This book is
about Augustus and some buildings in the Campus
Martius in Rome erected at his time: the Montecitorio Obelisk (cf. Fig. 1.1), its Meridian line, the Ara
Pacis (cf. Fig. 1.4), and the
Mausoleum of Augustus (cf. Fig. 1.9).
When I thought for the first time that this text was almost finished, I was
invited to attend the Iseum Campense
Conference May 2016, held in Rome. Thanks to the interesting talks and the
discussions with many scholars there, as well as subsequent
email-correspondence, some problems could finally be solved that I had
encountered while conducting my research.
The area in
question has recently been studied in great detail in multi-authored
publications organized by Lothar Haselberger (2014a) and Bernard Frischer
(Bernard Frischer et al. 2017).
Whereas Haselberger's study is dedicated to one of these buildings which he
refers to as `Horologium Augusti´, Frischer's article is called `New Light on
the Relationship between the Montecitorio Obelisk and Ara Pacis of Augustus´.
Specialists know that the terms `Horologium´ and `Meridian-and-Obelisk´ refer
to exactly the same ensemble of monuments. Personally I side with those who
identify the Montecitorio Obelisk and its Meridian line not as part of a full
sundial, as Edmund Buchner had done and - among those who have recently
published about the subject - certainly Henner von Hesberg, Jon Albers, Lothar
Haselberger, Günter Leonhardt and perhaps also Robert Hannah still do, but as
something that was built as a Meridian device in the first place.
preface was written, appeared the article by Bernard Frischer et al. (2017), in which Frischer himself
(cf. 2017, 21), as a consequence of his new excavation at Buchner's `Horologium
Augusti´, has modified his earlier views, convincingly stating that: "At
present, all we may safely say is that new fieldwork is required to resolve the
debate about this matter".
Buchner, who was first to suggest a complex relationship among the Montecitorio
Obelisk/ Meridian, the Ara Pacis and the Mausoleum
Augusti, some scholars currently interested in this kind of inquiry try to
visualize the shadows cast by the Montecitorio Obelisk towards the Ara Pacis.
Caused by an illness at the end of his life, Buchner was unfortunately unable
to finish his work on the final publication of his entire research, comprising
his excavations. It took me a long time to understand, why his work has caused
an ongoing controversy, only to find out in the end that in reality the answer
is very simple.
already published two articles about his ideas concerning the subject (1976 and
1980) - that is to say, in part, before he could conduct excavations in the
area since 1979 - that were reprinted unchanged in his monograph of 1982: Die Sonnenuhr des Augustus (`The sundial
of Augustus´). This book was complemented with a "Nachtrag"
(`Supplement´) and some photographs documenting another excavation he had
conducted in the area in the meantime (1980-1981).
the first recognizable problem, as such, is the fact that Buchner believed at
that stage, as also explicitly stated in the "Vorbemerkung"
(`Preface´) of his book of 1982, that he did not have to take anything back
from those assumptions he had voiced in his earlier articles.
important correction he should have made in his book of 1982, or later,
concerned the original location of the Montecitorio Obelisk, for which Buchner
had made an erroneous suggestion in 1976 that he maintained in 1982, and ever
since. All the positive "Überraschungen" (`surprises´) concerning the
alleged complex mathematical/ astronomical relationship between the `Solarium´
and the Ara Pacis on the one hand, and the alleged complex mathematical/
astronomical relationship between the `Solarium´ and the Mausoleum Augusti on the other hand, that he had experienced while
working on the first reconstruction of his `sundial´ were regarded by many
scholars at the time as fascinating. In reality the complexities arose from his
failure to correctly locate the Obelisk, his manipulation of data and the far
reaching hypotheses he had built on top of all of this: nothing of this stands
up to close scrutiny (cf. Michael Schütz 1990-2014b).
