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Bill Thayer

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p252 Aedes Herculis Custodis

Article on p252 of

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

Hercules Custos, aedes: a temple of Hercules, near the circus Flaminius, built in accordance with the command of the Sibyl, and dedicated on 4th June (Ov. Fast. VI.209‑212):

Altera pars Circi Custode sub Hercule tuta est:

quod deus Euboico carmine munus habet.

muneris est tempus, qui nonas Lucifer ante est.

si titulum quaeris: Sulla probavit opus.

The reference to Sulla probably means that Sulla restored an existing temple. In 218 B.C. a supplicatio was decreed ad aedem Herculis (Liv. XXI.62.9), and in 189 a statue of the god was placed in aede Herculis (ib. XXXVIII.35.4). If, as is probable, this aedes is that restored by Sulla, the original temple must have been erected before 218, probably about the time of the erection of the circus Flaminius in 221, of which Hercules was regarded as the guardian. The day of dedication is recorded in the calendars (Fast. Venus. pr. Non. Iun., CIL I2 p221: Herc(uli) Magn(o) Custod(i); Vall. pr. Id. Aug. (undoubtedly an error), CIL I2 p240, 324: Herculi Magno Custodi in circo Maximo; Filoc. pr. Non. Iun., CIL I2, p319: ludi in Miniciasic). This last is interpreted to mean that in the fourth century the cult festival was still celebrated, and that 'in Minicia' implies that the temple was within (or close to?) the Porticus Minucia (q.v.), that is, at the west end of the circus Flaminius.a With this location agrees the statement of Ovid (vid. sup.) that this temple was at the opposite end of the circus from the temple of Bellona (q.v.), for the latter was probably north-east of the circus.

In the garden of the church of S. Nicola ai Cesarini,1 close to its south wall, are the remains of a circular peripteral temple, with concrete podium and fluted columns of tufa, sixteen in number, covered with stucco and standing on travertine bases, fragments of seven of which have been preserved (BC 1893, 191; Alt. 38‑40). The masonry of this structure has been attributed to the fourth century B.C., and it is represented on the Marble Plan (FUR fr. 110). Form and location suggest an identification with the temple of Hercules, but with no degree of certainty (AR 1909, 75‑76; Pl. 362; BC 1911, 261‑264; 1914, 385; RE VIII.571‑574; WR 223‑224; Rosch. I.2976‑2980; Comment. in hon. Mommsen 266‑267; HJ 533, 552; LR 457‑458; JRS 1919, 179, 180; BC 1918, 127‑136, a vigorous protest against this identification). Frank, however, regards it as belonging to the time of Sulla (from its material it cannot, he thinks, belong to 179 B.C.) and therefore returns to the former identification (TF 130).

The Authors' Note:

1 The church has now been demolished, and the remains of both the unidentified rectangular temple beneath it (HJ 533; BC 1918, 132‑136) and of the circular temple near it have been exposed to view.

Thayer's Note:

a Not my note at all, actually, but that of Tenney Frank, who reviewed Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary in AJP LI.80‑81, q.v.: in addition to catching the obvious slip (circus Flaminius, not Maximus) he makes another correction there as well.

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Page updated: 26 Aug 12