Erstmalig veröffentlicht am 30.11.2011 unter:

Chrystina Häuber
The Horti of Maecenas on the Esquiline Hill in Rome

(München, November 30th, 2011)

Text 1

The Horti of Maecenas on the Esquiline Hill in Rome

(see also Text 2

The Horti of Maecenas: the ancient structures and buildings within their area (catalogue nos. 1-58) that are visible on the here published maps, some remarks on the maps, on the database and on the bibliography

and Text 3

Explanations for the maps)

cf. for the Maps 1-10 mentioned in this text.

update: now at

Topography, history and scholarship

Horti were "luxury villas on the edge of the city", which is why their name, meaning `gardens`, is a misnomer (T. P. Wiseman 1992) - but the Horti of Maecenas contained gardens. From literary sources as well as archaeological investigations it is clear that these Horti were on one of the highest hilltops of Rome, the eastern part of the Mons Oppius (one summit of the Esquiline), the Fagutal (C. Häuber, forthcoming), in an area, according to Horace (Sat. I.8), previously occupied by the paupers' graveyard (cf. here Maps 1; 2, label: Paupers' graveyard?).

Only the second century author Porphyrio suggests that Maecenas was the first to have Horti on the Esquiline (Schol. Hor.), but thanks to studies by John Bodel we know now that Maecenas could only start his Horti project after the senate had passed in 38 B.C. a law "prohibiting the burning of bodies within two miles of the city" (J. Bodel 1994; Cass. Dio 48,43,3).

The Horti of Maecenas stretched between the Porta Esquilina and the Porta Querquetulana in the Servian city Wall of the fourth (and probably already of the sixth) century B.C. (Maps 3; 6, labels: Servian city Wall; PORTA ESQUILINA; PORTA QUERQUETULANA; HORTI MAECENATIANI ("HORTI LAMIANI")), under Caligula they were managed together with the Horti Lamiani, and "both were situated next to each other and near to the city" (Philo, de legatione ad Gaium 351-365). But note that already Otto Hirschfeld had made an important observation, which was only recently noticed by Monika Frass: Philo had probably mixed up the Horti Maecenatiani with the Horti Maiani, because we are otherwise informed about a procurator of the Horti Maiani and the Horti Lamiani (CIL VI, 8668; O. Hirschfeld 1902; M. Frass 2006; C. Häuber, forthcoming). And because we are not otherwise informed about the precise location of the Horti Maiani, this means, provided Hirschfeld was right, that it is actually impossible to locate the Horti Lamiani (M. Frass 2006). Provided there were indeed Horti Lamiani on the Esquiline from the Augustan period onwards, there was only space available for them in the area to the south of the Via Labicana-Praenestina and to the east of the Horti of Maecenas, because the area to the north of the Via Labicana-Praenestina was occupied by the Horti



Nero connected the Horti of Maecenas with the imperial palaces on the Palatine by means of his Domus Transitoria (Tac., Ann. XV, 39), which after the great fire of 64 was replaced by the Domus Aurea (A. Tomei and R. Rea 2011). This is why remains under the southernmost nave of the `Sette Sale` (the cistern of the Baths of Trajan) have been interpreted as a Nymphaeum of the Domus Aurea (L. Cozza 1974; Map 6, labels: Baths of Trajan; "Sette Sale"; Nymphaeum DOMUS AUREA?). The pseudo-Acro scholia on Horace seem to associate the sepulchra publica buried by Maecenas with the area later occupied by the Baths of Trajan, which sounds according to John Bodel (1994) improbable. But because Rodolfo Lanciani (1888) described numerous burials inside the Servian Wall (so far not discussed in this context and not indicated on any map) in the area of the future Palazzo Brancccio on modern Via Merulana, which is corroborated by other neglected excavation reports, this may well be true. Consequently, the Horti of Maecenas comprised indeed at least part of that area which was later occupied by the Baths of Trajan - including their cistern, the `Sette Sale` (C. Häuber forthcoming; Map 6, labels: Palazzo Brancaccio; Via Gregoriana/ Merulana (1575); Baths of Trajan; "Sette Sale"; HORTI MAECENATIANI). The other boundaries of these Horti are discussed below.

As already mentioned, Maecenas was reportedly the first owner of Horti on the Esquiline, although Horace called them "new" (Hor., Sat. 1,8,6-7: novi horti), which has caused scholars to believe he was implying gardens there before the Horti of Maecenas. Recent studies have shown that the family of Maecenas may have owned property here, perhaps in fact a garden, or (the area of) the Figlinae (the `potter's field`), to be discussed below (L. Edmunds 2009; C. Häuber, forthcoming).

A palatial house (Horace, Epod. IX, 3-4: alta domus; cf. Suet., Aug. LXXII,2: domus) was built on at least three terraces, which provided beautiful views of the Alban hills towards Tivoli and Frascati. A famous tower, from where Nero watched the great fire in the centre of the city in 64 A.D. (Suet., Nero XXXVIII,2), may have been on the highest point in the area, overlooking the two city gates Porta Esquilina and Porta Querquetulana (Maps 3; 6, labels: 51 I.-X. DOMUS: MAECENAS; VI.; 358 Casina Gai/ TURRIS: MAECENAS; Servian city Wall; PORTA ESQUILINA; PORTA QUERQUETULANA). This, and the fact that many aqueducts entered the city on the Esquiline, made these Horti strategically important and at the same time safe, and may explain why Maecenas, the closest adviser to Augustus, as well as Tiberius (Suet., Tib. XV) and Titus (discussed below) lived here, both as `crown princes` (Map 4, labels: 51 I.-X. DOMUS: MAECENAS/ TIBERIUS/ TITUS/ FRONTO), and Augustus slept in those Horti whenever he felt ill (Suet., Aug. LXXII, 2: in domo Maecenatis cubebat; probably meaning the main Domus within those Horti).

