Key to Umbria
 

Temple of Victoria (dedicated 294 BC)

According to Livy, following the Romans’ decisive victory over the Samnites and their Gallic, Etruscan and Umbrian allies at Sentinum in 295 BC, one of the Consuls for the following year, Postumius Megellus:

  1. “.... dedicated an aedes Victoriae [Temple to Victoria, the personification of victory], for the building of which he had provided, when curule aedile, out of the money arising from fines [that he had exacted during his term of office]” (‘History of Rome’, 10:33).

Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2012, at p 226, at note 14) recorded that the temple’s dedication was included under 1st August in the pre-Julian ‘Fasti Antiates’

Francesco Bianchini discovered two inscriptions on the Palatine in 1725 that provided evidence for the location of Megellus’ temple.  These inscriptions were on:

  1. a Republican cippus (CIL VI 31059):

  2. [Vict]oriai(!) / [...]cius C(ai) f(ilius)

  3. [p]r(aetor) s(enatus) c(onsulto) d(onum) d(at); and

  4. two fragments apparently from an Augustan architrave (CIL VI 31060):

  5. [Imp(erator) C]aes(ar) divi f(ilius)

  6. [aedem Vi]ctoria[e refecit]

Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 1981, at pp 33-6) revisited this and other evidence for the temple’s location.  He summarised his paper as follows:

  1. “The evidence for the site of the temple of Victory on the Palatine at Rome [has been] re-examined [here in the light of]:

  2. -a passage in Dionysius of Halicarnassus [see below], which implies that the temple was topographically related to the Lupercal;

  3. -two inscriptions recorded in the 18th century [above], which were found near the western corner of the Palatine;

  4. -the Porta Roman(ul)a, which, according to Festus, was ‘infimo clivo Victoriae’; and

  5. -the Palatine hut [i.e. the so-called hut of Romulus], which was evidently next to the temple of Jupiter Victor [see below] in the precinct of Victory.

  6. By applying these indications to the archaeological remains, the two hitherto unidentified podia near the Magna Mater temple may be identified as those of the temples of Victory and [of] Jupiter Victory [see below]”

This identification of the site of Megellus’ temple is accepted by most scholars, including Penelope Davies (referenced below, 2012, at p 146-7) and Filippo Coarelli (as above, pp. 226–8).  Coarelli noted (at p. 227) that:

  1. “The excavations of Patrizio Pensabene [on this site, referenced over the period 1980-2006] confirm this identification, revealing in addition: the large size of the temple; the notable quality of its decoration; and its construction in ca. 300 BC” (my translation).

The temple was recorded in the so-called ‘Chronograph of 354 AD’ under Regio X as “Victoriam Germanianam”.  Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 2013, at p 249) suggested the explanation for this:

  1. “... the first and most significant use of the name ‘Germanicus’ was precisely at the time when the regiones were created [i.e. ca. 7 BC].  By 9 BC, Augustus’ stepson Nero Drusus had conquered Germany and, as far as anyone knew at the time, it was an expansion of Empire as permanent and glorious as Caesar’s conquest of Gaul.  Drusus himself died at the moment of victory, but the Senate decreed to him and his offspring the honorific agnomenGermanicus’.  We know that Augustus rebuilt the temple of Victoria [as evidenced by the inscription mentioned above] and this was an obvious time for him to do it”.

Based on Pensabene’s reconstruction of the form of the temple, Penelope Davies (referenced below, 2012, at p 143-4) described it as:

  1. “... the first known temple [in Rome] with colonnades on three sides since the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus [on the Capitol].  More significantly, perhaps, it is also the first hexastyle temple since the Capitoline temple.”

She observed (at p 152-3) that Megellus presumably:

  1. “... intended his grand Temple of Victoria to put him on the political map.  Hexastyle, peripteral on three sides and all stone, it conveyed the majesty and monumentality of the Hellenistic world to the heart of Rome.  It also seems to have been the first temple of Rome after the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus to be sited for spectacular visibility: ... it was the Palatine mirror of the Capitoline temple.”

The only firm date for this temple is that of its dedication, in 294 BC.  If Megellus held the post of curule aedile before his first term as Consul, in 305 BC (as might be expected), there was a surprisingly long period between the initial vow and the dedication.   Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, 1992) suggested that Megellus vowed the temple as Consul, following his victory at Bovianum (which marked the end of the Second Samnite War): Livy claimed that Megellus and his fellow Consul were:

  1. “... crowned their glorious achievements with a triumph” (‘History of Rome’, 9:44),

albeit that no record of this survives in the ‘Fasti Triumphales’.  Anna Clark (referenced below, at p 57-8) suggested that his temple:

  1. “... might have been realised in part from manubiae [booty] from the victory of 305 BC. ... It is possible that the aedileship may have been undertaken [by Megellus thereafter] primarily to have the temple built.”

Unfortunately, these attractive scenarios cannot be established beyond doubt: the underlying facts are obscured by the controversial nature of Megellus’ career and the likelihood that the historical record was manipulated by his enemies.

Cult of Victoria

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus:

  1. “On the top of the [Palatine Hill, the followers of Evander] set aside the precinct of Nike [Victory], and instituted sacrifices to her as well, lasting throughout the year, which the Romans performed even in my time [i.e. in 116- 27 BC]” (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 32: 5).

Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2012, at p. 226) observed:

  1. “Naturally, an abstract cult [like that of the personification of victory] is inconceivable in Rome before the 4th century BC.  In fact, we know with certainty that we are dealing here with [Megellus’ temple]” (my translation). 

Stefan Weinstock (referenced below, at p 216, note 19) had earlier made a similar suggestion. 


Nevertheless, the goddess to whom Megellus dedicated his temple might not have been a new arrival in Rome: as Stefan Weinstock (referenced below, at p 211) pointed out, she had:

  1. “... an early ancestress in Vica Pota, who, however, remained archaic and insignificant”. 

Charles Hoeing (referenced below, search on ‘Livy’) noted that, at least by the time that Asconius wrote his commentary  on Cicero’s speech ‘Against Piso’  (i.e. by ca. 54 AD), her ancient temple the foot of the Velia was also known as the Temple of Victoria.  It is impossible to say whether Vica Pota had already become Victoria in Megellus’ time. 

Stefan Weinstock (referenced below, at p 247) suggested that:

  1. “It seems to bring order into a confusing evidence [for the apparently sudden popularity in Rome of victory cults] if we assume:

  2. -that the cults of Victoria, Jupiter Victor, Hercules Invictus, and the others were inspired ultimately by Alexander [the Great];

  3. -that invincible [Roman] generals liked to place themselves under the protection of such gods;

  4. -that Scipio [and later Republican generals] added much momentum [to this development] ...”.

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 327) largely agreed, although he placed more emphasis than Weinstock on the importance of these cults from an early date:

  1. “The idea of Victoria was almost certainly adopted at Rome under the influence of Alexander the Great. ... Weinstock did not think that, in the years around Sentinum, it had yet become the potent symbol [that it became] in later years.  However, one might differ: in the years after 311 BC, the Romans had regularly defeated the Samnites and Etruscans, as well as the Hernici, Aequi, Umbri, Marsi, Paeligni and Gauls.  Well might they  adopt Victoria as a symbol of their aggressive imperialism.”


