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p470 Senaculum

Article on pp470‑471 of

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


Senaculum: a place where the senators assembled before entering the curia on formal summons, according to the testimony of writers of the Augustan age (Varro, LL V.156: senaculum supra Graecostasim ubi aedes Concordiae et basilica Opimia. Senaculum vocatum ubi senatus aut ubi seniores consisterent; Val. Max. II.2.6). It was probably only an open area in the first place and afterwards a hall. The site of the senaculum referred to in the passages cited is further determined by later writers as close to the Volcanal, at the edge of the Comitium and in front of the basilica Opimia and area Concordiae (Macrob. I.8.2: habet (i.e. templum Saturni) aram et ante senaculum; Fest. 347: unum (senaculum) ubi nunc est aedes Concordiae inter Capitolium et Forum). The original building1 must have been removed when the temple of Concord was enlarged by Opimius in 121 B.C. (HC 6; Thédenat 104; Mitt. 1893, 87, 91) or by Tiberius in 7 B.C. (TF 49).

In the passage from Festus just quoted, it is stated, on the authority of a certain Nicostratus of the second century, that there were two other senacula in Rome where the senate was wont to assemble, one ad portam Capenam, the other citra aedem Bellonae. Of these senacula there is no further mention, but the senate met during the year after the battle of Cannae ad portam Capenam (Liv. XXIII. 32), and many such meetings took place in the temple of Bellona whenever foreign ambassadors, generals desiring a triumph, or any person who could not lawfully be admitted within the pomerium, were to appear before the senate (see Bellona, Aedes). It is not certain whether this statement of Nicostratus is based on a confusion of senaculum and the regular hall of assembly, or on the fact that such buildings had been erected at these points (HJ 204, 553; Mommsen, Staatsrecht III.913‑914; Becker, Top. 286, 516‑517, 607; Jord. I.2.337; BC 1908, 138‑139).

A fourth senaculum seems to be mentioned in Livy (XLI.27.7: at clivum Capitolinum silice sternendum curaverunt et porticum ab aede Saturni in Capitolium ad senaculum ac super id curiam). If the text is not corrupt here — as it is in the lines immediately preceding — there must have been a senaculum on the Capitoline bearing the same relation to the curia Calabra and the temple of Jupiter that the senaculum below did to the curia Hostilia. In view of Nicostratus' statement, and the apparent needlessness of another senaculum immediately above the p471other, the existence of one on the Capitol is very doubtful (Jord. I.2.19, 338; Becker, Top. 286; RE II. A. 1454).


The Authors' Note:

1 For a concrete podium which is attributed to it, see Mem. Am. Acad. v.58‑61; cf. also DR 320, 321.


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Page updated: 21 Aug 12