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 p16  Aedes Apollinis Palatini

Article on pp16‑19 of

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

Apollo, Palatinus, aedes * (templum, Mon. Anc. IV.1; Prop. II.31.9; Festus, Velleius, Suet. Aug. 29 bis, Hist. Aug. Claud., Ammianus, Schol. Persius, Serv. Aen. VI.72; delubrum, Plin. NH XXXVI.24, 32; Actia monumenta, Prop. IV.6.17), the second and far the most famous temple of Apollo in Rome (Asc. in Cic. orat. in tog. cand. 90; his temporibus nobilissima), on the Palatine within the pomerium, on ground that had been struck by lightning and therefore made public property (Cass. Dio XLIX.15.5). It was vowed by Augustus in 36 B.C. during his campaign against Sextus Pompeius, begun in the same year, and dedicated 9th October, B.C. 28 (Vell. II.81; Cass. Dio XLIX.15.5; LIII.1.3; Suet. Aug. 29; Asc. loc. cit.; Mon. Anc. IV.1; Prop. IV.6, esp. 11, 17, 67; Fast. Amit. Ant. Arv. ad VII id. Oct.; CIL I2 p214, 245, 249, 331; cf. Hor. Carm. I.31, written on the occasion of its dedication; and for incidental reference to its site Ov. Fast. IV.951; Fest. 258; Suet. Nero 25); probably represented on a coin of Caligula (Cohen, Cal. 9‑11; cf. Richmond, Essays and Studies presented to William Ridgeway on his Sixtieth Birthday, Cambridge 1914, 203‑206; BM Cal. 41‑43, 58, 69) (see also Divus Augustus, templum).

 p17  This temple was the most magnificent of Augustus' buildings (Joseph. b. Iud. II.6.1; Vell. loc. cit.), constructed of solid blocks of white Luna marble (Prop. II.31.9; Verg. Aen. VI.69; VIII.720, and Servius ad loc.; Ov. Trist. III.1.60), probably either prostyle hexastyle or peripteral and octastyle. The intercolumnar space was equal to thrice the diameter of the columns (Vitr. III.3.4);​1 on the roof was a chariot of the sun (Prop. II.31.11) and statues by Bupalos and Athenis (Plin. NH XXXVI.13); and the doors were decorated with reliefs in ivory, one representing the rescue of Delphi from the Celts, and the other the fate of the Niobids (Prop. II.31.12‑16). Before the entrance to the temple stood a marble statue of the god, and an altar surrounded by four oxen by Myron (id. ib. 5‑8). In the cella was a statue of Apollo by Scopas (Plin. NH XXXVI.25), one of Diana by Timotheus (ib. 32), and of Latona by Cephisodotus (ib. 24). It is uncertain whether Propertius' distich —

deinde inter matrem deus ipse interque sororem

Pythius in longa carmine veste sonat (II.31.15‑16)

refers to these statues in the cella (see HJ 68 n73), or to the relief in the pediment (see Rothstein's ed. ad loc.). Golden gifts were deposited in the temple by Augustus (Mon. Anc. XXIV.54) and it contained a collection of seal rings and jewels (dactyliotheca) dedicated by Marcellus (Plin. NH XXXVII.11), hanging lamps (ib. XXXIV.14), and a statue of Apollo Comaeus, brought to Rome in the time of Verus (Amm. XXIII.6.24).

For a possible representation of the statue of Apollo Actius, see Arcus Constantini (p37).

The temple was connected with, and perhaps surrounded by, a porticus (Mon. Anc. IV.1; Vell. II.81; Suet. Aug. 29; Cass. Dio LIII.1.3) with columns of giallo antico (Prop. II.31.3), between which were statues of the fifty daughters of Danaus and before them equestrian statues of their unfortunate husbands, the sons of Aegyptus (Prop. II.31.4; Schol. Pers. II.56; Ov. Trist. III.1.61‑62). It is possible that the Arcus Octavii (q.v.) formed the entrance to this porticus. Adjoining, or perhaps forming a part of the porticus, was a library, bibliotheca Apollinis, consisting of two sections, one for Greek and one for Latin books (CIL VI.5188, 5189, 5884), with medallion portraits of famous writers on the walls, and large enough for meetings of the senate (Cass. Dio LIII.1.3; Suet. Aug. 29; Ov. Trist. III.1.63; Tac. Ann. II.37). The space enclosed within the porticus was the area Apollinis (Solin. I.18; FUR frgs. 1, 418, 421), or area aedis Apollinis (CIL VI.32327, 23, ludi saec. a. 203).

The Sibylline books were brought here from the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol and placed beneath the pedestal of the statue of Apollo (Suet. Aug. 29; Virg. Aen. VI.72 and Serv. ad loc.; Tib. II.5.17), and they were saved when the temple itself was burned (see below). Part of the ceremony of the ludi saeculares took place at this temple (CIL VI. p18 32323, 32, 139, a. 17 B.C.; 32327, 7, 23, a. 203 A.D.), and it is mentioned incidentally by Tacitus (Tac. Hist. I.27; III.65) and in Hist. Aug. Claud. 4 in connection with a meeting of the senate. It is mentioned in the Notitia (Reg. X), but was burned down on 18th March, 363 (Amm. XXIII.3.3). Besides Palatinus, the usual epithet of the god worshipped in this temple, we find navalis (Prop. IV.1.3), Actius2 (ib. IV.6.67), Actiacus (Ov. Met. XIII.715), and Rhamnusius (Not. Reg. X; for explanations of this name see Rosch. IV.88).

