The Temple of Venus and Roma, in the Forum Romanum, was the largest temple (145 metres by 100 metres) ever erected in Ancient Rome.
The temple, which was probably designed by the emperor Hadrian (r. 117-38), was begun c. 125 and inaugurated in 135. Roma Aeterna had not previously been worshipped as a goddess in her own right. She was coupled with Venus Felix, goddess of good fortune.
The temple, which stood on a high platform surrounded by a colonnaded courtyard, had 10 granite columns at the front and back and 20 on each of the sides. It comprised two chambers (cellae), each housing a statue of a goddess. The cellae were arranged back-to-back, with Roma facing west and Venus facing east. Both figures were seated on a throne.
The historian Cassius Dio (c. 155-c. 235) later set in train a story which may or may not be true. Dio wrote that the most brilliant architect of Hadrian's day, Apollodorus of Damascus, was less than impressed by the emperor's design. Apollodorus commented scornfully about the size of the seated statues, saying that they would surely hurt their heads, if they tried to stand up from their thrones. The architect was banished and executed not long after he made this remark.
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My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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