Giacobbe Giusti, Tabularium, ancient Rome

Giacobbe Giusti, Tabularium, ancient Rome


Giacobbe Giusti, Tabularium, ancient Rome

Giacobbe Giusti, Tabularium, ancient Rome


Tabularium 3D.jpg
Location Regione VIII Forum Romanum
Built in 78 BC
Built by/for M. Aemilius Lepidus and Q. Lutatius Catulus
Type of structure Basilica
Related Roman Forum
Tabularium is located in Rome


The Tabularium, behind the corner columns of the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.

The Tabularium was the official records office of ancient Rome, and also housed the offices of many city officials. Situated within the Roman Forum,[1] it was on the front slope of the Capitoline Hill, below the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, to the southeast of the Arx and Tarpeian Rock.[citation needed]

Within the building were the remains of the temple of Veiovis. In front of it were the Temples of Vespasian & Concord, as well as the Rostra and the rest of the forum. Presently the Tabularium is only accessible from within the Capitoline Museum, although it still provides a panoramic view over the Forum.[citation needed]

The Construction of the Tabularium was ordered around 78 BC by the dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla.[2] The building was completed by Quintus Lutatius Catulus, consul in 78 BC. This was part of a public works programme for the redevelopment of the Capitoline Hill, which had been damaged by a fire in in 83 BC.[3] The construction by Catulus is not motioned in the ancient literature. It is known through an inscription (CIL 1).[4]


The building itself had a facade of peperinoand travertine blocks. The interior vaults are of concrete.[citation needed]

Its great corridor, 67 m (220 ft) long, raised 15 m (49 ft) above the forum on a massive substructure, is still partly preserved. This corridor was lighted through a series of arches divided by semi-detached columns of the Doric order, the earliest example of this class of decoration, which is in the Theatre of Marcellus, the Colosseum, and all the great amphitheatres throughout the Roman empire constituted the decorative treatment of the wall surface and gave scale to the structure.[1]

The facade faced the back of the Temple of Concord in the Forum and consisted of three levels. The first story was a large and tall fortified wall with a single door and only small windows near the top to light the interior, forum level rooms. The second story featured a Doric arcade (partially preserved) and the third, no longer extant story, had a high Corinthian order colonnade.[citation needed] The upper floors of this structure was much changed in the 13th century, when the Palazzo dei Senatori was built.[1]

Some scholars, such as Filippo Coarelli, in the past, have suggested that the ‘Tabularium’ itself is unattested to in any literary sources. Furthermore, its function and purpose has been the subject of debate. The unity of the main structure does however suggest that the building was at least initially conceived to serve a singular purpose. To illustrate the complexity of the building, Filippo Coarelli has stated that a particular annex of the Aerarium Saturni was constructed specifically to house metal ingots and minted Republican coins. Recent evidence, in the form of six military diplomas dated from AD 85 to 88, confirms the existence of the ‘Tabularium’ in its renowned form. Coarelli has suggested that the ‘Tabularium’ can be dated precisely to 78 BC, although construction began many years prior and almost certainly prior to the death of Sulla. The building itself is in many ways intrinsically tied to the politics of Sulla, especially in regard to the temple substructure. The structure was considered such an enduring masterpiece of late Republican architecture that a funerary inscription for the architect commissioned by Lutatius Catalus was created and preserved in a courtyard of the hospital of the Fatebenefatelli, on Tiber island. The inscription reads as follows: ‘Lucius Cornelius, son of Lucius, of the Voturia tribe, chief engineer to Q. Lucius Catulus when he was consul, architect (to him) when he was censor’.[5]

Modern scholarship

Nicholas Purcell’s article Atrium Libertatis is aligned with the view of contemporary historians regarding the epigraphic evidence once present within the Tabularium. In his detailed analysis of the now-lost inscriptions Purcell makes clear that these inscriptions have compounded our misunderstanding of one of the largest, oldest and best-preserved buildings of the Roman Republic.[6]

The generic terms ‘probatio’ of a ‘substructio’ and a ‘tabularium’ were recorded by an early Renaissance antiquarian in that order. It is arguable that the identification of the so-called ‘Tabularium’ is incorrect. Purcell draws our attention to the lack of archaeological and epigraphic knowledge on ‘tabularia’ suggesting that these inscriptions were not intended to be grandiose in scope, nor did they name the building[7] which further reflects the prevailing credulity of the structure in question. Purcell’s reference to the archaeological research conducted by Theodor Mommsenaligns with his argument and likely indicates that historians must set aside such misunderstandings reflected in the literary sources. As Mommsen stated quite rightly that ‘tabularium’ is a term that may be applied any structure associated with administration.[8] Therefore, it is likely that the ‘Tabularium’ in question, despite the sheer size fronting the Capitoline Hill, was one of many structures built for the purpose of holding records.

