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Bill Thayer

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p418 Porta Trigemina

Article on p418 of

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

Porta Trigemina: an important gate, and one frequently mentioned in ancient literature, in the Servian wall between the Aventine and the Tiber, in Region XI (Not.; Frontinus i.5; Solin. I.8; Dionys. 1.32.2, 39.4; de vir. ill. 65; Liv. XLI.27.8). The exact site is a matter of dispute, since the line of the wall has not yet been determined in this quarter. Some place it below the present church of S. Sabina (LF 34; Jord. I.1.235; Gilb. II.296); others about 40 metres south of S. Maria in Cosmedin, where an arch of tufa, 3.30 metres wide, over a paved road, was found in 1886 (NS 1886, 274; BC 1888, 20‑22; Mél. 1909, 129‑132; AJA 1918, 175‑176; TF 95, 96); and others still at the north corner of the Aventine, near S. Anna dei Calzettari,a about halfway between the other two points (KH I; Mitt. 1889, 260; for a presentation of all the different views and their literature, see Merlin, 96‑97, 125‑126, and cf. Murus Servii Tullii). The last of these theories is the most probable.

The name is best explained by supposing that the gate had three openings, to accommodate the heavy traffic of this district and of the Via Ostiensis (q.v.) (cf., however, Richter 46). Just outside it was a favourite resort for beggars (Plaut. Capt. 90), and a statue of L. Minucius (Liv. IV.16.2; vid. s.v.), which has led some to identify porta Trigemina with Porta Minucia (q.v.); see also porticus extra portam Trigeminam. A few inscriptions, on which the name of this gate occurs, have been found (CIL VI.9488, 9515,1 9618; for forged lamps with similar inscriptions, see Mitt. 1892, 144).

The Authors' Note:

1 This mentions a librarius ab extra(a) Porta Trigemina (CP 1914, 78).

Thayer's Note:

a S. Anna dei Calzettari was its name only after 1745; during most of its history, S. Anna de Marmorata, under which name it is listed as #257 in Hülsen's edition of the Torino Catalogue of the Churches of Rome (early 14c). Alas, telling us the gate may have been near this church no longer helps the modern reader: the precise location of S. Anna itself, a matter of living memory to Platner, is now already uncertain, since the church appears to have been destroyed sometime since the late 19c when this part of the embankment of the quays of the Tiber was built. It was somewhere along the Clivo di Rocca Savella. Armellini, published in 1891, does not mention it as being destroyed, and Hülsen, in his article, published in 1927, explicitly gives it as still existing: nonetheless, the church is not standing now.

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Page updated: 18 Jun 09