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p286 Aedes Divi Iuli

Article on pp286‑288 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.


Iulius, Divus, aedes: (delubrum, Pl.; ἡρῷον, Cass. Dio; νεώς, App.): the temple of the deified Julius Caesar, authorised by the triumvirs in 42 B.C. (Cass. Dio XLVII.18), but apparently built by Augustus alone (Mon. Anc. IV.2: aedem divi Iuli . . . feci), and dedicated 18th August, 29 B.C. (Cass. Dio LI.22; Hemerol. Amit. Antiat. ad XV Kal. Sept.). The body of Caesar was burnt at the east end of the forum, in front of the Regia (Liv. ep. 116; Plut. Caes. 68), and here an altar was at once p287erected (βωμός, App. B. C. I.4; II.148; III.2), and a column of Numidian marble twenty feet high inscribed Parenti Patriae (Suet. Caes. 85). Column and altar were soon removed by Dolabella1 (Cic. ad Att. XIV.15; Phil. I.5), and it was on this site that the temple was afterwards built (App. locc. citt.; Cass. Dio XLVII.18). From the evidence of coins,2 the temple was restored by Hadrian (Cohen, Hadrien 416‑419, 1388), but the existing architectural fragments belong entirely to the original structure (Toeb. I.5). It had the right of asylum (Cass. Dio XLVII.19), and the Arval Brethren met there in 69 A.D. (Act. Arv. a. 69, Febr. 26, CIL VI.2051, 55).

A considerable part of the foundations, already uncovered (LS II.197), and the evidence of the coins of Hadrian, enabled Richter in 1889 to reconstruct the temple in its main lines (Jahr. d. Inst. 1889, 137‑162; Ant. Denkmäler I.27, 28), and additional information was given by the excavations of 1898‑1899 (CR 1899, 185, 466; Mitt. 1902, 61‑62; 1905, 75‑76; BC 1903, 81‑83; Atti 563‑566). The temple consisted of two parts, a rectangular platform 3.5 metres high, 26 wide, and about 30 long; and on this the stylobate proper which rose 2.36 metres above the platform, making the cella floor very high (Ov. ex Ponto II.84: divus ab excelsa Iulius aede videt; Met. XV.842), and was about 17 metres in width. In the middle of the front of the platform is a semi-circular niche 8.3 metres in diameter, of which some of the peperino wall has been left in place, and in this niche is a portion of the concrete core of a round altar standing on the travertine slabs which formed the pavement of the forum when the temple was built. The first altar therefore, which Dolabella destroyed, must have been restored, and preserved in the niche of this platform when the temple itself was built. This platform projected beyond the stylobate on both sides for a distance of 7 metres, and the projection was called rostra aedis divi Iuli (Frontin. de aq. 129; Cass. Dio LVI.34: ἔμβολα τὰ Ἰουλίεια) because the wall on both sides of the niche was decorated with the beaks of the ships captured at Actium (Cass. Dio LI.19) in a style similar to that of the old rostra. From this rostra the emperors seem to have spoken frequently (Cass. Dio locc. citt.; LIV.35; Suet. Aug. 100). There is some evidence in support of the view, probable in itself, that Caesar had himself erected a second rostra at the east end of the forum, which was represented by the rostra aedis divi Iuli after the building of the temple (Liv. Ep. 116; Richter, Gesch. d. Rednerbühne 52‑53; Gilb. III.167‑168, 171‑172).

The temple was Ionic, hexastyle, probably with antae, and pycnostyle, that is, with intercolumnar spaces equal to one and a half diameters (Vitr. III.3.2; Stat. Silv. I.1.22‑24). The columns were 1.18 metres in diameter at the base, and their height was nine times the diameter. The cella occupied the whole width of the temple, about 17 metres. The space between the two middle columns of the pronaos was wider than that between the others, and within the cella, opposite its entrance and this wide intercolumniation, stood a colossal statue3 of Caesar with a comet or star on its head, perhaps that referred to by Pliny (NH II.93‑94; cf. Suet. Caes. 88, Ov. Met. XV.841‑842 and Cass. Dio XLV.7.1). In this temple Augustus placed treasures from the spoil that he had taken (Mon. Anc. IV.24), and paintings of the Dioscuri, Victoria (Plin. NH XXXV.27), and of Venus Anadyomene by Apelles (ib. 91). As this had been injured by dampness, Nero replaced it by one by Dorotheus. Remains of the concrete podium and of the architectural decoration still exist; but the concrete core has been almost entirely stripped of the stone walls by which it was originally enclosed (Jord. I.2.406‑409; Théd. 153‑156, 269‑273;a HC 155‑159, Toeb. cit.; Fiechter in Zeitschr. f. Gesch. d. Archit. VIII. (1924), 62‑72; Mitt. 1906, 276; DR 191‑201; RE Suppl. IV.508‑510; ASA 72; HFP 14, 15).


The Authors' Notes:

1 Cf. also Cass. Dio XLIV.50. Caesar's veterans had some idea of replacing the altar (Cic. ad Fam. XI.2, veteranos de reponenda ara cogitare), which may be identical with the 'bustum' of Cic. Phil. I.5, though in Jord. I.2.407, it is interpreted as a cenotaph behind the altar. Cf. CR 1899, 186; and for the statue base in front of the temple, see Equus Tremuli; Statua (Loricata) Divi Iulii.

2 A coin (Cohen, Aug. 122; BM Rep, II. p14, 4356‑7; Aug. 63) which Hülsen (HC 61) refers to the curia, is thought to represent this temple by Mattingly (BM p. cxxiii, n4) but without good reason.

3 See Hermes, 1875, 342‑359, and supra, p226.


Thayer's Note:

a Platner cites the 1908 edition of Thédenat, which I haven't found online. Online at Gallica, however, is the 1898 edition; in it, the main passages on the Temple of Caesar are on pp178‑180 and 285‑288.


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