Roman Republic


As Catherine Steel (referenced below, at p. 9) pointed out:

  1. “The year 146 BC was a bad one for ancient cities [making it a good one for Rome]:

  2. -Carthage was captured by forces under the command of of Scipio Aemilianus, and the city was destroyed.

  3. -In Greece, Lucius Memmius defeated the Achaen League at the isthmus of Corinth, and proceeded, on the instructions of the Senate, to destroy the city. 

  4. By the end of the year, the inhabitants of Rome had watched three triumphal processions:

  5. those of Scipio and Mummius; [and]

  6. that of Mummius’ predecessor in Greece, Q. Caecilius Metellus”.

Each of these generals certainly or probably used the spoils from his victory to build an important temple in Rome:

  1. Metellus probably built of rebuilt Temple of Jupiter Stator in the Porticus Metelli,  famously the first marble temple in Rome;

  2. Scipio probably built the Temple of Hercules Victor in Foro Boario; and

  3. Mummius certainly built another temple to Hercules Victor, possibly on the Caelian Hill but more probably the Temple of Hercules Victor ad portam Trigeminam, the lovely temple that survives near the Tiber, on the edge of what was the Forum Boarium.

The last two temples are discussed in turn below.

Temples to Hercules Victor

Two early writers:

  1. Macrobius (in his ‘Saturnalia’, below); and

  2. Servius (in his ‘ad Aeneid’, 8: 362-3);

who presumably relied on a single source, recorded that there were two temples in Rome dedicated to Hercules Victor.  Both references are made in commentaries on Virgil’s use of the epithet ‘Victor’  for Hercules (discussed below).  The translation of Macrobius here is that of Robert Kaster (referenced below, at p. 49):

  1. “At Rome, ... there are two temples of Hercules Victor: one by Porta Trigemina; the other in the [nearby] Forum Boarium”, (Saturnalia’, 3: 6:10).

These temples were presumably built here because the Forum Boarium was the mythical location of the altar known as the Ara Maxima, which the grateful Romans had erected on the spot where Hercules had celebrated his victory over Cacus (who had stolen some of the cattle that he had recovered from Geryon in the eighth ‘Labour of Hercules’).  According to Amanda Claridge (referenced below, at p. 290):

  1. “... a substantial stone platform, more than 5m high, constructed of large blocks of Anio tufa, which extends under the altar end of the church [of Santa Maria in Cosmedin ... is] a strong candidate for the Ara Maxima of Hercules Victor, known to have been located between the Cattle Market and the starting gates of the Circus Maximus. ... Initially, [the altar was used for sacrifices in] a private cult run by two families [the Potitii and the Pinarii], but this became part of the State religion in the late 4th century BC.  Public sacrifices of bulls continued well into the 4th century AD.”

Carlos Machado (referenced below, at p. 341) translated and commented on an inscription (CIL VI 313) from an altar that was found during excavations under Santa Maria in Cosmedin the 15th century (described below):

  1. “The ancient history of the cult of Hercules in this area was explained to visitors by [the inscription on this] altar dedicated in the early 3rd century:

  2. ‘Catius, as urban praetor, gladly consecrated this gift to your divinity, invincible Hercules when ...  he had performed the ceremony that you entrusted to the Potitii in Evander’s day, to be carried out annually here at the Ara Maxima

  3. The dedication preserved the tradition that Hercules himself had established the cult at the Ara Maxima, leaving it under the responsibility of a Roman gens, the Potitii, from the time of Evander”.

As Platner and Ashby (referenced below) observed in their section on the  ‘Aedes Herculis Victoris’ : 

  1. “The relationship (topographical and historical) between the different shrines of Hercules in and near the Forum Boarium are by no means clear, and the problems involved have given rise to a considerable literature”.

I hope that this excuses the prolixity of the paragraphs below.

Temple of Hercules Victor in Foro Boario

Livy noted that, in 296 BC, the ‘sacello Pudicitiae Patriciae’ stood:

  1. “... in foro bovario, near the round temple of Hercules” (‘History of Rome’, X:23:3).

This was presumably one of the two temples recorded by Servius and Macrobius (above), specifically the one “in Foro Boario”.  According to Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, 1988, at p 313):

  1. “[Livy’s record] makes it possible to identify this temple with the round shrine that stood northeast of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.  It was demolished at the end of the 15th century and is known from drawings by Baldassare Peruzzi and Pirro Ligorio”.

