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Bill Thayer

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 p340  Meta Sudans

Article on pp340‑341 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 in the public domain; any color photos are mine © William P. Thayer

Meta Sudans: * a large fountain just south-west of the Colosseum, thought to stand at the meeting-point of five of the regions of Augustus, I, II, III, IV, X. It is said to have been built by Domitian in 96 A.D. (Chron. 146), a date which corresponds with the style of brickwork (AJA 1912, 413). In shape it resembled a goal in the circus (meta) and sudans described the appearance of the jets of water.1 That the name was not an unusual one is shown by the fact that there was one at Baiae (Sen. Ep. 56.4). This fountain is represented on a coin of Alexander Severus (Cohen 468, 469), and it is mentioned in Not. (Reg. IV) and in Eins. (8.15). The core still stands,a conical in shape, 1 metres high and 5 in diameter at the bottom. Around the base is a great basin, 21 metres in diameter, probably of the time of Constantine. The whole structure was originally covered with marble (HJ 23; NA Sept. 1, 1908,  p341 110‑116; NS 1909, 428). Its name may be preserved in that of the church of S. Maria de Metrio, which was situated in this district, and is mentioned in the catalogues and in bulls of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Hülsen proposes to identify it with the church on the south-west of the Sacra via, on the way up to the arch of Titus, which LR (170, 201) calls S. Cesareo;2 cf. HJ 24; HCh 345‑346; Arm. 522.

The Authors' Notes:

1 The relief in the Galleria Lapidaria in the Vatican which represents it, is not ancient (Amelung i. 245; HJ 25, n55).

2 Cf. Journal of the Brit. and Amer. Arch. Soc. (Rome), iv. 186‑202.

Thayer's Note:

a When Platner and Ashby wrote, the Meta Sudans did still stand; but Mussolini had it demolished. When I was a teenager, I saw its place marked by a flat inscribed disc in the pavement of the traffic circle around the Colosseum; currently, the area having been redesigned once again, the site of the ancient fountain is covered by grass — at least when they're not digging it up.

Here, thru the kindness of Marco Mariello, is a photograph of it that was published in Rome, l'Antiquité by Emile Bertaux, 1913; looking S thru the Arch of Constantine, of course:

[image ALT: Thru the central archway of a three-arched triumphal arch, a more or less conical stub of a structure about 5 m high and 2 m wide. It is a 1913 view of the Meta Sudans in Rome.]

For further photos and links, see the monument's page linked in the footer bar below.

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Page updated: 22 Mar 08