In the summer
of 1980, Buchner had, unwittingly, excavated a section of the Meridian line
pertaining to the Obelisk, a spectacular find, as also his fiercest critics
admit, that was in addition to this perfectly well preserved. This line, which
is oriented north-south, appeared in a place where he did not expect the
Meridian line to be. He identified it as a mere "Monatsabschnitt"
(section of a month´) of the calendar that, in his (erroneous) opinion, had
been part of his `sundial´ (Buchner 1982, 70, Fig. 5 = id. 1980, 366, Fig. 5;
id. 1996a, Fig. 23). The reason for this grave error was Buchner's wrong
location of the Obelisk, which, as Buchner knew, must have stood on the same
north-south axis as the Meridian line of his `sundial´ itself. And since it did
not occur to him to question his preconceived location of the Obelisk, Buchner
consequently saw no reason to publish a changed reconstruction of his
`sundial´. This section of the Meridian line appeared 1.6 m above the assumed
Augustan level. Therefore, Buchner believed, in addition to this, that he had
found a Domitianic restoration of Augustus' `sundial´, an assumption which was
not based on any ancient literary evidence. Contrary to Buchner's own judgment,
scholars currently believe that he had found a section of Augustus' Meridian
line, which is the one that Pliny the Elder saw and described (NH 36.72f.). In the meantime, B.
Frischer was able to prove this hypothesis (cf. chapter VIII. EPILOGUE; New fieldwork in the area of E. Buchner's
acknowledged that he had found part of the Meridian line of his supposed
sundial (be that Augustan or Domitianic), this would have forced him to abandon
his entire complex hypothesis and to start anew from scratch, this time based
on more hard facts. Had he done that, the scholarly community would certainly
have praised him for his noble-minded spirit. It would, in any case, have saved
subsequent scholars much work, had Buchner commissioned for his book of 1982 or
his later publications a measured map of the entire area, with integration of
the section of the Meridian line (his "Monatsabschnitt"), that he had
been so fortunate to excavate, at its precise location.
famous has become Buchner's subsequent, hotly debated assertion (1982, 37; cf.
p. 23 = id. 1976, 347; cf. p. 335): "Welch eine Symbolik! Am Geburtstag
des Kaisers ... [am 23. September] wandert der Schatten [den die Kugel auf dem
Obelisken wirft; von Westen nach Osten] von Morgen bis Abend etwa 150 m weit
die schnurgerade Äquinoktienlinie entlang genau zur Mitte der Ara Pacis; es
führt so eine direkte Linie von der Geburt dieses Mannes zu Pax, und es wird
sichtbar demonstriert, daß er natus ad
pacem ist" (`on Augustus' birthday [23rd September], the
shadow [of the globe atop the Obelisk] travelled [from west to east] from
morning to evening for about 150 m along the straight equinoctial line towards
the centre of the Ara Pacis, thus indicating that Augustus was born to bring
peace to the world´).
problem is the fact that Buchner repeated in all his later publications most of
his own old assumptions without discussing in detail the arguments of his
critics. In particular, the findings of Michael Schütz, who, after Buchner had
successfully prevented this for many years (so M. Schütz 1990, 432, n. 1; cf.
H. Lohmann 2002, 52 with n. 34), had finally been able to publish in 1990 his
devastating, but justified critique of Buchner's complete set of interrelated
ideas. Other critics followed after M. Schütz.
exception, as observed by Stefan Peiffer (2015, 2289, who mentions the
"Stellungnahme zu [M.] Schütz " in Buchner's article of
1993-1994 (on p. 81 with n. 21). But because Buchner himself rarely mentioned
this article in any of his later publications, the fact that this is Buchner's
published discussion of Schütz's critique has so far not been noticed by any
other scholar. As a matter of fact, Buchner (1993-1994) discussed only M.
Schütz's argument that relates to Buchner's reconstruction of the original
height of the Montecitorio Obelisk: Buchner (op.cit.) rejected M. Schütz's relevant argument. Buchner (1996a, 36
and id. 1996b, 163 with n. 8) has repeated this rejection.
text was started as a short email written to Bernard Frischer, but when
gradually extending it, one of my aims became to define the state of the art of
the debate, to which the publications mentioned here contribute. In addition, I
had intended to find out some other things. I was for example curious to
understand, how exactly Octavian/ Augustus had adjusted Julius Caesar's
calendar reform which at first had been erroneously applied. Caesar, when in
Alexandria in 48 BC, had commissioned Sosigenes of Alexandria
to reform the Roman calendar. Sosigenes based what was to become the Julian calendar on that
calendar which had been made for Ptolemy III Euergetes back in 238 BC (cf.