Jack Frieberg (referenced below, at p 77) provided more information on the fate of this temple in the Renaissance:

  1. “Interest in the Forum Boarium and its identification with Hercules was renewed during the pontificate of Sixtus IV.  In anticipation of the Holy Year of 1475, the Pope sponsored the restoration of the tholos [circular] temple [which was then a church - i.e. the temple ad portam Trigeminam discussed below].  Also during Sixtus’ reign, excavations conducted close to the nearby church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin uncovered architectural, decorative and epigraphic elements pertaining to another tholos temple.  Its centralised plan and dedication to Hercules were attested by [Pomponio] Leto and Albertini, but the only known feature today is the [gilded bronze statue (2nd century BC) of Hercules that Sixtus transferred to what are now the Musei Capitolini, Rome] ... In the middle of the 16th century, Pirro Ligurio noted the circular plan of this lost temple and identified the architectural system as Doric, citing drawings by Baldassare Peruzzi that have not survived.”

Rodolfo Lanciani (referenced below, in Chapter II) recorded that these excavations were thought also to have uncovered remains of the Ara Maxima:

  1. “The Temple of Hercules, the Ara Maxima and the bronze statue of [Hercules] were discovered, in a good state of preservation, during the pontificate of Sixtus IV, between the apse of Santa Maria in Cosmedin ... and the Circus Maximus.  We have a description of the discovery by Pomponio Leto, Albertini, and Fra Giocondo da Verona; and excellent drawings by Baldassare Peruzzi.  Except the bronze statue and a few votive inscriptions [see below], which were removed to the Capitoline Museum, everything - temple, altar, and platform - was levelled to the ground by the illustrious Vandals of the Renaissance”.

Naja Regina Armstrong  (referenced below, at p 47) noted that G. B. Giovenale (1927) had used the scant surviving information for his reconstruction of a round temple surrounded by  18 Tuscan columns.  

Platner and Ashby (referenced below) observed in their section on the  ‘Aedes Herculis Victoris’ that the identification of the presiding deity of this temple as Hercules:

  1. “... was assisted by [the discovery of the statue mentioned above and] the further discovery in the immediate vicinity of a series of dedicatory inscriptions to Hercules Invictus (CIL VI 312-9).  These inscriptions, however, might [have belonged] to the nearby Ara Maxima”.

Carlos Machado (referenced below, at p. 341) commented as follows on these inscriptions:

  1. “The altars on which these inscriptions had been carved were discovered in the [16th ??] century near the church of S. Maria in Cosmedin ... .  They constitute one of the main arguments for locating the Ara Maxima of Hercules on this spot.  Of the eleven dedications discovered, seven [CIL VI 314-7, with the first CIL entry covering four inscriptions on a single altar] are datable to ... the late 3rd and early 4th centuries.  The inscriptions are very laconic, informing us that they were offered to the god by different urban praetors”.

(See also his comment on the earlier CIL VI 313, above).

Scipio Aemilianus Africanus

The founder of this temple is usually identified as Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus Minor (to give him his full name), who gained Rome's final victory over Carthage in 146 BC.  However, as the following paragraphs make clear, this has not been established beyond doubt.

Festus referred to this temple in a passage that reflects and elaborates the reference of Livy (above), but the surviving manuscripts are corrupt at the vital point:

  1. Pudicitiae signum in foro bovario est, ubi familiana aedisset Herculis” (‘Lexicon’, 282 L)

In his translation of Festus in 1576, Joseph Scaliger proposed:

  1. Pudicitiae signum in foro bovario est, ubi Aemiliana aedis est Herculis.

As Naja Regina Armstrong  (referenced below, at p 45-6) explained (at note 100):

  1. “Scaliger’s emendation implies that a member of the gens Aemilia was responsible for the temple’s construction”.

She observed (at p. 47) that:

  1. “Scaliger has proposed L. Aemilius Paulus [as the family member in question]... Better, however, is Coarelli’s suggestion [first made in his book of 1988/1992, referenced below] of Paulus’ son, P. Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus  ... who oversaw work on the nearby Pons Aemilius [a bridge over the Tiber].”

Naja Regina Armstrong suggested that Scipio had probably founded the temple during his Censorship in 142 BC, citing (at note 105) a passage by Plutarch:

  1. “... Scipio was criticised in Rome because, when he entertained his friends at the dedication of the temple of Hercules, he did not include his colleague [Lucius Mummius Archaicus]; for even if, in general, the two men did not consider themselves friends, on such occasions they usually thought it proper to show honour and friendliness to each other on account of their office” (‘Precepts of Statecraft’, 20:4).

Mummius (discussed below in the context of the Temple of Hercules Victor ad portam Trigeminam) was Scipio’s colleague as Censor in 142 BC. 

