Porticus Deorum Consentium

Richardson, L. jr

Porticus Deorum Consenttium: a poorly understood building across the Clivus Capitolinus to the northwest of the Temple of Saturn, in its present form Flavian, but that is due to the insertion of the Temple of Divus Vespasianus next to the Temple of Concordia. An older portico, built in 174 B.C., ran from the Temple of Saturn to the Senaculum (Livy 41.27.7) and made a dramatic backdrop for this end of the Forum Romanum. While this may have lost much of its importance after Opimius's reconstruction of the Temple of Concordia and creation of the Basilica Opimia in 121 B.C., it could still have served to unify this end of the forum visually. Even after Tiberius's enlargement of the Temple of Concordia, dedicated in A.D. 10 or 12, a portico adjacent to it could have been a handsome complement. But the Temple of Divus Vespasianus reduced the plot to an awkward trapezoid, and the portico erected there is an ungainly makeshift. It consists of a trapezoidal platform paved with marble, framed on two sides meeting at an obtuse angle with Corinthian colonnades, behind which open seven nearly square chambers built of brick-faced concrete. The two wings of the colonnade are different, one being of fluted columns, the other of unfluted columns of cipollino. The chambers are windowless and dark. At a lower level in the side of the platform along the Temple of Divus Vespasianus is another series of seven similar chambers that seem to have been offices, like the tabernae of the Forum Iulium.

An inscription (CIL 6.102 = ILS 4003) on the epistyle records a restoration of the simulacra of the Dei Consentes by the praefectus urbi Vettius Praetextatus in A.D. 367. It is generally presumed that the images stood in the intercolumniations and that the chambers behind were originally twelve, one for each of the divinities in Varro's list of them in pairs: Jupiter and Tellus, Sol and Luna, Ceres and Liber, Robigus and Flora, Minerva and Venus, Lympha and Bonus Eventus (Varro Rust. 1.1.4). This is very unsatisfactory; there are today thirteen intercolumniations and only seven chambers. Varro says only that gilded statues of the twelve stood ad forum, so one would be inclined to see the statues displayed in the court well in front of the colonnade and the chambers as having nothing to do with any cult of the Dei Consentes, but rather as utilitarian space. Even so, it is not an aesthetically pleasing building.

Excavations were carried out here in 1834, and the colonnade and chambers were reconstructed in 1858 using ancient material. This may account in part for the ruin's unsatisfactory quality. But clearly the builders were aiming at contrast with the Tabularium, which seems rather unfortunate.

Lugli 1946, 114-15; Nash 2.241-43; Roma, archeologia nel centro (1985), 1.24-28 (G. Nieddu); BdA 71 (1986): 37-52 (G. Nieddu).

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