Purcell’s assessment of the epigraphic evidence once found within the structure in question reaffirms the following view long held by academics that the ‘Tabularium’ is insufficiently documented and the product of scholarly inertia. This unfortunately has further compounded our understanding of the Capitoline substructure, and as a result, we are no closer to identifying the extent of its function, let alone its name.

Tucci’s article radically changed the way historians and archaeologists alike would view the ‘Tabularium’, questioning the very identification of the structure and its function. Exploring the history of archaeology at the site, Tucci makes clear that the identification of the so-called ‘Tabularium’ is hinged solely upon an inscription long lost (CIL VI 1314, 31597), with no ancient evidence from the period directly correlating to the site. As such, it is arguable that the word tabularium itself has been incorrectly in modern scholarship with reference to the building. Instead, Tucci argues that the substructure, which provides the foundations for the entire building, was itself likely a tabularium, being one of many offices housed within Roman buildings and temples for the purpose of holding records. As such, Tucci disputes the idea that a sole Tabularium or mass-archive of Rome ever existed. In alignment with this argument, Tucci subsequently seeks to identify the structure in occupation of the space above the Tabularium substructure. In examining the architectural link between the rooms of the substructure and that of a south-western building, Tucci, in accordance with historians before him, could identify the remnants of an extension of the Aerarium, or treasury, which was housed in the Temple of Saturn. Subsequently, in correlation with the accounts of Livy (7.28.4-6), Ovid (Fasti 6.183-85) and Cicero (De domo 38.101) Tucci draws attention to a clear association between the location of this mint, and that of the Temple of Juno Moneta. With reference to the archaeological research of Giannelli and his identification of concrete remains in the Aracoeli Garden in the Forum, Tucci argues for the foundations of Giannelli’s supposed Temple of Juno Moneto to date back to the 4th century B.C, thus indicating a relocation. Tucci’s argument thus is fulfilled as he concludes that in circa 78 B.C., the Temple of Juno Moneto was rededicated atop the substructure of the Tabularium, in a complex which included the extended Aerarium, and that this relocation likely occurred after the fire of 83 B.C. As a result, Tucci called into question both the identification and function of the so-called ‘Tabularium’, in his attempt to overturn a theory that had been taken for historical fact since the 15th century A.D.[9][10]

Fillipo Coarelli (2010) uses the arguments and findings of Nicholas Purcell (1993), Henner von Heserb (1995) and Pier Luigi Tucci (2005) to propose an alternative understanding of the function of the Tabularium. These works are characterised by their ability to provide alternative understandings when questioning the function of the “Tabularium.” It is important to note that prior these studies, research and scholarship of the “Tabularium” was primarily saturated by the Richard Delbruck’s Hellenistiche Bauten in Latium, published in 1875. It was Delbruck’s findings that rendered the conclusion that the Tabularium served as a house of public records. However, writing in 2010, Coarelli has had access to a wider range of both archaeological and written sources that probe a deeper inquest in to traditional discourses that cloud our conception of the function and meaning of the “Tabularium.”

Within Substructio et tabularium, Coarelli fundamentally purports that “the so-called tabularium is not the archive of the Roman state, known by this name’ and the rejection of this long held but incorrect hypothesis permits us to study the monument afresh.” He goes on to state that “[the tabularium] represents in fact the foundations (substructio) of a large temple of the Sullan period, restored by Domitian after the fire of 80AD.” Throughout his work, Coarelli uses the findings of Purcell, von Hesberg and Tucci as a roadmap that forms the basis of his argument. He begins with Purcell’s epigraphic discoveries that connotes the classification of the Tabularium as a records building: “Populi tabularia ubi publici continentur” (Populi Tabularia where the public documents are housed.). Moving to von Hesberg, Coarelli highlights the study of the dimensions of architectural pieces from the Tabularium that suggest “the second floor of the building must have been significantly wider than the arched lower floor”, proposing that there was a temple structure within the Tabularium (Fig. X.). Finally, Coarelli’s inclusion of Tucci’s findings builds upon von Hesberg’s assertion, serving as a sounding board for Coarelli’s initial thesis; that the “Tabularium” served as the basement of a proposed temple.