Other scholars who accept Scipio Aemilianus Africanus as the founder of this temple include:

  1. Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, 1988, at p 313); and

  2. Penelope Davies (referenced below, at p 38).

Filippo Coarelli also stood by his original suggestion in his later book (referenced below, 2007/2014, at p 319).  However, Robert Palmer (referenced below, at p 237 of his review of Coarelli’s original book) doubted Scaliger’s emendation:

  1. “... the round temple of Hercules Victor by the Circus Maximus [i.e. in the Forum Boarium] may be attributed to:

  2. -an Aemilius [as per Scaliger’s emendation, but not Scipio Aemilianus Africanus, whom Festus referred to elsewhere in his work only as Scipio Africanus];

  3. -a servile familia [i.e. with the emendation of the corrupt phrase to  ‘ubi familia sedisset Herculis’, referring to an otherwise unknown family of slaves that served the cult] ; or

  4. -a Flamininus [ i.e. with the emendation of the corrupt phrase to ‘ubi Flaminini aedis est Herculis’, perhaps in reference to T. Quinctius Flamininus, who defeated Philip of Macedonia in 197 BC].

  5. ... If Plutarch is correct in reporting that [Scipio Aemilianus Africanus] dedicated a temple to Hercules when Mummius was his colleague:

  6. -[either] a different case must be made for the round temple [as the temple in question, one that does not rely on Scaliger’s emendation of Festus]; or

  7. -another temple must be sought elsewhere”.

Temple of Hercules Victor ad Portam Trigeminam

Deconsecrated church of Santa Maria del Sole

Piazza Bocca della Verità, Rome

As noted above, Servius and Macrobius identified a second temple to Hercules Victor, which was located ad Portam Trigeminam’.  According to Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, 1988, at p 312):

  1. “[This] signifies that this [second] temple stood on the narrow strip of land between the Servian wall and the Tiber.  This is precisely the site occupied by the [surviving] round temple [that is now the deconsecrated church of Santa Maria del Sole, illustrated above]”.

Jack Frieberg (referenced below, at p 76) recorded that this structure had been identified as the ancient Temple of Vesta until 1497, when the site of that temple was established to be in the Forum Romanum.  He then recorded that:

  1. “[Andrea Fulvio used extraordinary] sensitivity to literary and archeological evidence [in] his discussion [in his publication of 1527] of the [surviving] tholos temple in the Forum Boarium, which he associated with Hercules, citing ancient texts that modern archeologists use to arrive at the same identification.”

Unfortunately, the original upper part of the temple has been lost.  What survives is: the lower part of its circular cella wall; and its surrounding colonnade of 19 of the original 20 Corinthian columns.  According to Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2007/2014, at pp. 316-7), who dated the temple to the end of the 2nd century BC:

  1. “... the building was completely restored during the reign of Tiberius, probably after the flood of 15 AD, when nine columns and eleven capitals ... were substituted [by replacements of Luna marble].”

Amanda Claridge (referenced below, at pp. 287-8), who dated the temple to the late 2nd or early 1st century BC, observed that:

  1. “It was an extremely costly commission for that period, a Greek design probably by an eastern Greek architect using Greek (Pentelic) marble - then a very rare commodity in Rome - for all the exterior finish:

  2. -the columns and their entablature; and

  3. -the outer face of the cella wall, the surviving lower zone of which still preserves  its decorative effect of finely drafted Greek-style masonry ... .”

Statue of Hercules Olivarius 

A marble base found near this temple in 1895 carried an inscription (CIL VI 33936):

[missing letters]o Olivarius opus Scopae minoris

H. B. Walters (referenced below) recorded at the time of the discovery that:

  1. “Professor Petersen [unreferenced] restores the inscription:

  2. [Hercules Invictus cognominis volg]o Olivarius opus Scopae minoris

  3. and refers it to a statue of Hercules Olivarius, which occurs [under Regio XI in the so-called Chronogaph’ of 354 AD], and which stood between the Porta Trigemina and the Velabrum.  It has been suggested that ‘olivarius’ refers to the olive branch that [Hercules] brought back from the Hypoboreans, but it is more natural to explain it by the proximity of the olive market.  The ‘Scopas Minor’ referred to [as the sculptor] appears to have lived in the 1st century BC ...”

Note that the entry ‘Herculem olivarium’ in the ‘Chronogaph’ indicates only an unspecified monument, although it is reasonable to assume that it did indeed refer to this statue.