Günther Hölbl 1994, 101; Stefan Pfeiffer 2004; see infra, n. 76). During his stay at Alexandria in 30 BC, Octavian/
Augustus had possibly already experimented with an obelisk/ meridian device on
the Forum Iulium, which he had
commissioned there (cf. Geza Alföldy 2014), before he ordered two obelisks to
be brought from Egypt to Rome: the obelisk he erected on the spina in the Circus Maximus (that is now
on the Piazza del Popolo; cf. Fig. 1.2)
and the Montecitorio Obelisk; cf. Fig.
1.1. Thanks to the observation of the shadows that were cast by the latter
on its pertaining Meridian line, Augustus was finally able to bring Caesar's
calendar project to a successful end.
Octavian/ Augustus became, in addition to all that, the Pharaoh of Egypt, I had
to address a great number of further questions in my text, in order to
understand the main subjects. As is well known, many Egyptian obelisks still
existing in Rome relate in one way or another to Augustus. By discussing their
meaning, scholars have concentrated on their original settings in Egypt and on
their new lives `in exile´. Apart from Egyptian obelisks, which were reused in
new contexts in Rome, there are also some ancient obelisks in Rome which were
commissioned by Romans and that were possibly even carved in Rome.
adjustment of Caesar's calendar reform was an immense contribution to the
public good that was immediately acknowledged by Augustus' contemporaries, it
is surprising that Augustus very modestly neither mentioned this in his
(surviving) dedicatory inscriptions on the Montecitorio Obelisk, nor in his Res Gestae, nor anywhere else. This has
led me to ask another question: what kind of relationship had Augustus to the Roman
People, or, more precisely: how can we explain Nicholas Purcell's (1996)
suggestion that `Augustus used ethics as a constitutional strategy´?
Considering the fact that Octavian/ Augustus was, after all, for the last 44
years of his life Pharaoh of Egypt, I therefore ask in this study: is it
conceivable that the theological construction of the Egyptian Pharaoh, which
was based on an all-embracing doctrine of ethics, somehow also influenced his
actions in Rome?
Purcell (1996) also observes that `the very happy accident of Augustus' long
life allowed readjustment of many of his innovations in a process of trial and
error, a refining process which explains the success and long survival of many
of them ...´. Augustus' overwhelming, long-lasting political success can thus
be explained by the actions, decisions and achievements of himself and his
collaborators. Another undoubtable contribution of Augustus himself to all this
was that he had the rare ability to forge lifelong personal relationships with
people. The best example being his friend Marcus Agrippa, of course, but also
Gaius Maecenas was for 37 years "his intimate and trusted friend and
agent" (so John Glucker 1996). Both dedicated their unique faculties to
promote Augustus' aims.
This has led me
to ask another question: how can we define the contribution of Augustus' family to his success? After summarizing
the achievements of the members of his family, who, as is well known, are
represented `as a group´ on the exterior friezes of the Ara Pacis, I checked my
list of 70 members of the Domus Augusta
against the list of those individuals who were actually given the honour of
being buried in the Mausoleum of Augustus - which has resulted in some (at
least for me) unexpected findings.
to incorporate the Mausoleum Augusti
at all into this text was, as in all my studies on the topography of ancient
Rome so far, something that I had come across by chance in Germany. This time
it was the fact that I recently read the historic novel `Ekkehard - a tale of
the 10th century´ by Joseph Victor von Scheffel, in which Duchess (dux Suevorum) Hadwig of Swabia performed
`an old pious custom´, as the author called it, which I found very intriguing.
