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p504 Tabernae circa Forum

Article on pp504‑505 of

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


Tabernae circa Forum: the shops that were built in the forum valley when that became the market-place for the settlements on the surrounding hills, assigned by tradition to the first Tarquin (Liv. I.35; Dionys. III.67). They belonged to the state and were let out to tenants (Non. 532; Liv. XXVI.27; XXVII.11; XL.51; Fest. 230; Dig. XVIII.1.32), who were at first dealers in provisions, especially butchers, from whom the shops were called tabernae lanienae. At some time before 310 B.C. these occupants were banished to the district north of the forum (see Macellum) and the shops turned over to money changers and bankers, argentarii (Varro ap. Non. 532: hoc intervallo primum forensis dignitas crevit atque ex tabernis lanienis argentariae factae). In 310 B.C. an attempt was made at decoration of the forum, and gilded shields were distributed to the domini argentariarum (Liv. IX.40.16). Argentariae appears to have been the designation of these tabernae until 210 B.C. when some at least of them were burned (Liv. XXXVI.27.2: eodem tempore septem tabernae quae postea quinque, et argentariae quae nunc novae appellantur, arsere). In the following year the septem tabernae were rebuilt (Liv. XXVII.11.16), and those called novae afterwards, but for any definite notice of this building we are dependent on a corrupt passage in Festus (230). This, with Müller's emendations, reads: plebeias tabernas novas vocant nostra aetate, ut dicunt V tabernas1 esse et septem feruntur olim fuisse. plebeias appellamus a genere magistratus. eas enim faciendas curaverunt M. Iunius Brutus Q. Oppius aediles plebis.2 This emendation is probably sufficiently correct to warrant the conclusion that the shops burned in 210 and not rebuilt in 209 were reerected before 192 and called plebeiae or novae. The first name, however, if it ever existed, did not come into common use, for we find no other instance of its occurrence. These tabernae were called argentariae novae (Liv. XL.51.5), or novae alone (Liv. III.48.5). Once the old designation, argentariae alone, is used (Vitr. V.1.1). In distinction from the novae, others were called veteres, a name that occurs first in Plautus (Curc. 480: sub veteribus ibi sunt qui dant quique accipiunt faenore). Thenceforth sub veteribus (Plin. NH XXXV.25.113) and sub novis (Varro, LL VI.59; Cic. de or. II.266) were regularly used to designate the opposite sides of the forum, as is proved by a passage in Cicero (Acad. pr. II.70: ut ii qui p505sub novis solem non ferunt item ille quum aestuaret veterum ut Maenianorum). This and other topographical indications show that the tabernae novae were on the north side of the forum, in front of the earliest basilica Aemilia (Liv. III.48.5: prope Cloacinae ad tabernas quibus nunc novis est nomen; XL.51.5: basilicam post argentarias novas), and the veteres on the south side between the vicus Tuscus and the temple of Saturn (Liv. XLIV.16.10: pone veteres ad Vortumni signum). The latest references which necessarily imply the separate existence of these tabernae are in Livy (locc. citt. and Verrius Flaccus (ap. Fest. 230), and they could not have survived the building of the basilica Iulia and the restoration of the basilica Aemilia by Augustus (cf. Quint. VI.3.38). Thereafter the argentarii had offices in these buildings, but 'sub novis and sub veteribus' continued in use as local designations of the north and south sides of the forum, the older shops being placed on the shady side.

The tabernae septem quae postea quinque, burned in 210 and rebuilt the next year (Liv. XXVI.27; XXVII.11 supra citt.) were not the tabernae novae, and if we accept the emendation proposed for Festus 230 (see above), Verrius cited the change from septem to quinque as analogous to that from plebeiae to novae. On the other hand, their identification with the veteres has often been claimed, but without convincing evidence. It is more probable that they were different, and lay perhaps somewhat to the east of the veteres. They are not the quinque tabernae of Juvenal (I.105), as has been asserted.

Over these tabernae were galleries from which the people witnessed the games in the forum, called Maeniana from C. Maenius, who is said to have built them first after his victory in the battle of Actium (Fest. 135; Vitr. V.1.1; Isid. Orig. XV.3.11; Plin. NH XXXV.113; Cic. Acad. pr. II.70). For discussion of tabernae, see Becker, Top. 295‑297; Jord. I.2.380‑381; RhM 1857, XII.215‑223; Gilb. III.203‑206; RE II.706‑707; Suppl. IV.463; DR 20; HFP 9, 10; and for other tabernae in the forum and near by, Gilb. ib. 207, n1.


The Authors' Notes:

1 Lindsay omits this supplement.

2 They were praetors in 192 (Liv. XXXV.23.24).


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