There is much confusion in the literature as to the identity of the Greek sculptor Scopas (or Skopas) Minor and the extent of his work in Rome.  Fortunately, two articles in the recent conference proceedings edited by D. Katsonopoulou  and A. Stewart (referenced below) resolve some of this confusion, not least by removing any other work from his catalogue:

  1. Andrew Stewart (at p 21) documented:

  2. “... a sculptural dynasty ... that alternated the names of Skopas and Aristandros [across three centuries]:

  3. -Pliny assigns [a sculptor called] Skopas to the years 420-17 BC;

  4. -... in 405/4 BC, an Aristandros of Paros worked on the victory monument at Amyklai for the battle of Aigospotamoi;

  5. -Then comes the great Skopas [of Paros], whose activity ranges from about 370 to about 330 BC;

  6. -In the 1st century BC, [a sculptor called] Aristandros of Paros, son of Skopas, restored several statues on Delos after the Mithradatic sack of 88 BC.

  7. -Finally, a Severan-period statue base in Rome, [i.e. the inscription above], now lost but apparently a renewal of a Republican one, carried a [statue of] ‘Hercules(?) Olivarius’, the work of Skopas Minor.”

  8. Giuliana Calcani (at pp 443-4) also stressed that the inscription from the Forum Boarium constituted the only known documentation of the work of this last-named sculptor:

  9. “The only trace we have of [Skopas Minor] is the inscription above.  ...  we have no basis for attributing to Skopas Minor the works documented by Pliny in Rome ... .”

Clearly, the period in which Scopas Minor was active is a matter for speculation:

  1. By placing Skopas Minor last in his list, Andrew Stewart seems to follow H. B. Walters (above), who asserted:

  2. “The ‘Scopas Minor’ referred to [as the sculptor of Hercules Olivarius] ] appears to have lived in the 1st century BC ...”

  3. In this case, he could have been the brother or son of Aristandros of Paros, son of Skopas (who worked on Delos after 88 BC).

  4. However, according to Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2007/2014, at pp. 318), Scopas Minor:

  5. “... lived around the end of the 2nd century BC.”

  6. If this is correct, we might reasonably transpose the last two entries in Andrew Stewart’s list and perhaps assume that Scopas Minor was the father of this Aristandros of Paros, son of Skopas.

Founder of the Temple

There are at least two candidates for the founder of the temple:

  1. Marcus Octavius Herrenus; and

  2. Lucius Mummius Archaicus.

These possibilities are discussed below.

Marcus Octavius Herrenus

Both Macrobius (in his ‘Saturnalia’, below), and Servius (in his ‘ad Aeneid’, 8: 362-3) recounted the circumstance in which Herrenus had dedicated a temple to Hercules Victor, referencing ‘Memorabilia, Book II’ (1st century AD) by Massurius Sabinus.  The following translation of Macrobius is that of Robert Kaster (referenced below, at p. 49):

  1. “After Marcus Octavius Herrenus, who was a piper in his early youth, despaired of his craft, he became a merchant and, having enjoyed success, made an offering of one tenth of his wealth to Hercules.  On a later trading voyage, he was beset by pirates but fought back very bravely and came away the victor.  Hercules revealed in a dream that he [Herrenus] had been saved by the god’s efforts: [Herrenus] then asked for and received a plot of land from the magistrates and dedicated a temple and statue to Hercules, calling him ‘Victor’ in the carved inscription”,Saturnalia’, 3: 6:11).  

In the accounts of both Servius and Macrobius, this paragraph, like the paragraph above on the two temples to Hercules Victor, was part of a commentary on Virgil’s use of the word ‘victor’ in a line:

  1. “Evander said: ‘The victor Hercules has stooped to cross these thresholds ..’”, (‘Aeneid’, 8: 362-3). 

It is now time to discuss the whole commentary, again using Robert Kaster’s translation of Macrobius (referenced below, at p. 49).  The commentary comprised four paragraphs:

  1. -“... Varro judges that Hercules was called ‘Victor’ because he defeated every sort of animal.”

  2. -“At Rome, however, there are two temples of Hercules Victor: one by Porta Trigemina; the other in the Forum Boarium.”

  3. -“Massurius Sabinus explains the origins of this epithet [‘Victor’] differently [from Varro] ... :

  4. [Here, Macrobius quoted Massurius’s biography of Herrenus, as above, ending with the information that, after Hercules ensured his delivery from pirates, Herrenus] asked for and received a plot of land from the magistrates and dedicated a temple and statue to Hercules, calling him ‘Victor’ in the carved inscription.”

  5. -“Thus, he [Virgil] gave [Hercules] a title that both represented [his] former victories and commemorated a new story that served as the origin of a fresh Roman cult.(Saturnalia’, 3: 6:10-1).

(The final phrase, my italics, did not appear in the otherwise essentially identical account by Servius).

Some scholars take this commentary to mean that the common source for the accounts by Servius and Macrobius had claimed that:

  1. -one of the two Roman temple to Hercules Victor was dedicated to the old cult; while

  2. -the other was built by Herrenus and (according to Macrobius) dedicated to the “fresh Roman cult” that he had introduced. 

