Encyclopedia Ichnographica

Palus Caprae


Still another long valley lies between the Pinician and the Quirinal, and through it ran a stream which emptied into one of the the two principal swampy ponds of the campus Martius, the Caprae palus. Another brook flowed from the western slope of the Quirinal, near the porta Salutaris, westward across the campus Martius. Topographers are not entirely agreed as to which of these last two streams is the Petronia amnis, which had its source in the Cati fons. The probability is that the southernmost of the two is the original Petronia amnis, and that therefore the Cati fons is to be located on the Quirinal, near the present church of S. Silvestro a monte Cavallo, where there are still numerous springs.   (Platner)

There were several swamps or ponds in this low-lying district [campus Martius], as well as streams, the largest of which, the Petronia amnis, came from a spring on the Quirinal, called the Cati fons, and flowed into the largest swamp, the palus Caprae, or Capreae, where were afterwards the pool and baths of Agrippa. In the northwest part of the campus Martius, near the great bend in the river, there were hot springs, probably sulphurous, and other traces of volcanic action. This part is called the Tarentum, or sometimes campus Ignifer.   (Platner)

The Palus Caprae was a site within the Campus Martius in ancient Rome. The name means "Goat Marsh" or "the Goat's pool." In myth, the Palus Caprae was the place where Romulus underwent ascension into godhood.

The marsh was fed by a stream called Petronia, but by the Augustan period it had disappeared or been drained.

The Palus Caprae was in the small basin where the Pantheon was later built, west of the Altar of Mars supposed to have been established by Numa Pompilius, Romulus's successor. Ludwig Preller thought it might be the same site as the Aedicula Capraria in Regio VI (Via Lata), as listed by the regionaries, and Filippo Coarelli conjectured that the mythic significance of the Palus Caprae was the reason for siting the Pantheon there.

Campum Martium demonstrans ab Romulo consecratum ejusque usus prius quam ab Tarquinijs occuparetur

Campus Martius opera complectens in eo facta, ex quo in pristinos usus a primus Consulibus est restitutus, usque ad Caij tempora, qui Circum Flaminium extruxit

On the Nones of July (7 July), Romulus was reviewing the army on the Campus Martius near the Goat Marsh. Suddenly a storm broke out, accompanied by an eclipse of the sun. A deluge consumed the place. When it cleared and the terrified Romans reemerged from their places of refuge, their king was nowhere to be found. Julius Proculus claimed that Romulus appeared to him in a dream and announced that he was henceforth to be known as the god Quirinus, because the gods had abducted him to live among them. Although Romulus is not said to have died, his tomb was supposed to be located on the Comitium under the Lapis Niger.

The occasion was commemorated ritually by the Nonae Caprotinae.

Campus Martius aedificia demonstrans in eo erecta usque ad tempora Divi Augusti

Campus Martius aedificia complectens ibi constructa usque ad obitum Divi Augusti




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