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Bill Thayer

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 p466  Scalae Gemoniae

Article on p466 of

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

Scalae Gemoniae: a flight of steps leading up to the Capitoline past the carcer, on which the bodies of certain criminals, who had been executed, were thrown and left exposed for a time — a frequent practice during the empire. They are often mentioned, first under Tiberius, and are called scalae Gemoniae (Val. Max. VI. 3.3, 9.13; Aur. Vict. 8.6, 33.31; Ep. 8.4; Oros. VII.8.8), Gemoniae (Suet. Tib. 53, 61, 75; Vit. 17; Tac. Ann. III.14; VI.4, 31; Hist. III.74, 85; Sid. Apoll. I.7.12), ἀναβασμοί (Cass. Dio LVIII.1, 5, 11; LXV.21), gradus gemitorii (Plin. NH VIII.145), and as gradus Gemonii (Tert. adv. Val. 36). Only two of these passages give any topographical information (Val. Max. VI.9.13; Cass. Dio LVIII.5), but that does not determine the course of these steps with precision. It is probable, however, that it coincided approximately with the present Via di S. Pietro in carcere (HF IV; Gilb. I.327; iii.164; Jord. I.2.324‑325; Richter, Hermes 1883, 125; Top. 119; RE VII.1115‑1116; Rodocanachi, Le Capitole 17). It is possible that the Gradus Monetae (q.v.), mentioned by Ovid (Fast. I.638), may have connected in some way with these steps. Gemoniae was undoubtedly connected in the popular mind with gemo, 'I groan' (cf. Gradus Gemitorii;º Tert. loc. cit.) but incorrectly. It is rather derived from the proper name Gemonius (Schulze, Zur Gesch. latein. Eigennamen 108 and add.), but the reason for its use is unknown.

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Page updated: 29 Dec 20