The Temple of Venus and Roma: A Greek Temple in Rome
Hadrian was an extraordinary patron — a man who traveled the Empire, to all kinds of exotic places, some of which we’ll be talking about today and some of which we’ll be talking about in the future; a love triangle; some of the best buildings that we’ll see in the course of this semester, including the Pantheon and also Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli.
Marble portrait bust of Emperor Hadrian / National Museum of Rome, Wikimedia Commons
The patron Hadrian, whom I show you in a portrait from Rome, now on the left-hand side of the screen, was an extraordinary man. He was born in 76 A.D., and he became emperor at the age of 41, after having served with Trajan for a number of years. He was born, like Trajan before him, in Spain, not in Italy, and he also was the most educated, one of the most educated, and most intellectual of the Roman emperors. We’ll talk about the impact that that intellect had on his architecture. I mentioned that he already–he also liked to travel. He traveled extensively during his reign, had three major trips that had an enormous impact on his architecture, and also on architecture around the Empire.
And it’s also important I think to know that he reversed Trajan’s policy. You’ll remember that Trajan’s major political policy had to do with military conquest, that Trajan was involved in a number of very important wars, and he celebrated those wars, and he extended the Empire to its furthest reaches, reaches that were never gone beyond for the rest of the Roman Empire. Hadrian reversed that policy. He was a peace loving man. He had no interest in being involved in these kinds of military exploits; although he had served with Trajan in some of them, in earlier years, he had no desire to continue that on. And he was much more concerned with consolidating and preserving the Empire, as expanded by Trajan.
The remains of Milecastle 39 on Hadrian’s Wall; near Steel Rigg, looking east from a ridge along the Hadrian’s Wall Path. Milecastle 39 is also known as Castle Nick. / Photo by Adam Cuerden, Wikimedia Commons
And so one of his greatest claims to fame is the great wall, the famous Wall of Hadrian that he built in order to separate the Roman Empire, the Greco-Roman Empire, from the rest of the Empire, this great wall that divided Greco-Roman civilization from the barbarian world that lay outside. And there are fragments of that wall, a quite extensive part of that wall that still survives in Europe today. You can see it in Britain, and I show you an example of some of those remains above, that is, of Hadrian’s Wall.
Hadrian was also a great philhellene, and you notice in that portrait that I just showed you that he wore a beard. And, in fact, he’s the first Roman emperor to wear a beard. Beards were not worn by Romans up to this time, but they were worn by Greeks, and we believe that he wore that beard, in large part, to look more Greek. We also know that, although he wore a toga in public, he was known for wearing the Greek himation, in private, and he did that, we think, in large part because of his love for Greece and for Greek culture. He was so philhellenic in his leanings that he received the nickname “The Greekling,” and we’ll see, as we look at his architecture, the impact that his love of Greece had on that architecture.
In fact, what I’d like to do today is to begin with the most Greek of Hadrian’s buildings, a building that we think he may have designed himself, because we also know that Hadrian was an amateur architect; Hadrian himself was an amateur architect. And we think he designed this very building, the so-called Temple of Venus and Roma. He was also particularly interested, by the way, in religious architecture. Most of his public building was religious architecture, temples, this being one of them: the Temple of Venus and Roma, a temple put up to Roma, as the patron goddess of the city of Rome, and to Venus as the patron goddess of the Roman family. And you’ll remember that Venus was a special favorite of Julius Caesar, and of Augustus, and those two thought of her as the special patron of the Julian family. So we also see Hadrian here, conjuring up, I think, his connections to the earlier dictators [dictator] and emperor Julius Caesar, and Augustus, by his emphasis on Venus.
Temple of Venus and Roma plan / Wikimedia Commons
So this Temple to Venus and Roma. You’ll see that we don’t have a precise date for this monument. We think it was put up sometime between 121 and 135. We know it was dedicated in 135. It seems to have been long in the making. So it’s hard to categorize it as either an early- or a mid- or a late-Hadrianic building, because it does seem to have been in production for quite some time. I show you a plan of the Temple of Venus and Roma above, though there is controversy about whether the plan most accurately reflects the original Hadrianic temple. The temple was built under Hadrian and dedicated in 135, we know that it burned down in a very serious fire in Rome, in the late third century A.D., and then was renovated by an emperor by the name of Maxentius; it was renovated by Maxentius in 307 A.D. And we think Maxentius kept quite closely to the original Hadrianic plan, but we’re not absolutely sure about that.
If you look at the plan’s most outstanding features, you will see that most of them are similar to one another, that the main features of these two buildings–of these two plans–are the same. And you should be immediately struck by this plan, and how different it is from what we have characterized as the typical Roman temple; that typical Roman temple, usually with a single cella, with a deep porch, with freestanding columns in that porch, with a façade orientation.
You will see that this large temple has a double cella, two cellas, back-to-back–and you see it in both plans–two cellas back-to-back. Well the reason for that is obvious, because it commemorates two divinities, Venus and Roma, and each one needed to have a cella. But these are not cellas within a larger cella, located side by side, as in the Capitoline Triad Temple, but rather two that are back-to-back, two that are back-to-back. Now what this does is take away the façade orientation of the building and give us two facades, in a sense, one on either side. So we see that in both of these. We also see that the columns go all the way around the structure, and so does the staircase go all the way around the structure; we see that in both plans. And then there is a large precinct that also has columns around it. I can also tell you, you can take on faith, that this building also has a low podium.
So what we see here is a temple that looks much more Greek than it looks Roman; in fact, as I said, it doesn’t look anything like the typical Roman temples that we’ve been talking about today [this semester]. Why is this? This has to do with the fact that Hadrian was a philhellene, that he was enamored of Greek architecture, and that he opted, in this case when he himself appears to have been the architect of this building, Hadrian, amateur architect, seems to have designed this building himself. We see that when he was left entirely to his own devices, he wanted to build a Greek temple in Rome, and that is exactly what he did.
Now also important vis-à-vis this temple is location, location, location. This building is located at the edge of the Roman Forum, closest to the Colosseum, and on the Velia; you’ll remember the Velia where the Arch of Titus is located, the Arch of Titus. And you’ll remember that that was the area that the Flavian dynasts chose to build their buildings on, in order to raze to the ground Nero’s earlier Domus Transitoria, and build their own buildings in its place. So we see Hadrian continuing on in that same tradition, returning to the Roman people land that had originally been theirs, that had been stolen by Nero, by building, in this case, a religious structure on that site instead. So that also extremely important.
We’re not sure if that was a Maxentian innovation, in the early fourth century A.D., those back-to-back apses and scalloped walls, or whether they come from the original–whether they restore what was in the original Hadrianic building. I tend to prefer the one on the left because there is every evidence that we already have all of these features in Roman architecture. Think to the Flavian Palace on the Palatine, Domitian’s Palace, where we saw the scalloped walls in the Aula Regia, and where we certainly saw these niches with vaults of heaven, semi-vaults up above them. So everything was in place to have that kind of structure; so it’s certainly not inconceivable in the Hadrianic period.