Coarelli tracks the structural changes that took place within the Tabularium, and ultimately concludes that it is challenging for historians to ascertain the absolute meaning of this structure due to the “complexity of [it].” He points out that only until recently have we been able to understand that the Tabularium actually existed due to the emergence of from six military diplomas, with dates ranging from AD85-88. Further, these diplomas refer the location of the Tabularium publicum to the Capitolium. Here, the location is extremely significant. Coarelli states that the tabularium “must have been situated in the immediate environs of the area Capitolina, where the military diplomas were displayed until AD90.” Thus, it is clear that the tabularium was a multifaceted building that pertained to the political and religious culture of the Roman empire.

Thus, by expanding upon the arguments of Purcell, von Hesberg and Tucci, Coarelli positions himself to further execute his overarching thesis with increased clarity. Fundamentally, by galvanising the “deep-rooted biases” that obfuscate the understanding of the Tabularium, Coarelli is able to suggest that the Tabularium is rather a multifaceted structure that pertained to the political and religious centre of the Roman world.


  1. Jump up to:a b c Chisholm 1911, p. 341.
  2. Jump up^ (eds.), Olivier Hekster/Richard Fowler (2005). Imaginary Kings royal images in the Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome. [Stuttgart]: Steiner. ISBN 3515087656.
  3. Jump up^ Musei Capitoloni, Rome.[1]
  4. Jump up^ Oxford Classical dictionary, 2012
  5. Jump up^ Filippo Coarelli, Substructio et Tabularium, Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 78 (2010), p. 123.
  6. Jump up^ Nicholas Purcell, Atrium Libertatis, Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 61 (1993), p. 135
  7. Jump up^ Nicholas Purcell, Atrium Libertatis, Papers of the British School at Rome, Vol. 61 (1993), p. 140
  8. Jump up^ Atrium Libertatis
  9. Jump up^ Tucci, P. L., 2005. ‘Where High Moneta leads her steps sublime. The “Tabularium” and the Temple of Juno Moneta’, Journal of Roman Archaeology vol. 18, 6-33
  10. Jump up^ G. Giannelli, 1978. “La Leggenda dei ‘Mirabilia’ e l’antica topografia dell’Arce Capitolina”, StRom vol. 26, 60-71, as cited in P. L. Tucci (2005)




Giacobbe Giusti, Capitoline Venus, Capitoline Museums

Giacobbe Giusti, Capitoline Venus, Capitoline Museums

The Capitoline Venus (Capitoline Museums)

Giacobbe Giusti, Capitoline Venus, Capitoline Museums

Antonine copy of a late Hellenistic variant of Praxiteles‘ Cnidian Venus (4th century BC).

Giacobbe Giusti, Capitoline Venus, Capitoline Museums

The Capitoline Venus (Capitoline Museums).

The Capitoline Venus is a type of statue of Venus, specifically one of several Venus Pudica (modest Venus) types (others include the Venus de’ Medici type), of which several examples exist. The type ultimately derives from the Aphrodite of Cnidus. The Capitoline Venus and her variants are recognisable from the position of the arms—standing after a bath, Venus begins to cover her breasts with her right hand, and her groin with her left hand.

This original of this type (from which the following copies derive) is thought to be a lost 3rd- or 2nd-century BCE variation on Praxiteles’ work from Asia Minor, which modifies the Praxitelean tradition by a carnal and voluptuous treatment of the subject and the goddess’s modest gesture with both hands—rather than only one over the groin, in Praxiteles’s original.

Principal example

The Capitoline Venus is a slightly over lifesize[1] marble statue of Venus. It is an Antonine copy of a late Hellenistic sculpture that ultimately derives from Praxiteles(Helbig 1972:128–30).

It was found on the Viminal Hill during the pontificate of Clement X (1670–76) in the gardens belonging to the Stazi near San Vitale.[2]Pope Benedict XIV purchased it from the Stazi family in 1752 and gave it to the Capitoline Museums,[3] where it is housed in a niche of its own—called “the cabinet of Venus”—on the first floor of the Palazzo Nuovo on the Campidoglio.

The statue was on loan to the United States and was shown in the rotunda of the West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. from June 8 to September 18, 2011.[4]

Its reputation vis-a-vis the Venus de’ Medici in Florence grew only slowly, according to Haskell and Penny, fueled in part as a negative sensitivity to extensive restorations began to undermine the Florentine Venus. It was triumphantly removed to Paris by Napoleon under the terms of the Treaty of Tolentino; the Emperor commissioned a marble replica from Joseph Chinard, now at the Château de Compiègne. When the original was returned to the Capitoline Museums in 1816,[5]the plaster cast that had replaced it during the Napoleonic era was shipped to Britain, where John Flaxman praised it to his students (Haskell and Penny 1981:319).

