Encyclopedia Ichnographica

Templum Bellonae

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Templum Bellonae




templum : literally, a space marked out; hence, in particular, in augury, an open place for observation, marked out by the auger with his staff : an open, clear, broad space, a curcuit : a consecrated or sacred place, a sanctuary : a place dedicated to some particular deity, a fane, temple, shrine

Bellona : the goddess of war, sister of Mars, whose temple, built by Appius Claudius Caesus in the ninth district of the city, was situated not far from the Circus Flaminius--a place of assemblage for the Senate for proceedings with persons whowere not allowed entrance into the city. Her priests, Bellonarii, and priestesse were accustomed, in their mystic festivals, especially on the 20th of March, (hence dies sanguines), to gash their arms and shoulders with knives, and thus to offer their blood.



The oldest temples in this district [campus Martius] were those dedicated to Bellona and Apollo. According to one account, the temple of Bellona was built by Appius Claudius Regillensis, who in 495 B.C. set up in this temple the statues of his ancestors; according to another, a temple to Bellona was vowed by Appius Claudius Caecus in 296 B.C. The most probable explanation is that the later Claudius rebuilt the ediface which his ancestor had erected at a much earlier date. This temple is mentioned as existing in the second century, but no trace of it has been found. It stood without doubt near the west, or pulvinar, end of the circus Flaminius, as inscriptions record an aedes Bellonae Pulvinensis, which is probably the same temple. Considerable importance attached to this temple during the republic, as it was used for sessions of the senate at which victorious generals presented theirs claims for a triumph. This could not be done within the pomerium. Near the temple was a small area which a soldier of Pyrrhus had been forced to buy in order in order that it might represent foreign soil. In this area was the so-called columna bellica, representing a boundary stone, over which the fetialis cast his spear when declaring war in due form against a foreign foe. (Platner)



dies sanquinis
1998.09.24

It was throughout the month of April 1998 that I translated all the Latin labels that Piranesi positioned next to the hundreds of building plans within the Ichnographia Campus Martius, a large map/plan of ancient Rome's Campus Martius "reconstructed". I used E. A. Andrews' A New Latin Dictionary of 1907 (a book about one and a half times the size of Koolhaas' S,M,L,XL) to do the translating, and this exercise proved extremely fruitful because I am now wholly knowledgeable of, if not an expert on, the "program" of every building that Piranesi delineated within the plan that at least one scholar deemed incomprehensible.*

After learning the meanings of over four hundred Latin words, beginning with abeo:

- to go from, to go away, depart
- to pass away, so that no trace remains, to disappear, vanish, cease, of man: to die
- to be changed from one's own ways or nature into something else, to be transformed, metamorphosed
- to pass with their whole body into another

and ending with xystus:

- among the Romans, an open colonnade or portico, or a walk planted with trees, etc., for recreation, conversation, philosophical discussion, etc.,

there is one definition that stands out in my mind more than any other. To my surprise, I found out that the god Mars, for whom the Campus Martius is named, had a sister, and her name was Bellona:

the goddess of war, sister of Mars, whose temple, built by Appius Claudius Caesus in the ninth district of the city, was situated not far from the Circus Flaminius -- a place of assemblage for the Senate for proceedings with persons who were not allowed entrance into the city. Her priests, Bellonarii, and priestesses were accustomed, in their mystic festivals, especially on the 20th of March, (hence dies sanguinis), to gash their arms and shoulders with knives, and thus offer their blood.

* Manfredo Tafuri, in Architecture and Utopia (p. 15), states that "Piranesi's Campo Marzio . . . is an experimental design and the city, therefore, remains an unknown." Tafuri's conclusion of the large plan's "unknowability" is clearly an error.



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