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p405 Porta Capena

Article on p405 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 from Platner; any color photos are mine © William P. Thayer.



[image ALT: A heap of old masonry about the size of a small house, in a park by the side of a parking lot. It is the Porta Capena, the gate in the Servian Walls thru which the Appian Way left the city of Rome.]

Looking south, out of the City (1998).

Porta Capena: a gate in the Servian wall on the south-west slope of the Caelian. It was near the grove of the Camenae, and from it the Via Appia issued (Liv. I.26.2; III.22.4; Serv. Aen. VII.697; Frontinus, aq. 1.5, 19; Ov. Fast. IV.343; V.673; VI.192; Dionys. VIII.4; Fest. 110, 115, 347). The ancient derivation of the name from the Etruscan Capena (Serv. loc. cit.) is highly improbable, and no satisfactory explanation has been found (Jord. I.1.270‑271). The discovery of several portions of the wall in 1867‑1868, and of what is probably a pier of the gate itself during the recent construction of the Passeggiata archeologica, has definitely established its location (see Jord. I.1.228; Gilb. II.293, for references to the literature of earlier excavations; NS 1909, 427; BC 1908, 109‑150; Bartoli, Rassegna Cont. III. No. 2, 1910, 19; T IX.19). Domitian is said to have restored the porta Capena (Chron. 146), but as a mere gateway would have had no meaning then, the restoration was probably in connection with the extension of the aqua Marcia, which was brought across the Caelian by a branch, the rivus Herculaneus, and ended supra portam Capenam (Frontinus I.19). This aqueduct was at too low a level to have crossed to the Aventine; but there was another and higher branch which crossed the gateway, as is clear from references in literature (Frontinus II.76 — the Caelian and Aventine priusquam Claudia perduceretur, utebantur Marcia et Iulia; Mart. III.47; Iuv. III.11 and Schol.). The latest investigation, however, of the remains of the arches of this branch shows them to be of the time of Nero. See p23, n1, p26; and cf. Arcus Stillans.


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Page updated: 13 Sep 07