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p120 Temple of Claudius

Article on pp120‑121 of

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

Claudius, Divus, templum: a temple of the deified Claudius on the Caelian, begun by Agrippina, almost entirely destroyed by Nero, and rebuilt by Vespasian (Suet. Vesp. 9: fecit et nova opera. . . templum divi Claudi in Caelio monte, coeptum quidem ab Agrippina sed a Nerone prope funditus destructum). This destruction was probably due, in part at least, to the construction of the distributing station of the aqua Claudia, which Nero extended to the Caelian (Frontin. de aquis i.20; ii.76).1 Part of it may have been sacrificed to the domus Aurea, which extended to the north-west corner of the Caelian opposite the Colosseum, where this temple stood, the site now occupied by the gardens of the Passionist Fathers. It is mentioned in one inscription (CIL VI.10251a), and Aurelius Victor (Caes. 9, cf. Epit. 9) speaks of Claudii monumenta. There was also a porticus Claudia (Mart. de spect. 2.9‑10: Claudia diffusas ubi porticus explicat umbras/Ultima pars aulae deficientis erat), which was clearly just inside the limits of the domus Aurea, and would most naturally be located on the Caelian in connection with the temple of Claudius (FUR p33; cf. however, Mnemosyne, 1906, 83‑84).2 Three fragments of the Marble Plan (45, 77, 96) probably belong together and represent parts of p121this temple and the buildings of the aqueduct, but they contain no indication of a porticus (Mitt. 1903, 20). Nevertheless, it is probable that the porticus Claudia surrounded the temple.

The last mention of the temple is in the fourth century (Not. Reg. II), though a bull of Honorius III of 1217 speaks of the formae et alia aedificia positae intra clausuram Clodei. Nothing is known of the history of its destruction. It was (if the combination suggested above of the fragments of the forma Urbis is correct) prostyle hexastyle, fronting towards the north, and stood on a lofty and extensive podium, some of the substructures of which have been excavated and are now visible (LS I.71; iii.76; Ann. d. Inst. 1882, 205; NS 1880, 463; 1909, 427). These substructures are different on the different sides of the podium, those on the west consisting of double rows of travertine arches with engaged columns and entablature; those on the north containing what seem to be reservoirs for water; and those on the east consisting of alternately square and semicircular recesses which are separated from the podium by narrow passages. These passages are, probably, simply air spaces. The recesses are divided from one another by narrow semicircular niches in groups of three. This difference in style and construction is probably due to the combination of temple and nymphaeum which was the result of Vespasian's restoration (HJ 232‑234; Gilb. III.124; LA 371; ZA 144 sqq.; Rivoira, RA 68, 73, who assigns the brick facing of the concrete substructures on the east to Nero — they are not represented on the Marble Plan, where the rectangular spaces round the temple are garden beds — and the travertine arches on the west to the original construction).


The Authors' Notes:

1 We may associate with these alterations the fine fountain decoration in the shape of a ship's prow found near the arch of Constantine (BC 1882, 63; Bocconi, Musei Capitolini, 293.11).

2 The reading desipientis (= insanae) is here proposed.


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