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 p171  Atrium

Article by Anthony Rich, Jun. B.A. of Caius College, Cambridge
on p171 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

A′TRIUM is used in a distinctive as well as collective sense, to designate a particular part in the private houses of the Romans [Domus], and also a class of public buildings, so called from their general resemblance in construction to the atrium of a private house. There is likewise a distinction between atrium and area; the former being an open area surrounded by a colonnade, whilst the latter had no such ornament attached to it. The atrium, moreover, was sometimes a building by itself, resembling in some respects the open basilica [Basilica], but consisting of three sides. Such was the Atrium Publicum in the capitol, which, Livy informs us, was struck with lightning, B.C. 214 (Liv. XXIV.10). It was at other times attached to some temple or other edifice, and in such case consisted of an open area and surrounding portico in front of the structure, like that before the church of St. Peter, in the Vatican. Several of these buildings are mentioned by the ancient historians, two of which were dedicated to the same goddess, Libertas; but an account of these buildings belongs to Roman topography, which is treated of in the Dictionary of Geography.

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Page updated: 1 Sep 04