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p153 Doliola

Article on pp153‑154 of

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

Doliola: a place, probably within the limits of the forum Boarium, ad cloacam maximam (Varro, LL V.157), where earthen pots, doliola, were buried. It was unlawful to pollute this spot (Varro, loc. cit.; Fest. 69), and the jars were said to contain either the bones of corpses or quaedam religiosa of Numa (Varro, l.c.), or the sacred utensils of the Vestals (Liv. V.40.8) or other priests (Fest. l.c.; Placid. 32, Deuerl.), which they buried when the Gauls sacked the city. In 1901 there were found, at the south-west corner of the arch of Ianus Quadrifrons and also at a distance of 22 metres from it, remains of small chambers arranged on both sides of narrow corridors, which formed subterranean galleries with vaulted roofs. These chambers were of small size, 1.95 by 1.80 metres in width and depth, with doors 1.80 high. Each chamber contained a seat across one side.1 The floor of the chambers farthest from the arch is 3.25 metres below the ancient pavement of the forum Boarium, and 4.50 metres below the present level of the Via del Velabro. The construction of the galleries is that of the last century of the republic, and they seem to be adapted for an underground prison suggesting the locus saxo consaeptus (Liv. XXII.57), in which two Gauls and two Greeks were buried alive in 215 B.C. We have several other records of similar human sacrifices in foro Boario, though Gatti, in spite of Pliny's etiam nostra aetas vidit (NH XXVIII.12), doubts if they actually occurred except in effigy. This may also have been the Doliola itself, for the ossa cadaverum said to be preserved here suggest human sacrifices.

Von Duhn (Italische Gräberkunde i.416) considers that the probabilities are in favour of a site nearer the temple of Vesta (inasmuch as Livy tells us that the Vestals hid what they could not carry with them p154in doliolis, sacello proximo aedibus flaminis Quirinalis, and fled with the rest across the Pons Sublicius to the Janiculum), and that the discoveries of 1901 are of too late a period to have anything to do with the matter. There is little doubt that the whole legend arose from actual discoveries of prehistoric tombs along the line of the cloaca Maxima (cf.  Busta Gallica, Equus Domitiani; NS 1911, 190).

See Jord. I.2.486; Bull. d. Inst. 1879, 76, 77; NS 1901, 354, 422, 481; BC 1901, 141‑144, 283; Gatti in DAP 2.viii.253‑270 (cf. Reid in JRS 1912, 34‑35, who proposes to read civitas for aetas in Plin. loc. cit.); RE V.1283; I. A. 577 (where it is suggested that, as in the case of the lacus Curtius, we really have to do with a mundus).


The Authors' Note:

1 They may be, like the building near the Regia, miscalled Carcer by Boni, a series of bedrooms for slaves. Similar rooms may be seen in the Republican house cut by the foundations of the Neronian arcades on the Sacra via (see Domus Aurea, p168).


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