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p330 Aedes Matris Matutae

Article on pp330‑331 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



[image ALT: A beautifully preserved rectangular Roman temple on a podium at the top of a rather steep set of stairs. It is in Rome; commonly known as the Temple of Portunus, but Platner believes it to be the Temple of the Mater Matuta.]
The temple Platner believes to be that of the Mater Matuta, in the Forum Boarium.
Commonly known as the Temple of Fortuna Virilis, currently also as the Temple of Portunus.

Mater Matuta, Aedes (templum, Liv. XXIV.47, Ovid): a temple in the forum Boarium (Liv. XXXIII.27.4; Ov. Fast. VI.477‑479), just inside the porta Carmentalis (Liv. XXV.7.6), ascribed by tradition to Servius Tullius (Liv. 5.19.6, Ov. Fast. VI.480), restored and dedicated by Camillus in 395 B.C. (Liv. V.19.6, 23.7; Plut. Cam. 5); it was burned in 213 (Liv. XXIV.47.15), and restored the next year by triumvirs appointed for the purpose, together with the temple of Fortuna (Liv. XXV.7.6; for a possible later restoration, see below). In 196 B.C. two arches (fornices) with gilded statues were set up by L. Stertinius in front of the temples of Mater Matuta and Fortuna (Liv. XXXIII.27.4), and if, as is probable, these arches were part of a colonnade surrounding them both, the temples must have been near together and perhaps had the same orientation. In the temple of Matuta Ti. Sempronius Gracchus placed a bronze tablet1 (Liv. XLI.28.8), on which was a record of his campaigns in Sardinia and a map of the island. The day of dedication was that of the Matralia, 11th June (Fasti Tusc. Ven. Maff. ad III id. Iun., CIL I2 p216, 222, 224, 320; Fast. Ant. ap. NS 1921, 98 — from which we learn that is was also the day of dedication of the temple of Fortuna (q.v.)).


[image ALT: zzz]
31 MATER MATUTA, TEMPLUM
On the north side of the modern Piazza della Bocca della Verità, a site corresponding to that indicated by the evidence of literature, is an ancient temple converted into the church of S. Maria Egiziacaa in 872 (Arm. 612). The temple is Ionic (Ill. 31), 20 metres long and 12 wide, with north-south orientation parallel to the Tiber, tetrastyle prostyle, and stands on a podium 2.50 metres in height and originally 26 metres long. p331It was pseudo-peripteral, with five engaged columns in the side walls of the cella and a pronaos. The two free columns of the pronaos were walled up to increase the size of the church; but the temple has recently been isolated and all modern accretions have been removed. The cella walls and engaged columns, except those at the angles, are of tufa; the columns of the pronaos, the capitals of all the columns, the architrave and cornice, and the facing of the podium, of travertine. The frieze was decorated with ox-skulls and garlands, but most of this decoration has disappeared.2 The temple faced toward the street leading up from the pons Aemilius, and not toward the forum Boarium proper. This has sometimes been identified with the temple of Fortuna, but it is more probable that it is that of Mater Matuta. If this is correct, the temple must have been restored about the middle of the first century B.C., to which period the construction seems to point. For this identification, see Hülsen, DAP 2.vi.270; and for a complete description of the existing structure, Fiechter, Mitt. 1906, 220‑279; also Rosch. II.2462‑2463; D'Esp. Fr. I.50; ZA 251‑253; TF 134‑136; YW 1924‑5, 85; Muñoz, Tempio della Fortuna Virile, Rome 1925; ASA 20, 21, 77; Mitt. 1925, 321‑350, for an identification of this temple with that of Portunus (q.v.), the attribution of the round temple being treated as uncertain; and for an erroneous identification (Cybele) by Cecchelli, cf. ZA cit. For its mediaeval history see HCh 258, 336, 590, 597; BC 1925, 57‑69, where it is identified with S. Maria de Gradellis; cf. Molinae.


The Authors' Notes:

1 Urlichs, Malerei vor Caesar, interprets 'tabula' as 'picture', and probably rightly. There is no word of its being of bronze. For a similar inscription (the painting is not mentioned) in the temple of the Lares Permarini see Liv. XL.52.4.

2 For a theory, for which there is no evidence, that this stucco decoration belongs to the Renaissance period, see Gnomon I. (1925), 367.


Thayer's Note:

a For those of you who landed here from my Churches of Rome site, this name is not because this temple was in any way Egyptian. Its patron saint was St. Mary of Egypt; see this good article on her in the Catholic Encyclopedia.


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