Each year on the day her husband had died, Duchess Hadwig, in her capacity as
the current sovereign of Swabia, distributed grain and fruit to the poor at the
Duke' s tomb, who (according to von Scheffel) had been laid to rest in the
chapel of their castle, where also his predecessors were buried. Duchess Hadwig
thus obviously acted `together´ with her late husband, the Duke of Swabia, and
his entire family line. Learning about this ritual, which will be described in
chapter III. THE POSSIBLE MEANING OF THE OBELISK/ MERIDIAN, ARA PACIS AND THE MAUSOLEUM
AUGUSTI, I reconsidered the
assertion, according to which it was of great importance that the Mausoleum of
Augustus be visible from the Obelisk/
Meridian and the Ara Pacis.
therefore asked another question in this study: is it conceivable that the message
of all three buildings - the Obelisk/ Meridian, the Ara Pacis and the Mausoleum Augusti with the two obelisks
standing in front of it - taken together, could have been: even the dead
emperor Augustus should take (or even takes?)
care of his people?
has become the point of departure for another subject, discussed in this book
in some detail - memoria and eternal
life. Cf. Appendix 9; and chapter VIII. EPILOGUE.
Only after I
thought on 1st November 2016 that I had finally finished this
manuscript, something made me realize that the location of the Saepta
has recently been questioned. Because I followed on my maps, that were drawn
for my talk at the Iseum Campense
Conference May 2016 (cf. Häuber 2016) and for this volume, the location of
the Saepta, as suggested by Guglielmo
Gatti (cf. LTUR I  429, Fig.
122a), I, consequently, added a discussion of that subject in this book as
Cf. chapter II.
WELL KNOWN FACTS CONCERNING THE SUBJECTS DISCUSSED HERE AND SOME NEW
OBSERVATIONS; Again Augustus' Meridian floor and G. Gatti's
reconstruction of the "Campo Marzio centrale": his location of the Saepta, and some new observations concerning the Iseum
In the course
of the relevant research, it was possible to corroborate G. Gatti's locations
of the following buildings and structures: Saepta,
Diribitorium, Porticus Minucia Frumentaria (although his location of this
building had to be corrected on the basis of Lucos Cozza's site plan), Iseum (Campense), Serapeum, Delta, Arco di Camilliano, cosiddetto
Arco di Giano alla Minerva, and of the fountain Minerva Chalcidica. In the case of G. Gatti's likewise debated
location of the Divorum this proved
to be impossible instead. As a result of studying this building and its
presumed predecessor, the Villa Publica,
where Vespasian and Titus are believed to have stayed the night before their
triumph in June of AD 71, were added some ideas concerning the following
- a summary of
the recent discussion concerning the triumphal procession of AD 71,
- the roads
Vespasian, Titus (and Domitian) may have walked along on the morning of the
great day, and
- the pomerium of Claudius, which may or may
not have determined the route chosen for this procession.
G. Gatti's reconstruction of the central Campus
Martius is correct, has already been demonstrated long ago by Emilio
Rodríguez Almeida, who realized that fragment 595 of the Severan Marble Plan
shows the area immediately to the north of the Saepta, and precisely the south-eastern part of the Precinct of
Matidia, comprising remains of a Temple (of Sabina?), which is labelled:
"TEM PL[...]". He has therefore called this fragment 36b (cf. Emilio
Rodríguez Almeida 1981, 127-129, tav. 27 = LTUR
III  470, Fig. 164).
Hadrian's Precinct of Matidia, the Hadrianeum
and Hadrian's Arch on the Via Flaminia/
Via Lata (cf. here Figs. 3.5; 3.7; 3.7.1; 3.7.5-3.7.5c),
which functioned as the entrance portal to this entire sacred area, it became
clear that the Emperor may intentionally have blocked the sightline between the
Pantheon and the Mausoleum Augusti, which
Augustus seems to have so carefully designed.
The location of
this Arch of Hadrian was already recognized by Ferdinando Castagnoli (1942),
and one of its piers was excavated by Lucos Cozza and Mafalda Cipollone (cf.
ead. 1982; and ead.: "Hadrianus, Divus, Templum, Hadrianeum", in: LTUR III  7-8, Figs. 1-5).
