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p54 Arx

Article on pp54‑55 of

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


Arx: the northern part of the Capitoline hill, separated from the southern part, the Capitolium proper (q.v.), by a depression (v. Asylum) which was the citadel of Rome after the city had expanded sufficiently to include the Quirinal and Viminal hills — that stage of the growth commonly known as the City of the Four Regions (Pl. 41‑44). The height of this part of the hill was about 49 metres above sea-level, and its area about one hectare. This arx, also called arx Capitolina1 (Liv. VI.20.9; XXVIII.39.15; Val. Max. VIII.14.1; Tac. Hist. III.71), preserved its military importance down to the first century A.D. (see Aberystwyth Studies V (1923) 33‑41, for proof that Sabinus2 held the arx, and not the temple of Jupiter), though it had no permanent garrison. In the early days sentinels were posted here while the comitia were being held in the campus Martius, to watch for the signal displayed on the Janiculum of an approaching enemy (Cass. Dio XXXVII.28). Another signal — vexillum russi coloris — was raised on the arx, to which reference is frequently made (Liv. IV.18.6; XXXIX.15.11; Fest. 103; Macrob. I.16.15; Serv. Aen. VIII.1), and the trumpet blown (Varro VI.92).

Titus Tatius is said to have lived on the arx (Solin. I.21), and also M. Manlius Capitolinus, whose house was destroyed in 384 B.C., when the senate decreed that henceforth no patrician should dwell on the arx or Capitolium (Liv. V.47.8; VI.20.13). On the site of this house, Camillus erected the temple of Iuno Moneta (q.v.) in 344 B.C. One other temple certainly stood on the arx, that of Concord dedicated in p55217 B.C., and possibly two others, of Vediovis and Honos et Virtus (qq.v.). There is no record of any other public buildings on the arx, but on its north-east corner was the Auguraculum (q.v.), a grassy open space where the augurs took their observations.

The original topography of the arx is quite uncertain; for the construction of the church and cloisters of S. Maria in Aracoeli in the ninth century changed completely all previous conditions (cf. Rodocanachi, Le Capitole 237‑242). When the foundations were laid for the great national monument of Victor Emmanuel, which now covers most of the arx north of the Aracoeli and the slope of the hill below, some traces of the scarped cliff and the tufa walls of the primitive fortification of the hill were found3 (NS 1887, 113; BC 1887, 175, 275; Mitt. 1889, 254), and fragments of three sections of the later so‑called Servian wall which passed around the north corner of the hill. Two of these sections were on the north-east, and one on the north-west side of the hill, just below its top (NS 1889, 160, 361 1890, 215; 1892, 200; BC 1887, 220; 1892, 145‑146; Mitt. 1889, 254‑255; 1891, 104; 1893, 287). That private houses4 extended some distance up the sides of the arx from the low ground below, as they did on the slopes of the Capitolium and to the limits of the Asylum (Tac. Hist. III.71), is shown by the discovery of the ruins of walls and pavements near S. Rita and along the line of the Via Giulio Romano (NS 1888, 497; 1889, 68, 160; 1892, 42, 43, 313, 343‑344, 406‑407; BC 1888, 331; 1889, 206; Mitt. 1889, 255; 1891, 104. For the arx in general see also Jord. I.1.282‑284; 2.102‑115; RE I.1493‑1494; Rodocanachi, Le Capitole, Paris 1905, 18‑20).


The Authors' Notes:

1 Cf. Flor. I.13.13: arx Capitolini montis.

2 Tacitus uses the following expressions: Sabinus . . . arcem Capitolii insedit, usque ad primas Capitolinae arcis fores, Capitolii fores — and only subsequently Capitolium of the other summit — ending his account thus: sic Capitolium (i.e. the temple) clausis foribus indefensum atque indireptum conflagravit.

3 The description given seems to show that they were built of 2‑foot blocks of tufa like the other sections which at the time of their discovery were believed to be primitive, from which indeed it is very doubtful whether they should be differentiated (see especially Mitt. 1889, 254). For illustrations of one of the sections on the north-east, see Primo Acciaresi, Giuseppe Sacconi e l'opera sua massima (Rome, 1911), 78‑84 (the most important is repeated in Capitolium, I.325).

4 A drawing of one of them is given by Acciaresi, op. cit. 40 (cf. Capitolium, II.272).


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