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The Aqua Virgo at the Via del Nazareno

Three arches support the specus, which is nearly level with the present-day Via del Nazareno. Only the upper level of the arches are visible, the piers themselves still buried in the accumulated silt. One of the arches originally spanned an ancient road, its engaged columns framing the supporting attic, which projects forward. The inscription on both sides indicates that Claudius rebuilt this stretch of the arcade (in AD 45), after it had been robbed of stone by Caligula for another project, possibly "an amphitheatre beside the Saepta" (Suetonius, Life, XX1: also Dio, LIX.10.5). But this section of the Aqua Virgo is not near the Saepta, and it may be that the damage simply was preliminary construction work that later was completed by Claudius.

The full inscription reads

"Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, son of Drusus, pontifex maximus, in his fifth year of tribunician power, imperator eleven times, father of his country, consul designate for the fourth time, made new and restored from their foundations the arcades of the Aqua Virgo, since they had been knocked down by Gaius Caesar [Caligula]."

Indeed, one still can discern the word GERMANICVS in the top line.

This etching of the Condotto dell'acqua Vergine is from Piranesi's Antichita Romane (1756) and shows the aqueduct as it appeared in the eighteenth-century.

The Acquedotto Vergine, as it is identified at Via del Nazareno, 14 is almost completely obscured by a wire-mesh fence. The picture above was taken by going to the Bar Accademia next door, ordering a Campari and soda, walking downstairs to the landing, moving aside the chairs that were stacked there, sitting on the sill of the window, and sticking the camera as far out as possible. Even then, only a small camera will pass between the heavy bars.

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