Thus, Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, in  1988/1992 and again in 2007/2014, at p. 318) identified Herrenus’ temple as the temple under discussion here.  The following quotation is from Coarelli’s later book:

  1. “[The surviving round temple by the Tibur] was founded by a Roman merchant, Marcus Octavius Herrenus, whose wealth probably derived from oil trade.  Hercules was, in fact, the patron divinity of the olearii, (olive oil merchants), as attested by several epigraphic documents from Delos.  The proximity of [the temple to] the river port may be significant in this regard.”

Mario Torelli (referenced below, at p.95) was of the same opinion:

  1. “In the closing years of the 2nd century BC, [Marcus Octavius Herrenus] dedicated a temple that is certainly to be identified with [the surviving round temple] in the Forum Boarium.”

An interesting passage in Panegyric X (above) clearly refers to the exploits of Herrenus, albeit that he was not named: having imagined how the Romans would flock to an unspecified Temple of Hercules Victor to venerate Maximian on the occasion of Rome’s birthday, the panegyrist noted that:

  1. “This name [i.e. Hercules Victor] was once given to [Hercules] by the man who defeated pirates in a merchant vessel and [subsequently] heard from Hercules himself, during his sleep, that he had won the victory with his help.  So it is that, for many centuries, it has been among the duties of your divinity [i.e. of Hercules, the divinity of Maximian Herculius] to overcome pirates [such as the usurper Carausius].  But surely the day will soon dawn when Rome sees you victorious[with Hercules’ help] ...” (13:5 - 14:1)”. 

Herrenus’ exploits were mentioned here primarily in order to underline the panegyrist’s confidence that Maximian would soon defeat the ‘pirate’ Carausius.  Nevertheless, it is surely significant that he chose to identify the unnamed Herrenus as the man who had coined the name Hercules Victor, the title of one of the temples in Rome where Maximian was venerated (presumably drawing on a well-known source, perhaps Massurius Sabinus).  He does not, however, claim that Herrenus had dedicated the temple in question.  

Silvio Panciera (referenced below) made a careful reference to Coarelli’s original insight in his paper on the ‘olearii’ (Greek ‘elaiopolai’, merchants of olive oil), who traded around the Mediterranean in the Republican period.  He drew attention to two inscriptions from Delos that related to what seems to have been a guild of oil merchants:

  1. A Latin inscription (ID 1712) from the base of a statue found near one of the city’s warehouses read:

  2. C Iulio C. f. Caesar[i] pro cos. olearii

  3. The italian olearii based at Delos had thus honoured Julius Caesar (the father of the Dictator), who was the proconsul of Asia in 98-90 BC.

  4. A Greek inscription (ID 1713) that Panciera dated to ca. 100 BC recorded that eight elaiopolai had dedicated a temple and a statue to Hercules, who was thus possibly their patron deity.  (Another inscription, ID 1714, which Panciera dated to 96-5 BC, recorded the restoration of this temple.)

Panciera then mentioned the only other known references to named olearii:

  1. ‘P. Barbatius M. l., oliarius’ was commemorated in a funerary inscription (1st century BC) from Rome; and

  2. the olivarius Publius Livius Pileros was commemorated by this lovely funerary stele in Caesarea, on which he was depicted with the tools of his trade.

He continued:

  1. “Finally, the name of another possible oil merchant of the Republican period can be deduced from the association proposed by Coarelli between:

  2. -the Temple of Hercules Victor ad portam Trigeminam known from the classical literature;

  3. -the surviving round temple (late 2nd century BC) near the Tiber;

  4. -the base of a statue by Scopas Minor found nearby, on which was inscribed the word ‘Olivarius’; and

  5. -a monument dedicated to Hercules Olivarius in the [‘Chronogaph’ of 354 AD].

  6. According to Macrobius, the temple might have been constructed by M. Octavius Herrenus, who ...  erected a temple and a statue in thanks for the help  of Hercules during a pirate attack.  The statue and the popular name Hercules Olivarius, which one assumes was later applied to the temple [my italics], makes one think that Herrenus might well have been an oil merchant.  Obviously, one must not forget the hypothetical nature of this attractive proposition” (my translation).

In fact, the entry Herculem olivariumin the Chronogaph might simply relate to the statue, and there is no other evidence to suggest that the epithet ‘Olivarius’ was ever applied to the round temple.  We might therefore reasonably accept Coarelli’s reasoning in order to link Herrenus to the statue without necessarily accepting his proposed link between Herrenus and the round temple.  In this case, Macrobius’ carved inscription including the word Victor could well be the inscription on the base of the statue. 

Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, 1988) argued strongly that Herrenus could not have built the round temple by the Tiber.  First, he deduced (at p. 321) that Herrenus’ victory over pirates had probably taken place in the period ca. 88-67 BC.  He observed that:

  1. “This dating would rule out Herrenus as the founder of the round temple [near the Tiber].”

This is not particularly compelling, since neither the date of Herrenus’ voyage nor the date at which the temple was built can be established beyond doubt.  However, Ziolkowski’s other main point carries more weight: he asserted (at  p 322) that:

  1. “Some [oil merchants like Herrenus] could have made considerable fortunes, but building marble temples was definitely beyond their means.  All the evidence, circumstantial yet significant, about Herrenus’ date of birth and financial and social status seems thus to rule him out as the founder of any [public] Roman temple to Hercules, still less the round temple on the Tiber”.

He made two supporting arguments (at pp 326-7):

  1. The Temple of Hercules Victor ad portam Trigeminam was an ‘aedes publica’ [a public temple consecrated according to religious law] and, as such, cannot be identified with Herrenus’ shrine, which, if really built in Rome, must have belonged to the category of private foundations, infinitely more modest than the marble round temple on the Tiber”.

  2. Last but not least, the Temple of Hercules Victor ad portam Trigeminam was the only marble building in Republican Rome apart from:

  3. -the temple of Jupitor Stator [in the Porticus Metelli (discussed above), dedicated by Q. Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus, the Consul of 143 BC]; and

  4. -the temple of Mars in Circo Flaminio, dedicated by D. Iunius Brutus Callaicus, the Consul of 138 BC.

  5. ... In a society as hierarchical as Rome, ... no merchant would have dared to rival the ostentation of Metellus [and Brutus].”

Lucius Mummius Archaicus

An inscription (CIL VI 0331) that was found in 1786 on the Caelian Hill records that:

  1. “Lucius Mummius, the son of Lucius, Consul, returned to Rome with triumph after Achaia had been taken and Corinth destroyed [in 146 BC]  ... ; for these successful deeds, according to his vow during the war, the imperator dedicates this temple and image of Hercules the Victor”.

The inscription thus post-dates 145 BC, the year that Mummius celebrated his triumph over the Achaean League.

Many scholars - including, for example, Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 2007/2014, at pp. 215) - argue that this inscription recorded a temple that Mummius commissioned near the find-spot on the Caelian.  Platner and Ashby (referenced below) observed in their section ‘Aedes Herculis Victoris’  that:

  1. “Another inscription (CIL VI 30888) found near SS Quattro Coronati may refer to this temple, which was probably on the Caelian in this vicinity.”

However, Adam Ziolkowski (referenced below, 1988, at p 316) argued strongly that the crude lettering of the inscription and the fact that is was inscribed on tufa precludes its having been attached to a temple.  He also pointed out (at pp 309-10) that there is no evidence for the cult of Hercules Victor on the Caelian. 

Ziolkowski also argued (at p. 316) that:

  1. “Servius and Macrobius say that there were two temples of Hercules Victor.  One of them, the Herculis Victor in Foro Boario [above] should be be identified with the aedes Aemiliana.  As for the other, the inscription [above] reveals that L. Mummius Achaicus, Consul of 146 BC, the conqueror of the Acheans and destroyer of Corinth, dedicated ex manubis [i.e. from the fruits of his victory] a temple to Hercules Victor.  This temple should therefore be identical with the Herculis Victor ad Portam Trieginam, the round temple on the Tiber”.

In the body of his paper, he employed arguments in favour of Mummius that he had previously used against Herrenus as the founder of the temple (set out above).   He then reinforced them by describing (at p. 328) Mummius’ great rivalry with Metellus, whom he had replaced when the victory over the Achaeans had already been inevitable.  He continued:

  1. “Both men commemorated their victories by founding temples, of which Metellus’ foundation to Jupiter Stator was the first marble building in Rome.  There is every reason to believe that Mummius built a marble temple too:

  2. -like Metellus, he took an enormous amount of booty;

  3. -like Metellus, he exercised his imperium in the immediate neighbourhood of Attica, where Pentelic marble came from;

  4. -but, most of all, considering his rivalry with Metellus during the Achaean War, he had the strongest personal motivation to build a temple equal to, if not surpassing in splendour, the marble glory of [Metellus] Macedonicus.”

He then observed that”

  1. “... in the same manor, Mummius’ incessant quarrels with Scipio Aemilanus, his colleague as Censor [in 142 BC], seem to be reflected in the location of the round temple in the Portus Tiberinus.”

