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THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL AREA OF TORRE ARGENTINA

The “Sacred Area” on Largo di Torre Argentina is one of the minor, but still not lesser important act of demolition carried out in Rome during the fascist period between the two world wars.

Renaissance palais and churches are forfeited to Mussolinis’ pick-axes, like the French embassy to the ex-Pontificial State, Palazzo Cesarini-Sforza and the San Nicola a’ Cesarini church.
 

Four pagan temples were revealed after three years labour (between 1926 and 1929), the oldest ever discovered in the capital as they are clearly “Republican”, that is, built before the Imperial period: around 400 B.C., the origin of Rome, period which Mussolini’s regime considered a fundamental reference regarding its tradition.
 

For Mussolini, Largo di Torre Argentina, with its impressing ruins, becomes an obliged stopover for his “great” foreign statesmen, visitors, on their way to the dictator’s office in Palazzo Venezia (on the square of the same name), as was the case with Adolf Hitler who, on the occurrence of his visit to Rome in May 1938 – once he’d reached the brand new Ostiense Station, built extra for the
event – was chauffeured past exactly those Roman temples in the customary convertible limousine reserved for such occasions.

This way the “Duce”, who pompously and arrogantly professed himself as the  “New Augustus”, could proudly demonstrate his central position with respect to Ancient Rome: amidst the oldest holy temples of Largo di Torre Argentina (in the photograph above, centre) and the Forum Romanum with the Coliseum, both dating back to the Imperial period, and thereby – in his opinion – take on the role of the one and only worthy, authoritative, dynamic, serious, authentic heir and successor of the “Caesars” and the great Roman Civilisation.

THE TEMPLES OF THE AREA SACRA
 

 

                  

Temple A: built in 3 B.C., was most probably the temple consecrated to Juturna and erected to commemorate the Roman victory over the Carthaginians in the year 241 B.C.
The Church of Saint Nicholas de’ Cesarini – some of the ruins of which are still
visible today - was probably built on it’s fundaments.
 

Temple B: is the only one of the four built to a circular floorplan and, including the
actual flooring level, there are 6 columns still standing.It is common belief that this temple was commissioned by the Consul Quintus Lutatius Catullus, a colleague of Caius Marius, to celebrate the Roman victory in the battle against the Cimbrians in 101 B.C. at Alessandria, in today’s Piedmont.The temple, “Aedes Fortunae Huiusce Diei”, meaning "Luck of the Current Day" was,
obviously, consecrated to the Goddess of Luck, who was represented in a colossal marble statue; the remnants of which were found near the temple and are now kept in the Capitoline Museum. Only the head, the arms, and the legs of the statue were found - probably because they were of marble - whereas the other parts, covered by a dress of bronze, were lost.

 

 

Temple C: the oldest of the four is datable as 4th or 3rd century B.C. and was probably consecrated to Feronia, the ancient Italic goddess of fertility. After a fire in 80 A.D., the temple was restored and the black and whitemosaic of the inner temple cell dates back to this restoration period.

 

 

Temple D : is the largest of the four and dates back to the 2nd century BC and one presumes it was a sanctuary devoted to the Lares Permarini. Only a small part of this temple has ever been excavated, the main part is still covered by the road paving of today’s Via Florida.

 
Earlier (1926)Nowadays (2007)

 

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