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Temple of Venus and Rome

The largest and most splendid of Rome's temples, the Temple of Venus and Roma was the only one to have ten columns across its principal façade (decastyle). Designed by Hadrian, himself, who began construction in AD 121, it probably was dedicated in AD 135 and may have been completed by Antoninus Pius. The Temple burned in AD 307 and was restored by Maxentius. A double temple, the two cellae are placed back to back, one holding the statue of Venus Felix, ancestor of the Roman people; the other, Roma Aeterna, the genius (personification) of the city. Roma looked toward the Forum, the goddess toward the Colosseum (the apse can be seen above), the temple precinct, which essentially was Hadrian's forum, linking them both.

Construction required that the Colossus of Nero be relocated to a site nearer the Flavian Amphitheater, and it is from this colossal statue that the Colosseum takes its name. The author of the Historia Augusta relates that twenty-four elephants were required to transport the huge bronze figure, which was 120 feet high (Life of Hadrian, XIX.12; Suetonius, Life of Nero, XXXI.1; Pliny, XXXIV.45 indicates that the statue was 106.5 feet high).

When Hadrian asked Apollodorus, the most celebrated architect of the time, to comment on his design, he allegedly replied that the temple was too low and the statues of the gods too tall for the space they occupied. "'For now,'" he said, 'if the goddesses wish to get up and go out, they will be unable to do so'" (Dio, LXIX.4.1-5). Hadrian was so exasperated at the remark that he banished Apollodorus and later may have had him put to death.

This état restauré is by Léon Vaudoyer (1830).

See also Apollodorus.

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