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Porticus

Collecting all the individual porticus entries on pp419‑431 of

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


Porticus: the Roman adaptation of the Greek στοά, varying more or less in detail, but consisting in general of a covered colonnade formed by a wall and one or more parallel rows of columns, or less frequently by columns alone. There were two prevailing types, one enclosing a rectangular area, either open and laid out like a garden, or occupied by a temple, and the second a long gallery bordering on a street. In either case the porticus might be an independent structure, or attached to adjacent buildings. In the gardens of the rich Romans even the driveways seem to have been under such colonnades.

The earliest porticus known to us were built in 193 B.C. by two members of the gens Aemilia, but the period of rapid development in numbers and use began in the last century of the republic and continued in the Augustan era (Stuart Jones, Companion 108‑110). The earlier porticus were devoted mainly to business purposes, but during the empire they were intended primarily to provide places for walking and lounging that should be sheltered from sun and wind. For this reason the intercolumnar spaces were sometimes filled with glass or hedges of box. Within the porticus or the apartments connected with them, were collections of statuary, paintings, and works of art, as well as shops and bazaars. A porticus took its name from its builder, its purpose, the structure to which it was attached or of which it formed a part, or sometimes from some famous statue or painting preserved within it (e.g. Porticus Argonautarum).

The campus Martius was particularly well adapted to the development of the porticus, and by the second century there were upwards of twelve in Region IX, some of them of great size, and it was possible to walk from the forum of Trajan to the pons Aelius under a continuous shelter (Vitr. I.3.1; V.9.1‑5; Ann. d. Inst. 1883, 5‑22; DS IV.586; LR 447; Lanciani, Anc. Rome, 94).

Porticus Absidata: mentioned only in the Notitia (Reg. IV) and in the Ordo Benedicti of the twelfth century1 (Urlichs 81; Jord. II.664). The name indicates that it was built around the inner curve of an apse or exedra, perhaps that adjacent to the eastern end of the forum of Augustus, part of which is still in existence. If so, it formed a sort of pendant to the forum Transitorium (Jord. II.99‑100, 319, 474; HJ 328; Mél. 1889, 350; Mon. L. I.528‑530; for a similar use of the name in Dacia, see CIL III.7729).

Porticus Aemilia: see separate page.

Porticus Agrippiana: see Porticus Argonautarum.

Porticus Apollinis: see Apollo Palatinus, aedes.

Porticus Argonautarum: see separate page.

Porticus in Aventino: see Porticus Aemilia.

Porticus Boni Eventus: either built or restored by a certain Claudius, prefect of the city in 374 A.D. (Amm. Marcell. XXIX.6.19), around the temple of Bonus Eventus (q.v.). Five large capitals of white marble, 1.70 metre high, found between the present church of S. Maria in Monterone and the Teatro Valle, may belong to this porticus and thus mark its position. This site was probably part of the area occupied earlier by the stagnum and horti of Agrippa (HJ 581; Hülsen, Thermen des Agrippa 33, 43; BC 1891, 224‑227; 1914, 388; LS III.127, 232).

Porticus in Capitolio: see Area Capitolina.

Porticus Catuli: built by Q. Lutatius Catulus next to his house on the Palatine, after his victory over the Cimbri in 101 B.C. Clodius enlarged the area of this porticus during Cicero's exile,2 but it was afterwards restored to its original dimensions by decree of the senate (Cic. de domo 62, 102, 114, 116, 137; de har. resp. 58; ad Att. IV.2.5; 3.2; Val. Max. VI.3.1; HJ 57, 58).

Porticus Claudia: see Divus Claudius, Templum.

Porticus in Clivo Capitolino: see Clivus Capitolinus.

Porticus Constantini: mentioned only in Not. (Reg. VII), but undoubtedly built by Constantine in connection with his Thermae (q.v.). Its exact location is uncertain (LF 15; HJ 460; Mon. L. I.474; BC 1914, 91).

Porticus Corinthia: see Porticus Octavia.

Porticus Crep(ereia?): possibly mentioned in one inscription (CIL VI.675 = 30810), but very doubtful.

Porticus Curvae: see Domus Palmata, Forum Traiani (p241), ad Palmam.

Porticus Decii: * a possible porticus of the Emperor Decius, the existence of which is based on a conjectural restoration of a fragmentary inscription (CIL VI.1099; LF 21). This inscription was found between the end of the circus Flaminius and the Capitoline hill, together with some architectural remains which were not excavated (HJ 555).

Porticus Deorum Consentium: see separate page.

Porticus Divorum: see Divorum Templum.