He pointed to a passage by Livy:

  1. “M. Fulvius [one of the Censors of 179/8 BC] ... constructed a wharf on the Tiber and piles for a bridge on which, some years later [i.e. in 142 BC], the Censors P. Scipio Africanus and L. Mummius erected arches”, ‘History of Rome’ 40: 51: 3-4).

He pointed out (at p. 329) that:

  1. “Nothing could have served [Mummius’] purpose of defying Scipio better than the construction of a magnificent temple between:

  2. -Rome’s most imposing bridge [the Pons Aemelius], which, although completed by both Censors, bore the generic name of his rival; and

  3. -that rival’s most spectacular war trophy [i.e. the statue of Apollo Caelispex [Heaven-gazer], war booty from Carthage, which stood the river embankment]”.

[As a matter of detail, note that Robert Palmer (referenced below, at p 240-2) argued that there is no reliable evidence that links the statue of Apollo Caelispex on the embankment to either Scipio or Carthage.]

The earlier analysis of Strong and Ward-Perkins (referenced below, at p 30-1) was consistent with Adam Ziolkowski’s hypothesis:

  1. “Historically there does not seem to be any reason why this building should not be of any date after the middle of the second century BC.  Greek architects were active in Italy as early as the third quarter of the century; and even if they did not always work to foreign designs - the temple of Jupiter Stator built by Hermodorus Salamis [above] not long after 146 BC was Italic in plan—they were certainly available to any who wished to take advantage of their special skills.  In such matters, the taste of the patron mattered just as much as that of the artist whom he employed; and this was above all the age of the victorious general, whose dedications ex manubiis must have played no small part in reshaping the artistic taste of late Republican Rome. The round temple by the Tiber could very well be such a dedication.  With so many unknowns in the equation, it is hard to be precise.  On balance,it seems most likely to date from the first half of the 1st century BC: but, although it can hardly be very much later, a date as much a half a century earlier is by no means incredible”.

Filippo Coarelli (referenced below, 1988/1992, p 186, note 21) argued against Ziolkowski’s hypothesis, suggesting that:

  1. stylistic considerations dated the temple to a few decades later than the 140s BC; and

  2. if founded by Mummius, the temple would have pre-dated that of Metellus, which was renowned as the first marble temple in Rome. 

Liv Yarrow (referenced below, at 60) disagreed about the stylistic grounds for dating the temple but made a similar point to Coarelli about its dating relative to that of Metellus’ temple:

  1. “While the round temple [near the Tiber] is undoubtedly of mid-to-late 2nd century origin and was probably built with triumphal associations, [it] cannot have been erected by Mummius if the numerous literary sources are correct in crediting Metellus (above) with having built the first marble temple in Rome.”

However, neither temple can be dated with sufficient precision to allow such a firm conclusion.  Ziolkowski addressed this point in the endnote to his paper:

  1. “Coarelli [followed by Liv Yarrow, referenced below] based his objection on Morgan’s dubious dating of dating of the temple of Jupiter Stator after Metellus’ consulship in 143 BC [as discussed above].   Actually, we know for sure that Metellus returned to Rome before Mummius (the former triumphed in 146 and the latter in 145 BC and thus had time to complete his foundation first.”

See also the comments of Francisco Pina Polo, in the section above on Metellus’ temple.

At least two scholars have broadly accepted Ziolkowski’s hypothesis:

  1. Penelope Davies (referenced below, at p. 38) observed:

  2. If [Mummius’ temple, as described in the inscription from the Caelian] can be identified with the round temple by the Tiber ..., as seems likely, it was one of the most radically Greek buildings in the city at this time. ... The temple went beyond evoking Greek heroism through circular form: the marble, and particularly its Corinthian columns, described the source of Mummius’ fame.”

  3. Katherine Welch (referenced below, at p. 504) made essentially the same point:

  4. “One proposal is that [the round temple near the Tiber] was erected by an oil merchant [i.e. by Herrenus] to honour Hercules Olivarius.  More likely, it was dedicated to Hercules Victor by L. Mummius.  The building is a Greek tholos, almost entirely of Pentelic marble and sitting on a low krepis comparable, for example, to the Philippeion at Olympia.  It would have been strikingly different from the surrounding manubial temples in the neighbourhood, [which were] Etrusco-Italic or Greco-Italic in form and made from travertine and stuccoed tufa.  Note that it is the first known temple in Rome of the Corinthian order: this choice of order would perhaps then have carried a particular poignancy, as Mummius was the destroyer of Corinth.”

My Conclusion

I have to say that I find the case made for Mummius as the founder of the temple compelling, notwithstanding the difficulty presented by the find-spot of the associated inscription. 