Temple of Venus and Roma / Wikimedia Commons
Here’s a view of the Temple of Venus and Roma as it looks as if you are standing atop the Colosseum, and taking a picture back toward it. And this is very useful, because it shows you–this is not a high podium, this is just the difference in ground level, once again–ancient ground level being lower than modern ground level–and some of the structures that lay below originally of Nero’s Domus Transitoria, for example, that this building was built on. Here you can actually see the podium of the temple, and you can see that it is very low, compared to what we’re used to. We’re looking back at one of those niches. You can see the semi-dome here, as well as the relationship of it to the Arch of Titus, and the Velia, which once again points out the fact that we are dealing here with a building that was put on property that had originally been the location of Nero’s Domus Transitoria.
Temple of Venus and Roma apse close-up / Wikimedia Commons
Temple of Venus and Roma second apse with marble pavement / Wikimedia Commons
Here are two very useful views, one showing that same niche closer up; one of those back to back niches, as it looks today. You can see in both cases the semi-dome. You can see the concrete construction, faced with brick. We can see the columns on either side of the niche, and we also see that scalloped wall that I described before, just like the Aula Regia, with niches flanked by columns. And you can see the beginning of a coffered vault. We’re not absolutely sure it was barrel vaulted, but we think the building was barrel vaulted.
Palace of Domitian octagonal room and plan / Wikimedia Commons
I remind you of the octagonal room designed by Rabirius, for Domitian’s Palace on the Palatine, to underscore again the kinds of experiments that Rabirius was making, that had such an impact, as we shall see today, on Hadrian and his own architectural designs. You’ll remember that room. You’ll remember that it has a segmented vault. You will remember that it’s treated very much like sculpture: that it has niches; that it has niches within niches, windows within niches, doorways within niches; all of them done in an asymmetrical way, that makes the design particularly interesting. Rabirius and his architecture, very influential on Hadrian. Keep in mind that Hadrian, once Domitian–I mentioned this to you when we talked about Domitian’s Palace–once Domitian built that palace, it was the palace that all the emperors, from that time to the end of late-antiquity, lived in. Hadrian was no exception. When he was in Rome, he lived in that palace, and he was therefore seeing and experiencing the shapes, the architectural shapes designed by Rabirius, on a daily basis. He liked that octagonal room, in particular, and the others like it in the palace, and it clearly had an impact on him, as we shall see.
The last point I want to make about the Temple of Venus and Roma, by the way, has to do with materials. We have been talking about the increasing use of marble in Roman architecture: under Augustus, marble from Luna or Carrara; under Nero and the Flavians, marble from all over the world, from Asia Minor, from Africa, of all different colors. Hadrian, the philhellene, returns to using Greek marble for his buildings, and the Temple of Venus and Roma is made of Proconnesian marble that comes from Greece. It’s a blue veined marble. He was particularly fond of it, and he used it for the Temple of Venus and Roma.
The Pantheon: A Temple to All the Gods
Pantheon aerial view / Getty Images, Creative Commons
I want to turn from the Temple of Venus and Roma to the much more famous temple that Hadrian constructed. If the Temple of Venus and Roma was to two gods, Venus and Roma, Hadrian’s Pantheon was to all the gods, which is what pantheon means, to all the gods–a temple to all the gods that he built in Rome between 118 and 128 A.D. You see an image of it here, the Pantheon, surrounded by modern structures. It is one of the greatest masterpieces of architecture of all times. In fact, if you were to ask a group of architectural experts to make a list of the ten greatest buildings ever built, it’s hard for me to believe that not every one of them would at least list somewhere in that list of ten the Pantheon; not only because it’s a great building in its own right, but because it has had such an enormous impact on architecture in Roman times, as we’ll see in later lectures, but also on architecture in post-antique times; an extraordinarily influential building. And there are some–and I would be one of them, maybe I’d be the only one; I hope not–who would list the Pantheon as the greatest building ever built by man or woman, of any time, in any place. And you can see, as we look at it together today, whether you think I come close or I’m way off the mark on that. But I believe vehemently that it was the greatest building ever built, and it remains an extraordinary structure to see and to experience.
You see it here–oh, and by the way, although I mentioned that Hadrian was an amateur architect, we don’t know the name of the architect for the Pantheon. Do I think it was Hadrian? Absolutely not. Hadrian was not this good. He was an amateur architect, not a professional architect. This is an extraordinary work of art. He may have had some input, he undoubtedly did. Because we’re going to see that the Pantheon is at the same time complex and simple; it’s also traditional and innovative.
And what we’re going to see Hadrian and his architect doing here, and also doing at the Villa at Tivoli, is combining, in an extraordinary way, traditional Roman and innovative Roman architecture. Concrete construction, and the original vocabulary of Greek architecture, namely columns, combined in the same place. And he was highly influenced in this regard by his predecessor Trajan. Think of the Markets and Forum of Trajan, the way in which we had combined, in the same complex, a traditional forum and a very innovative marketplace. We’re going to see the same thing in the Pantheon. We’re going to see the same thing at Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. So Trajan exerting–Trajan and Apollodorus of Damascus, exerting a very strong influence, as did Rabirius, on the architecture of Hadrian.
Pantheon complex model / Oneonta, Creative Commons
Again this Google Earth image is useful, because it shows us the building in its modern environment. But it’s important to keep in mind that the Pantheon in Rome was part of a complex in antiquity, as most temples were, temples that were in sanctuaries, temples that were in fora. We’ve seen that in the course of this semester that they usually did not stand in isolation, but were part of architectural complexes. We see that here. This model is very helpful in that regard, because it shows us that there was a rectangular forecourt: that that forecourt had covered colonnades on either side; that there was some sort of entranceway here, possibly an arch, possibly an altar also, to all the gods, in front of the temple; and then the temple itself, the Pantheon itself.
Now this model is also very useful in the sense that it gives you an idea of what you actually would have seen, if you had walked into this complex, into this open rectangular space, and walked toward the Pantheon. What would you actually have seen? Well all that you would have actually seen was the porch, the porch, which had an attic behind it, which screened the cylindrical drum and the dome from the viewer. So if you were standing here, all you would have seen was this porch. Now this porch is very traditional. It looks like other Roman temples, the fronts of facades of Roman temples that we’ve looked at before. It looks like other Greek temples, because what you would have seen was the pediment, columns supporting that pediment.