What we do know is that, according to Zonaras (drawing on Cassius Dio), among the portents that terrified the Romans in 296 BC:

  1. “... in the Forum, a bronze statue of Victoria set upon a stone pedestal was found standing on the ground below, without any one having moved it; and, as it happened, it was facing in that direction from which the Gauls were already approaching.  However, a certain Manius, by birth an Etruscan, encouraged [the Romans] by declaring that Victoria, even if she had descended [from her pedestal], had at any rate gone forward [to meet the expected invasion] and, being now established more firmly on the ground, indicated to them [that this portended their] mastery in the war” (‘Roman History’, 8:28). 

Manius’ interpretation was vindicated by the Roman victory at Sentinum in the following year (as described on the main page). 

It is possible (indeed likely) that the statue of Victoria was in situ in the Forum at the time that Megellus vowed his temple.  However, it had clearly remained on its pedestal until shortly before the temple’s dedication.  Thus, there is no obvious link between the two events.  There is, however, the distinct impression that Victoria was enjoying particular prominence at this crucial stage in the war for Italian supremacy.

Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 1995, at pp 122-3) tentatively suggested that a pit under the altar in this temple (which had been robbed, but which still contained a cup dated to the 4th century) might have contained the remains of the victim of human sacrifice that had been carried out in 296 BC to propitiate the gods.  He related this putative human sacrifice to that of Remus, inferred by one of the versions of his death:

  1. According to Livy, Remus died in an altercation with Romulus about whether they should found their city on the Aventine (the choice of Remus) or on the Palatine (the choice of Romulus): 

  2. “Upon this, having met in an altercation, from the contest of angry feelings they [Romulus and Remus] turn to bloodshed; there Remus fell from a blow received in the crowd.  A more common account is that Remus, in derision of his brother, leaped over his new-built wall [around the Palatine] and was, for that reason, slain by Romulus in a passion; who, after sharply chiding him, added words to this effect: ‘So shall every one fare, who shall dare to leap over my fortifications’” (1:7).

  3. Dionysius of Halicarnas also recorded a variant of the tradition of Remus’ fatal leap over the wall:

  4. “Some, indeed, say that Remus yielded the leadership to Romulus, though not without resentment and anger at the fraud, but that after the wall was built, wishing to demonstrate the weakness of the fortification, he cried: ‘Well, as for this wall, one of your enemies could as easily cross it as I do’, and immediately leaped over it.  Thereupon Celer, one of the men standing on the wall, who was overseer of the work, said: ‘Well, as for this enemy, one of us could easily punish him’, and, striking him on the head with a mattock, he killed him then and there” (‘Roman Antiquities’, 1: 87: 4). 

Wiseman suggested that the Romans might have been so terrified by the portents of 296 BC that they had resorted to human sacrifice to ensure the survival of the city, and further, that it is possibly in this context that this version of the foundation myth had been conceived.  However, as Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 247, note 1) observed:

  1. “It is unlikely that we shall ever have evidence either to confirm or to refute reconstructions of this kind.”

Gary Forsythe (referenced below, at p 233), who developed Wiseman’s hypothesis, suggested that any victims sacrificed in relation to the portents of 296 BC would have been buried alive.  If so:

  1. “... we then should ask whose remains were deposited below the altar of Victory.  The most likely candidate for such an honour would have been P. Decius Mus ... It would have been perfectly logical for the Romans of the day to identify [his] self-sacrifice ... by devotio at Sentinum with the death of Remus. ... Through [this self-sacrifice, they] obtained a victory unparalleled thus far in their history ... [in] its implications for [their] security and power.  Incorporating Decius’ remains into the Temple of Victoria and the latter into the defensive wall of the Palatine, an area closely associated with Romulus and Remus, [would have been entirely appropriate].”

It seems to me that one difficulty with this hypothesis is the fact that this putative honour given to Decius Mus went unrecorded by Livy, who otherwise gave a full account of the fate of his body, once victory had been assured:

  1. Fabius, after sending persons to search for the body of his colleague, had the spoils of the enemy collected into a heap, and burned them as an offering to Jupiter Victor.  The Consul's body could not be found that day, being hidden under a heap of slaughtered Gauls:  it was discovered on the following day and brought to the camp, amidst abundance of tears shed by the soldiers.  Fabius, discarding all concern about any other business, solemnised the obsequies of his colleague in the most honourable manner, passing on him the high encomiums that he had justly merited” (10:29).

The natural time for the putative interment under the altar of Victory would have been soon thereafter, shortly before the temple’s dedication, in which case Livy would surely have mentioned it.  Nevertheless, it is dangerous to argue from silence, and it is also possible that the honour was conferred at a slightly later date (for which Livy’s record no longer survives).

Influence of Megellus’ Temple

Penelope Davies (referenced below, 2012, at p. 154) recorded that:

  1. “A sudden burst of temple vows associated with victory followed closely the construction of Postumius Megellus’ temple ...”

The resulting victory temples included five that were vowed during the Third Samnite War, three of which were associated with victory cults:

  1. a temple to Bellona Victrix in the Campus Martius, which Appius Claudius Caecus vowed in 296 BC during his successful attack on the Samnite camp in Etruria (as described on the main page);

  2. a temple to Jupiter Victor, which Fabius Maximus Rulianus vowed to ensure his victory at Sentinum (295 BC) after the death of his Consular colleague, Decius Mus; and

  3. a temple to Jupiter Stator, vowed by, Marcus Atilius Regulus (Megellus’ fellow Consul) during  a difficult engagement against the Samnites at Luceria in 294 BC.

Penelope Davies observed that:

  1. “In concept, these buildings clearly responded to [that of Megellus].  Whether they responded in form is up for conjecture; but it might be worth noting that, on [a fragment of] the Forma Urbis Romae, [the] Temple of Bellona Victrix - the only one for which there is any evidence at all for form - is hexastyle ...”.

Temple of Jupiter Victor

Livy recorded the circumstances in which Fabius vowed this temple:

  1. “Fabius, ... having heard of the [heroic] death of his colleague [Decius Mus], ordered [his men] ... to attack the rear of the Gallic line ..., [further] ordering that, wherever they should see the enemy's troops disordered by the charge, ... [they should] cut them to pieces ... .  After vowing a temple and the spoils of the enemy to Jupiter Victor, he proceeded to the camp of the Samnites, whither all their forces were hurrying in confusion.  The [camp] gates not affording entrance to such very great numbers, those [Samnites] who were consequently excluded attempted resistance just at the foot of the rampart, and here fell Gellius Egnatius, the Samnite general.  ... [Victory followed]:

  2. -25,000 enemy soldiers were slain on that day and 8,000 taken prisoner. 

  3. Nor was the victory an unbloody one [for the Romans themselves]:

  4. -of the army of Publius Decius, 7,000 were killed; of the army of Fabius, 1,200. 

  5. Fabius ... had the spoils of the enemy collected into a heap, and burned them as an offering to Jupiter Victor” (10:29).

As Tim Cornell (referenced below, at p. 362) recorded:

  1. “... Fabius [then] returned to Rome in triumph, with an assured place in the Roman tradition as the hero of the Samnite Wars.  Sentinum sealed the fate of Italy [which now progressively fell under Roman control].” 

As noted above, it is likely that Fabius’ vow marked the initiation of the cult of Jupiter Victor into the Roman State religion.  As with Megellus‘ Temple of Victoria, we should probably place this in the context of the Roman response to the particular political situation at this time.  According to Zonaras, Jupiter (like Victoria) had featured in the portents prior to Fabius’ victory: 

  1. “On the Capitol, blood is reported to have issued for three days from the altar of Jupiter, also honey on one day and milk on another (if anybody can believe it); ... However, a certain Manius, by birth an Etruscan, encouraged [the Romans] ... [by pointing out that] ... their altars, particularly those on the Capitol, where they sacrifice thank-offerings for victory, were regularly stained with blood on the occasion of Roman successes and not in times of disaster.  [Thus, the blood on the altar of Jupiter foreshadowed victory.]  From these circumstances, then, [Manius] persuaded them to expect some fortunate outcome, [albeit that]:

  2. -from the honey [they could] expect disease, since invalids crave it; and

  3. -from the milk, [they could expect] famine; for they should encounter so great a scarcity of provisions that they would seek for food of natural and spontaneous origin.

  4. Manius, then, interpreted the omens in this way, and as his prophecy turned out to be in accordance with subsequent events [i.e. with Fabius’ victory at Sentinum], he gained a reputation for skill and foreknowledge” (‘Epitome ton istorio’, 8:1: 2-4).

Unfortunately, Livy’s next book no longer survives, and nor does any other record of either the subsequent construction of the temple or its dedication.  However, it is hardly likely that the Senate refused to honour Fabius’ vow.  Although the year of the temple’s dedication is unknown, Ovid probably records its dies natalis:

  1. Iovi Victori keeps the Ides of April [13th April]: a temple was dedicated to him on this day” (‘Fasti’, IV).

This information is also recorded in the pre-Julian ‘Fasti Antiates’

Location of Fabius’ Temple

Capitol (?)

It is sometimes assumed that Fabius’ temple later featured in the following passage by Josephus, which relates to the events that followed the murder of Caligula in 41 AD:

  1. “... the Consuls called the Senate together into the temple of  Zeus Nikephorus ...”, (‘Antiquities of the Jews’, 19:4:3)

Suetonius placed this temple on the Capitol:

  1. “... the Senate was so unanimously in favour of re-establishing the Republic that the Consuls called the first meeting [after the murder], not in the Senate House, because it had the name Julia, but on the Capitol; ...”  (‘Life of Caligula’, 60). 

As Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2012, at pp. 243-6) summarised, a new fragment of the slab containing inscribed Fasti viae Ardeatinae (ca. 19 BC), which was discovered in 2010, allows a reconstruction of the inscription as a whole that:

  1. identifies a temple of Jupiter Victor in Capitolio (i.e. on the Capitol); and

  2. records its dies natalis on 21st November. 

This supported Suetonius’ record that temple in which the Senate met after the murder was on the Capitol

Filippo Coarelli (as above, at p. 247) observed that dies natalis of 21st November could relate to a re-dedication of the temple with the dies natalis of 13th April mentioned above.  However, he observed (at p. 247) that:

  1. “... the lack of information for the 21st November in the [surviving] text of Ovid and the almost total loss of the information for [November] in nearly all epigraphic calendars prevent us from exploring this possibility” (my translation).

Thus, there is no particular reason to identify it as Fabius’ temple (unless it was related in some way to the altar on the Capitol from which blood had issued for three days, allegedly portending Fabius victory ???).

Palatine (?)

Traditionally, scholars assumed that the “aedes Iovis victoris” listed in regio X (Palatium) in the regionary catalogues in the so-called ‘Chronograph of 354 AD’ (see below), was a later version of Fabius’ temple. Thus, according to Stefan Weinstock (referenced below, at p 215), Fabius’ temple:

  1. “... was built on the Palatine, probably in the neighbourhood of the temple of Victoria.”

His suggestion of a particular site near Megellus’ temple of Victoria seems to have arisen because of his perception that the cults of Victoria and Jupiter Victor were closely linked (see above). 

Two later authors also made suggestions as to its specific location on the Palatine:

  1. Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 1981, at p. 46), placed Fabius’ temple in the precinct of the temple of Victory, although he subsequently changed his view in favour of the Quirinal (see below).  

  2. Mario Torelli (referenced below, 1987, at pp. 578-9) also assumed that the temple in the regionary catalogues related to Fabius’ temple.  As discussed below, he placed its Flavian successor near the so-called Arch of Domitian, albeit that he did not discuss whether this had been its original site.

However, Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2012, at p. 247) pointed out that the “aedes Iovis victoris” in the regionary catalogues is otherwise completely unattested.  As discussed below, he suggested that it was a mistaken reference to the Temple of Jupiter Ultor (see below), which was certainly a Palatine temple, and that Fabius’ temple had probably been built on the Quirinal (below).  In his opinion, there had never been a Temple of Jupiter Victor on the Palatine.

Quirinal (?)

Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 327) referred to:

  1. “... the slightly more probable view that [Fabius’ temple] was on the Quirinal, [which] depends on [CIL  VI 438], a dedication to Jupiter Victor found on the hill.” 

This CIL entry records two inscriptions on a donative  altar (now lost) that was found on the Quirinal in the 17th century:

P(ublius) Corn[elios]/ L(uci) f(ilius) coso[l]/ / proba[vit] / Mar[te ---]

[D]iovei Victore/ T(itus) Mefu[---] M(arci) f(ilius)/ IIIvir [resti]tuit

Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2012, at p. 239) suggested that the first of these identified the altar as:

  1. “... a donative altar dedicated in a temple [of Mars ??] by a magistrate who can probably be identified with P. Cornelius Lentulus, Consul of 236 BC and the victor over the Ligurians ...” (my translation). 

This altar had apparently been reused by T(itus) Mefu[---], possibly in a Temple of Jupiter Victor.  Coarelli suggested that:

  1. “...the nature of the donative altar was evidently indicated in the lost part of the inscription at the start of the text” (my translation).

He also suggested that the name of the dedicator could probably be completed as Titus Mefulanus, a member of a magistracy that (according to Livy, 25: 7.5) was created in 212 BC to:

  1. “... search for the property belonging to the temples and to register the offerings”,

in connection with an extraordinary programme of temple restoration.   Based on this inscription, both Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, 1992, at pp 91-4) and Filippo Coarelli (most recently in the book referenced above) placed Fabius’ temple on the Quirinal.  This is accepted by Peter Wiseman (see, for example his review of Coarelli’s book, referenced below, 2013, at p. 255).

Filippo Coarelli provided two supporting pieces of evidence for this hypothesis:

  1. He pointed out (at p. 241 and note 213) that Livy (5: 46: 2-3) had recorded a cult site on the Quirinal that belonged to the gens Fabia, at which Fabius Dorso had sacrificed during the Gallic siege of the Capitoline in the 4th century BC.

  2. He also described (at p. 239 and p. 241) another inscription (CIL VI 565) that was found near the inscriptions above:

  3. Quirino / L(ucius) Aimilius L(uci) f(ilius)/ praitor

  4. He associated this with the Temple of Quirinus that Lucius Papirius Cursor had dedicated in 293 BC (discussed on the main page) and suggested that the dedicator of the altar had been Lucius Aemilius Paulus, who was Praetor in 191 BC.  He observed that:

  5. “The significance of the proximity of the two temples might well be explained by the personal and political relations between their respective constructors: the enmity between Fabius Rullianus and Papirius Cursor was proverbial. ... The possibility  that they chose the same area for their votive temples is perhaps not unrelated to their rivalry” (my translation).  

  6. [Note that the site of the Temple of Quirinus had probably been selected by the eponymous father of the Papirius Cursor who dedicated it in 293 BC; Papirius Cursor senior seems to have vowed it in 325 BC.  This temple must have been finally approaching completion when Fabius vowed his temple, so the implication is that it was  Fabius’ decision to site his temple near that of the rival family.]    

There is another reason why Fabius might have chosen a site on the Quirinal:  Peter Wiseman (see, for example, his book referenced below, 1995, at p. 140-1) tentatively suggested that, at the time of  the dedication of the Temple of Quirinus:

  1. “...the myth-making producers of the [associated]  ludi scaenici created ... [the story of] the miraculous disappearance and revealed apotheosis of Romulus [as Quirinus]”.

If so, we might reasonably assume that the site of the Temple of Quirinus was thereafter closely associated with that of the apotheosis of Romulus, (or perhaps of its revelation to the Romans) and that Fabius had decided to build his temple near this hallowed place.

My Conclusion

As noted above, recent scholarly opinion clearly favours the hypothesis that Fabius’ temple was on the Quirinal.  However, I am reluctant to rule out the alternative possibility that it was on the Palatine, perhaps at the summit, as would befit a temple vowed during such an important Roman victory.  It is, after all, at least conceivable that Fabius wanted his temple to stand on a site that was closely associated with the foundation of Rome, and also close to Megellus’ Temple of Victoria (particularly if his erstwhile consular colleague, Decius Mus, really was buried below its altar).  

Aedes Iovis in Palatio

As noted above, Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2012, at p. 251), who doubted that there had ever been a Temple of Jupiter Victor on the Palatine, believed that the “aedes Iovis victoris” in the 4th century regionary catalogues was a mistaken reference to the “aedes Iovis ultoris”.  Peter Wiseman, in his review of Filippo Coarelli’s book (referenced below, 2013, at p. 255), accepted that this was possible, but suggested that it was not necessarily the case.   Although, as noted above, he came to the view that Fabius’ temple had been built on the Quirinal, he suggested that the entry in the regionary catalogues could have related to a temple that stood on the Palatine, at least from the time of Augustus (i.e. from 7 BC, when the regions were defined and the monuments in them first listed). 

The paragraphs below look at the evidence for this putative Palatine temple, initially leaving to one side the question of whether it might be traced back to Fabius Maximus Rulianus.  I will return to the crucial point of its pre-Augustan identity in the light of that discussion.

Original Location

If there was (as Peter Wiseman suggested) a Temple of Jupiter Victor on the Palatinr in 7 BC, when the administrative regions of Rome were first designated, then it would almost certainly have appeared in the early regionary catalogues.   Moreover, it would have appeared in these lists in a sequence that reflected its original location.  However, As Peter Wiseman pointed out (at p. 255):

  1. “... we have to imagine a building [that was] destroyed in the fire of 64 AD and presumably reconstructed on a different site, in a thoroughly redeveloped urban landscape ....”.

The 4th century regionary catalogues obviously related to the temple on this later site.  However, Wiseman  suggested (at p. 251) an ingenious method  of deducing its location at the time of Augustus:

  1. “I think an Augustan [location can be deduced] if we look carefully at the sequence of names in the regionary list: auguratorium, area Palatina, aedes Iouis Victoris.”

Wiseman suggested that the creators of the new urban landscape might well have maintained the original spatial relationship between these monuments, moving them as a group to the new location. 

Peter Wiseman then proceeded to deduce where the this group of monuments might have been at the time of Augustus. 

  1. His analysis started with the literary sources for the auguratorium, which was revered as the hut in which Romulus had taken the auspices before founding Rome.  He deduced that this was also the hut of Faustulus, the shepherd who had cared for the abandoned Romulus and Remus when they had washed up on the banks of the Tiber.  This site must have been on an open, east-facing site on the summit of the Palatine. 

  2. He then used the account by Josephus of the murder of Caligula to establish that this hut was in front of the imperial residence, and that this residence overlooked an open area that was probably designated as the area Palatina.

  3. The final link was from an account by Conon, a Greek mythographer of the age of Augustus:

  4. “As evidence of the dwelling of Faustulus, there is a hut in the temple of Zeus, which [the Romans] preserve by putting it together with waste material and new sticks”, (‘Narrations’, 48:8; translation from Peter Wiseman, referenced below, 1981, p 45).

  5.   observed (at p. 253) that:

  6. “If that ‘hut of Faustulus’ was Romulus’ auguratorium, then the otherwise unattested precinct may be that of Jupiter Victor ... .  And, if so, the Jupiter Victor temple was [also originally] on the summit of the hill.”

His conclusion (at p. 254-5) was that:

  1. “... we must place this lost topography somewhere northeast of the temple of Victoria, on the high ground later used for the imperial palace called domus Tiberiana, where the Farnese Gardens are now. ...”

I am unaware of any other attempt to identify the original location of the Palatine temple (assuming that it existed).  Thus, the paragraphs below assume that:

  1. it was probably originally at the top of the hill; and

  2. it was subsequently rebuilt as part of the Neronian and/or Flavian redevelopment if the Palatine, in a location reflected by the 4th century regionary catalogues,

Post-Neronian Temple

This section looks at the evidence for the existence of a Temple of Jupiter Victor on the Palatine after the fire of 64 AD.  It assumes that it was related in some way to the ‘aedes Iovis Victoris’ listed under regio V in the 4th century regionary catalogues.  Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2012, at p. 247) pointed out that the sequence of monuments here placed the temple:

  1. “... between the area Palatina and the Curiae veteres, and thus in the zone [now] occupied by the Vigna Barberini ...” (my translation).

This terrace south of the Arch of Titus was created in the reign of Domitian and formed part his new imperial palace complex.  It takes it present name from the Barberini family, who used it as a vineyard in  the 17th century.   (The site is now open to the public.) 

Philip Hill (referenced below, at pp. 33-6) marshalled an impressive body of numismatic evidence for a temple in the Vigna Barberini from 94 AD.  He started (at p. 35) with the premise that:

  1. “Since there was existed only one temple in Rome dedicated to Jupiter Victor, Fabius‘ temple can only  have been [the ‘aedes Iovis Victoris’]  listed under regio V in the [4th century regionary catalogues]. ... It must have been damaged or destroyed in the great fire of 80 AD and rebuilt by Domitian, who also constructed the artificial platform [in the Vigna Barberini] upon which he erected his restored temple.”

Without worrying too much about this starting point, we can now move to the heart of Hill’s hypothesis.  He suggested that this temple on the terrace in the Vigna Barberini was depicted on the reverses of:

  1. an issue of denarii by Domitian (RIC II:1 Domitian 816) in 94 AD

  2. a series of coins issued by Trajan in 103 AD (RIC II Trajan: 577 (as); 577 (sestertius); and 578);

  3. a medal of Elagabalus (RIC IV Elagabalus 339) of 222 AD; and

  4. a number of pieces of Severus Alexander:

  5. a bronze medallion, an example of which is illustrated here) of 224 AD; and

  6. three of his coins: a silver denarius; a bronze sesterius; and a bronze as (respectively RIC IV Severus Alexander: 146412 and 413). 

Françoise Villedieu, in her book reporting on the excavations carried out on the terrace in 1989-99 (referenced below, 2007, p. 383), agreed that:

  1. “On [each of] the coins of Domitian, Trajan, Elagabalus and Severus Alexander, the [temple on the reverse is] octastlyle and apparently Corinthian.  Although, generally, the symbolic representation of steps leading to temples is too imprecise for one to differentiate between a [simple] podium and a crepis [stepped platform], in the case of the coins of Trajan, [the perspectival representation of the temple base] undoubtedly leads one to the second conclusion.  Now, the late temple in the Vigna Barberini has the same characteristic” (my translation).

