Milliarium Aureum

Richardson, L. jr

Milliarium Aureum: erected by Augustus as superintendent of the road system, a charge he assumed in 20 B.C., and conceived as a point where all the roads converging on Rome met (Cass. Dio 54.8.4; Plutarch Galba 24.4). It stood sub Saturni aede in capite Romani fori (Pliny HN 3.66; Tacitus Hist. 1.27; Suetonius Otho 6.2). It was almost certainly a monument in the form of a Roman milestone made of, or sheathed in, gilded bronze, but there seems to be no support in our ancient sources for the notion that it was inscribed with the names of the major cities of the empire (or Italy) and the distances of these from Rome; this seems a modern inference based on the example of other ancient milestones. From the way Dio relates the erection of the Milliarium, it seems much more likely that inscribed on it were the names of the roads out of Rome and the men of praetorian rank Augustus had made Curatores Viarum to see to the upkeep of them. Still less credible is that the carved stone members labeled Milliarium Aureum at the northwest end of the Forum Romanum today actually belonged to the base of that monument. The frieze decorated with an anthemion belongs relatively high on a building, and both elements are of a diameter equal to that of the Umbilicus Romae (q.v.), too large for a milestone, unless it were of colossal scale.

During the excavation of the five-column monument of the Tetrarchs behind the Rostra Augusti in 1959, Kähler found a circular concrete base at the southeast corner of the Hemicyclium of the Rostra that might well from size and location be the remains of the Milliarium Aureum (H. Kähler, Das Funfsäulendenkmal für die Tetrarchen auf dem Forum Romanum [Cologne 1964], 23, 58-59).

Nash 2.64-65.

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