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Naumachiae

Collecting all the individual naumachia entries on pp357‑358 of

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

Naumachiae II:a mentioned in the Notitia in Region XIV, without further definition (cf. Sid. Apoll. Ep. I.5.9). One was perhaps the naumachia Augusti and the other the so‑called naumachia Vaticana .

Naumachia Augusti: the artificial pond constructed by Augustus in 2 B.C. on the right bank of the Tiber, where he celebrated sham naval combats on a great scale in connection with the dedication of the temple of Mars Ultor (Vell. II.100; Mon. Anc. iv.43‑44; Suet. Aug. 43; Tac. Ann. XII.56; Cass. Dio LXVI.25; Euseb. ad a. Abr. 2014). It was 1800 Roman feet (536 metres) long and 1200 (357) wide (Mon. Anc. loc. cit.), and was supplied with water by the aqua Alsietina, built by Augustus for this purpose (Frontinus, de aq. i.11, 22). Around the naumachia was a grove, nemus Caesarum, laid out by Augustus (Tac. Ann. XIV.15) in honour of Gaius and Lucius Caesar (Mon. Anc. loc. cit.; Suet. Aug. 43; Cass. Dio LXVI.25;1 CIL VI.31566), and perhaps gardens (cf. Suet. Tib. 72). In the centre of the basin was an island (Cass. Dio LXVI.25), and Pliny speaks twice (NH XVI.190, 200) of a pons naumachiarius, restored by Tiberius after fire, which may have been built across the basin to serve as a support for some of the apparatus of the games. This naumachia was used by Nero (Cass. Dio LXII.20; Suet. Nero 12?) and Titus (Cass. Dio LXVI.25; Suet. Tit. 7), and is mentioned in 95 A.D. (Stat. Silv. IV.4.5), but fell into disuse later, for in the time of Alexander Severus only parts of it remained (Cass. Dio LV.10). For a possible restoration, see Naumachia Philippi.

This naumachia was previously located nearly opposite the theatre of Pompeius, between the villa Lante and the Lungara, just north of the villa Corsini (HJ 640‑642, 652‑656; cf. LA 343; BC 1914, 393); but the recent discovery of the specus of the Aqua Alsietina (q.v.) has necessitated a change of view, and the earlier theory must probably p358be accepted, according to which it lay near S. Cosimato (Mem. Am. Acad. VI.141‑148).

Naumachia Caligulae: see Saepta Iulia.

Naumachia Caesaris: an artificial pond constructed by Julius Caesar in Minore Codeta (q.v.) in the campus Martius for the sham naval conflicts that were part of the celebration of his fourfold triumph in 46 B.C. (Suet. Caes. 39; Cass. Dio XLIII.23; App. B. C. II.102). This basin was filled up in 43 B.C. in consequence of an epidemic in the city, and has left no trace (Suet. Caes. 44; Cass. Dio XLV.17).

Naumachia Domitiani: an artificial pond constructed by Domitian for sham naval battles paene iustarum classium (Suet. Dom. 4). It was iuxta Tiberim (Suet. loc. cit.), ἐν καινῷ τινι χωρίῳ (Cass. Dio LXVII.8), and is usually located on the right bank of the Tiber without further evidence (HJ 661; DAP 2.viii.372‑373; BC 1914, 381‑382; DuP 143). Stone from this structure was afterwards used in restoring the circus Maximus, which had suffered from fire (Suet. Dom. 5).

Naumachia Philippi: a naumachia on the right bank of the Tiber, constructed by Philippus Arabs and his son in 247 A.D., when the one thousandth anniversary of the founding of Rome was celebrated (Aur. Vict. Caes. 28). This may have been only a restoration of the naumachia Augusti, which in that case would have lasted a century longer and been one of the two naumachiae of the Notitia (HJ 653‑654).

Naumachia Vaticana: the modern name for a structure, thought to have been a naumachia, lying just north-west of the castle of S. Angelo, the ruins of which were excavated in 1743 and of which traces have been found later (DAP 1.x (1842), 431‑470; NS 1899, 436; BC 1911, 204‑205). For a full discussion of the identification of this building, its history, and bibliography, see Hülsen in DAP 2. viii.353‑388; HJ 660‑661 (cf. BC 1914, 394‑5 for objections). He believes that this was the work of Trajan, to whose period the brick-facing belongs (AJA 1912, 417), perhaps a rebuilding of that of Domitian in the same or another place, and that it had been abandoned by the sixth century (Procop. BG II.1). It would then have been one of the two naumachiae of Not.; and from it came the name regio naumachiae, which was in use as early as the sixth century (see also Durm, Baukunst 699‑700; DAP 2. xv.370‑371; DuP 34; HCh 416). It is generally known as circus Hadriani, but wrongly. The Hermes of the Belvedere was found in it, if the information given by Ligorio is correct (JRS 1919, 181).


The Authors' Note:

1 Kornemann, Mausoleum des Augustus, 4, thinks that the μνημεῖον mentioned here is to be identified with the μνῆμα Γαιοῦ καὶ Λουκίου in which Julia Domna was placed; but see Mausoleum Augusti, Sep. C. et L. Caesaris.


Thayer's Note:

a Naumachiae II: Jordan's edition of the Regionaries, which is what I have online, has Naumachias V (q.v.), in both the Notitia and the Curiosum, and no Naumachias II is so much as mentioned in his apparatus. Nevertheless, two of these large structures in a single region seems much more plausible than five, especially since no other naumachia appears in any other Region; although, admittedly, if there had been five, it would be precisely in Regio XIV, and nowhere else, that one would expect them because of the supply of suitable water and the low elevation of the area.

The Internet is still wonderful; a year or more after the above, I was alerted by a kind reader of my site that indeed, at least one edition out there, that of Valentini and Zucchetti, emends Naumachias V in the Regionaries to Naumachias II: a very plausible emendation since II looks very much like V in most medieval scripts, and the two are in fact commonly interchanged.


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Page updated: 4 Feb 09