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Bill Thayer

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 p408  Porta Fontinalis

Article on p408 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

Porta Fontinalis: a gate known only from two passages in literature (Fest. 85; Liv. XXXV.10.12) and three inscriptions (CIL VI.9514, 9921, 33914), but assumed to have been in the Servian wall. In 193 B.C. a porticus was built a porta Fontinali ad Martis aram qua in campum iter esset (Liv. loc. cit.; CP 1908, passim),º and this is the only topographical indication that we have, apart from the connection with springs indicated by the name itself. The exact site of the Ara Martis (q.v.) is in dispute, but it was in the campus Martius, west of the via Lata, and therefore the view most generally held at present is that the porta Fontinalis was on the north-east side of the Capitoline, between it and the Quirinal, where a road1 certainly connected the campus with the forum (RhM 1894, 410‑412; Richter 44). It has also been placed farther west, near the Piazza Magnanapoli2 (Jord. I.1.209; Wissowa, Hermes 1891, 142‑143; BPW 1912, 1734; for a very doubtful identification with the Porta Capena, see Morpurgo, BC 1906, 209‑223; for further discussion, see CP 1908, 67‑68, 73). The occurrence of this gate in inscriptions indicates that it continued to exist in some form during the empire and was apparently a well-known locality.

The Authors' Notes:

1 The later Via Flaminia (q.v.). For the gate thought to have been found here (in Via di Marforio) see Bull. d. Inst. 1870, 112; BC 1888, 14.

2 For the small arch now in the Palazzo Antonelli, see BC 1875, 35; its span is only 1.95 m (not 1.05, as TF 120 has it), so that it can hardly be more than a postern.

[image ALT: Part of the inside of a room, with plastered walls; thru the back wall, a rough stone arch thru which one can see a small staircase going up. It is a view of a gate or postern in the Servian Wall in Rome.]

In an administrative office of the Banca d'Italia, 157B-158 Largo Magnanapoli: open weekdays during banking hours only, and not really open to the public. The gate, and a collection of Roman inscriptions on an adjacent wall, are to the right as you enter the courtyard. The guard, who is not too keen on visitors, is in his box to the left (i.e., behind you as you look at the gate here). See my diary, Oct. 19, 1998.

Doubtful about the 1.95 m measurement given above, which seemed to me too high, I went back in September 2000, and did a quick measurement of my own: I come up with 1.54 m inside measurement, and roughly 2.60 m allowing the thickness of the arch on either side. See my diary, Sept. 15, 2000.

Finally, for additional scholarly discussion, see AJA 22:179.

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Page updated: 12 Sep 06