The façade of the original temple was Ionic, if Richmond cit. is right; while it was restored in the Corinthian order by Domitian, if a relief in the Uffizi is correctly interpreted (PBS III.241 sqq.; JRS IV.217‑218).

The site of the temple has been much discussed. Three main theories have been brought forward, according to which it should be placed (a) in the garden of the Villa Mills; (b) in the area of the so‑called Vigna Barberini, the centre of which is occupied by the old church of S. Maria in Pallara or S. Sebastiano (for the Regio Palladii or Pallaria see Domus Augustiana, p165); (c) to the south of the Domus Augusti (q.v.), facing over the circus Maximus, being identified with what is generally known as the temple of Jupiter Victor or Propugnator (q.v.).

(a) The first theory may be dismissed briefly. The further study of the fragments of the forma Urbis and the progress of the excavations have shown that there cannot possibly have been room for the temple and area of Apollo in the garden to the north-east of the actual Villa Mills (see Domus Augustiana).

(b) The second theory, which is that of Hülsen, is apparently more in accordance with some of the literary testimony (esp. Ov. Trist. III.1.27 sqq.) than the third (see Area Palatina, Domus Augusti, Roma quadrata). At present we do not know what this area contains; and all that is to be seen belongs to the time of Domitian (see Domus Augustiana, p165). The temple was burnt down in 363, it is true; but it is only to be expected that some remains of it exist; and the question could be settled by a few days' excavation.

(c) The third theory is the whole the most satisfactory. What remains of the temple is a podium of concrete of the Augustan period,​3 with a long flight of steps, facing south-west. This has been recently cleared, but no report has been published. On the south-east, part of it is built over the mosaic pavements of a room and the cement floor of an open tank of a house of a very slightly earlier period (perhaps the domus Palatina, a part of which was destroyed for the erection of the temple). A hypocaust on the south-west, five tiles of which bear the stamp CIL XV.145.1 belonging to another (?) house in front of the  p19 temple, has been demolished to give place to the steps, and vaulted substructions of this house may be seen below on the face of the hill. It is very difficult to think of any other temple but that of Apollo for the erection of which such a house would have been demolished (JRS 1914, 201‑208). See Parker, Historical Photographs, 2794.

It is, too, certainly a strong argument for the contiguity of the temple of Apollo and the house of Hortensius that the temple site was apparently bought for an extension of this house (contractas emptionibus complures domus per procuratores, quo laxior fieret ipsius, publicis se usibus destinare professus est; templumque Apollini et circa porticus facturum promisit, quod ab eo singulari exstructum munificentia est, Vell. Pat. II.81).

Another point is the rough identification of both in the Augustan age with the site of Romulus' hut and Evander's citadel, both of which stood on the south-west side of the hill ( Prop. IV.1.1; Virg. Aen. VIII.98 sqq.).

It seems, too, that the Carmen Saeculare, sung from the steps of the temple, would have far more point were the temple of Diana visible on the Aventine opposite, with those of Fides on the Capitol, and of Honos and Virtus near the porta Capena (both of which are named in it), also within view (YW 1910, 15; CQ 1910, 145).4

On the other hand, the passages in regard to Roma Quadrata, etc. (q.v.) are certainly much more difficult to interpret. There is little room for the area Palatina in front of the temple; and the attempt to make it face north-east will not hold with the remains themselves. Remains of a part of the portico may be identified under the Flavian domus Augustiana: while the libraries, if correctly identified with the two apsidal halls to the south-west of the triclinium of that house, must have been entirely reconstructed by Domitian.

See GA 1888, 147‑155; Mél. 1889, 191‑197; BC 1883, 185‑198; 1910, 3‑41; 1913, 199‑224; Mitt. 1890, 76‑77; 1896, 192‑212; HJ 66‑74; Gilb. III.107‑109; WR 296; DAP 2.XI.112‑118; JRS 1914, 193‑226; ZA 186‑189; HFP 65.

The Authors' Notes:

1 It is worth remarking that he refers to it thus: 'tanquam est Apollinis et Dianae aedis' — the only instance of the double name. Krohn (Vitruvius, praef. vii) refers this passage to the temple of Apollo in the Campus Martius — in which case it would still be the only instance of the double name — which he is able to do owing to his rejection of the description of the basilica at Fanum Fortunae as entirely spurious, and his consequent dating of the De Architectura before 33 B.C.

2 Applied because Augustus attributed the victory of Actium (31 B.C.) to the intervention of Apollo.

3 It was originally enclosed by walls of hewn stone which carried the columns and the walls of the cella.

4 Hülsen points out, however, that the Carmen was sung after a sacrifice in the temple to Apollo and Diana (cf. p17 n1) and was repeated on the Capitol (CIL VI.32323, l. 139 sqq.). See also Dennison in Univ. of Michigan Studies, I.49‑66.

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