These Horti possessed orchards and perhaps a vineyard, but the other plantings are unknown.


Painted representations of gardens within the so-called Auditorium (discussed below) may 'mirror' the surrounding gardens, although these paintings, probably commissioned by Tiberius, are not contemporary to Maecenas. The archaeological officer Angelo Pellegrini described in 1873 in a handwritten report an "ancient private garden" within the area of those Horti, which he saw in a vineyard, called `Giardino Ruspoli` on Nolli's map (1748; cf. Map 10, label: Giardino Ruspoli), to the west of modern Via Merulana and to the north of Via Guicciardini (Map 6, label: Via Guicciardini). It contained planting pots set in a row, water channels still covered with sediment, and a cuniculus (an underground hydraulic installation), but Pellegrini's description does not allow a reconstruction of this garden in plan (Map 6, label: 56 Documented ancient garden; C. Häuber 2009; forthcoming).

Maecenas was famous in antiquity for his powerful position, his luxurious lifestyle and his `circle of poets`. He died in 8 B.C., and because Augustus was his universal heir, we may safely assume that the Emperor inherited also his Horti (M. Frass 2006; M. Cima and E. Talamo 2008). When a sunken "ninfeo-triclinio" (E. La Rocca 1998) - built on the Oppian hill, across the line of the Servian Wall - was excavated in 1874 it was, therefore, spontaneously named the `Auditorium of Maecenas` (Maps 3; 6, labels. 51 I.-X. DOMUS: MAECENAS; I. "Auditorium of MAECENAS"). This building is datable by its opus reticulatum and the mosaic pavements of its first building phase to the late Republican period, and waterpipes excavated next to it are inscribed with the name M. Cornelius Fronto, who in one letter (epist. ad M. Caes. I, 8) claims to own the Horti Maecenatiani. It has inter alia been proven by the find of an honorary inscription (CIL VI, 31821), dedicated to Fronto's son-in-law C. Aufidius Victorinus, which came to light within it, that this `Auditorium` stood in these Horti (C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2004). This building must have offered at the time of its construction an unexpected view across the Campagna to the distant ranges of the Apennines, uninterrupted by the sixth/ fourth century B.C. Servian city Wall through which it was built (N. Purcell 1996; 2001).

The late Republican tomb `Casa Tonda` (formerly located at the site of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II; Maps 3; 6, labels: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II; 10 "Casa Tonda"/ TUMULUS: MAECENAS) may be located at the northeast corner of these Horti. This tomb has been identified as the Tumulus of Maecenas, next to which Horace was buried, both located at extremis Esquiliis (Suet., Fragm., p. 298; E. Rodríguez Almeida 1987; C. Häuber, 1990; 2009; forthcoming). The former ancient Via Merulana, which connected the Porta Esquilina and the Porta Querquetulana and bordered the Figlinae (the `potter's field`) on the east, may be identified with the Via in Figlinis; currently most scholars (erroneously) identify the Via in Figlinis with the former Vicolo delle Sette Sale (Maps 3; 6, label: CLIVUS PULLIUS/ "VIA IN FIGLINIS"/ Vicolo delle Sette Sale; C. Häuber, forthcoming). The Figlinae were found while building the Via dello Statuto, to the east of modern Via Merulana. The only terracotta kiln found in this area occurred to the east of Via Pellegrino Rossi (L.


Mariani 1896; H. Jordan and C. Hülsen 1907; G. Pinza 1912; C. Häuber, forthcoming; Map 6, labels: Via Gregoriana/ Merulana (1575); Via dello Statuto; FIGLINAE; Via Pellegrino Rossi; * Kiln, the * indicates the approximate findspot of this terracotta kiln).

Most scholars believe that the ancient Via Merulana/ Via in Figlinis divided the Horti Maecenatiani and the Horti Lamiani (Map 6, labels: ancient Via Merulana/ Vicolo di S. Matteo; S; VIA IN FIGLINIS, shows that we actually know two different phases of this road). If the `Casa Tonda` has correctly been identified with the Tumulus of Maecenas, the area east of the ancient Via Merulana/ Via in Figlinis, where those scholars locate the Horti Lamiani, should instead have been part of the Horti Maecenatiani. Recent research has shown that it is impossible to locate the Horti Lamiani where they are commonly assumed, and that the area in question belonged to the Horti Macenatiani instead (Maps 3; 6, label: HORTI MAECENATIANI ("HORTI LAMIANI"); C. Häuber, forthcoming).

As in the case of other contemporary Horti, for example the Horti Lolliani (T. P. Wiseman 1992) and Tauriani (Map 6, label: HORTI TAURIANI; C. Häuber, forthcoming), both parts of Maecenas's Horti were connected with each other, for example by means of the late Republican substructure on Via Pasquale Villari, the `Terme di Filippo` (Maps 3; 6, labels: Via Pasquale Villari; 58a-d "Terme di Filippo"; a), and probably also by means of the structure "L" at the southwest corner of the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II (cf. M. Pentiricci 2005; Maps 3; 6, labels: Excavation 2002 A-O; L; Häuber 2009; forthcoming). The structure "L" may have been part of building no. >42 Building Aldobrandini Wedding< (cf. Maps 3; 6), and that building and the substructure on Via Pasquale Villari, building no. 58a `Terme di Filippo`, may have served as entrances to the Horti of Maecenas (C. Häuber, forthcoming). Chrystina Häuber (2009; forthcoming; cf. C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2010) has suggested that Maecenas built this substructure on Via Pasquale Villari and on its roof terrace a temple of Minerva (Maps 3; 6, labels: 58a-d "Terme di Filippo"; Temple: MINERVA MEDICA; a), which may be identified with the Temple of Minerva Medica in Regio V (discussed below; Map 6, label: R. V), which has always been located in this area, inter alia because of the find of statues of Minerva datable to the Imperial period.

