in the private houses of
the Romans [DOMUS
], and also a
class of public buildings, so called from their general resemblance in
construction to the atrium of a private house. There is likewise a
distinction between atrium and area ; the former being an open area
surrounded by a colonnade, whilst the latter had no such ornament attached
to it. The atrium, moreover, was sometimes a building by itself, resembling
in some respects the open basilica [BASILICA
], but consisting of three sides. Such was the Atrium
Publicum in the Capitol, which, Livy informs us, was struck with lightning,
B.C. 214 (Liv. 24.10
). It was at other times
attached to some temple or other edifice, and in such case consisted of an
open area and surrounding portico in front of the structure, like that
before the church of St. Peter's, in the Vatican, or still more like the
atrium which leads to the church of S. Ambrogio at Milan, built by S.
Ambrose on the ruins of a temple of Bacchus. The recently discovered
appears to have resembled the
atrium of a house, surrounded by the apartments of the Vestals. We also read
of two atria libertatis,
one or other of which
was employed as a record office by the censors, as a prison, and as the
earliest public library of Rome (Cic. Att. 4.1.
, pro Mil.
22, 59; Liv.
; Tac. Hist. 1.31
; Suet. Aug. 29
); of an atrium
near the Curia Julia, an atrium
an atrium sutorium
i. p. 389), and atria
, 12; 6, 25). The name is also applied to the
halls in which auctions were held (atria auctionaria,
Cic. Agr. 1.3
; Orelli, Inscr.