Porticus Europae: near the Saepta, mentioned only by Martial (II.14.3, 5, 15; III.20.12; VII.32.11; XI.1.11). It derived its name from a painting of Europa on its walls, or perhaps from a sculptured group by Pythagoras (Neapolis II.231‑253; AJA 1915, 483). Hülsen (HJ 458) identifies it with the porticus Vipsania, apparently because there is little room for a second porticus in this immediate vicinity. Martial's topographical descriptions show that it was not identical with the Porticus Pompei (q.v.).a

Porticus Fabaria: mentioned only in the Notitia in Region XIII. It was probably the headquarters of the dealers in beans, and situated in the district of the warehouses, south-west of the Aventine.

Porticus Gai et Luci: see Basilica Aemilia.

Porticus Gallieni: the Emperor Gallienus is said to have planned a porticus outside the porta Flaminia, that should extend to the pons Mulvius, but this plan was never carried out (Hist. Aug. Gall. 18).

Porticus Gordiani: a structure that Gordianus III is said to have intended building at the foot of the Pincian hill, 1000 feet in length, large enough to extend to the via Flaminia (Hist. Aug. Gord. 32). According to Domaszewski (SHA 1916, 7.A, 9), this is simply an invention (the length being taken from Suet. Nero 31), though the site corresponds to that of the templum Solis. Cf., however, Mem. L. 5.xvii.531.

Porticus Gypsiani: see Porticus Vipsania.

Porticus Herculea: see Porticus Pompei.

Porticus Ilicii: built in the fifth century by the presbyter Ilicius on the vicus Patricius, between the early church of S. Pudenziana and the site of the later S. Lorenzo in Fonte. Some remains still exist under the houses in the Via del Bambin Gesù (LR 393; HJ 340; BCr 1867, 53).

Porticus Iovia: see Porticus Pompei.

Porticus Iulia: see Basilica Aemilia.

Porticus inter Lignarios: built in 192 B.C. extra portam Trigeminam (Liv. XXXV.41.10) from the fines paid by convicted usurers, and evidently intended for those engaged in the trade of wood which was unloaded at this point on the river bank (HJ 174; Merlin 251).

Porticus Liviae: see separate page.

Porticus Margaritaria: see separate page.

Porticus Maximae: built about 380 A.D. along the street, possibly the Via Tecta (q.v.), leading from the theatre of Balbus to the pons Aelius (CIL VI.1184). Fragments of granite columns have been found in the Via dei Cappellari and near Piazza Farnese (Ann. d. Inst. 1883, 21; NS 1880, 81; LF 20; HJ 597) as well as in the Piazza del Pianto and the Via della Reginella, which may belong to these porticus (see also BC 1911, 88), and numerous columns and architectural fragments between the Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the Vie Sora and del Pellegrino (NS 191, 39‑40; 1923, 247; PT 62).

Porticus Meleagri: mentioned only in the Notitia in Region IX. It was near the Saepta, to which it may have belonged, and probably derived its name from a statue or painting.

Porticus Metelli: built in 147 B.C. by Q. Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus around the temples of Jupiter Stator and Juno (q.v.), which he erected at the same time (Vell. I.11; II.1; Vitr. III.2.5). It was between the circus Flaminius and the theatre of Marcellus, and contained many works of art (Plin. NH XXXIV.31; XXXVI.42). It was removed to make room for the Porticus Octaviae (q.v.).

Porticus Miliarensis: see Horti Sallustiani.

Porticus Miliaria: built by Nero within the precincts of the domus Aurea (Suet. Nero 31: tanta laxitas ut porticus triplices miliarias haberet.) This reading seems to oblige us to suppose that the porticus was triple and a mile long, or that there were three porticoes, in each of which a walk of a mile could be taken (see Porticus Triumphi).

Porticus Minucia: see separate page.

Porticus ad Nationes: built by Augustus, and given this name because it contained statues of all nations (Serv. Aen. VIII.721). A statue of Hercules stood before its entrance (Plin. NH XXXVI.39). Its location is unknown, unless it was connected in some way, as an addition or restoration, with the theatre of Pompeius (q.v.), in which were set up the statues by Coponius of the fourteen nations over which Pompeius had triumphed (Suet. Nero 46; Plin. NH XXXVI.41). It is, however, uncertain whether these fourteen statues stood inside the theatre, or outside in the Porticus Pompei (q.v.). The porticus ad Nationes of Augustus was probably a new building (HJ 525).

Porticus post Navalia: built in 179 B.C. by the censor M. Fulvius Nobilior (Liv. XL.51.6; HJ 143), at the same time as the porticus extra portam Trigeminam and the porticus post Spei, behind the older Navalia (q.v.).