Another round structure at the northwest corner of these Horti has been partially uncovered in excavations and is variously interpreted, Filippo Coarelli (2001; cf. M. C. Capanna and A. Amoroso 2006; A. Carandini, D. Bruno and F. Fraioli 2011; C. Häuber, forthcoming) convincingly identified it as the tomb of King Servius Tullius. It stood in the sacred grove of the Fagutal (Maps 3; 6, labels: 49 LUCUS FAGUTALIS; HEROON: SERVIUS TULLIUS) and was worshipped without interruption from at least the sixth century B.C. until the fifth century A.D. Its topographical context proves the importance of this sanctuary because it was not touched by any of the adjacent later building projects, the Horti of Maecenas, the Domus Aurea, and the Baths of Trajan (C. Häuber 2001; Maps 4-6, labels:


DOMUS AUREA; Baths of Trajan; "West Building"; "Sette Sale").

According to many scholars, the course of the Servian city Wall on the Oppian hill, which was in part the boundary of the Horti of Maecenas, ran parallel to the former Vicolo delle Sette Sale (Map 6, labels: CLIVUS PULLIUS/ "VIA IN FIGLINIS"/ Vicolo delle Sette Sale). Häuber has shown, however (1990; forthcoming; cf. C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2004) that the Servian Wall followed instead the former Via Curva (today with different course: Via Carlo Botta; Maps 6; 9, labels: Servian city Wall; Via Curva; Via Carlo Botta; Map 10, label: Via Curva). Remains of the Servian Wall located in this area were still seen by various scholars of the 19th century, a fact corroborated by the boundaries of the estates in this area, as documented on the Great Rome map by G. B. Nolli (1748; cf. Map 10, labels: Vigna Pighini - that part, which lay to the west of the Via Gregoriana/ Merulana (1575); Villa d'Aste; C. Häuber 2001). Therefore, the relevant boundaries of Nolli's estates are drawn in Map 7 `on top of` the reconstructed course of the Servian Wall. The area in question lies today between the roads Via Mecenate and Via A. Poliziano (Map 9, labels: Via Mecenate; Via Buonarroti/ Leonardo da Vinci/ A. Poliziano).

Thus the Porta Querquetulana in the Servian Wall, spanning according to this hypothesis the ancient road underneath modern Via Labicana at the site of the old Church of SS. Pietro e Marcellino (the red area to the west of the new Church), was near to the Imperial Nymphaeum north of modern Piazza Iside (Maps 6; 9, labels: modern Via Labicana; SS. Pietro e Marcellino, Nymphaeum Piazza Iside). It is possible to locate a gate on the ancient road underneath modern Via Labicana, because that was already built in the regal period, a fact, which was overlooked by most recent scholars, and has been proven by Clementina Panella in one of her excavations (C. Häuber 2001; 2005).

Häuber (2001) identified the Nymphaeum at Piazza Iside as the site of the archaic Lucus (`sacred grove`) with a sacellum (`a small precinct with an altar`) by a spring of the Nymphs called Querquetulanae Virae (`oak Nymphs`, who, like other Virae, were healing goddesses; C. Häuber, forthcoming), which `touched` the gate in the Servian city Wall Porta Querquetulana at its inner side (Festus 314 L.; Maps 6; 9, labels: Servian city Wall; PORTA QUERQUETULANA; LUCUS QUERQUETULANAE VIRAE). Indeed, several Roman marble reliefs were found in this area, including two representing sanctuaries of Nymphs (Rome, Musei Capitolini, MC 965; MC 2325 and MC 2011; C. Häuber 2001; forthcoming). This grove of the `oak Nymphs` may be mentioned in the Elegiae in Maecenatem (I, 33-36) written after 13/ 14 A.D., perhaps between 50 and 75 A.D., in which we learn the following about Maecenas: "he preferred a shady oak and falling waters and a few reliable acres of fruitful soil. Honouring the Pierian Maidens [scil. the Pierides or the Muses] and Phoebus [Apollon/ Apollo] in his pleasant gardens he was seated, murmuring amidst the twittering birds" (translation: H. Schoonhoven 1980); the `shady oak` is called quercus in this text, and the `falling waters` nymphas cadentes. These 'falling waters' may be mentioned again by Seneca (De Prov.


I 3, 10), who says that Maecenas "diverts his worried mind with the sound of rippling waters" (translation: J. W. Basore 1958).

It is possible, therefore, that Maecenas could have sat under one of the shady oaks sacred to the Querquetulanae Virae either because he was a neighbour to their grove, or else because he had incorporated it into his Horti (C. Häuber 2001; forthcoming). The area in question lies between the former Vicolo delle Sette Sale, the modern Via Labicana, and the Servian city Wall (cf. Maps 6-9), and was occupied by a number of sanctuaries. Map 8 (cf. Map 9), into which the current layout of the city is integrated, shows in the building sites of which new roads the relevant ancient structures had occurred at the turn of 19th/ 20th centuries. The development of this entirely new city quarter caused the immediate distruction of what was left of those ancient buildings, but a thorough analysis of the photogrammetric data/ cadastre shows that some of their perimeter walls survive until the present day as `persistent` lines (C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2001; C. Häuber 2001; forthcoming). According to the Elegiae in Maecenatem (I, 17-18) "Together with learned Pallas [scil. Athena/ Minerva] Phoebus had given his arts" to Maecenas. The author of the Elegies continues: "you [scil. Maecenas] were the pride and glory of both" (translation: H. Schoonhoven 1980). Those remarks allow the assumption that Minerva and Apollo had been the tutelary gods of Maecenas (C. Häuber 1991; 1998).