Nevertheless this arch, despite its famous marble reliefs, is little known. The
reliefs in question, three of them in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, a fourth
one at Palazzo Torlonia, have in the past not always been attributed to this
Arch of Hadrian, but to a variety of different monuments. F. Castagnoli (1942,
76, Fig. 1) has rightly observed that the relief, showing the
adventus of Hadrian in Rome (cf. here Fig. 5.7), now on display, together
with two other reliefs from this Arch, on the walls of the staircases in the
Palazzo dei Conservatori, was still in
situ, when the Conservatori bought it in 1573. The other two reliefs from
this Arch of Hadrian, now likewise in the Musei Capitolini, had previously
decorated the former Arco di Portogallo (cf. here Figs. 3.7.1; 5.8; 5.9). Like already Castagnoli (op.cit., pp.
76-77), Michaela Fuchs (2014), who has recently published this Arch of Hadrian,
convincingly attributes to it, apart from these three reliefs at the Palazzo
dei Conservatori, also the relief, which is kept in the Collection Torlonia.
In the course
of studying the Iseum Campense, some
new arguments have been found, which, in my opinion, support the old assumption
that Domitian had actually commissioned his Obelisk for this sanctuary, that is
now on display on top of Gianlorenzo Bernini's famous Fountain of the Four
Rivers in Piazza Navona (cf. here Figs. 3,7;
5.5.2). In one of the inscriptions on his Obelisk, written in hieroglyphs,
Domitian formulates his hope that his contemporaries as well as posterity will
always remember the achievements of his family, the Flavian dynasty, especially
their benefactions for the Roman People. Domitian stresses that his family
managed to consolidate the state, which had severely suffered from those `who
reigned before´ (i.e., the Julio-Claudian dynasty). Trying to figure out which
benefactions, apart from the actually very good government of the Flavian
dynasty, Domitian may have referred to, the first thing that came to my mind
was the erection of the Colosseum, begun by his father Vespasian and completed
therefore integrated into this study a discussion of the hypotheses concerning
the Colosseum, recently formulated by Klaus Stefan Freyberger (2016) and
Freyberger et al. (2016b, 370-380).
The authors suggest that the Colosseum was not
built anew by Vespasian, as was hitherto believed: the first Flavian Emperor
merely restored a three-storey-high amphitheatre, which stood already at this
site and may be identified with the amphitheatre, represented on one of the
reliefs from the tomb of the Haterii (cf. here Fig. 5.4: the second building from the left). They further suggest
that this building should be identified with the Amphitheatre of Statilius
Taurus, and believe that this building had in reality been erected by Augustus.
(2016) and Freyberger et al. (2016b,
385-386, and passim) suggest that all
six buildings, which appear on the relief from the tomb of the Haterii (Fig. 5.4) celebrate the victory of
Augustus over Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony at Actium 31 BC. Personally, I am
of a different opinion, but by discussing their ideas, the here presented train
of thoughts, beginning with G. Gatti's reconstruction of the central Campus Martius, concentrating especially
on the Iseum Campense and the Saepta, moving from there to Hadrian's
Precinct of Matidia, later from G. Gatti's location of the Divorum to the Villa Publica,
to the triumph of Vespasian, Titus (and Domitian) of AD 71, from that to
Domitian, and via Domitian again to the Iseum
Campense and to the Colosseum, has led us finally back to the main
protagonist of this book: Augustus!
to integrate these very diverse themes into this book on Augustus was in the
case of all these subjects in the first place a question related to the
topography of the relevant area in the Campus
Martius under scrutiny, which I found worth discussing in this context.
Interestingly, these subjects turn out to offer also further insights
concerning the projects realized by Augustus himself there. - As for example in the case of Hadrian, who may
intentionally have blocked Augustus' sightline between the Pantheon and the Mausoleum
neither Domitian, nor Hadrian erected their dynastic tombs on the Campus Martius, their monuments,
discussed here, aimed likewise at the commemoration of their individual
families. In the contexts of these monuments all three Emperors: Augustus,
Domitian and Hadrian, stressed their own virtus,
as well as the important achievements of their own dynasties, but they
presented these very similar contents in significantly different ways.
his Res Gestae himself. In this text,
he describes his own achievements and those of his family, as well as his
benefactions for the Roman People. After his death and burial in his Mausoleum on the
Campus Martius, this text was incised in bronze, and put on display
at two pillars in front of his Mausoleum
(cf. here Figs. 1.5; 1.6; 1.9; 3.8).