(She might also have added that the temple of Trajan, like that excavated on the terrace of Vigna Barberini, was surrounded by a portico.)

I ploughed through the conclusions to be drawn from these coins in my pages on:

  1. the Flavian Dynasty: Domitian's Temples to Jupiter; and

  2. the Severan Dynasty: Elagabalium/ Temple of Jupiter Ultor.

This led to the following scenario:

  1. Domitian built a Temple to Jupiter Victor on the Flavian terrace in the Vigna Barberini, in ca. 94 AD.  The apparent lack of archeological remains suggests that it was destroyed in the fire of 191/2 AD. 

  2. Septimius Severus began its reconstruction, possibly in its original location, and probably after his ‘victory ‘over the Parthians in 197 AD.

  3. Elagabalus took over the nearly-completed temple, and so was able to dedicate it to Heliogabalus in 220 AD, less than two years after his acclamation and his arrival in Rome.

  4. Severus Alexander re-dedicated it to Jupiter Ultor on 13th March 224 AD, the second anniversary of his accession. 

I recognise that this scenario depends on a long series of hypotheses, and that the disproving of any one of them could well demolish it.  Nevertheless, it can at least attempt to address the problem of the “aedes Iovis victoris” in the regionary catalogues.  It could be that:

  1. the temple’s dedication to Jupiter Victor was reinstated soon after the damnation of Elagabalus’ memory in 220 AD;

  2. the new games that Severus Alexander introduced for Jupiter Ultor following the rededication of the Elagabalium to this cult on 13th March 224 AD were duly recorded in the official calendars, and it remained there in the ‘Calendar of Philocalus’ of the 4th century AD; but

  3. the regionary lists were not updated after 220 AD, either through oversight or because the epithets Victor and Ultor were considered to be essentially interchangeable.

Any scenario that places the “aedes Iovis victoris” anywhere else (for example, on the podium near the so-called Arch of Domitian) faces the powerful point made by Filippo Coarelli: it is difficult to see why the “aedes Iovis ultoris”, which certainly featured in the ‘Calendar of Philocalus’, was missing from the broadly contemporary regionary catalogues, while the less impressive “aedes Iovis victoris” on this relatively small podium was included. 

If one accepts that Domitian’s temple lived on as the Temple of Jupiter Ultor, and was represented in the regionary catalogues under its original dedication (for whatever reason), then the case for locating Fabius’ temple on the Palatine is considerably strengthened.  I have to say that, in my opinion, it is the most likely of the three possibilities discussed above.  This temple might well have been rebuilt by Nero somewhere else on the Palatine after the fire of 64 AD.  It was very probably rebuilt again by Domitian (for whatever reason) on the Flavian terrace in the Vigna Barberini in ca. 94 AD.

Temple of Jupiter Stator

The history of this temple has long been a matter of intense debate among scholars.  I have done my best below to summarise the main lines of argument and come to a conclusion.  However, please do not rely on it: read it critically, check the original sources and reach your own conclusion.  (That is good advice for all of this site, but particularly for the following section and, indeed, for this page as a whole.)

Pre-History: Romulus and Jupiter Stator

Livy described how Romulus came to vow this temple during the battle in which he repelled the Sabines, who were attempting to rescue their kidnapped women.  The Sabines descended from the Capitoline Hill and stormed across the marshy area that would become the Forum, pushing the Roman army back towards the Palatine.  Defeat seemed inevitable:

  1. “... the Roman line gave way and was beaten back to the vetus porta Palati .  [However], Romulus, himself, who was also carried away with the general rout, raising his arms to Heaven, prayed:

  2. ‘O Jupiter, commanded by thy birds, I laid the first foundation of the city here on the Palatine Hill.  The Sabines are [now] in possession of the citadel .... But if you ... stop [the Roman soldiers’] shameful flight ... I solemnly vow to build a temple to you as Jupiter Stator, [in memory of the fact that] this city was saved by your immediate aid.’ 

  3. Having offered up this prayer, ..., he cried out [to his army]:

  4. ‘At this spot, Romans, Jupiter ... commands you to halt and renew the fight.’

  5. The Romans halted as if they had been commanded by a voice from Heaven" (‘History of Rome’, 1:12).

Dionysius of Halicarnassus also recorded this temple and its location:

  1. “[After the battle] ... Romulus [built a temple that he had vowed] to Jupiter Stator, near the Porta Mugonia ..., which leads to the Palatine Hill from the Sacra Via, because this god had heard his vows and had caused his army to stop in its flight and to renew the battle; ... ” (‘Roman Antiquities’, 2: 50: 3).

Livy’s “vetus porta Palati “ was clearly Dionysius’  ‘Porta Mugonia’.  It was still extant in Varro’s day (i.e. in the first half of the 1st century BC):

  1. “... inside [the circuit of the the so-called Servian] walls, I see there are gates on the Palatine, [called]: Mucionis ...; Romulana ... ; [and]  the Janual gate ...” (De Lingua Latina’ 5: 164: 5).

These were gates in the old wall around the Palatine, which the Romans attributed to Romulus: the wall itself had probably disappeared by Varro’s time. 

Atilius Regulus’ Temple

Livy later recorded that Atilius Regulus, the Consul of 294 BC, vowed a temple to Jupiter Stator in during a battle against the Samnites (in the ‘mopping-up’ operations after the Battle of Sentinum).  Faced with low morale among his soldiers,:

  1. “.... [Atilius], with his hands lifted up towards Heaven, ... vowed a temple to Jupiter Stator, if the Roman army should rally from flight and ... cut down and defeat the Samnites” (‘History of Rome’, 10:36).

Livy then explained that:

  1. “The same vow had been formerly made by Romulus, but only the fanum - that is, the area appropriated for the temple - had yet been consecrated.  However, in this year [294 BC], [now that] the State [had] been twice bound by the same vow, it became a matter of religious obligation that the Senate should order the temple [itself] to be erected” (10:37)

Eric Orlin (referenced below, p. 55) asserted that Livy’ phraseology implied that:

  1. “The Senate ... explicitly declared that the State had been made liable twice for the temple of Jupiter Stator, once by Romulus and a second time by [Atilius].  The right of kings  [like Romulus] to make vows on behalf of the State is not surprsing ... That the State considered the vow of [Atilius] to have placed it under an obligation  indicates that this prerogative [of kings]  in some fashion passed to the Consuls during the Republic.”.

I wonder whether, in fact, Atilius had needed to pray in aid Romulus in order to put pressure on the Senate: since they had apparently initially resisted granting him a triumph (as described on the main page), he might have created this ‘religious obligation’ as a means of furthering his cause.  This would have been consistent with the suggestion of Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 2013, at p. 245) that:

  1. “The real Jupiter Stator temple was vowed by M. Atilius Regulus in 294 BC, and it is likely that the whole story of Romulus and the Sabines dates from about that time.”

Whatever the circumstances, it does seem clear that the Senate accepted responsibility for the construction of the temple, on a site that could be credibly claimed as that of Romulus’ fanum, (although there is no way of knowing the basis for this claim). 

Unfortunately, Livy’s next book no longer survives, and nor does any other record of the dedication of the temple.  However, Ovid recorded its dies natalis, together with an indication of its location:

  1. “The same day [27th June, is] the day of the temple of [Jupiter] Stator, which Romulus founded of old in front of the Palatine hill” (‘Fasti’, VI). 

