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p581 Villa Publica

Article on p581 of

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

Villa Publica: the only public building in the campus Martius proper before the end of the republic, built in 435 B.C. (Liv. IV.22.7), restored and enlarged in 194 (ib. XXXIV.44.5), and probably again in 34 B.C. by Fonteius Capito. It is represented on a coin of Fonteius (Babelon, Fonteia 18; BM Rep. I.479, 3856‑60) as a walled enclosure, within which was a square building with two stories, of which the lower opened outward with a row of arches. It was also decorated with paintings and statues (Varro, RR III.2). If, as seems probable, the Villa is represented on fragments of the Marble Plan (FUR 103, 97; Mitt. 1903, 47‑48), it existed as late as the second century, but much reduced in size and merely as a monument of antiquity. No ruins have been found, but its site, just north of the Piazza del Gesù, is determined as close to the Saepta (Cic. ad Att. IV.16.14; Varro, loc. cit.; cf. BPW 1903, 575; cf., however, for a site further west, BC 1918, 120‑126), the circus Flaminius (Plut. Sulla 30), and the temple of Bellona, for the senate, assembled in this temple, heard the groans of the four thousand prisoners taken in the battle of the Colline Gate in 82 B.C., who were being massacred by Sulla's orders within the Villa (Joseph b. Iud. VII.5.4; Sen. de Clem. I.12.2; Lucan II.197; Liv. Ep. 88; Flor. II.9.24; Ampel. 42.3; Val. Max. IX.2.1; de vir. ill. 75; Strabo V.249; Cass. Dio, frg. 109.5: ἀγρὸς δημόσιος). The building served as headquarters for state officers when engaged in taking the census or levying troops (Varro, loc. cit.; Apul. Apol. 1), and generals who desired a triumph and foreign ambassadors were lodged here, e.g. those from Carthage in 202 B.C. (Liv. XXX.21.12), and from Macedon in 197 (ib. XXXIII.24.5; cf. Joseph. loc. cit.; HJ 480, 494, 572; JRS 1921, 25‑36).


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