Porticus Octavia: built by Cn. Octavius in 168 B.C. to commemorate a naval victory over Perseus of Macedonia (Fest. 178; Vell. II.1). It stood between the theatre of Pompeius and the circus Flaminius, and was also called porticus Corinthia from its bronze Corinthian capitals (Plin. NH XXXIV.13), perhaps the earliest instance of the use of this order in Rome (for a possible identification with remains in the Via S. Nicola ai Cesarini, and representation in the Marble Plan (frg. 140), see BC 1918, 151‑155). Augustus restored the building in 33 B.C. (Mon. Anc. IV.3), and placed within it the standards which he had taken from Dalmatians (App. Illyr. 28: Cass. Dio XLIX.43, where there is confusion between this and the porticus Octaviae). It was called multo amoenissima (Vell. loc. cit.), but has left no traces (HJ 488‑489; AR 1909, 77).

Porticus Octaviae: see separate page.

Porticus Pallantiana: known only from one inscription (CIL VI.9719: olear(ius) de portic(u) Pallantian(a) Venitian(orum) parmul(ariorum?)). The building seems to have been devoted to commercial purposes, but there is no indication of its location.

Porticus Palmata: a portico near S. Peter's (porticus beati Petri quae appellatur ad Palmata, LP LXXII.3) which gave its name to the church of S. Apollinaris ad Palmatam (HCh 201).

Porticus Philippi: built without doubt around the temple of Hercules Musarum (q.v.) by L. Marcius Philippus, the stepfather of Augustus, at the same time that he rebuilt the temple, although this is not stated in so many words (Mart. V.49.11‑12; HJ 544‑545). It is represented on the Marble Plan (frg. 33), and is mentioned in Not. (Reg. IX). It contained some famous pictures (Plin. NH XXXV.66, 114, 144), and hairdressers' shops (Ov. AA III.168).

Porticus Pollae: see Porticus Vipsania.

º Porticus Pompei: see separate page.

Porticus extra Portam Fontinalem: see Porta Fontinalis.

Porticus extra Portam Trigeminam: see Porticus Aemilia.

Porticus Purpuretica: see Forum Traiani.

Porticus Quirini: built around the temple of Quirinus (q.v.), probably by Augustus when he restored the temple in 16 B.C. It is mentioned only once (Mart. XI.1.9), but was evidently very popular.

Porticus Saeptorum: see Saepta.

Porticus Severi: built by Severus and Caracalla but otherwise unknown (Hist. Aug. Sev. 21; Carac. 9). v. Domaszewski holds that it never existed and is an invention of the writer (SHA 1916, 7.A, 7; 1918, 13.A, 46).

Porticus post Spei: believed to have been built in 179 B.C. by the censor M. Fulvius Nobilior, at the same time as the porticus extra portam Trigeminam and the porticus post Navalia (Liv. XL.51.6; HJ 509). It would have extended from the Tiber to the temple of Apollo Medicus (q.v.), probably across the area afterwards occupied by the theatre of Marcellus; but its very existence depends on an alteration of the reading in the passage cited above (see also Navalia).

Porticus Thermarum Traianarum: mentioned in an inscription from Thrace (CIL III.12336), in which it is stated that a certain document was posted here in 238 A.D. This may be the same porticus as that which was connected with the scrinia, or archives, of the Praefectura Urbana (q.v.), and restored by a certain Junius Valerius Bellicius at some time in the fourth century (CIL VI.31959).

Porticus Tri(umphi): a porticus supposed to have stood near the porta Triumphalis and the Saepta, forming perhaps a part of the latter, on the evidence of two inscriptions recording 'porticus triumphi', one near Rome (CIL VI.29776) and the other at Baiae (EE VIII.374), which were evidently small private imitations of a public structure at Rome (NS 1888, 709‑714; BC 1889, 355‑358; Mitt. 1889, 268; LR 475; JRS 1921, 28‑29). In both of them the length is recorded, and the number of times necessary to go and return in order to complete a mile (or in the second case a little more). Cf. Atti Accad. Nap. 1924, 123‑126 (where 'porticus tri(plex)' is proposed); NS 1926, 229; CIL VI.29774‑29778.

For a similar inscription from Hadrian's Villa, relating to the so‑called Poikilé (really a huge gestatio in modum circi), in which, however, the name triumphi does not actually occur, see Jahrb. d. Inst. 1895, 140, and AA 234; AA 1896, 47. The insistence on a mile (or a little more) as a convenient measure for a walk (cf. Porticus Miliarensis, Porticus Miliaria) does not imply that the original porticus Triumphi was a mile long (though it may very well have been some fraction of a mile); and it may therefore quite well have been wholly included in the Villa Publica (Makin in JRS cit.).

Porticus Vipsania: see separate page.


The Authors' Notes:

1 Lib. Cens. Fabre-Duchesne, II.148. Benedict is simply borrowing the name from the Curiosum (Mitt. 1907, 429‑430).

2 He actually substituted his own name. For the situation of the porticus, see Cicero, M. Tullius, domus.


Thayer's Note:

a Some early topographers, on purely toponymic grounds, localized the porticus of Europa in the vicinity of the church of S. Salvatore in Lauro. See Armellini pp366‑367.


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Page updated: 27 Feb 14