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Domus Augusti


Octavian chose to establish his residence as princeps inter pares on the Palatine Hill, not only because he had always lived on the hill and the aristocratic elite had always lived there, but also because there had been Romulus' house and there was the mundus, the well of foundation of Rome. After him many Roman emperors elected the Palatine as their dwelling and added other buildings to the Domus Augusti which over time became the private home of the emperor, while the other buildings on the hill were taking on functions pertinent to the public and religious life of the princeps.
He did not yet know that he would have to re-found Rome, he was only six years old when he inherited from his father the beautiful house in Capita Bubula, a vicus of the Palatine Region; when he became triumvir, he bought the house of the orator Ortensius and it seems that he connected them by adding a portico called tecnophion. The domus of Ortensius was not a pretentious house, the atrium columns were in peperino and was adjacent to that of Quintus Lutatius Catulus, nephew of the consul of 101 BC. who shared with Marius the victory over the Cymbros at Raudine Plain. Octavian also bought the latter and joined the two domus.
In Octavian architectural program it was planned to build a new domus that was to be the element of greater visibility of his vision of a new Rome. Only after defeating all opponents, the princeps made his political project evident to everyone by going to build his house on the Germalus, right in front of Romolo's hut and also after having identified and protected the sacrificial altar, below which there was the Lupercal, the tuff cave where according to legend the she-wolf had nursed the twins Romulus and Remus. These mythical places in Rome were located in the appurtenances of the Senator Hortensius domus, the non-luxurious and small house of only 2764 square meters which, wich by acquiring other neighboring properties,Octavian soon expanded to square meters 8570.
By his architects he had built a palace that developed around two courtyards and with rooms at different heights following the altimetric trend of the Palatine slopes; the domus was divided into two parts, a public and a private one that developed around two courtyards following the example of the palaces of the Greek kings.
Work was still in progress when in 36 B.C. Octavian received a divine sign: lightning fell on the domus under construction: Apollo wanted a different house that was worthy of the son of a God. The first house was then buried and used as the base of the new one, three times larger, covering an area of approximately 22,000 square meters ...



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by M.L. ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (Ed 1.0 - 05/11/2020)