This record received important confirmation in a fragment of an Augustan calendar from Priverno (now known as the ‘Fasti Privernati’) that was discovered in 2000.  As reported by Fausto Zevi (referenced below), it included a festival celebrated on 27th June in relation to the temple of:

[Iovi] Statori in Palatio

Fausto Zevi (at p. 52) observed that the epithet “in Palatio” provided a:

  1. “... clarification that was intended to distinguish this temple from the one erected by Metellus Macedonicus in the Circus Flaminius [discussed in the page on Victory Temples in Rome (146 BC)], whose dies natalis, following the Augustan reconstruction, fell on 23rd September” (my translation).

Cicero chose Atilius’ temple for the meeting of the Senate in 63 BC at which he made his first denunciation of Cataline.  In his ‘Oratio in Catilinam prima’ (the version of the speech that he published in 60 BC), he asked Cataline rhetorically whether  he was undisturbed by the fact that the Senate had had to meet in this “munitissimus” (extremely well-fortified) place.  Appian recorded a second occasion (in 59 BC) on which this safe location was put to good use:

  1. “[A riot broke out in] the Forum while Caesar was still speaking. ... [Caesar’s] friends, however, led him, against his will, out of the crowd and into the neighbouring temple of Jupiter Stator” (‘Civil Wars’, II: 11).

Thus, the temple must have been a substantial structure, large enough to house the Senate,  and in an easily defensible location near the Forum. 

Tacitus included this among the temples that were destroyed in the great fire of 64 AD:

  1. “It would not be easy to attempt an estimate of the  ... temples that were lost; but the flames consumed, in their old-world sanctity: the great altar and chapel of the Arcadian Evander to the Present Hercules [i.e. the Ara Maxima in the Forum Boarium]: the shrine of Jupiter Stator vowed by Romulus: ... and the holy place of Vesta with the Penates of the Roman people”, (‘Annals’, 15:41). 

Writing perhaps three decades after the fire, Plutarch (in his account Romulus’ victory over the Sabines) noted that:

  1. “[After Romulus’ prayer to Jupiter, his soldiers halted the retreat and] made their first stand, ... where now is the temple of Jupiter Stator ...” (‘Life of Romulus’,  18: 5-7).

As Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 2013, at p 246) observed:

  1. “... since Plutarch refers to [the temple] in the present tense, it was evidently rebuilt.”

Original Location


Note that, with the exception of the Regia and the Temple of Vesta (upper left),

none of the structures labelled in bold letters in this plan existed before the fire of 64 AD.

My representations of the ‘Conventional’ and ‘Coarelli’ models for the Sacra Via before 64 AD

(respectively above and below the later Temple of Venus and Roma) are purely indicative

As discussed above, Atilius Regulus built his temple at the  place at which (according to the general opinion of the time) Romulus  had halted the Sabine assault on the Palatine.  They had stormed across what became the Forum (at the top left in the plan) and along what became the Sacra Via, driving the Romans back a gate in the ancient wall around the Palatine.  Romulus had stopped the rout by this gate, which Dionysius described as the:

  1. “... Porta Mugonia ..., which leads to the Palatine Hill from the Sacra Via” (see above). 

In short, the Romans placed the mythical temple vowed by Romulus  (and the Porta Mugonia beyond it) on a road that later led from the Sacra Via to the Palatine Hill.  It was here that Atilius’ temple was built. 

Two other accounts of Romulus’ engagement with the Sabines provide a few of clues about the assumed location of the temple:

  1. Plutarch reported that, after Romulus had stopped the rout, the Romans:

  2. “... closed their ranks again and drove the Sabines back to where the so‑called Regia now stands, and the temple of Vesta.  Here, [they prepared] to renew the battle ...” (‘Life of Romulus’,  18:7 - 19:1).

  3. Thus Romulus’ temple was assumed to have been dedicated at a spot far enough from the Regia and the Temple of Vesta for this to constitute a second military engagement.

  4. Dionysius described the Sabine retreat after Romulus’ intervention as follows:

  5. “... they found it no easy matter to retreat to their camp, pursued as they were down from a height and through a hollow way, and in this rout they sustained heavy losses” (‘Roman Antiquities’, 2: 43: 4).

  6. Thus, in Dionysius; time (i.e. the 1st century BC), the road from the Porta Mugonia to the Sacra Via (and hence to the Forum) was set in something that sounds like a relatively steeply descending ravine.

Peter Wiseman, in the website ‘Reconstruction and the Historic City: Rome and Abroad’ (2014), reproduced part of a speech by the so-called Pseudo-Cicero, which purported to be that of the real and desolate Cicero as he left Rome for exile in 58 BC: 

  1. “I beseech you too, Jupiter Stator, ... in whose temple I drove from the walls Catiline’s hostile attack, whose temple ... was consecrated by Romulus in Palatii radice (at the foot of the Palatine) after the defeat of the Sabines...” (‘Priusquam in exsilium iret’: 24)

Another writer, Servius placed the Regia [marked on the plan]:

  1. “ ... in radicibus Palatii finibusque Romano fori” (‘ad Aeneid’, 8:363).

Thus, at least we can reasonably locate the temple at the broadly same altitude as the Regia on the lower slopes of the Palatine.  

Ovid (who imagined that a book he had written in exile was being guided to the Palatine library) used Atilius’ temple as a landmark:

  1. “This is Caesar’s Forum, this is the Sacra Via named from the rites:

  2. -here is Vesta’s temple [to the right in the plan above], ...;

  3. -here was old Numa’s tiny palace [i.e. the Regia, also to the right]. 

  4. Then, turning right, here is the gate to the Palatine [i.e. Porta Mugonia], here is [Jupiter] Stator; [then, presumably after ascending the hill] in this place, Rome was first founded”, (‘Tristia’, 3: 1: 29-32).

Unfortunately, we do not know how far the book needed to travel along the Sacra Via after passing the Regia before it turned right to climb the Palatine (although, in the light of the previous paragraph, we may reasonably assume that, once it had turned right, the Temple of Jupiter Stator and then Porta Mugonia were immediately in view).

The uncertainty about the point at which Ovid’s book turned right is at the heart of what has been a long debate about the original location of Atilius’ temple, as discussed below.

Traditional View


Peter Aicher (referenced below, at p. 139) summarised the traditional view:

  1. “The [literary] sources locate the Temple of Jupiter Stator close to:

  2. -the Palatine;

  3. -the [Sacra Via]; and

  4. -the old Romulean (Palatine) city’s Porta Mugonia. 

  5. Most topographers place the nexus of these three locations close to the Arch of Titus [lower right in the plan above] and have tentatively identified ruins of a building [actually, of a podium] near the arch as the remains of the Jupiter Stator temple.”

This traditional view is reflected in the work of Platner and Ashby (referenced below):

  1. “Just east of the Arch of Titus, the site of which corresponds to the literary references [to the site of the temple], are ruins consisting of a large rectangular platform of concrete, on which are some enormous blocks of peperino and travertine ... This foundation has generally been identified as that of the temple of Jupiter Stator of the Flavian period [i.e. as rebuilt after the fire]”. 

However, Platner and Ashby expressed doubts about the strength of the archeological evidence available at that time for the pre-Neronian situation

  1. “Some tufa walls, which were recently excavated close to the northeast side of the arch and beneath its foundations, may have belonged to the temple at an earlier date when its position was slightly different, but the supposition is very doubtful”.

