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p428 Porticus Pompei

Article on pp428‑429 of

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


Porticus Pompei: built in 55 B.C. by Pompeius at the same time as his Theatre (q.v.), and adjoining its scaena. The purpose of the porticus was to afford shelter for the spectators in case of rain (Vitr. V.9.1). It is represented on the Marble Plan (frgs. 30, 110, and p22), and was a rectangular court, about 180 metres long and 135 wide, in which were four parallel rows of columns. The central area was laid out as a garden with shady walks (Prop. II.32.11‑12) and contained various works of art (Plin. NH XXXV.59, 114, 126, 132). Among these was a painting of Cadmus and Europa by Antiphilus, which is not to be identified with the representation of Europa which gave its name to the Porticus Europae (q.v.) described by Martial, which, A. Reinach maintains (Neapolis II.237 sqq.), was a bronze group made by Pythagoras of Rhegium for Tarentum (Cic. Verr. IV.135; Varro, LL V.31). The Curia Pompei (q.v.) in which Caesar was murdered was probably an exedra in this porticus (Asc. in Mil. 67; cf. Gell. XIV.7.7: propterea et in curia Hostilia et in Pompeia et post in Iulia, cum profana ea loca fuissent, templa esse per augures constituta ut in iis senatus consulta more maiorum iusta fieri possent). That the porticus was one of the most popular in the city is clear from the numerous incidental references (Cic. de fato 8; de off. II.60; Cat. 55.6; Ov. AA I.67; III.387; Prop. IV.8.75; Mart. II.14.10; XI. 1.11, 47.3;a Cass. Dio XLIV.16).

The porticus was burned in the reign of Carinus (Hist. Aug. Car. 19), and restored by Diocletian (Chron. 148: porticos II), under the direction of Aelius Helvius Dionysius, the prefect of the city (CIL VI.255, 256), who called one side of the restored structure porticus Iovia, and the p429other porticus Herculea, in honour of the two emperors Diocletian and Maximian. It may be referred to as the portica Nova, which was ruined by the earthquake of 442 (Consul. Ital. Chron. min. ed. Mommsen I.30: terrae motus factus est Romae et ceciderunt statuae et portica nova; cf. BC 1917, 11‑13). No remains of this building are visible, and the discoveries on its site have been unimportant (Ann. d. Inst. 1883, 11‑12; Mél. 1908, 225‑228; LS III.122‑124; HJ 531‑532; Gilb. III.325‑326; ASRSP 1887, 467; BC 1892, 146‑148; 1917, 11‑13; 1925, 271).


Thayer's Note:

a Knowing Martial, one might expect to find something like this, but it does confirm that life in the larger Roman cities was much like life in their modern counterparts: then as now, public parks were used as trysting grounds. The passage reads:

Cur nec Pompeia lentus spatiatur in umbra

nec petit Inachidos limina? Ne futuat.


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