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Bill Thayer

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Ustrinum Domus Augustae

p545 Article on p545 of

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


Ustrinum Domus Augustae: the name in current use for the καύστρα, or crematory, belonging to the mausoleum of Augustus (q.v.) in the campus Martius, and described by Strabo (V.3.9, p236) as an enclosure of travertine with a metal grating, presumably on top of the wall, and planted inside with black poplars. Excavations in 1777 at the corner of the Corso and Via degli Otto Cantonia brought to light six large rectangular cippi of travertine, with inscriptions of various members of the domus Augusta, the three sons of Germanicus, his daughter, Tiberius the son of Drusus, and a certain Vespasianus (CIL VI.888‑893) and a fine alabaster urn (HF 213). It is very probable that these cippi, or at any rate the first three, which all end with the formula 'hic crematus est,' belonged to the ustrinum, and that this lay on the east side of the mausoleum (HJ 620); while the fourth and fifth, which bear the formula hic situs (or sita) est, may have belonged to the mausoleum. Hirschfeld, however, excludes this possibility, mainly because of the material and form of the cippi (Berl. Sitz. Ber. 1886, 1155‑1156 = Kleine Schriften, 458‑459).


Thayer's Note:

a Mussolini's government chose the area around the Mausoleum of Augustus as the site of the reconstituted Ara Pacis. Several city blocks were therefore reworked, and, in keeping with the Fascist image of imperial Italy, the Piazza degli Otto Cantoni was renamed Piazza di Augusto Imperatore, and the little street degli Otto Cantoni is now Via dei Pontefici in honor of the pontifices of ancient Rome that figure so prominently on the Ara Pacis.


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Page updated: 5 Mar 05