However, I am also persuaded by Coarelli’s insight, at least as far as the probably association of Herrenus with the statue of Hercules Olivarius.  A possible scenario for this might be as follows:

  1. I speculated above that Scopas Minor was related to Aristandros of Paros, son of Skopas, who worked on Delos shortly after 88 BC.  Perhaps the two men worked together there??  In that case, we might speculate that Herrenus had his encounter with pirates en route to Delos.  After his safe arrival and his subsequent dream, he might have bought a statue by Scopas Minor of Hercules Olivarius, the patron of the olearii at Delos.  He might then have installed it close to the Temple of Hercules Victor ad portam Trigeminam when he introduced this cult to the the olearii of Rome ??

Read more:

Davies P, “Rome and her Neighbours: Greek Building Practices in Republican Rome”, in

  1. Ulrich R. B. and Quenemoen C. K. (editors), “A Companion to Roman Architecture”, (2014) Oxford, at pp. 27-44

Freiberg J., “Bramante's Tempietto, the Roman Renaissance, and the Spanish Crown”, (2014) New York

Steel C., “The End of the Roman Republic (146 to 44 BC): Conquest and Crisis”, (2014) Edinburgh

Calcani G., “Searching for Skopas in Rome”, in:

  1. Katsonopoulou D. and Stewart A. (editors), “Paros III: Skopas of Paros and His World: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on the Archaeology of Paros and the Cyclades, Paroikia, Paros, 11-14 June 2010”, (2013) Athens, pp. 443-8

Stewart A., “Desperately Seeking Skopas”, in:

  1. Katsonopoulou D. and Stewart A. (editors), “Paros III: Skopas of Paros and His World: Proceedings of the Third International Conference on the Archaeology of Paros and the Cyclades, Paroikia, Paros, 11-14 June 2010”, (2013) Athens, pp. 19-34

Kaster R., “Macrobius: Saturnalia: Books 3-5”, (2011) Cambridge, MA/ London (Loeb Classical Library)

Pina Polo F., “The Consul at Rome: The Civil Functions of the Consuls in the Roman Republic”, (2011) Cambridge

Machado C., “Religion as Antiquarianism: Pagan Dedications in Late Antique Rome”, in 

  1. Bodel J. and Kajava M.  (editors), “Religious Dedications in the Greco-Roman World:  Distribution, Typology, Use”, (2009) Rome, pp. 331-44

Coarelli F., translation into English of a number of his works on the topography of ancient Rome, as:

  1. Clauss J. and Harman D., “Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide”, (2007, 2nd edition 2014) Oakland, California

Torelli M., “ATopography and Archaeology of Republican Rome”, in:

  1. Rosenstein N. and Morstein-Marx R. (editors), “A Companion Guide to the Roman Republic”,  (2006) Malden MA and Oxford, at pp. 8101

Welch K. E., “Art and Architecture in the Roman Republic”, in:

  1. Rosenstein N. and Morstein-Marx R. (editors), “A Companion Guide to the Roman Republic”,  (2006) Malden MA and Oxford, at pp. 496-542

Yarrow L., “Lucius Mummius and the Spoils of Corinth”, Scripta Classica Israelica, 25 (2006) 57-70

Armstrong N. R., “Round Temples in Roman Architecture of the Republic through the Late Antique Period”, (2001) thesis of the University of Oxford

Claridge A., “Rome: an Oxford Archeological Guide”, (1998, 2nd edition 2010) Oxford

Palmer R., “Cults of Hercules, Apollo Caelispex and Fortuna in and around the Roman Cattle Market” (Review of F. Coarelli (1988, below), Journal Of Roman Archaeology, 3 (1990) 234-44

Coarelli F., “Il Foro Boario. Dalle Origini alla Fine della Repubblica”, (1988, second edition  1992) Rome

Ziolkowski A., “Mummius' Temple of Hercules Victor and the Round Temple on the Tiber”, Phoenix, 42:4 (1988) 309-33

Panciera S., “Olearii”, in

  1. D'Arms J. H. and Kopff E. C., (editors), “The Seaborne Commerce of Ancient Rome: Studies in Archaeology and History”, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 36 (1980) 235-50

Morgan M. G., “The Portico of Metellus: A Reconsideration”, Hermes 99:4 (1971) 480-505

Strong E. and Ward-Perkins J. B., “The Round Temple in the Forum Boarium”, Papers of the British School at Rome, 28 (1960) 7 -32

Platner S.  and Ashby T., “Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome”, (1929) London

Walters H. B., “Archeology”, Classical Review, 10:105 (1896) 266

Lanciani R., “Pagan and Christian Rome”, (1892) Boston and New York

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Temples of Hercules