Because Minerva and Apollo were worshipped in one of those just mentioned sanctuaries, it seems possible that Maecenas could have had some interest in it as well. The sanctuary in question is the mid-Republican (but possibly archaic) shrine on Via Curva/ Carlo Botta, remains of which had occurred in 1887-1894, and again in 1930. It is commonly identified as the Temple of Minerva Medica, and seems to have survived until the Imperial period (C. Häuber, forthcoming).

The Temple of Minerva Medica is recorded for the Augustan Regio V. Häuber (1990; 1998; forthcoming) located the shrine on Via Curva/ Carlo Botta inside the Servian Wall, and thus within the Augustan Regio III, and identified it as the Temple of Fortuna Virgo instead; the area outside the Servian Wall belonged to the Augustan Regio V (Maps 6; 9, labels: Servian city Wall; REGIO III; R. V; "MINERVA MEDICA"/ FORTUNA VIRGO; 1930). She also suggested that Maecenas built the substructure between Via Mecenate and Via Guicciardini (Maps 6; 9, labels: Via Mecenate; Via Guicciardini, the substructure is drawn as a light grey area, bordered by a dotted line), on which one of the Domus within his Horti was erected (Maps 3; 6; 9, label: 55a-d DOMUS: HORTI of Maecenas), thus connecting his palatial house including the `Auditorium` (the main Domus within his Horti) directly with the area of those sanctuaries (Maps 3; 6; 9, labels: 51 I.-X. DOMUS: MAECENAS; I. "Auditorium of Maecenas"; C. Häuber 2006; forthcoming).

Mariarosaria Barbera and her équipe excavated the building no. >31 Garden and building "Horti Lamiani"< east of the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, and an adjacent road oriented in north-south direction, exactly where Antonio Maria Colini had postulated a Via Asinaria. They tentatively identify


this road as the `Via Asinaria?` (A. M. Colini 1944; M. Barbera et al. 2010; Maps 3; 6, labels: 31 Garden and building "Horti Lamiani"; VIA ASINARIA?). Note that the authors identify the area to the east of the ancient Via Merulana/ Via in Figlinis as the Horti Lamiani. Häuber (R. C. Häuber, 1990; 1996) suggested that this area belonged to the Horti Maecenatiani instead (contra: M. Cima di Puolo 1996), and regarded the Via Asinaria? as the possible boundary of the Horti of Maecenas in the east. This question is still controversial. Based on new findings, Häuber maintains her earlier hypothesis (C. Häuber, forthcoming; Maps 3; 6, label: HORTI MAECENATIANI ("HORTI LAMIANI")).

Sculptural finds

Ovid (Met. V, 316) described a `singing contest` between the Pierides and the Muses in which Nymphs, "seated on living rock", were the judges. Thus, Häuber suggested that a late Republican statue, found in the Horti of Maecenas, the so-called Muse Kalliope in Rome, Musei Capitolini (inv. no. MC 1824; M. Cima and E. Talamo 2008), could possibly have been part of an ensemble commissioned by Maecenas, including the Nymphs, the Pierides, Muses and Apollo. Four of the famous so-called Muses in the Museo del Prado at Madrid (inv. nos. 37-E, 38-E, 40-E, 68-E), once in the collection of Christina of Sweden, were also found in the Horti of Maecenas. Häuber suggested that they may have belonged to the same statue group (C. Häuber 1991; 1998; forthcoming). Currently it is (erroneously) assumed that all eight statues of `Muses` in the Prado, once in the collection of Christina of Sweden, were found in the Villa Hadriana near Tivoli (S. F. Schröder 2004).

Furthermore, Häuber (1991; 1992; forthcoming) suggested that the statue of the so-called fisherman in the Louvre (inv. no. MA 1345), according to Kallistratos (Statues 4; R. Neudecker 1988) "a votive to the Nymphs", was also commissioned by Maecenas for one of the above mentioned sanctuaries, which were adjacent to his Horti in the south. This `fisherman` may have been a votive to the Nymphs Querquetulanae Virae, who were later worshipped as Muses at the Fons Muscosus. Plutarch (De fort. Rom. 10) described the Fons Muscosus next to the temple of Fortuna Virgo, it may be identified with a Round Nymphaeum, found while building a school in 1906/ 1907 at the conjunction of Via Ruggero Bonghi and Via Guicciardini (Maps 6; 9, labels: "MINERVA MEDICA"/ FORTUNA VIRGO; Via Curva; Via Ruggero Bonghi; Via Guicciardini; School; Round Nymphaeum/ FONS MUSCOSUS).

Other sculptures that were part of the Horti of Maecenas include the famous Rhyton-shaped marble fountain, signed by the `neoattic` artist `Pontios the Athenian`, datable in the Augustan period, the Egyptian statue of a dog made of verde ranocchia (serpentino moschinato), a statue of the `Hellenistic` hanging Marsyas of the `red` type, datable in the Augustan period, the famous head of a `Centaur` (rather a Silen), datable in the Augustan period, the famous head of an Amazon of the


Sosikles-type and an overlifesize marble statue of Demeter, both likewise datable in the Augustan period (all six in Rome, Musei Capitolini, inv. nos. MC 1101; 1110; 1077; 1137; 1091; 905; M. Cima and E. Talamo 2008), the famous marble fountain bowl datable in the late Republican period (Rome, Musei Capitolini, inv. no. MC 1118; M. Cima and E. Talamo 2008), a marble herm with the head of Homer of the `Hellenistic` type in the Louvre at Paris, datable in the Augustan period (inv. no. MA 440; A. Stewart 1990), and a Roman marble copy of the `Large Eleusinian relief` in the Metropolitan Museum of Art at New York (inv. no. Rogers Fund 1914 (14.130.9); J. R. Mertens 1987), also datable in the Augustan period (perhaps related to a cult within these Horti at Maecenas's lifetime; M. E. Micheli 2002; M. Cima and E. Talamo 2008), two late Republican marble portraits of `poets` (Rome, Musei Capitolini, inv. nos. MC 840; 845; C. Häuber 1983; 1991), and a portrait statue of a woman of the Antonine period using the Large Herculanensis as body-type (Rome, Musei Capitolini, inv. no. MC 904; C. Häuber 1991; E. La Rocca, C. Parisi Presicce and A. Lo Monaco 2011).

Those sculptures were found within or near the `Auditorium of Maecenas`, on Via Ferruccio close to the `Auditorium`, on Via Machiavelli, in a `statue-wall` within the former Villa Caetani/ Caserta on modern Via Merulana, at the building site of the future Via Buonarroti/ A. Poliziano, and on Via Ariosto (C. Häuber 1983; 1991; forthcoming; M. Cima and E. Talamo 2008; Maps 6; 9).

At this site on Via Ariosto occurred many more sculptures, inter alia three (not only one, as is commonly assumed), now lost statue plinths with signatures by Aphrodisians (C. Häuber 1991; forthcoming) that belonged to the famous statues called `Esquiline Group` in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek at Copenhagen (inv. nos. 619-623; M. Moltesen 2000). New findings related to the site on Via Ariosto, where those sculptures had come to light, have also consequences for the much debated date of the `Esquiline Group`: the sculptures that occurred on Via Ariosto were not found in the foundations of the late antique private baths (Maps 5; 6, labels: Via Ariosto; 23 Baths Via Ariosto), as previously taken for granted, but within a collapsed earlier building underneath those baths (C. Häuber, forthcoming). The baths themselves belonged to the third building phase of a Domus, of which remains have recently been excavated immediately to the south of those baths (Maps 4-6, label: 34 DOMUS). This Domus had four building phases, dating between the 2nd half of the 2nd century A.D. and the 1st half of the 4th century A.D. (S. Barrano and M. Martines 2006; L. Guspini 2007).

Therefore, those statue plinths found in the collapsed earlier building underneath the late antique baths on Via Ariosto, and consequently the `Esquiline Group, cannot possibly date to the fourth century A.D., as most scholars assume since Kenan T. Erim and Charlotte M. Roueché (1982) first suggested this, but are datable in the Severan period, as the `Esquiline Group` had earlier been dated on stylistical grounds alone (C. Häuber, forthcoming). The other statues belonging to the `Esquiline Group` were found on the building sites of the Via Buonarroti/ Poliziano and of the adjacent Convent of S. Giuseppe di Cluny, the mailing address of which is today Via A. Poliziano, no.


38 (Maps 6; 9, labels: Via Buonarroti/ Leonardo da Vinci/ A. Poliziano; one of the findspots is labelled: KRATER; 54 I.-V. Convent S. Giuseppe; C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2004; C. Häuber, forthcoming). Häuber (1991) suggested that the `Esquiline Group` had originally been dedicated in the sanctuary Isis et Serapis in Regio III, adjacent to the Horti of Maecenas in the south, which had somehow developed from the above mentioned earlier sanctuaries in the same area (C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2010). This has been refused by Mette Moltesen (2000), but based on new findings, Häuber (forthcoming) maintains her earlier hypothesis.

Also the famous statues that in antiquity had carefully been deposited in a building on Via Foscolo within the presumed area of the Horti Lamiani (Map 6, labels: HORTI MAECENATIANI ("HORTI LAMIANI"); Via Foscolo; 1-4 Cryptoporticus, the findspot is labelled: COMMODUS) were according to Häuber originally dedicated in the sanctuary Isis et Serapis in Regio III. They comprise inter alia the famous `Esquiline Venus` and the bust of Commodus as Hercules Romanus (Rome, Musei Capitolini, inv. nos. MC 1114; MC 1117; MC 1119; MC 1120; MC 1121; MC 1122; MC 1126; MC 1131; MC 1141; R. C. Häuber 1988; Häuber, forthcoming; C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2010).

The most famous find from the Horti of Maecenas is the Laocoon group in the Vatican Museums (inv. nos. 1059, 1064, 1067), which occurred in 1506 `in the Vigna of Felice de Fredis near the >Sette Sale<` (C. Häuber 1991; 2006; 2009; forthcoming). The Vigna once owned by Felice de Fredis has now been identified by Rita Volpe and Antonella Parisi (R. Volpe and A. Parisi 2010a; 2010b). It was indeed located within the Horti of Maecenas. On Nolli's Great Rome map (1748; cf. Map 10), it is that part of the "Vigna Pighini" which lay to the west of modern Via Merulana. Today this area lies between Via Mecenate and modern Via Merulana (Maps 6; 9, label: Vigna Felice de Fredis/ Fusconi/ Pighini).

Häuber suggested that the Laocoon group was commissioned by Maecenas or Augustus and that it should be seen in the context of the political propaganda of Augustus. This is the marble statue of a Laocoon and his sons, seen by Pliny the Elder in Titi imperatoris domo (`in the home of general Titus`; C. Häuber 2006; 2009; forthcoming), a work by Hagesandros, Polydoros and Athanodoros from Rhodes (Plin., Nat. hist. XXXVI, 37-38). There, in Titi imperatoris atrio, Pliny (Nat. hist. XXXIV, 55) saw also the now lost bronze statues of the astragalizontes (two little nude boys playing at knuckle bones) by the Greek artist Policleitos of the fifth century B.C.; the Laocoon group and the astragalizontes were regarded by Pliny as the two most outstanding works of art described by him. This hypothesis implies that Titus lived as `crownprince` in the Horti of Maecenas, where Pliny visited him before he dedicated the Naturalis Historia to Titus in 77 A.D.; it would explain the third building phase of the `Auditorium of Maecenas`, which is datable in the second half of the first century A.D. (M. de Vos 1983; 1996), and the Flavian architectural fragments and statues found in this area (C. Häuber 1991; 2006; 2009; forthcoming).



Some of the here published ideas were first presented on November 19th, 1995, in a talk delivered at Prof. Wilhelmina F. Jashemski's Symposium "Gardens of the Roman Empire" (November 18.-19., 1995, University of Pennsylvania, Dep. of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning and University of Pennsylvania Museum, Philadelphia, PA, USA). In 2003, Prof. Jashemski accepted the first draft of this text for her publication The Gardens of the Roman Empire. After her death in 2007, Prof. Kathryn L. Gleason became the editor of The Gardens of the Roman Empire, who kindly allowed me to update the text in 2009. With her kind permission, I publish here the new version of this text; which will also be published in The Gardens of the Roman Empire. This text comprises now short summaries of the results obtained in my research project "Die Horti des Maecenas auf dem Esquilin in Rom - eine diachrone Topographie", `The Horti of Maecenas on the Esquiline in Rome - a diachronic topography`, that are in detail discussed in C. Häuber, forthcoming.

Chrystina Häuber, November 30th, 2011

"Update, 10th September 2023:

The Horti of Maecenas were not located on the "hilltop Fagutal", as I have asserted in this text. The toponym `Fagutal´ rather refers to the sacred grove, called `Lucus Fagutalis´.

For a correction of this error; cf.



R. Lanciani 1888, "Notes from Rome, LXXIII", The Athenaeum, December 22nd, 1888, vol. 3191, p. 855, in: A.L. Cubberley 1988, Notes from Rome by Rodolfo Lanciani (British School at Rome), pp. 205-207; L. Mariani 1896, "I resti di Roma primitiva. Conferenza letta il giorno 21 Aprile (Natale di Roma) nelle sale antiquarie comunali all'Orto Botanico", BullCom XXIV, 1896, pp. 5-60, pl. I-II (= G. Pinza 1912, 21, fig. 1); O. Hirschfeld 1902, "Der Grundbesitz der römischen Kaiser in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten", in: C. F. LEHMANN (ed.), Klio Beiträge zur alten Geschichte 2, 1902, pp. 45-72, 284-315, esp. p. 57; H. Jordan and C. Hülsen 1907, Topographie der Stadt Rom im Altertum I. 3 (Berlin 1907), p. 265 n. 30; G. Pinza 1912, "Monumenti paleoetnologici raccolti nei Musei Comunali", BullCom XL, 1912, pp. 15-88, pls. III-VI; A. M. Colini 1944, Storia e Topografia del Celio nell'Antichità, con rilievi, piante e ricostruzioni di Italo Gismondi, MemPontAcc 7, 1944, p. 77 (on the Via Asinaria); J. W. Basore 1958, Seneca, Moral essays I with an English translation by John W. Basore (Harvard University Press 1958); L. Cozza 1974, "I recenti scavi delle Sette Sale", RendPontAcc XLVII, 1974, pp. 79-101; H. Schoonhoven 1980, Elegiae in Maecenatem. Prolegomena, Text and Commentary (Groningen 1980); K. T. Erim and C. M. Roueché 1982, "Sculptors from Aphrodisias, some new inscriptions", PBSR L, 1982, pp. 102-115, pls. VI-VIII; C. Häuber 1983, "Ricerca sui confini e l'apparato decorativo degli Horti Mecenaziani"; "2. Statua di cane"; "3. Rhyton di Pontios"; "4. Erma con ritratto: c. d. Virgilio", in: L'ARCHEOLOGIA IN ROMA