It was a typical Roman temple, from the front: deep porch; freestanding columns in that porch; single staircase; façade orientation. Very different from the Temple of Venus and Roma; much more Roman looking. And then a high podium; a high podium, which we already mentioned the Temple of Venus and Roma did not have. That’s what you would have seen, as you were standing in front of it. You would have thought, well this is very much in keeping with other Roman temples. But of course there was a surprise when one walked through the doors; and that is the very essence of Hadrianic architecture, the surprise that one gets when one actually goes from the outside of the building into the inside of a building.
Pantheon view from rear left / Wikimedia Commons
Before we do that, I just want to show you the back of the cylindrical–because this traditional porch shielded a very innovative cylindrical drum, supported by a hemispherical dome, as you can see here. The construction technique the same, as we’ve seen from the time of Augustus, from the time of the Temple of Mercury at Baia, the use of concrete construction, faced with brick. It’s more sophisticated here than it has ever been before, and we can see that the architect has relieved the severity of the structure by adding three cornices–you can see two of them at least here; there’s another one down here–three cornices.
And you can also see very interestingly these brick arches, which tell us a great deal about Roman building practice during this period, especially obviously for the use of concrete construction. Because what those were used for is to help keep the concrete from settling. After the wet concrete had been poured, those arches keep it from settling, until it dries. And then once it dries, those arches are no longer needed, because the building, the concrete walls support the building on their own, and support the dome on their own. And they’re no longer needed, but of course they’re left there, and then they have a certain aesthetic value in the aftermath. And so you can see very clearly here, as you look at what is preserved–and the building is extremely well preserved, the back of the building–you can see reference to that construction.
Pantheon diagram and plan / Wikimedia Commons
These diagrams, both the plan of the structure, the cross-section and the diagram on the left-hand side, also give us some very interesting and important information. They show us that the circular drum was internally half the height of the diameter. You can see that in the diagram on the left-hand side of the screen, of the diameter of the structure, and that it was surmounted by a hemispherical dome, the crown of which is the exact distance, the same exact distance. So this was very carefully orchestrated by the architect to achieve what he needed to achieve here. You can also see, if you look at the plan, that again the predecessors for this are clearly the frigidaria at Pompeii, the thermal bath at Baia — this round structure with the radiating apses, very similar, but of course done in much, much grander scale.
Pantheon – Piazza della Rotonda / Photo by Oliver Bonjoch, Wikimedia Commons
Now with regard to–and this is the façade of the Pantheon, of course, as it looks today–with regard to how they made this happen, how they were able to take the small-scale frigidaria, the slightly larger Temple of Mercury, the larger still Domus Aurea of Nero, or the domed room in the Domus Transitoria, and turn it into the Pantheon ultimately, has to do in part not only with the skill of the architects, has to do in part also with the increasing sophistication that we’ve been talking about quite consistently of the use of concrete construction by the Romans, but also has to do with the recipe for concrete. We haven’t talked about the recipe for concrete, since the time of Caligula, when we talked about the fact that he had made some adjustments. Well Hadrian made some adjustments, or Hadrian and his architects made some adjustments as well, during Hadrian’s reign. And what they did was they–two things. They decreased the thickness, they decreased the thickness of the walls, from bottom to top, and they also did what Caligula had done before, but did it even more so, by mixing–using as an aggregate, at the base of the dome, they used heavy stone, a basalt, a very heavy, thick basalt. But when they got toward the top, they mixed, or the idea was when they got toward the top, they would mix in as an aggregate a porous pumice, which was much, much lighter, and that’s essentially how they achieved their goals.
Now before I talk about the exterior of the structure, and take you through the building, I want to mention one very interesting exchange between Hadrian and Trajan’s architect, Apollodorus of Damascus. You’ll remember that I said that the Temple of Venus and Roma we think was designed by Hadrian himself. And at one point Hadrian–Apollodorus was still alive and highly respected–and at one point Hadrian went to Apollodorus to ask him for his thoughts on the designs that Hadrian was doing for the plans, that Hadrian was doing for the Temple of Venus and Roma, which tells us–if you wondered where I got–how we know that Hadrian was an amateur architect, it’s because of this passage, because it tells us that Hadrian was doing some designing and that he was designing the Temple of Venus and Roma. And we fortunately have the Roman senator of eastern birth, Dio Cassius–D-i-o, new word, C-a-s-s-i-u-s, Dio Cassius, a Roman senator of eastern birth–who wrote a history of Rome in the third century A.D., gives us an account of this interaction between Hadrian and Apollodorus of Damascus.
And although I don’t like to read to you, I am going to read to you from this quote, because it is so critical for our understanding, both of the Pantheon and for Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli. So bear with me as a read this, a bit longish quote. So Cassius Dio tells us, and I quote: “Hadrian first drove into exile, and then put to death Apollodorus, who had carried out many of Trajan’s building projects. The pretext given for Hadrian’s action was Apollodorus had been guilty of some serious offence, but the truth is that when Trajan was at one time consulting with Apollodorus, about a certain problem connected with his buildings”–that is Trajan’s buildings–“the architect said to Hadrian–“; so this seems to have been before even Hadrian become emperor. “The architect said to Hadrian, who had interrupted them with some advice, ‘Go away and draw your pumpkins. You know nothing about these problems.’ For it so happened that Hadrian was at that time priding himself on some sort of drawing. When he became emperor”–that is when Hadrian became emperor–“he remembered the insult and refused to put up with Apollodorus’ outspokenness. He sent him the plan for the Temple of Venus and Roma, in order to demonstrate that it was possible for a great work to be conceived without Apollodorus’ help, and asked him”–that is, Hadrian asked Apollodorus–“if he thought the building was well designed. Apollodorus sent a reply saying that as far the Temple of Venus and Roma was concerned, it should have been placed in a higher position.” It should’ve had a high podium, not a low podium, according to Apollodorus, who goes on to say, “‘With regard to the cult images–‘” Apollodorus goes on to say, “‘With regard to the cult images, they were made on a scale which was too great for the height of the cella, for if the goddesses should wish to stand up and leave the temple,’ he said, ‘they would be unable to do so.’ When he wrote all of this so bluntly, Hadrian was both irritated and deeply pained, he had the man slain.”
Now the pumpkins–what’s critical about this, it tells us two things that are absolutely essential in our understanding of Hadrianic architecture: one, that Hadrian was doing designing on his own, that he was an amateur architect, and he seems to be very much involved in the design of the Temple of Venus and Roma. It also tells us that Hadrian was making some drawings of pumpkin domes. What are pumpkin domes? Well pumpkin domes are undoubtedly segmented domes. They are just the kind of dome that Rabirius did for the octagonal rooms in the Palatine palace; rooms that Hadrian was exposed to by living in that palace himself, obviously fond of them, liked them, started to draw his own pumpkins. And we’re going to see that those pumpkins–well we don’t have a pumpkin dome in the Pantheon, as we’ll see probably fortunately. But we do have them at Hadrian’s Villa. And so again very critical for you to be aware of this interesting exchange, very momentous exchange between Hadrian and Apollodorus.
