Forum Romanum - Entrance to the Temple of Romulus
Entrance to the Temple of Romulus

The Temple of Divus Romulus is a circular building with a concave facade preceded by columns on the Via Sacra. It was probably a temple for Romulus, the son of emperor Maxentius, but it has also been identified as the Temple of Jupiter Stator and as the sanctuary of the penates publici. The building is located between the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina and the Basilica of Maxentius.

When emperor Maxentius’ son Romulus died in 307 CE, he was deified and hence a temple was built in his honour. Coins commemorating Romulus often depict a round building with a varying number columns in front. Some of them probably show the round mausoleum of Romulus on the Appian Way, others might portray the temple, which has led to the identification of the rotunda on the Via Sacra with the Temple of Divus Romulus. The location would be likely, given Maxentius’ building activities nearby.

A lost inscription from the building, still existing in the 16th century, mentioned Constantine I. It is, however, well known that Constantine rededicated all constructions of Maxentius after his victory at the Milvian Bridge in 312 CE.

The building has two long apsidal rooms on the sides. These rooms might have been a sanctuary to the Penates. The existence in the area of such a sanctuary is known from the written sources. It was originally located on the site of the Basilica of Maxentius, and it is likely it was reconstructed nearby. The side rooms of the rotunda are good candidates.

The Italian archaeologist Filippo Coarelli has suggested that the round building is the Temple of Jupiter Stator, which is normally identified with some ruins near the Arch of Titus. His line of reasoning is based on the course of the Via Sacra before the construction of the Basilica of Maxentius, the known borders of the ancient administrative regions of the city and literary sources listing the monuments in each region. The usual location given to the Temple of Jupiter Stator does not fit, since it is in the wrong region and not in the right position relative to the other buildings listed by ancient writers, but the rotunda on the Via Sacra is a perfect match.

Lanciani: Forma Urbis Romae - 29-UL-palatin
Lanciani: Forma Urbis Romae – 29-UL-palatin

The temple has a circular ground plan and a concave facade. The entrance is flanked by two porphyry columns, resting on travertine bases and topped by marble capitals and a marble architrave. The bronze doors are the originals from the 4th century. On each side of the door are two niches for statues, now partially fill in.

The temple had two apsidal wings, which are now in ruin. Each of these had a pair of columns in front, of which two are still in situ. The room were interconnected with the rotunda.

The whole structure is built in opus latericium.

A passage was opened in the back of the rotunda in the 4th century, giving access from the church Santi Cosma e Damiano, which was built in one of the libraries of the Forum of Vespasian,

The temple cannot be visited from the side of the Forum Romanum.

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