CAPITALE, pp. 204-208; 211-213; 214-218; 218-222; M. De Vos 1983, "Funzione e decorazione dell'Auditorium di Mecenate", in: L'ARCHEOLOGIA IN ROMA CAPITALE, 231-247, esp. pp. 236, 238; E. Rodríguez Almeida 1987, "Qualche osservazione sulle Esquiliae patrizie e il Lacus Orphei", in: L'Urbs. Espace urbain et histoire (Ier siècle avant J.-C.-IIIe siècle après J.-C.), Actes du colloque international organisé par le Centre national de la recherche scientifique et l'École française de Rome (Rome, 8-12 mai 1985), CÉFR 98, 1987, pp. 415-428., esp. p. 418 n. 14; J. R. Mertens 1987, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Greece and Rome (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 1987), pp. 68-69, fig. 49; R. Neudecker 1988, Die Skulpturenausstattung römischer Villen in Italien (Mainz 1988), pp. 54-55, 57-58 with n. 575; R. C. Häuber, "Zur Ikonographie Der Venus vom Esquilin", KölnJb XXI, 1988, 35-64; C. Häuber 1990, "Zur Topographie der Horti Maecenatis und der Horti Lamiani auf dem Esquilin in Rom, mit vier Karten von Helga Stöcker", KölnJb XXIII, 1990, pp. 11-107, Karte 1-4; C. Häuber 1991, Horti Romani. Die Horti Maecenatis und die Horti Lamiani auf dem Esquilin. Geschichte, Topographie, Statuenfunde (Köln 1991), passim; R. C. Häuber 1992, "The statue of the fisherman in the Louvre - a falsifying restoration of the 16th century", AJA XCVI, 1992, p. 359 (Abstract); A. Stewart 1990, Greek Sculpture: An Exploration I.II (New Haven - London 1990), p. 223 fig. 801 (Homer, Louvre, inv. no. MA 440); T. P. Wiseman 1992, Talking to Vergil (Exeter 1992), pp. 72, 73, 77, fig. 3; M. Cima di Puolo 1996, "Horti Lamiani (2)", in: LTUR III (1996), pp. 61-64, fig. 35; C. Häuber 1996, "Horti Maecenatis", in: LTUR III (1996), pp. 70-74, figs. 42-43; M. de Vos, "Horti Maecenatis: >Auditorium<", in: LTUR III (1996), pp. 74-75, fig. 44; J. Bodel 1994, Graveyards and Groves: A study of the Lex Lucerina, AJAH XI, 1986 [1994], pp. 51-52 with n. 190; p. 58 with n. 206 (on Cass. Dio 48,43,3); N. PURCELL 1996, "The Roman Garden as a Domestic Building", in: I. M. BARTON (ed.), Roman Domestic Buildings (Exeter 1996), pp. 121-151, esp. pp. 128, 130, 132, 148, fig. 46; N. PURCELL 2001, "Dialectical gardening", JRA XIV, 2001, pp. 546-556, esp. p. 556; C. Häuber 1998, "`Art as a weapon` von Scipio Africanus maior bis Lucullus, domus, horti und Heiligtümer auf dem Esquilin", in: HORTI ROMANI, pp. 83-112; E. La Rocca 1998, "Artisti rodii negli horti romani", in: HORTI ROMANI, pp. 203-8; M. Bell, III 1998, "Le stele greche dell' Esquilino e il cimitero di Mecenate", in: HORTI ROMANI, pp. 295-314; M. Moltesen 2000, "The Esquiline Group: Aphrodisian Statues in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek", in: AntPl XXVII (München 2000), pp. 111-131 pls. 69-88; F. Coarelli 2001, "Il sepolcro e la casa di Servio Tullio", EUTOPIA, nuova serie I,1-2, 2001, pp. 7-43; C. Häuber 2001, "Wald und Siedlung im antiken Rom - Spuren heiliger Haine auf dem Mons Oppius", Siedlungsforschung. Archäologie - Geschichte - Geographie XIX, 2001 (Bonn), pp. 57-94; C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2001,"The Analysis of Persistent Structures - a Functionality of the Archaeological Information System FORTVNA", in: J. Strobl et al. (edd.), Angewandte Geographische Informationsverarbeitung (AGIT) XIII. Beiträge zum GIS-Symposium Salzburg 2001 (Heidelberg 2001), pp. 227-237; A. G. Thein 2002 (= 2008), in: HASELBERGER, pp.


100-101 s. v. Diaeta Apollinis, map index 314; p. 109 s. v. Domus: Horti Maecenatis (1), map index 311; p. 110 s. v. Domus: Horti Maecenatis (2), map index 309; pp. 120-121 s. v. Esquiline Horti; p. 145 s. v. Horti Maecenatis/ Maecenatiani; p. 124 s. v. Figlinae: Circular Wall, map index 327; p. 143 s. v. Horti Lamiani; p. 144 s. v. Horti Lamiani: Cryptoporticus, map index 316; p. 176 s. v. Muri: Oppius; p. 223 s. v. Sepulcrum: "Casa Tonda", map index 315; M. E. Micheli 2002, "Il grande rilievo con la triade eleusina e la sua recezione in età romana", ASAtene LXXX, serie III,2, Tomo I, 2002, pp. 67-120; S. F. Schröder 2004, Katalog der antiken Skulpturen des Museo del Prado in Madrid (Mainz am Rhein 2004), pp. 202-220, cat. nos. 135-142, pls. 10-16, "Musengruppe der Villa Hadriana"; "Acht sitzende Musen nach Vorbildern der 2. Hälfte des 2. Jh. v. Chr. Römische Repliken, 130-150 n. Chr."; C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2004, Einführung in Archäologische Informationssysteme (AIS) (Mainz 2004), passim; C. Häuber 2005, "Das Archäologische Informationssystem >AIS ROMA<: Esquilin, Caelius, Capitolium, Velabrum, Porta Triumphalis", BullCom CVI, 2005 [2006], pp. 9-59; p. 16 with n. 33 (on the ancient road underneath modern Via Labicana); M. Pentiricci 2005, "Relazioni su scavi, trovamenti, restauri in Roma e Suburbio, 2003-2005, Regione V, Ritrovamenti archeologici in piazza Vittorio Emanuele, 3. La prima età imperiale (I-II secolo); 3.1. Interventi costruttivi nei settori E e S", BullCom CVI, 2005, pp. 317-324; M. Frass 2006, Antike Römische Gärten. Soziale und wirtschaftliche Funktionen der Horti Romani, Suppl. X Grazer Beiträge Zeitschrift für die klassische Altertumswissenschaft, Wien 2006 (on L. Aelius Lamia, who died in 33 A. D., and the Horti Lamiani:) pp. 210-211 with n. 1035 (on O. Hirschfeld 1902, p. 57); cf. pp. 98, 179, 307, 308-309, 379; (on C. Maecenas, who died in 8 B.C., and the Horti of Maecenas:) pp. 305-308, cf. pp. 72, 86, 88, 91, 96-97, 101, 102, 113, 120, 180, 181, 185, 187, 189, 197, 200-201, 322, 333, 374; S. Barrano and M. Martines 2006, "Roma. Via Ariosto. Un contributo per la conoscenza della topografia antica dell'Esquilino", <>; M. C. Capanna and A. Amoroso 2006, "Velia, Fagutal, Oppius. Il periodo arcaico e le case di Servio Tullio e Tarquinio il Superbo", Workshop di Archeologia Classica 3, 2006, pp. 87-111, esp. p. 93 with n. 7, p. 97 with n. 8, fig. 6, labels: Domus Seiani?; Heroon Servii Tullii; Domus Servii Tullii; Compitum; cf. pp. 106-108; C. Häuber 2006, "Il luogo del ritrovamento del gruppo del Laocoonte e la domus Titi imperatoris (Plin. Nat. Hist. 36,37-38)", in: F. Buranelli, P. Liverani und A. Nesselrath (edd.), Laocoonte. Alle origini dei Musei Vaticani, quinto centenario dei Musei Vaticani 1506-2006: Exhibition catalogue Vatican, 2006-2007 (Roma 2006), pp. 41-47; L. Guspini 2007, "Roma. Nuovi ritrovamenti in Via Ariosto sull'Esquilino", <>; M. Cima and E. Talamo 2008, Gli horti di Roma antica (Milano 2008), p. 5 (fig.), p. 14, fig. 5, p. 22, fig. 13, pp. 24-25, figs. 14, 15, p. 29 ("Pianta di Roma in età imperiale: in verde la distribuzione degli horti"), p. 42, figs. 4, 5, p. 43, fig. 6, p. 46, fig. 8, p. 57, fig. 15, pp. 66-89, figs. 2, 4, 5, 7-20, 22, 24-28, 30, pp. 77, 79, 87, 92, 136-137, figs. 1-2, 7-8, 22 (both authors believe that the area to the east of the ancient Via Merulana