Giacobbe Giusti, Capitoline Venus, Capitoline Museums

Giacobbe Giusti, Capitoline Venus, Capitoline Museums

Other copies

External video


Giacobbe Giusti, Capitoline Venus, Capitoline Museums


Capitoline Venus in in Washington, D.C. - 4.jpg
Capitoline VenusSmarthistory[6]
Giacobbe Giusti, Capitoline Venus, Capitoline Museums

A 2nd-century copy of a 4th-century BCE original by Praxiteles, at the National Archaeological Museum, Athens.[7]

About 50 copies of Venus Pudica are extant, with most of them displayed in Europe.[6]

  • The Aphrodite of Menophantos was found at the Camaldolese monastery of San Gregorio al Celio. It bears the signature[8] of Menophantos, a Greek sculptor, apparently of the 1st century BCE, of whom nothing more is known. The Camaldolese coenobites occupy the ancient church and monastery of S. Gregorii in Clivo Scauri founded by Pope Gregory the Great on his own family property, on the slope (clivus) of the Caelian Hill about 580. His foundation was dedicated in honor of the apostle Andrew. By the 10th century Gregory’s name was appended to that of the apostle, whom he eventually supplanted.[9] The sculpture came into the possession of prince ChigiJohann Joachim Winckelmann described this sculpture in his Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums (vol V, ch. II).[10]
  • The Campo Iemini Venus, another sculpture of the same model, was unearthed in the spring of 1792 among other sculptures in the excavation of a Roman villa at Campo Iemini, near Torvaianica, in Lazio. The dig was directed by the English dealer in Roman antiquities Robert Fagan(1761–1816) under the patronage of Prince Augustus, the Duke of Sussexin partnership with Sir Corbet Corbet of the British Museum. At the time of its discovery the English in particular found it superior to the Capitoline Venus. After restoration in Rome it was shipped to London, where Prince Augustus gave it to his brother the Prince Regent, who set it up at Carlton House. After his death, when Carlton House was replaced by a terrace of houses, William IV donated it to the British Museum.
  • A 2nd-century Roman copy of Parian marble was found at Baiae.
  • A version of Venus Pudica was also found in Hadrian Baths at Leptis Magna. The Hadrianic Baths were excavated in the 1920s, and the Lepcitanian copy of the Capitoline Venus was taken away to Europe by Benito Mussolini, who gave it to the Nazi-leaderHermann Göring. The statue graced the bedroom of his country estate near BerlinCarinhall. It was returned to Libya in 1999. and today, it is in the National Archaeological Museum in Tripoli.
  • Another armless copy of Capitoline Venus, kept at Jamahiriya Museum, Tripoli, Libya.
  • One variant is kept at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg,[11] as well as the similar Venus Tauride.[12][13]
  • The Venus Landolina at the Syracuse Archeological Museum, Sicily. It is a headless Imperial Roman copy of a 2nd-century, similar to the Aphrodite Syracuse kept in Athens.
  • A 3rd century copy was found during archaeological excavations at Skupi, an ancient Roman town in Macedonia.
  • A 2nd to 3rd century Italian marble copy of Capitoline Venus is the result of connecting the lower part of an ancient body, a torso from the 16th century and an ancient face and the top of head. It was previously in the Borghese collection, and now kept at Louvre MuseumParis. Inv No. MR. 279 (Usual No Ma 369).
  • A copy of Capitoline Venus is held at Galleria degli Uffizi. It entered the Medici collections after a purchase from the Colonna family. The statue lacked arms, head and right leg. The Medici had it integrated by sculptor Silla in 1584 and the statue thus acquired its present aspect as a faithful reproduction of the Capitoline Venus.
  • A 2nd century copy of Capitoline Venus is held by the National Museum in Warsaw.
  • A headless statue of Capitoline Venus made in the 2nd-3rd century is held at the Naples Archaeological Museum.
  • A headless painted Roman period marble copy of Capitoline Venus of the 2nd century from Aphrodias, Asia Minor, was excavated by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (H: 159 cm; W: 60 cm).
  • A damaged ancient copy of Capitoline Venus is kept at Antalya Archaeological Museum.
  • A torso from white marble, 2nd century, unknown provenance at Museo Nazionale Romano: Terme di Diocleziano, inv. 2000656, Rome, Italy.
  • TA head from white marble, dated to the last quarter of the 1st century BCE — beginning of the 1st century CE, at Cremona, San Lorenzo Archaeological Museum. Origin: Cremona, p-zza Marconi.
  • A Roman period marble torso, similar to the Aphrodite Syracuse, held at the Cyprus Museum.


  1. