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Bill Thayer

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 p508  Article on pp508‑509 of

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

Tarentum: a section of the most westerly part of the campus Martiusin extremo Martio campo (Fest. 329; Zos. II.3) — where it is enclosed by the great bend of the Tiber. Its precise limits are not known, but it surrounded the Ditis Patris et Proserpinae ara (q.v.), which was discovered in 1888 between the Chiesa Nuova and the Piazza Sforza-Cesarini, and presumably it extended to the river (Val. Max. II.4.5; Fest. 350, 351; Ov. Fast. I.501; Censorin. 17.8;º Liv. Epit. 49). Hot springs and other traces of volcanic action led to the belief that here was an entrance to the lower world, and to the establishment of the cult of Dis pater and Proserpina. The legend of the discovery of the altar of Dis twenty feet below the surface of the ground by a Sabine Valerius is given by Valerius Maximus (loc. cit.; Fest. 329). The Tarentum is usually mentioned in connection with the ludi saeculares, when sacrifices were offered to Dis (see references cited, and Statius Silv. I.4.18; IV.1.38; Mart. I.69.2; IV.1.8; X.63.3; Auson. Idyll. 16.34; CIL VI.32328, 15, acta lud. saec. Sev.). The usual and correct form is Tarentum, but Terentum occurs now and then with false etymologies (Fest. 350: Terentum locus in campo Martio dicitur quod eo loco ara Ditis patris terra occultaretur; 351: Terentum in campo Martio lo<cum Verrius ait ab eo> dicendum fuisse quod t<erra ibi per ludos> secularis Ditis patris <aram occulens tera>tur ab equis quadrigari<s>;1Serv. Aen. VIII.65: Terentum [Tarentum, CODD.] dicitur eo quod ripas terat). No explanation of the  p509 word Tarentum has yet been found (cf. Zielinski, Quaest. comicae, Petropoli 1887, 94). The district was also called πυροφόρον πεδίον (Zos. II.3; cf. Val. Max. II.4.5: solo magis fumante quam ullas ignes habente; see also HJ 477; Becker, Top. 628‑629; Jord. I.1.181). It has recently been maintained that the Tarentum must be sought much closer to the river, and that it must be a subterranean shrine, resembling the so‑called mundus on the Palatine (Mél. 1925, 135‑146). But it would be difficult to point to any site in the Campus Martius where these two conditions would be fulfilled; there is no rock in which such a shrine could have been excavated, and it would have been liable to frequent inundations.

The Authors' Note:

1 These supplements, which are those of Ursinus, are not accepted by Lindsay (478, 479).

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