There everyone, who was able to read Latin, could study this text.
was written in hieroglyphs on an rose granite obelisk (cf. here Fig. 5.5.2). Also this text describes,
how the Emperor saw himself, and like Augustus, he stresses in this text his
own achievements and those of his family, especially the benefactions financed
by his dynasty for the Roman People. But Domitian's text differs considerably
from Augustus' Res Gestae: Domitian's
text is not only written in a foreign language, in addition to that, it is
formulated in pharaonic phraseology. Domitian's Obelisk was, in my opinion,
erected on the square between the Iseum
Campense and the Serapeum (cf. here
Figs. 3.5; 3.7), which Domitian had
just restored after the devastating fire of AD 80. If true, both texts were on
public display in the Campus Martius.
The same is
also true for Hadrian's relevant monument. Exactly as his two predecessors,
Hadrian aimed at demonstrating his own virtues, those of his family, as well as
his benefactions for the Roman People. But contrary to Augustus and Domitian,
he decided to represent this content in visual form. He did this on the Arch,
which he erected at the Via Flaminia/
Via Lata, right in front of the
(later) Hadrianeum and the Precinct
of Matidia. The arch itself has not survived, but some items of its decoration:
four marble reliefs, now kept in the Palazzo dei Conservatori and in the
Collection Torlonia. According to M. Fuchs (2014), these reliefs show the virtus of the Emperor Hadrian: the
reliefs at the Palazzo dei Conservatori his invincibility (i.e. the adventus-relief, here Fig. 5.7), his pietas (the relief with the apotheosis
of Sabina, here Fig. 5.8) and his providentia (the so-called adlocutio-relief, which represents in
reality Hadrian's endowment of the Athenaeum,
cf. here Fig. 5.9). The fourth
relief in the collection Torlonia, representing a supplicatio scene, shows Hadrian's clementia.
the following pages, `obelisks´ and the concepts of `time´ will be discussed at
length, and especially the specific Roman attitudes to both. This study thus
turns out to be also a contribution `on Roman time´ (for that, cf. Michele
Renée Salzman 1990). How far away we
mentally are from their experience of
time, which was `WOZ´ (`wahre Ortszeit´, `true local time´), occurred to me on
1st October 2016. Franz and I had gone to the Piazza di Montecitorio
to look at the modern meridian line to the north of the Montecitorio Obelisk
(cf. here Fig. 1.1 and Lothar
Haselberger 2014d, 195 n. 91; infra,
n. 141). Since we were the only tourists at that stage on the square, I went
over to the two policemen, standing on the north side of the socle of the
Obelisk, who were watching us, to explain what we were up to. I mentioned to
them that we were in the course of studying the ancient meridian line at the
site, where this obelisk had originally been erected, and because that was not
accessible, wanted to view this new meridian. One of these men, by looking at
his wrist watch and pointing at the meridian line in front of us, said to me:
`unfortunately it does not work´. I understood that he intended to say: `this
obelisk-meridian device does not indicate 12 noon at the correct time´. And
since both men knew a lot about the Montecitorio Obelisk and its history, I
thought he was right.
had been taken photographs in the meantime, and when I mentioned to him later
what the policeman had told me, he smiled and said: `it is the obelisk's
shadow, which indicates the correct time, not our watches´, and explained to me
why. Our time conception is called `MESZ´ (`Middle European Summer Time´),
which is the same within a huge area that extends inter alia between Görlitz in Germany, Rome in Italy, and the
Atlantic coast in France; this is one of the time zones of the world, defined
in the 19th century. It became necessary to invent this
construction, as soon as railways were built, since that made it necessary to
draw up time-tables, and those in their turn could only be conceived of,
provided the starting point of the train and its final destination were all on
the `same´ time (see the Contribution by Franz Xaver Schütz in this volume).