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p256 Aedes Herculis Victoris

Articles on pp256‑258 of

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

Black-and‑white images are from Platner; any color photos are mine © William P. Thayer


Hercules Victor, aedes: a temple vowed by Lucius Mummius in 145 B.C., and dedicated in 142 by Mummius when censor, if we may accept the p257evidence of an inscription found on the Caelian behind the Lateran hospital (CIL I2626 = VI.331: L. Mummi(us) L. f. Cos. duct[u] auspicio imperioque eius Achaia capt[a] Corinto deleto Romam redieit triumphans ob hasce res bene gestas quod in bello voverat hanc aedem et signu[m] Herculis Victoris imperator dedicat). Another inscription (CIL VI.30888) found near SS. Quattro Coronati may refer to this temple which was probably on the Caelian in this vicinity (HJ 227; DE III.701; RE VIII.578; Rosch. I.2920).


[image ALT: A beautifully preserved small round Roman temple with an almost flat conical roof. It is the Temple of Hercules in the Forum Boarium in Rome.]
The round temple in the Forum Boarium, formerly known as the Temple of Vesta.
Identified by Platner as the Temple of Hercules Victor (2),
it is also currently called the Temple of Hercules Olivarius.

Hercules Victor (Invictus), aedes: a round temple of Hercules in the forum Boarium (Liv. X.23.3: in sacello Pudicitiae patriciae quae in foro Boario est ad aedem rotundam Herculis; Fest. 242; Macrob. III.6.10: Romae autem Victoris Herculis aedes duae sunt, una ad portam Trigeminam altera in foro Boario). It was decorated with frescoes1 by the poet Pacuvius (Plin. NH XXXV.19), and is probably the temple into which neither flies nor dogs were said to enter (ibid. X.79: Romae in aedem Herculis in foro Boario nec muscae nec canes intrant). The fact that this same story is found in Solinus (I.10), who speaks of a consaeptum sacellum, and in Plutarch (q. Rom. 90: ἐντὸς τῶν περιβόλων), makes it somewhat uncertain whether it was told originally of the precinct of the Ara Maxima (q.v.), or of this temple.

The passage in Festus (242: Pudicitiae signum in foro bovario est ubi familiana aedisset Herculis) has occasioned much discussion. If Scaliger's emendation — ubi Aemiliana aedis est Herculis — is accepted, the natural inference would be that the round temple of Hercules was restored by L. Aemilius Paullus (Jord. I.2.483, n58; WR 275, n4; RE VIII.556, 557, 558, 560; Rosch. I.2903, 2904, 2905, 2909). This emendation, however, is purely conjectural (see Pudicitia Patricia). If Tacitus (Ann. XV.41: et magna ara fanumque quae praesenti Herculi Arcas Evander sacraverat) is referring to this temple, as some believe, it was injured in the fire under Nero, but it must have been restored very soon, and Pacuvius' frescoes must have been preserved (Plin. loc. cit.).

During the pontificate of Sixtus IV (1471‑1484) the remains of a round temple near S. Maria in Cosmedin were destroyed, but the building is referred to by archaeologists of the period (e.g. Pomponius Laetus, Albertinus). A drawing made a little later (1503‑1513) by Baldassare Peruzzi,2 of the plan and fragments (Vat. Lat. 3439, f. 32; De Rossi, Ann. d. Inst. 1854, pl. 3; Altm. 33‑36), shows a structure not unlike the existing round temple which is the church of S. Maria del Sole.a This temple stood just north of the Piazza di Bocca della Verità, between it and the Piazza dei Cerchi, north-west of the probable site of the ara Maxima (DAP 2.vi.241, 242 sq.). The discovery of the gilded bronze statue of Hercules, of the second century A.D. (HF 1005; Cons. 282), p258258 caused it to be identified with the aedes rotunda of Livy, an identification assisted by the further discovery in the immediate vicinity of a series of dedicatory inscriptions to Hercules Invictus (CIL VI.312‑319). These inscriptions, however, might belong to the Ara Maxima (q.v.).

The relations, topographical and historical, between the different shrines of Hercules in and near the forum Boarium, are by no means clear, and the problems involved have given rise to a considerable literature. (For this temple and for the general subject, see especially De Rossi, Ann. d. Inst. 1854, 28‑38; RE VIII.552‑563; Rosch. I.2901‑2920; also Jord. I.2.479‑483; Gilb. III.433‑434; JRS 1919, 180; CIL I2 p150, 505; Boll. Ass. Arch. Rom. V. (1915) 108‑129.)b


The Authors' Notes:

1 Urlichs, Malerei vor Caesar, 17, prefers to explain 'pictura' as a panel.

2 It is from the St. Germain MS. of Ligorio that we learn this: Panvinio (Vat. Lat. cit.) does not mention the fact (Altm. cit.).


Thayer's Notes:

a Platner is not the clearest writer, sometimes: the church of S. Maria del Sole is the surviving temple, not the one that was destroyed. For an outline of the Christian history of this building, as S. Stefano Rotondo, S. Stefano alle Carrozze, and S. Maria del Sole, see the article S. Stephanus Rotundus in Christian Hülsen's Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo. (And no, that article is not about the church now called S. Stefano Rotondo, with which our building was frequently confused.)

b A good article on this temple, marred only by the author's pseudonymy and illustrated with intelligently selected photos, may be found at RomanEmpire.Net.


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Page updated: 4 Feb 09