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Bill Thayer

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 p402  Porta Appia

Article on pp402‑403 of

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

Black-and‑white images are from Platner;
any color photos are mine © William P. Thayer.

[image ALT: An early‑20c photograph, taken obliquely, of a long stone wall receding into the distance. It is marked at regular intervals by powerful almost windowless towers. The two towers closest to us are no more than 3 meters apart: the one on the left is square, the one on the right has a round, crenellated, third story. In the foreground, a one-horse wooden cart. It is a view of the Porta Appia in Rome.]

39 porta Appia (p402)

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Porta Appia: the modern Porta S. Sebastiano (Ill. 39), a gate in the Aurelian wall through which the Via Appia (q.v.) passed (DMH). All the  p403 gates in this wall were named from the roads which passed through them with the possible exception of the Porta Metrovia (q.v.). Its name is still given correctly in the twelfth century by Magister Gregorius (JRS 1919, 21, 46).

It is mentioned frequently during the Middle Ages under several variant names, corruptions of Appia (T IX.32‑35). The existing structure dates for the most part from the rebuilding of Honorius, with various later additions (Jord. I.1.366; LS II.59; Reber 538). The lowest part consists of an arch, flanked by square towers, faced with marble blocks that were evidently taken from other buildings, perhaps in part from the neighbouring temple of Mars (q.v.). Both the porta Appia and the porta Flaminia originally had double arches of blocks of travertine, divided by a central pier (as in the porta Portuensis), traces of which may be seen on the right going out), and semi-circular brick towers (ZA 317; Town Planning Review XI. (1924), 76‑79; Richmond in Discovery VI. (1925), 293‑295). Almost semicircular towers succeeded these: then came the rectangular bastions faced with white marble blocks (with circular bosses upon them, the object of which is uncertain​1) which were probably added by Honorius, and the tombs of the via Appia were, no doubt, pillaged, just as were those of the via Flaminia. There is a simple cornice around the whole structure, and on the keystone of the arch is cut the monogram of Christ and three inscriptions in Greek — Θεοῦ χάρις, ἅγιε Κῶνον, ἅγιε Γεωργί. Above this marble structure is another of brick and tufa faced concrete which continues the square towers below, and which, like the lower part, has been rebuilt or refaced at least once. The curtain over the arch is pierced with two rows of seven small arches each, now walled up, that open into chambers within. Above the top of this part, again, the towers rise in almost circular form to a height of two stories, with rows of five windows in each story. The height of the towers is about 28 metres, and they, as well as the central portion, are surmounted with crenellated battlements (ZA 316‑319; cf. Ephemeris Dacico-Romana, I. (1923) 3,4). In one of the later restorations the Arco di Druso (q.v.) was made to serve as the entrance to a vantage court. See also BC 1927, 59‑63.

The Authors' Note:

circular bosses . . . the object of which is uncertain: ZA 318‑319 suggests an explanation.

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Page updated: 5 Jun 20