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Curia Hostilia

p142 Article on pp142‑143 of

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

Curia Hostilia: the original senate house of Rome, situated on the north side of the Comitium (q.v.); cf. Liv. XLV.24.12: comitium vestibulum curiae. Its construction was ascribed to Tullus Hostilius (Varro, LL p143V.155), and it was regularly called the curia Hostilia. It was approached by a flight of steps (Liv. I.48; Dion. Hal. IV.38; cf. Liv. I.36.5).

On its side wall, or at one side of it (in latere curiae), was a painting of the victory of M. Valerius Messala over Hiero and the Carthaginians in 263 B.C. (Plin. NH XXXV.22; see Tabula Valeria (2)). It was restored by Sulla in 80 B.C. and somewhat enlarged, the statues of Pythagoras and Alcibiades, which had stood at the corners of the Comitium, being removed (Plin. XXXIV.26; cf. Dio XL.49). In 52 B.C. it was burnt down by the partisans of Clodius and rebuilt by Sulla's son Faustus (Cic. pro Mil. 90, and Ascon. in loc.;1 Dio, loc. cit.; Cic. de fin. V.2 (written in 45 B.C.): Curiam nostram, Hostiliam dico, non hanc novam, quae minor mihi videtur postquam est maior, must also refer to this curia, and not to that of the elder Sulla, as Richter, 94, thinks).

In 44 B.C. it was decided to build a new curia (Dio XLIV.5: ἐπειδὴ τὸ Ὁστίλιον καίπερ ἀνοικοδομηθὲν καθῃρέθη). Part of its site was occupied by the temple of Felicitas (q.v.). The curia was, like the comitium, inaugurated as a templum (Varro ap. Gell. XIV.7.7).

According to what we know of the republican buildings which surrounded the comitium, the curia Hostilia should have faced due south (HC pl. III), and its position in regard to other monuments is given by Plin. NH VII.212 (midday was proclaimed by the accensus consulis, cum a curia inter rostra et Graecostasim prospexisset solem: a columna Maenia ad carcerem inclinato sidere supremam (horam) pronuntiavit), which shows either that it was necessarily orientated in the same way as the curia Iulia (Jord. I.2.327), or, more probably, that it lay further north.

As to its orientation, however, we must note that (a) that of the Rostra Vetera (q.v.) varied considerably at different times (see Comitium, p135), (b) that a flight of tufa steps 1.24 metre high, on practically the same orientation as that of the curia Iulia, leads down to the second level of the comitium (10.85 to 10.90 metres above sea-level), which may belong to an earlier curia (Pl. 235, fig. 49); (c) that the fine travertine pavement generally attributed to Faustus Sulla has quite a different orientation from either. See Jord. I.2.328‑332; Mitt. 1893, 86‑91; CR 1906, 134‑135; Pl. 229‑230; DR 327‑30.2

The Authors' Notes:

1 Pp29, 40, ed. Kiessling and Schoell.

2 For fragments of its terra-cotta decoration (?) see Van Buren, Terra-cotta Revetments, 6, 21 (cf. JRS 1914, 185, 186).

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