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A´TRIUM 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 atrium Vestae 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. 6, pro Mil. 22, 59; Liv. 25.7, 34.44, 43.16, 45.15; Ov. Tr. 3.1, 71; Tac. Hist. 1.31; Suet. Aug. 29); of an atrium Minervae, near the Curia Julia, an atrium Caci, an atrium sutorium (Mommsen, Corp. Inscr. i. p. 389), and atria Licinia (Cic. pro Quint. 3, 12; 6, 25). The name is also applied to the halls in which auctions were held (atria auctionaria, Cic. Agr. 1.3, 7; Orelli, Inscr. 3439, 3883).

[A.R] [J.H.F]

hide References (12 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (12):
    • Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 4.1.6
    • Cicero, On the Agrarian Law, 1.3
    • Cicero, On the Agrarian Law, 1.7
    • Cicero, For Publius Quinctius, 3
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 1.31
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 29
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 34, 44
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 7
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 24, 10
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 43, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 45, 15
    • Ovid, Tristia, 3.1
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