belonged to the Horti Lamiania, whereas it is here suggested that it was part of the Horti of Maecenas instead); C. Häuber 2009, "Gli horti in età flavia", in: F. Coarelli (ed.) 2009, Divus Vespasianus. Il bimillenario dei Flavi: Exhibition catalogue Rome, March 2009-January 2010 (Milano 2009), pp. 312-319; pp. 517-539 (bibliografia); L. Edmunds 2009, "Horace's Priapus: A Life on the Esquiline (Sat. 1.8)", Classical Quarterly LIX, 2009, pp. 125-131; R. Volpe and A. Parisi 2010a, "Scoperte Roma. Laocoonte l'ultimo enigma", ARCHEO. Attualità del passato, XXVI /1 (299) Gennaio 2010, pp. 26-39; R. Volpe and A. Parisi 2010b, "Alla ricerca di una scoperta: Felice de Fredis e il luogo di ritrovamento del Laocoonte", BullCom CX, 2009 [2010], pp. 81-109; C. Häuber and F. X. Schütz 2010, "The Sanctuary Isis et Serapis in Regio III in Rome: Preliminary Reconstruction and Visualization of the ancient Landscape using 3/4D-GIS-Technology", in: Roma 2008 - International Congress of Classical Archaeology Meetings between Cultures in the Ancient Mediterranean, Bollettino di Archeologia online I 2010/ Volume speciale D / D3/ 7, pp. 82-94, esp. p. 87 with n. 61, p. 91 with ns. 96, 97,; M. Barbera, S. Barrano, G. De Cola, S. Festuccia, L. Giovanetti, O. Menghi and M. Pales 2010, "La villa di Caligola. Un nuovo settore degli Horti Lamiani scoperto sotto la sede dell'ENPAM a Roma", <>; A. M. Tomei and R. Rea 2011, Nerone. Exhibition-cat. Rome, 2011-2012 (Milano 2011), passim; A. Carandini, D. Bruno and F. Fraioli 2011, "Gli atri odiosi di un re crudele", in: M. A. Tomei and R. Rea 2011, pp. 136-151, fig. 1; E. La Rocca, C. Parisi Presicce and A. Lo Monaco 2011, Exhibition-cat. Rome, 2011, I giorni di Roma: Ritratti le tante facce del potere (Loreto 2011), p. 404, cat. no. 6.18 "Statua Femminile" (S. GUGLIELMI); C. Häuber, forthcoming, The Eastern Part of the Mons Oppius in Rome: the Sanctuary of Isis et Serapis in Regio III, the Temples of Minerva Medica, Fortuna Virgo, and the Dea Syria, and the Horti of Maecenas. With Contributions by Edoardo Gautier di Confiengo and Daniela Velestino, passim, accepted as Supplement volume of BullCom.



L. Haselberger in collaboration with D. G. Romano 2002, Mapping Augustan Rome, L. Suppl. JRA 2002; second edition 2008 (the catalogue entries are unchanged).


M. Cima and E. La Rocca (edd.) 1998, Horti Romani: Atti del Convegno Internazionale Roma, 4-6 maggio 1995, VI. Suppl. BullCom 1998.



L'archeologia in Roma capitale tra sterro e scavo 1983, AA.VV., Exhibition-cat. Rome, 1983-1984, L'archeologia in Roma capitale tra sterro e scavo, Roma capitale 1870-1911, 7 (Venezia 1983).

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