The Pantheon and Its Impact on Later Architecture
Pantheon facade / Wikimedia Commons
We see here the façade of the Pantheon, as it looks today. You have to think away this very attractive [fountain] but [that] nonetheless mars the view, of the façade of the Pantheon, that was put up in the Renaissance. And you have to imagine the building now stands in isolation, without its colonnades and without its forecourt. So you have to try to imagine them. But you can see how very well preserved the Pantheon is. The ground level has shifted, so we don’t see the very tall podium that was once there, although there have been some excavations around it, that demonstrate that it is indeed there, or part of it is indeed there. But we can see the columns across the front. We can see an inscription. We can see the pediment and the attic. And this is a good view because although you see the dome peeping up a little bit on the top, it gives you some sense of when you stood in the colonnade, walking toward it, the forecourt, walking toward it, that you would have only seen essentially the most traditional part of the building, and that is the columns supporting the pediment, with the dome behind.
Close-up of Pantheon facade columns and dedicatory inscription / Photo by David Macchi, Wikimedia Commons
This is a detail of the inscription of the building. We can also see the columns. You can see that they are grey granite–I’ve a better view in a moment–grey granite with white marble capitals. The inscription is fascinating. It tells us that M. AGRIPPA, Marcus Agrippa–that’s the famous Marcus Agrippa, the childhood friend, confidant, son-in-law, firsthand man, one-time heir to Augustus–Marcus Agrippa; L.F., Lucius Filius, the son of Lucius; COS, consul; consul; TERTIUM, for the third time; FECIT, made it. This tells us Marcus Agrippa, Consul for the third time, son of Lucius, made it; made the Pantheon. What’s that all about? Marcus Agrippa lived in the age of Augustus. Well we know there was an earlier Pantheon on this site, that Marcus Agrippa was responsible for commissioning. Marcus Agrippa, like Augustus, commissioned a lot of buildings in Rome. He also commissioned them in the provinces. We’ll look at some of those when we go out to the provinces.
Marcus Agrippa, a major building program in Rome, including a pantheon, a temple to all the gods. And we don’t–that pantheon no longer exists, although there have been some excavations that have discovered some of it underneath the current building. But it stood on this very site, and we know, from a literary description, that it had a caryatid porch, which is perhaps not surprising, in the context of Augustan architecture. You’ll remember the caryatids, in the Forum of Augustus that we looked at earlier in the term. So we know that Marcus Agrippa actually built Rome’s first pantheon, his first temple to [all] the gods on this very site. When Hadrian built his own pantheon, on the same site, he decided to piously reference the earlier building of Marcus Agrippa, telling us that Marcus Agrippa made this, made a building that originally stood on this site, which he is basically very modestly saying he restored.
Of course, this building that he made has nothing to do undoubtedly with the Pantheon in Rome; it’s a very different and much more sophisticated building. But it was a very modest thing to do. But I think there was a method to his madness in the sense that he was underscoring, by so doing, his relationship once again to Augustus, which was obviously very important for him to do. But this inscription confused a lot of scholars for a long time, who actually called this originally an Augustan building. You can see the pediment up above. You can see all the holes there; those are the attachment marks for sculpture that would have been located in this pediment that no longer survives.
The facade view shows the grey, the light grey granite columns, the white Corinthian capitals; all of these magnificently carved, very high quality architects and artisans here. By the way, I forgot to mention, when we talked about the Temple of Venus and Roma and the use of Greek marble, that Hadrian not only brought in Greek marble, but he brought in Greek marble cutters, marble carvers, who were responsible for working on these. So he wanted the very best, those who were most familiar with carving Greek marble, to be used for his buildings, and they were undoubtedly used for this one as well. And we can see the depth of the porch, I think also, from this view of the Corinthian columns of that porch.
Pantheon bronze doors / Wikimedia Commons
It’s very hard in a classroom in New Haven, even with outstanding slides, to be able to give you a sense of the experience that one has, of the surprise that one has, as one walks through the door of the Pantheon. We see the doors opened here. They are bronze doors. They are original doors, from this extremely well-preserved structure. And the reason that it is so well preserved is because like other buildings in Rome, it was reused in later times, as a church primarily, with a wonderful name, Santa Maria Rotonda; Saint Mary, the rotund Mary essentially, which is perfectly chosen for a building with a giant rotunda, with a great cylindrical drum, that the building has. We see those doors opened up here, and as one walks through this very traditional porch, through the original bronze doors, into the interior, one is struck by the extraordinary nature of the interior of the Pantheon, which you see over here.
Pantheon interior and dome / Wikimedia Commons
Pantheon painting, by Giovanni Paolo Panini, 18th century / National Gallery of Art, London
And all you’re looking at here is the uppermost part, with the dome essentially. And the reason is because it is near–even the human eye, both eyes, can’t take in the extent of this interior all in one glance, and even if one uses the widest of wide-angle lenses, you get a tremendous amount of distortion, and you can’t really take the whole thing in at once, which makes it extraordinary. And one has to rely instead on the above painting by Pannini, that shows you the grandeur beneath the dome, and that gives you a better idea than any image I can show you, however professional, of what the interior of the Pantheon actually looks like.
And you can see in this Pannini painting the wonderful marble revetment, the marble floor, the dome, with its coffers. There are one, two, three, four, five rows, yes five rows, of twenty-eight coffers each; 140 coffers in all. They were likely gilded in antiquity. You see that there is an oculus, through which light streams down onto that gilding, down onto the marble incrustation. The marble incrustation, by the way, extremely well preserved. This is about our best example of ancient Roman marble — not all of it is ancient, but a good portion of it is, and it gives you a very good sense of what some of these marble buildings would have looked like in antiquity.
Pantheon marble revetment / Wikimedia Commons
And I show you a detail of some of the original marble revetment here. And this is what those Pompeians wished their walls actually were: beautiful marbles of all different colors, brought from all different parts of the world. So even though Hadrian chose Proconnesian marble for his Temple of Venus and Roma, his Greek building, which we really need to think of as a kind of Greek import for this more Roman building, he is following in the footsteps and Nero and the Flavians, and using multi-colored marble, both for the revetment on the wall, and the marble pavement down below. Most of this building–again, it’s very well preserved–is the original structure: the original columns, the original pilasters, still extremely well preserved in the Pantheon.