Adam Ziokowski (referenced below, 2004, at pp. 71-2) pointed out, even after the most recent excavations (discussed below) , the lower strata of the site remained unexamined:

  1. “All that we have ... is the Severan terminus ante quem (190-210/20 AD).  As long as the site’s stratigraphy remains unknown, our main clue to its earlier history is its position in a gap between the Arch of Titus and north of the Vigna Barberini, a position that clearly indicates that a post-Neronian building stood there, most probably since the time of Domitian ....”

Nonetheless, , after revisiting the literary sources and considering what new archeological evidence there was , Ziolkowski (at p. 74) concluded:

  1. “All things considered, I can only repeat - if anything, with greater confidence than in the past - the traditional verdict: the podium by the Arch of Titus is that of the temple of Jupiter Stator.”

In relation to the identity of the road to the right taken by Ovid’s book, Ziolkowski asserted (later in p. 74):

  1. “Perhaps the main reason why - for the 100 years before [Filippo Coarelli’s publication in 1983, discussed below] - almost every student of Rome’s topography identified the temple of Jupiter Stator with the podium by the Arch of Titus was its position on the saddle that provided the easiest access to the Palatine: a perfect site for the temple that stood just outside the Porta Mugonia, the principal gate to Romulean Rome”.

Thus, in this scenario, Ovid’s book travelled as far as the later site of the Arch of Titus, before turning right along the road that led most conveniently to the Palatine summit.

Filippo Coarelli’s Intervention in 1983


Filippo Coarelli, in his book of 1983 (referenced below, at pp. 26-33), proposed that the rotunda (to the left in the photograph above) that Maxentius had  built on the Sacra Via in ca. 311 AD stood on the site of Atilius’ temple.  As can be sen on the plan, this was much closer to the Forum than the conventional site near the Arch of Titus.  At the heart of this hypothesis was Coarelli’s conviction that the point at which the Sacra Via curved northwards towards the Carinae (i.e. away from the Palatine) was significantly closer to the Forum than had been previously thought.  (I have attempted in the plan above to represent the conventional view and the alternative proposed by Coarelli).  Fabiola Fraioli (referenced below, at p. 290) accepted this location:

  1. “... the [Temple of Jupiter Stator] was ... near the summa Sacra Via [the point at which the street turned north]” (my translation),

and cited a book by Andrea Carandini (referenced below, 2004).  Thus, in Table 89, Atilius’ temple is placed on the future site of the Maxentian rotunda.

However, as mentioned above, a fragment of the the ‘Fasti Privernati’ discovered in 2,000 confirmed that, in the Augustan period (and hence also, as far as we know, at the time of its construction), Atilius’ temple was securely “in Palatio”.  As Fausto Zevi (referenced below, at p. 58) pointed out :

  1. “... it seems impossible to apply the epithet ‘in Palatio’ to a building such as [the Maxentian rotunda] that is situated to the north of the [Sacra Via].... [A] return the traditional hypothesis [above] ... seems to emerge as an effectively obligatory solution” (my translation).

Filippo Coarelli, in his book of 2012 (referenced below, at p. 108), conceded:

  1. “The fact now established that the temple was “in Palatio” allows us to exclude the possibility that the [Maxentian rotunda] replaced it in its original location, as I had previously I thought.  The fact is, it was destroyed in the fire [of 64 AD], and perhaps never rebuilt.” (my translation).

He observed (at p. 109) that:

  1. “It goes without saying that the original temple must have been in [a location other than that of the rotunda], albeit one not far from it: certainly, however, on the other side of the Sacra Via and thus “in Palatio” (my translation).

Suggestion of Peter Wiseman (2013)


  1. Site of the House of the Vestals

  2. The Sacra Via ran in front of the Maxentian rotunda (upper left) and Basilica Nova

  3. towards what is now the  church of Santa Francesca Romana (upper right)

In his review of Filippo Coarelli’s book of 2012 (above), Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 2013, at pp. 246-7) drew attention to four particular literary sources for the temple’s original location (all discussed above):

  1. Pseudo Cicero had placed it “in Palati radice (at the foot of the Palatine), a phrase used elsewhere to describe the Regia”;

  2. Ovid (‘Tristia’, 3: 1: 29-32) had placed it beyond the Regia as one left the Forum, on a road to the right, just before the gate in the ancient wall around the Palatine;

  3. Appian (‘Civil Wars’, II: 11) had placed it on an easily defensible site near the Forum; and

  4. Dionysius (‘Roman Antiquities’, 2: 50: 3) had placed its precursor (i.e. Romulus’ fanum) near the Porta Mugonia, which led to the Palatine from the Sacra Via.

He observed that:

  1. “These passages are not only consistent with each other; they also indicate a site just across the Sacra Via from the [Maxentian rotunda]”.

He concluded that:

  1. “If the temple of Jupiter Stator ... was where our sources suggest, .... then [after the fire of 64 AD] Nero’s architects might well have rebuilt it [elsewhere, as discussed below] ... , leaving the original site to be redeveloped as the extended and realigned ‘house of the Vestals’ [see the plan above]”. 

In other words, in this scenario, Ovid’s book  turned right almost immediately after passing the Regia and took the relatively steep road that then led to the summit.

The House of the Vestals stands on an artificial terrace that was apparently cut out of the relatively steep slope of the Palatine Hill as part of the post-Neronian redevelopment.  Had Atilius’ temple previously stood on the slope here, all remains of it would have been lost when the terrace was cut.  This, of course, might well account for the lack of archeological evidence for its existence.

My Conclusions

It seems to me that the site proposed for Atilius’ temple by Fabiola Fraioli can probably be discounted because Atilius’ temple was not on the Sacra Via: Ovid’s book had turned south off the Sacra Via before it  saw the temple on the lower slopes of the Palatine.

That leaves us with the specific sites proposed (respectively) by Adam Ziolkowski and Peter Wiseman, both on the lower slopes of the Palatine.  The choice depends upon judgement about how far Ovid’s book travelled along the Sacra Via before turning right:

  1. according to Ziolkowski, it travelled as far as the later site of the Arch of Titus, and then turned right along the road that provided the easiest access to the Palatine; while

  2. according to Wiseman, it travelled to a point only slightly beyond the Regia, before turning right to follow a steeper road to the summit (essentially following in reverse the route of the Sabines’ difficult retreat).  Thus he suggested that Ovid’s book saw the temple on the site that was later used for the House of the Vestals.

It seems to me that the key point in favour of the traditional site - that it stood on the easiest road from the Sacra Via to the Palatine - is also its key weakness: why would the Romans of Atilius’ time have imagined that this was the site of the military engagement between Romulus and the Sabines?   If we assume that Dionysius’ account of the Sabine’s difficult retreat depended on (and accurately represented) Republican sources, surely the road to the Palatine down which the Sabines retreated should have been steeper than this one was.

Peter Wiseman’s view appears to me to be more convincing in this respect, because it does indeed give us a site from which the Sabine retreat would have been difficult.  It also gives us an easily defensible structure near the Forum: if the temple faced downhill (before the slope was terraced), its podium would presumably have been raised at the front, making it relatively easy to defend.  However, this hypothesis leaves us looking for a new location for the temple after the fire of 64 AD. 

Temple as Rebuilt after the Fire of 64 AD


We have what seems to be an eye-witness record of the post-Neronian temple, in Plutarch’s account of Cicero’s first denunciation of Cataline in 63 BC (mentioned above), which was probably written after his (Plutarch’s) visit to Rome in 92 AD.  In it, he recorded that:

  1. “... Cicero went forth and summoned the Senate to the temple of [Jupiter Stator], situated at the beginning of the Sacra Via, as one goes up to the Palatine” (‘Life of Cicero’, 16:3).

