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Villa Publica


Villa Publica

Villa Publica : in the Campus Martius, as the gathering place, rendezvous for recruits, and of the people for the census, etc.

Close by the ara Martis, and just northwest of the modern piazza del Gesł, was the Villa Publica, which was said to have been built in 435 B.C. It was the only public building in the campus Martius proper before the end of the republic. Although no remains have been found, its approximate position is certain. It consisted of a walled enclosure, within which was a square building, represented on a coin of the end of the republic as having two stories, the lower one opening outward with a row of arches. It served as the headquarters for state officials when engaged in taking the census or levying troops. Foreign ambassadors and generals who desired a triumph were also lodged here. The Villa was restored in 194 B.C., and again in 34 by P. Fonteius Capito, but seems to have been removed when Agrippa finally complete the Saepta Julia, or else incorporated in that structure. Within the walls of the Villa, in 82 B.C., Sulla massacred the four thousand prisoners taken in the battle of the Colline gate. Adjoining the building was the enclosed area, called the Saepta, where the comitia centuriata assembled to vote. The division of this enclosure into smaller sections, for tribes and centuries, caused it to resemble a sheepfold, and hence it was often called Ovile. (Platner)



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