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p386 Templum Pacis

Article on pp386‑388 of

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


Pax, Templum* (aedes, Vict.; Εἰρήνης νεώς, Procop.; Εἰρηναῖον, Cass. Dio LXXII; τέμενος Εἰρήνης, other Greek writers): the temple of Peace which was begun by Vespasian after the capture of Jerusalem in 71 A.D., and dedicated in 75 (Suet. Vesp. 9; Joseph. b. Iud. VII.5.7 (158); Cass. Dio LXV.15.1; Aur. Vict. Caes. 9.7; Ep. 9.8). It stood in the middle of the forum Pacis, north of the basilica Aemilia (Mart. I.2.8), probably at the junction of the modern Vie Alessandrina and dei Pozzi. Statius seems to ascribe the completion of this temple to Domitian (Silv. IV.3.17; cf. IV.1.13), but this emperor's claim may have had little foundation (cf. Suet. Dom. 5). Within the temple, or attached closely to it, was a library, bibliotheca Pacis (Gell. V.21.9; XVI.8.2; Boyd, 16‑17, 36‑37). In it were placed many of the treasures brought by Vespasian from Jerusalem, as well as famous works of Greek artists (Joseph. b. Iud. VII.5.7; Plin. NH XII.94; XXXIV.84; XXXV.102, 109; XXXVI.27, 58; Paus. VI.9.3; Iuv. IX.23; Hephaest. ap. Phot. Bibl. 149 32 Bekk.), and Pliny (NH XXXVI.102) speaks of it, the basilica Aemilia and the forum of Augustus, as the three most beautiful monuments in Rome.

Just before the death of Commodus, probably in 191, the temple was destroyed by fire (Cass. Dio LXXII.24.1; Galen, de comp. med. I.1),1 but it must have been restored, probably by Severus, for it is mentioned in the succeeding centuries as one of the most magnificent buildings in the city (Herod. I.14.2; Amm. Marcell. XVI.10.14; Hist. Aug. trig. tyr. 31.10). It gave its name to the fourth region of the city (Not. Reg. IV). In 408 there were seismic disturbances for seven successive days in the forum Pacis (Marcell. Comes, Chron. min. ed. Mommsen II.69: in foro Pacis per dies septem terra mugitum dedit), and the temple may have been injured then. At any rate Procopius (BG IV.21), writing in the sixth century, says that it had long since been destroyed by lightning, although there were still many works of art set up in the immediate vicinity.

The enclosure within which the temple stood is not called forum in literature until after the time of Constantine. Enclosure and temple together appear in Pliny (XXXVI.27) as Pacis opera, and in the Greek writers as τέμενος Εἰρήνης (see above). Forum Pacis is found in Ammianus, Polemius Silvius and Marcellinus Comes (locc. citt.), φόρον Εἰρήνης in Procopius (loc. cit.); forum Vespasiani first in Ep. de Eulalio antipapa a. 418 (ap. Migne XVIII.397), Polemius Silvius (loc. cit.), and undoubtedly in Aurelius Victor (Caes. 9.7). On the north-west it adjoined the (later) forum Transitorium, and on the south-east the basilica of Constantine, being rectangular in shape with the same orientation as the other imperial fora. Its length was 145 metres, and its width about two-thirds as much, although its north-east boundary is uncertain. It had an enclosing wall of peperino lined with marble and pierced with several gates. The peperino blocks have left impressions on the concrete of the basilica of Constantine, the north-west side of which was set against it. At the south-east corner there was an entrance from the Sacra via through a monumental passage which, after several changes, is now the church of SS. Cosma e Damiano. (For the history and description of this building, and the theory that it was the Urbis fanum, mentioned by Aurelius Victor (40.26) as built by Maxentius and consecrated to Constantine, and not the templum divi Romuli, see P. Whitehead, BCr 1913, 143‑165; YW 1913, 21). Further investigations have led him to the conclusion that the rectangular building in opus quadratum2 was the temple of the Penates as restored by Augustus (AJA 1923, 414; 1927, 1‑18; RPA III.83‑95). In the time of Severus a wall was built across the north-east end of this entrance,3 and on its north-east side, towards the forum, on a facing of marble slabs, was placed the so‑called Capitoline Plan of the city, Forma Urbis Romae, the fragments of which were first discovered in May and June 1562. A facsimile is fixed to the wall of the garden of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. (For the description and discussion of this Plan, see Jord. Forma Urbis Romae regionum XIV, Berlin 1874; H. Elter, de Forma Urbis Romae, diss. I. II., Bonn 1891; Hülsen, Piante icnografiche, Mitt. 1890, 46‑63; Ann. d. Inst. 1867, 408‑423; 1883, 5‑22; BC 1886, 270‑274; 1893, 128‑134; 1901, 3‑7; Mitt. 1889, 79, 229; 1892, 267; RhM 1894, 420; HF I. p534; and for the discovery of new fragments, and the rearrangement on the wall of the museum, NS 1882, 233‑238; 1884, 423; 1888, 391‑392, 437, 569; 1900, 633‑634; BC 1888, 386; 1899, 3‑21; 1902, 347‑348; 1903, 380; Mitt. 1916, 152; CR 1899, 234; 1901, 330; 1902, 96; Atti del Congresso internazionale di Scienze storiche (1903), Rome 1907, I.111‑122; Lanciani, Golden Days of the Renaissance in Rome, Boston 1906, 130; Pl. 2‑5; CRA 1910, 499‑508; DAP 2.xi.101‑107; DR 209‑213; RE Suppl. IV.484‑485.) Maxentius in any case added the round building, with its façade on the Sacra via (RA 215‑217).

The history of the forum Pacis is that of the templum, and apart from the entrance just described, scarcely any traces of either have been found except a portion of the pavement of giallo antico and pavonazzetto of the southern angle of the formº ten metres below the present level of the Via del Tempio della Pace (BC 1876, 52‑53; see in general HJ 2‑7; Rosch. III.1721; Gilb. III.135, 186‑187; Thédenat 190‑193).


The Authors' Notes:

1 XIII.362, ed. Kühn.

2 Others hold it to be the bibliotheca Pacis (HJ 4‑6; HFP 48).

3 The greater part of this wall was apparently rebuilt in the latter half of the third century A.D. (RPA cit. 103‑106; AJA cit. 16, 17).


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