...a copy of Tacitus' Annals online. ...search for certain words like "circus" and "garden," and proper names as well. ...found passages regarding the Vatican stadium, the Horti Luciliani, and the Stagnum Agrippae.
places of Nero
Throughout this chapter I will call out the "presence" and significance of Nero. From the towers within his gardens (Piranesi's reference to Nero's watching the great fire of AD 60?) to the other Nero landmarks throughout the Ichnographia. Citing Suetonius as to the placing of Nero's ashes within the area of the Ichnographia's Bustum Augusti.
...read Tacitus' Annals as well. The ancient authors offer a wonderful resource with regard to who built what, and what existed when, and even who knocked down what.
Tacitus Catalogo references
Annals Book I:
Busto di Casare Augusto
Annals Book II:
Orti di Guil. Cesare lasciati al popolo romano
Orti di Luciliani
Tempio della Fortuna forte nella Regione Trasteverina
Tempio di Giano presso il foro Olitorio
Annals Book III:
Nemus, o d'Agrippa collo stagno
Porto presso il Mausoleo d'Augusto
Statua di Pompeo Magno nella Curia Pompejana
Annals Book V:
Portichi Neroniani nei colli degli orti
Teatro di Pompeo
Annals Book XIII:
Annals Book XIV:
Circo Apollinare di Cajo e Nerone
Ginnassio di Nerone
Naumachia di Nerone
Annals Book XV:
Oliarie, o magazzini d'olio
Portichi fatti per l'amenita
Annals Book XVI:
Sepolcro di Guilio Cesare
Histories Book I:
Orti di Argiani
Statua di Guilio Cesare
Histories Book III:
Colli degli Orti
from: David Magie (translator), The Scriptores Historiae Augustae (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980), vol. II.
p. 113: Then, when he held his first audience with the senate, he gave orders that his mother should be asked to come into the senate-chamber. On her arrival she was invited to a place on the consuls' bench and there she took part in the drafting--that is to say, she witnessed the drafting up of the senate's decree. And Elagabalus was the only one of all of the emperors under whom a woman attended the senate like a man, just as though she belonged to the senatorial order.
He also established a senaculum, or woman's senate, on the Quirinal Hill. Before his time, in fact, a congress of matrons had met here, but only on certain festivals, or whenever a matron was presented with the insignia of a "consular marriage"--bestowed by the early emperors on their kinswomen, particularly on those whose husbands were not nobles, in order that they might not lose their noble rank.
p. 149-51: He gave a naval spectacle, it is said, on the Circus-canals, which had been filled with wine, and he sprinkled the peoples cloaks with perfume made from the wild grape; also he drove a chariot drawn by four elephants on the Vatican Hill [The circus Vaticanus was constructed by Caligula at the north end of the Janiculum (the present site of the Church of St. Peter). Under Nero it was the scene of the tortures inflicted on the Christians; see Tacitus, Annals, xv.44. The context of the present passage, however, seems to indicate that it was not this circus that was the scene of Elagabalus' exploit, but the immediate vicinity, generally known as Vaticanum, where remains of tombs have been discovered; see O. Richter, Topographie d. Stadt Rom, p. 280 f.], destroying the tombs which obstructed the way, and he harnessed four camels to a chariot at a private spectacle in the circus.
Porticus a S.P.Q.R. Amoenitati Dicata
The Porticus a S.P.Q.R. Amoenitati Dicata of the Ichnographia has no direct connection to any historical porticus within the Campus Martius, nor within any other part of Rome. Piranesi derived the name for this porticus of his own design from a passage in the Annals of Tacitus, which describes the state of affairs during the great conflagration in Rome that broke out during the reign of the emperor Nero.
Necdum positus metus aut redicrat plebi spes: rursum grassatus ignis patulis magis urbis locis, eoque strages hominum minor: delubra deum et porticus ameonitati dicatae latius procidere.
But fear had not been yet laid aside, nor had hope yet returned to the people, when the fire resumed its ravages; so that, while the toll of human life was not so great, the destruction of temples and of porticoes dedicated to pleasure was on a wider scale.
Like all the porticus within the Ichnographia, the Porticus a S.P.Q.R. Amoenitati Dicata is composed largely of linear colonnades, however, this porticus, along with the other two porticus along the Equiria, is of exceptional length. Furthermore, the ends of the colonnades are immured with symmetrical and paired arrangements of enclosed spaces. The same plan composition applies to the other porticus along the Equiria as well.
As a building designed primarily to accommodate the large number of Equiria spectators, it appears to have ample space for the crowds along with spaces to service the needs of the crowds other than spectating. For example, the enclosed spaces at either end of the porticus could well be programmed to house "refreshment" facilities, and the dual sets of stairs provide access to the roof, which offers a better vantage point of the horse-race.