(I have taken this from Adam Ziolkowski’s book, referenced below, 2004, p. 13). 

It is important to remember that Plutarch was referring to the Sacra Via after its redevelopment in the Neronian and Flavian periods.  As Peter Wiseman (referenced below, 2013, at p. 246) summarised:

  1. “After the fire, Nero’s architects redeveloped the whole area from the Forum up to the ridge where the Arch of Titus now stands, turning the old Sacra Via into a grand rectilinear avenue flanked with porticos, leading up to the [vestibule of Nero’s] new imperial palace [later the site of the Temple of Venus and Roma].”  Thus, if Plutarch had accurately located the rebuilt temple, it was at one or other end of this new Sacra Via:

  2. near the later site of the Temple of Venus and Roma; or

  3. near the Forum

depending upon which he perceived to have been at its beginning (as opposed to its end). 


Temple from a relief from the Tomb of the Haterii

Museo Gregoriano Profano, Musei Vaticani, Rome

In my page on the Flavian Dynasty: Haterii Temple and the Temple of Jupiter Stator,  I suggest that those scholars who identify a temple depicted on the relief above was probably the Temple of Jupiter Stator, as rebuilt after 64 AD.  I also suggest that it stood near the arch that was depicted next to it in this relief, which is identified by inscription ‘Arcus in Sacra Via summa’. 

This arch was probably destroyed to make way for the Temple of Venus and Roma, which was built by the Emperor Hadrian and almost certainly completed by his successor, Antninus Pius.  I point out in the page mentioned above that many of the coins that he minted in his 4th Consulship (in 141 AD) depicted this temple, presumably to commemorate its completion.  Another group of the coins of this year depicted Jupiter Stator, for the first time in the imperial coinage.  I suggest that this was because Antoninus Pius had also completed the restoration (or perhaps the rebuilding) of the Temple of Jupiter Stator at this time, presumably because it had been affected by the construction of the nearby Temple of Venus and Roma. 

The majority of scholars locate it instead in one of two other locations:

  1. on the later site of the Maxentian rotunda (on the site in the plan above marked ‘F’, because this is, for example, the view of Fabiola Fraioli (referenced below, at p. 295 and Tables 100a and 104); or

  2. near the Arch of Titus (on the site above marked ‘Z’’, because this is, for example, the view of  Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, 2004, at 74).

Each of these scholars has the temple rebuilt after the fire on essentially its original location.  However, my proposed site (marked ‘P’ ) requires that it was rebuilt in a new location.  However, this proposed location is consistent with Adam Ziolkowski’s interpretation of Plutarch’s phrase locating the rebuilt temple (at p. 73):

  1. “... we learn from Plutarch that, in his day, ... the temple of Jupiter Stator stood by that end of the Sacra Via from which one went to the Palatine, or, in other words, at the point where the Sacra Via met the ‘Palatine street’.”

I preferred it to:

  1. F’, because there is surely insufficient room for the temple on this restricted site between the Flavian Templum Pacis complex and the Sacra Via; and

  2. Z’, because that site is not on the Sacra Via at all.

Site ‘P’ has what seems at first to be another advantage: it is in the location one would naturally expect for aedes Iovis Statoris listed under regio IV (Templum Pacis).  The relevant extracts are as follows:

  1. REGIO IV: TEMPLVM PACIS continet [i.e. contains]:

Notitia:                                                   Curiosum:

                                             ...                                                                    ...

                               Metam sudantem                                      Metam sudantem 

                       Templum Romae et Veneris                           Templum Romae

                           Aedem Iovis Statoris                                        Aedem Iobis

                                viam Sacram                                                 viam Sacram

                     Basilicam Constantinianam                      Basilicam novam et Pauli

                          Templum Faustinae                                    Templum Faustinae

                             Basilicam Pauli                            [see Basilicam novam et Pauli above]”

                                             ...                                                                    ...

However, no temple remains have been found at this end of the Sacra Via.  Indeed, a temple on the north side of this street would have had to been demolished to make way for Maxentius’ basilica nova (later the basilica Constantiniana).  The most likely scenario is that it was destroyed by the fire that seriously damaged the Temple of Venus and Roma in ca. 307 AD.  The probable situation thereafter is addressed in the page on Maxentius and the Temple of Jupiter Stator.


Read more:

F. Zevi, “Giove Statore in Palatio”, in:

  1. R. Coates-Stevens and L. Cozza (Eds.), “Scritti in Onore di Lucos Cozza”, Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae, Supplement VII (2014) 49-61.

T. P. Wiseman, “The Palatine, from Evander to Elagabalus”, Journal of Roman Studies,

103  (2013) 234-68

F. Fraioli, “Regione IV: Templum Pacis”, in

  1. A. Carandini, “Atlante di Roma Antica”, (2012) Rome , Vol. 1, pp 281-306; and Vol. 2, Tables 89-106

F. Coarelli, “Palatium: Il Palatino dalle Origini all' Impero”, (2012) Rome

P. Davies, “On the Introduction of Stone Entablatures in Republican Temples in Rome”, in:

  1. M. Thomas and G. Meyers (Eds.), “Monumentality in Etruscan and Early Roman Architecture”, (2012) Texas, pp. 139-65

A. Clark, “Divine Qualities: Cult and Community in Republican Rome”, (2007) Oxford

F. Villedieu, “La Vigna Barberini II: Domus, Palais Impérial et Temples: Stratigraphie du Secteur Nord-est du Palatin”, (2007 ) Rome

G. Forsythe, “A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War”, (2005) Berkeley Ca.

S. P. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X: Volume IV, Book X”, (2005 ) Oxford

P. Aicher, “Rome Alive:: A Source Guide to the Ancient City: Volume I”, (2004) Mundelein Ill. 

A. Carandini, “Palatino, Velia e Sacra Via: Paesaggi Urbani Attraverso il Tempo”, Workshop di Archeologia Classica: Quaderni, 1, (2004) Rome

A. Ziolkowski, “Sacra Via: Twenty Years After”, (2004) Warsaw

E. Orlin, “Temples, Religion and Politics in the Roman Republic”, (1997) Leiden

T. Cornell, “The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (C. 1000-264 BC)”, (1995) London 

T. P. Wiseman, "Remus: A Roman Myth", (1995) Cambridge 

A. Ziolkowski, “The Temples of Mid-Republican Rome”, (1992) London 

P. Hill, “The Monuments of Ancient Rome as Coin Types”, (1989) London

M. Torelli, “Culto Imperiale e Spazi Urbani in Età Flavia: Dai Rilievi Hartwig all' Arco di Tito”,  in

  1. Urbs, Espace Urbain et Histoire: Colloquio Roma (1985)”, (1987), pp. 563-82

T. P. Wiseman, "The Temple of Victory on the Palatine", Antiquaries Journal, 61 (1981) 35-52

S. Weinstock, “Victor and Invictus”, Harvard Theological Review, 50 (1957) 211-47

S. Platner and T. Ashby, “Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome”, (1929) London

C. Hoeing, “Vica Pota”, American Journal of Philology, 24:3 (1903) 323-6


  1. Roman Republic: Roman Prefectures

  2. Victory Temples and the Third Samnite War      Victory Temples in Rome (146 BC)

  3. End of theRepublic


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  1. Roman Republic: Roman Prefectures

  2. Victory Temples and the Third Samnite War      Victory Temples in Rome (146 BC)

  3. End of theRepublic