Raphael’s tomb in the Pantheon / Wikimedia Commons
Tomb of Victor Emmanuel II in the Pantheon / Wikimedia Commons
Because it was used over time as a church, there are lots of accoutrements that one would expect in a church: various saints and niches and so on and so forth. So much of the sculpture is from a later period. And it even has served as a burial place for famous Italians, not the least of which was Raphael, the famous Renaissance painter, who you’ll remember left a graffito, when he went down into the subterranean chambers of Nero’s Domus Aurea. He was buried here, and his tomb is one of the high points for most visitors to this structure; you see it here. It dwarfs, to most people’s minds, the Tomb of Victor Emmanuel, whom you see over here on the left-hand side of the screen. But note all of that Roman symbolism: the eagle with outstretched wings and the Amazonian pelta and so on, all of those symbols of Roman power, still very much used by dynasts, modern dynasts, like Victor Emmanuel.
The dome of the Pantheon had the largest diameter of any dome, up to this point. We know that it was–the diameter of the Pantheon is 142 feet. And if we compare it to the other large dome in Rome, that of St. Peter’s, we find that the Pantheon dome still surpasses St. Peter’s. St. Peter’s is 139 feet in diameter; so just a bit smaller. Now any of you who have been both in the Pantheon and in St. Peter’s will probably say to me: “Wait a minute here, the dome of St. Peter’s actually looks larger, when you stand underneath it.” And I show you a view of that dome here. The reason it does look a bit larger is the dome of St. Peter’s is taller. So volumetrically it looks bigger, and visually it looks bigger, but it isn’t in terms of its diameter. In diameter the dome of the Pantheon is still the largest dome in the city of Rome.
Pantheon dome / Wikimedia Commons
St. Peter’s dome / Wikimedia Commons
And as you look at this dome, and compare it to St. Peter’s, one can’t help but think–and think back to Domitian and his dominus et deus, and his vaults and so on and so forth; the whole idea being having the dome of heaven over one’s head. I think one can’t help but think, when one looks at this, that there may be some reference here, both to the orb of the earth and to the dome of heaven. And it is certainly an appropriate symbol for a building that honors all the gods.
Parthenon (left) and Pantheon (right) facades / Wikimedia Commons
I think it’s important to, at this juncture, to say something about, or to compare, the most important Greek temple, the Parthenon, on the Acropolis in Athens, with the most significant Roman temple, the Pantheon, to see that we have really come from an exterior to an interior architecture, that in the case of the Parthenon, fifth century B.C., Athenian Acropolis, they are thinking primarily of a building that interacts with the rock of the Acropolis and with the urban landscape, and in other contexts these Greek buildings interact directly with nature. That’s the way the Greeks thought about their buildings, essentially as an exterior structure. And we see the Romans following suit in their emphasis on façade, the façade of temples in their own religious architecture. But with the Pantheon, that changes. Yes, it does have a pediment in the front, it does have a traditional porch. So that’s a nod to traditional temple architecture.
But once you go through that porch, into the structure, and see that great cylindrical drum, the hemispherical dome, the light streaming through, you’re in this totally new interior world that has no precedent in early Roman architecture. And that had a huge impact on later Byzantine architecture, Medieval–especially Byzantine architecture. And particularly go to Istanbul and see Hagia Sophia, or the Blue Mosque; they owe everything to the dome of the Pantheon. So we see this final, this real transition here; a transition also in building materials, from stone to concrete construction.
Pantheon interior dome / Wikimedia Commons
This is another view of the interior of the dome of the Pantheon. It’s a great deal of fun to go and look at the Pantheon at different times of day, because the light has such an impact on what the interior looks like. And you go in there in the morning, take a look; then go out, have a long lunch, a glass of wine; come back later and see what has happened. And it’s also fun to be there when it rains; it’s interesting to just have the rain come down and collect. There is a drain, but it doesn’t always work all that well. So see water collecting on the edges of the floor, in this extraordinary building.
Pantheon dome lighting / Wikimedia Commons
Pantheon dome lighting illustration / Wikimedia Commons
I think it behooves us to notice and to say that in this kind of new interior architecture, this architecture of interior surprise, it’s not only the vault itself, it’s not only the concrete construction, or the marble revetment, but light plays a very important role. We’ve seen light playing a very important role from the times of the domus italica, and the Sanctuary at Terracina, for example, up to where we are today, but never more important than here; light that streams through the oculus, light that is used not only to illuminate this building, and illuminate it extremely well, but also to create drama, to create drama.
And you have to imagine it even more dramatic when the coffers were gilded and when the marble down below may have been even brighter still. The marble pavement, by the way, which I didn’t show you, is also extremely well preserved. So this light plays a very important and dramatic role in this new, highly developed interior architecture. And I personally know of no other building that one can visit and experience that gives you a better sense than this one of the divine presence on earth. Whether it’s one god, multi gods, as were honored here, you really get a sense of spirituality when you stand in this extraordinary temple, and really do get a sense of the divine presence, I think, on earth.
University of Virginia rotunda / Wikimedia Commons
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello / Wikimedia Commons
I mentioned that the Pantheon has spawned–lots of buildings have been cloned from the Pantheon, both in ancient times, but also in more modern times there are lots of examples. Woolsey Hall, for example, here on campus is a kind of a pantheon. But look at–the most obvious example, in the United States, is not only Monticello, but also Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, which you see here is clearly based exactly on the Pantheon.
Thomas Jefferson, a great fan of ancient architecture. His library, his personal library, has lots of books on Roman architecture. When you look at a view of the Rotunda and the Lawn at the University of Virginia–I taught, my first teaching job was at UVA; I taught there for three years. But when you look at this building, the Lawn at UVA, with the Rotunda, you can’t help but wonder if Thomas Jefferson didn’t know that the Pantheon in Rome had that forecourt, because–the Rotunda faces the wrong way, it faces this way. But nonetheless he’s got behind it, in his own design, this extraordinary rectangular court, that does conjure up exactly what the Pantheon looked like in Rome.
Via del Pantheon / Wikimedia Commons
One of the best ways of seeing the Pantheon, it’s surrounded by not only a wonderful piazza, which is a great place to eat gelato or have a glass of wine, but there are–you can encounter it from a number of narrow streets, and that whole element of surprise is still there. You’re walking along the street and wow, all of a sudden, there it is in front of you. And you can see that very well here, as you begin to get a glimpse of it. With regard to eating around the Pantheon, I recommend one of my absolute favorite restaurants in Rome, which is easy to remember because it’s Fortunato al Pantheon; you see it over here with its wonderful outdoor space and its white umbrellas.
McDonald’s in the Piazza del Pantheon / Wikimedia Commons
Della Palma in the Piazza del Pantheon / Wikimedia Commons
Right across from the Pantheon, directly across, is a McDonald’s. The golden arches are really very much like a Roman aqueduct, don’t you think? So references–I told you there are resonances everywhere of Rome. Don’t eat–you can eat at McDonald’s anytime; go to the other one, much more interesting. And it has the best–I’ve never had this anywhere else–it has a veal scaloppine al gorgonzola, with gorgonzola, a very thin layer of gorgonzola: delicious. I also told you I was going to keep you abreast of the latest on gelato in Rome. We’ve talked about Tre Scalini; so I just wanted to show you Della Palma. If you’re standing at the Pantheon restaurant, look to the right, you’re going to see Della Palma. Of the four best, actually I think it’s the fourth. It’s not my absolute favorite, but if you like–it’s a little bit more Americanized.
Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli: Travelogue and Retreat
Aerial view of Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli / Wikimedia Commons
Now let’s move from the Pantheon in Rome to Hadrian’s home; not his home in Rome, which as we’ve mentioned was the Palace of Domitian on the Palatine Hill, but his Villa at Tivoli. Tivoli, ancient Tibur; we’ve talked about Tivoli many times before, where the marble, the travertine quarries are located. Tivoli is about a, well I don’t know, forty minute drive from Rome today, kind of a high speed drive from Rome today, but in antiquity longer, obviously, but not inaccessible from Rome. Hadrian obviously had no problems getting there in ancient Roman times. It’s an extraordinary place, and Hadrian–it was a place that Hadrian used as a kind of incubator for his architectural ideas, and it’s highly likely that many of the buildings that we see there were designed in part by him, especially those famous pumpkin domes, because we’re going to see that a number of these buildings do indeed have pumpkin domes designed under the influence of the architecture of Rabirius.
It’s an amazing villa. It is the most extensive villa preserved, from the Roman world, and likely the most grand of all the Roman villas. And if we think back to Nero’s Palace in Rome, what made Nero’s Palace in Rome so scandalous was the fact that it was located in downtown Rome. But if you compare Nero’s Palace to Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, there’s no comparison between the two. Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli is much more extensive. It has much more extraordinary buildings, from the architectural standpoint, and it was decorated even more opulently, with a wide variety of sculpture, mosaics and paintings. It was clearly an extraordinary place. And if Trajan’s Forum was in a sense a microcosm of the extent of the Empire under Trajan, I like to think of Hadrian’s Villa as the Empire under Hadrian, the Empire that he traveled around so many times.
Map of Hadrian’s travels / Wikimedia Commons (Click image to enlarge)
Above is a map of Hadrian’s travels in the Roman Empire. It shows you how extensive they were. He went everywhere. Why? Because he loved to travel, he just loved to travel. But he also went in order to take a look at provincial affairs at first hand. Now everywhere he went, he either–he himself paid for buildings that were erected, or, more often than that, buildings were put up by local magistrates and so on, local cities, in honor of Hadrian, in order to try to get a favor out of him, or just to honor him on his visits. Some of these were rushed, put up in a rush job in order to be there when he arrived on the scene. So we see this incredible array of building activity during this period. And we will see that reflected as we make our way, beginning already next week, make our way into the provinces. We will begin to see some very interesting Hadrianic buildings in those provinces that reflect what he was doing elsewhere, or in Rome.
But what we see here, what we see at the villa is fascinating. Because all of us, we’re just back from break; some of you did some traveling. We know that traveling expands all of our horizons. We go someplace; experientially we’re different than we were before, by what we see and what we experience. And we also–maybe not in this new economic climate, but at least in the past, we all tended to pick up souvenirs; a T-shirt here, and a whatever there, a handbag there, and we bring those back, to remind us, and make us have memories of the wonderful trip that we took. Well Hadrian did that as well. He collected souvenirs. But because of his own wealth, and because he had the imperial treasury behind him, he could collect buildings, as souvenirs essentially. So when Hadrian traveled and saw what he liked, what he did was he came back to this laboratory, this architectural laboratory that he had at Tivoli, and he either created–some of these were probably designed by him, others by his architects–he created a series of buildings that were in a sense souvenirs of his travels, either exact duplicates of things he saw, or variations on those themes. And it makes these buildings particularly fascinating to look at.
The Villa of Hadrian had essentially three building phases: an early, a middle and a late. They spanned the entire reign of Hadrian. This villa was clearly Hadrian’s hobby, as well as his home, and if he hadn’t died in 138, he would’ve undoubtedly continued to build here. So these buildings go up throughout the course of Hadrian’s reign. I show you a view from the air of the villa as it looks today. You can see that there are a series of very attractive pools of water, interspersed with architecture.
Plan of Hadrian’s Villa / Wikimedia Commons (Click image to enlarge)
If we look at a plan of the villa, you will see that it is different than any other villa we’ve seen before in that these buildings are actually kind of casually, almost in an ad hoc way, arranged around nature, to interact with nature. We don’t see the axiality and the symmetry that is so characteristic of so much of Roman architecture. They kind of meander along, as you might expect architectural experiments to meander. And it has everything there; not only pools but a wide variety of buildings that I’m going to show you fairly fleetingly: this great island villa over here; the Piazza d’Oro or the Golden Plaza; the two sets of baths, a large bath and a small bath. You also see a stadium here, hairpin shaped, that I’m not going to return to. The Canopus: another pool. This was so complete that it even had its own Hades, its own Hell, in the villa. Everything was here. Hadrian left no stone unturned.
Temple of Venus at Hadrian’s Villa / Wikimedia Commons
Above is the Temple of Venus, which belongs to the latest building phase at the villa: 133 to 138. This is Hadrian the philhellene, once again, just as we saw him at the Temple of Venus and Roma. He goes to the Greek island of Knidos, on which there was the most famous round Temple of Venus, with the most famous Greek statue of Venus, a statue by the great Greek sculptor Praxiteles. Lots of people went to see it, and interestingly enough it was this temple and the statue, excavated a number of decades ago by a woman, a female archaeologist with the perfect name, Iris Love, for the goddess of love — and that was really her name, destined to go excavate the Temple of the Goddess of Love on the Greek island of Knidos.
Statue of Venus in the Temple of Venus at Hadrian’s Villa / Wikimedia Commons
Hadrian goes there. He’s enraptured by what he sees. He builds at his villa an exact replica, an exact replica of this Greek round temple. You can see it’s the Doric order. You can see it supports triglyphs and metopes, and then in the center a statue of Venus, unfortunately now headless and armless. That’s a cast. The original is in the museum on the site. It is based on Praxiteles’ earlier statue. There are lots of copies of this famous Praxitelean statue. We see another one here in the Vatican, that’s more complete, gives you a better sense of what it looked like. But again, here are the Doric columns and the triglyphs and metopes. So the most important point for you, an exact replica, in this particular case.
Unique Designs at Hadrian’s Villa and the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome
Canopus at Hadrian’s Villa / Wikimedia Commons
The most extraordinary of these sort of architectural conceits, these giant tourist souvenirs that Hadrian brings back from his travels to his villa at Tivoli is the so-called Canopus at Hadrian’s Villa, my personal favorite, the Canopus, at Hadrian’s Villa, which you see on your Monument List, also dating to the latest period, 133 to 138 A.D. It is meant to conjure up, in this case, not Greece but Egypt: a canal, the Canopus, in Egypt, that was a tributary of the Nile. And we know that you could travel from Alexandria to a small town called Canopus by means of this canal. And that is what is meant to be conjured up here.
The city of Canopus had in it a temple to the Egyptian god, Serapis, who was the healing god, and people came from all around the world to be healed at the Temple of Serapis. It was also well known as a place with a wonderful amusement park, and we think that although Hadrian seems to have gone there, in part, to go to the Sanctuary of Serapis, he also appears to have gone there because it was also an amusement park, and this is where we get into the personal love triangle of Hadrian.
Left: Marble bust of Antinoüs of Ecouen, Louvre / Right: Marble bust of Sabina, Palazzo Massimo
Hadrian was married to a woman by the name of Sabina; a very beautiful woman, but she does look kind of dour in this portrait on the right hand side of the screen. So perhaps we don’t blame him for taking up with what must have been the most beautiful boy in all of antiquity, a youth by the name of Antinous, whom Hadrian met on his travels in Asia Minor, smitten with the boy, and they became constant companions thereafter. But unfortunately Antinous, while still very young, died by drowning, where else but the Nile, in Egypt, also on these travels. They went to Canopus together, by the way, to the amusement park, but poor Antinous died by drowning in the Nile.
No one knows exactly what happened. Was it an accident? Some say that he may have given his life to save Hadrian’s. We don’t really know. That’s never been sorted out as to exactly what happened to this wonderful and beautiful young man. But he died by drowning in the Nile, which made the Nile a particularly poignant spot for Hadrian, who appears to have recreated it here at his villa. He also went on to found–this is one of the reasons this has inspired so many design-your-own Roman cities projects; not only the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous, and this love triangle with Sabina, but also because Hadrian went around the Empire and founded one Antinoopolis after another; there were tons of Antinoopolises all around Rome [the Roman Empire].
Marble statue of Antinous as Osiris from Hadrian’s Villa / Vatican Museums, Wikimedia Commons
And he put up statues of Antinous in every possible guise, of every possible god: the major Roman gods and some of the–and all the minor Roman gods as well. And there are lots of statues of Antinous. This is another one that was found at the villa, not at this pool, although it might have been, given that the inspiration was Egypt. This shows him in Egyptian guise with the Egyptian headdress and covering all that wonderful curly hair, for which he was so well known. But nonetheless, Antinous as a pharaoh, from Hadrian’s Villa.
Canopus at Hadrian’s Villa / Wikimedia Commons
Back to the Canopus, you see the pool. You see it has columns on one side. These columns had sculpture interspersed. And here Greece comes back to the fore, because many of these statues here were also based on ancient Greek prototypes. So we see this interesting eclecticism here: a pool based on Egypt, with some Egyptianizing statuary, but also interspersed with Greek statues, based on famous Greek prototypes. Most important to us, from the architectural standpoint, the straight lintel and the arcuated lintel, used here for the Canopus. We saw that in Second Style Roman wall painting. We’re beginning to see it now in built architecture. It becomes a particular favorite of Hadrian’s, and we’re going to see it elsewhere in the Roman provinces, under Hadrian.
Hadrian’s Villa Canopus statue of Neptune (Tiber River) / Wikimedia Commons
Hadrian’s Villa Canopus statue of she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus / Wikimedia Commons
Hadrian’s Villa Canopus caryatids (left) and Erechtheion (“Porch of Maidens”) caryatids on the Acropolis in Athens (right) / Wikimedia Commons
The influence again of Egypt, and also in this case also of Rome: two river gods that seem to have decorated the Canopus. This one of the she-wolf, suckling Romulus and Remus; clearly the Tiber. So once again, very eclectic sculptural program. The caryatids were there too, lining one side of the pool of the Canopus. So Hadrian’s philhellenism coming to the fore again. You’ll remember, Augustus copied these same caryatids for his forum, reduced scale. Hadrian’s are in full length, full scale, same scale, as those in Greece, and the major difference between Hadrian’s caryatids, and Augustus’, Augustus’, like the Erechtheion, with the original Porch of the Maidens, is in a public building. In the case of Hadrian, a private villa — using these caryatids at a private villa. Here you see them lining one side of the Canopus, flanked on either side by satyrs, the same kinds of fellows we saw in the Dionysiac mystery paintings.
Hadrian’s Villa Canopus statue of a crocodile (NIle) / Wikimedia Commons
And then, just so that we don’t forget Egypt and the Nile, this wonderful representation of a statue of a crocodile that was surely placed in the center of the pool, peeping out of the water, just so that we make sure we remember it’s the Nile. And I can trace my whole professional career sitting on this crocodile because every time I’m there, including even now, I pose on that crocodile. But I do it in part because I think it’s fun, but also to encourage–there are two pictures that I really like students to send me when they travel to Italy. One is of them sitting on the crocodile at Hadrian’s Villa, and another is them on the stepping stones at Pompeii.
Plan of the Canopus at Hadrian’s Villa / Wikimedia Commons
The Temple of Serapis in the Canopus at Hadrian’s Villa / Wikimedia Commons
The plan of the Canopus shows us what we’ve looked at: the straight and arcuated lintel here; the crocodile on this side; the caryatids on that side; and then over here, at the end, the Temple of Serapis, because they were trying to recreate again this canal that led from Alexandria to Canopus, and at the end of course, the Temple of Serapis, the healing god, that was located at Canopus. But this is no Egyptian building, this is a very modern Roman-looking building, and I show it to you here, on the end of the canal. This is called the so-called Serapeum, or the Temple of Serapis. It is very likely that it was designed by him, by Hadrian, and we see it made out of concrete. We can see it has niches. It actually served as a fountain, with very deep niches, from which there would have emanated a water display. And then you can see a concrete dome, up above, with those segmented, flat and concave, alternating flat and concave segments that look like a gourd or a pumpkin dome, probably designed by Hadrian himself.
Hadrian’s Villa large baths / Wikimedia Commons
Baths, there are two baths at Hadrian’s Villa. One of them–I show you only the Large Baths here, of Hadrian’s Villa, which dates to the early phase of 125 to 133. I’m not going to say too much about these. I’m not going to show you the plan. But just to make the point that the villa has, not one, but two baths, and they are gargantuan. Look at the size of this. Look at the tourists here in relationship to the so-called Large Baths. This is a private bathing establishment, but it shows you that Hadrian has learned well from Trajan. If Trajan’s Forum was the mother of all forums, this is the mother of all private bath buildings that we see at Hadrian’s Villa.
Hadrian’s Villa large baths groin vaults / Wikimedia Commons
And we also see the expert way in which these architects used concrete construction. It’s extraordinary. Look at these vaults, vaults that are springing, just as they did in Trajan’s Market hall, in the Markets in Rome, springing from–groin vaults that spring from a bracket, rather than from a column or a pilaster. And look at the way in which they’ve been able to open up this wall, dematerialize the wall with very large windows: very sophisticated use of concrete construction. Here a detail of the groin vaults springing from the bracket, with the stucco decoration that you can also see.
Hadrian’s Villa Piazza d’Oro plan / Wikimedia Commons
I also want to show you the so-called Piazza d’Oro, or the Golden Plaza, which dates also to the early phase of the Villa of Hadrian at Tivoli, 125 to 133. You can see just by looking at its plan that it’s interesting. It was used as an audience hall when Hadrian greeted important visitors at the villa. If you look at the entrance vestibule, it’s octagonal, just like the octagonal room of Rabirius, with a pumpkin vault, then a great open rectangular space, fairly traditional, surrounded by columns. And then over here, the audience hall or aula, a-u-l-a, itself. This is an amazing structure, and what makes the aula particularly interesting and important is like the Pantheon it combines traditional and innovative architecture; it combines concrete construction with traditional vocabulary of Greek architecture, namely columns. There is an annular vault over here. You can see that the walls of this structure undulate, but this undulation is particularly interesting because the walls are not made out of concrete; we’ll see that the walls are made out of columns.
Hadrian’s Villa Piazza d’Oro aula axonometric view / Wikimedia Commons
Hadrian’s Villa Piazza d’Oro columns / Wikimedia Commons
Here I show you a cutaway, axonometric view of the aula, where you can see these undulating walls, making a kind of cruciform shape, but you can see that they are supported by columns. So again this fascinating bringing together of the traditional vocabulary of Greek architecture, namely columns, with a concrete pumpkin dome on top: use of innovative, of the traditional vocabulary of architecture in an innovative way. One might even call this an example of the so-called baroque trend in Roman antiquity, which we’ll be talking about increasingly, and I want you to be aware that it happens here. Just very quickly, the very sculptural vestibule entranceway, so inspired by Rabirius, of the Piazza d’Oro, showing this concrete construction with a pumpkin dome, and then a detail of some of the columns along that undulating, that curved or undulating wall, that are still preserved in the aula.
Hadrian’s Villa Teatro Marittimo plan / Wikimedia Commons (Click image to enlarge)
I want to show you also lastly at Hadrian’s Villa the so-called Teatro Marittimo, the Maritime Theater, which dates to the very earliest of the phases, 118 to 128. This was the building–Hadrian started with this first, because this is what he wanted most of all–which was an island villa within a villa, a place where he could really go if he wanted to be alone, even at his own villa. And one can imagine him escaping here, with Antinous by his side. We see that island villa here. It’s a round structure. In order to protect himself, once he crossed the drawbridge, he has placed a moat around the island villa within a villa. But if you look at the plan of that island villa, you would think that Rabirius was still alive, in the sense of that compass work that we saw Rabirius doing in the private wing of the Domus Augustana, playing off convex against concave. But the difference between this and what Rabirius did is this combines, in this very exciting way, concrete walls and concrete domes with columns. We see that same combination here.
Hadrian’s Villa Teatro Marittimo aerial view / Wikimedia Commons
Hadrian’s Villa Teatro Marittimo Ionic colonnade / Photo by Paul Williams
Hadrian’s Villa Teatro Marittimo island rooms and columns / Wikimedia Commons
Here’s a view of what the island within the Teatro Marittimo looks like today. Here’s the island, surrounded by the moat. And you can see this wonderful combination of brick-faced concrete construction, with columns, but if you look at the columns you will see that they follow the curvature of the foundation of the wall. So this again, a combination of traditional and innovative architecture. Another view of the moat, of a colonnade with Ionic capitals that surrounds the hall, and then another view of the island part, with this wonderful interaction of columnar and concrete architecture.
Mausoleum of Hadrian (Castel Sant’Angelo) / Wikimedia Commons
Lastly, I just want to show you the Tomb of Hadrian, and make a very few points about it. The Tomb of Hadrian, the famous Mausoleum of Hadrian, better known as the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, was put up at the end of Hadrian’s reign, between 135 and his death in 138, and consecrated by his successor, Antoninus Pius. It is located in the part of Rome that we have not explored thus far, because very few ancient buildings survive from that part of the city. We are looking at an excellent Google Earth view of the Tiber River. You will notice the Piazza Navona over here, the great stadium over here, and we should be able to see the Pantheon, but it may be cut off, in this view, as is the Tomb of Augustus, which is located over here. But we can see well the Castel Sant’Angelo of Hadrian’s Mausoleum, fronted by a bridge over the Tiber. And that’s the Vatican, Vatican City, up right above. So Hadrian chose a location across the Tiber, where there were some imperial gardens, for his tomb.
Mausoleum of Hadrian (Castel Sant’Angelo) aerial view in city / Wikimedia Commons
Ponte Sant’Angelo / Wikimedia Commons
The walls and the watchtowers were added later, because this served as a fortress for the popes, in the Vatican. The popes, in bad times, they had an underground passageway that they could scurry from the Vatican to this fortress, where they could be protected, and that’s when the watchtowers and so on were added, as you can see here, fronted by a bridge. This is the famous Ponte Sant’Angelo, designed by Bernini, the great seventeenth-century architect Bernini, with a series of angels. And here another view of the Castel Sant’Angelo, with Bernini’s angels on the bridge.
Mausoleum of Hadrian (Castel Sant’Angelo) model / Wikimedia Commons
The most important point for us, as you can see, that although tombs, round tombs were no longer au courant in the second century A.D.; they had gone out of fashion. Remember, Titus buried in his arch, Trajan buried in his column. They really weren’t doing round tombs, at the extent that they had been doing earlier. Hadrian chooses this. Why? Because the great Mausoleum of Augustus was a round tomb. He wants to associate himself with Augustus, and he wants to create a new tomb for a succession of dynasties. Nerva was the last to be buried in the Mausoleum of Augustus; Hadrian the first in this mausoleum, which continued to be used in the second century. And so it uses the Mausoleum of Augustus and the Caecilia Metella tomb as models. We have seen this model here, of the Tomb of Hadrian. It’s round, made out of concrete, placed, as the Caecilia Metella tomb was, on a podium, a very tall podium, probably a tumulus on top, earthen tumulus, like Augustus’ tomb.
We don’t know what happened at the very apex, whether there was a statue of Hadrian or a temple-like structure, as you see here. But the most important point for us is that at the end of his life Hadrian is continuing to connect himself to Rome’s first emperor, to Augustus, both of them in perpetuity philhellenic emperors with philhellenic leanings, but in the case of both of them, and particularly Hadrian, he combines it with this new concrete architecture in a very special, very distinctive way, that will have a lasting impact on architecture in the Roman Empire.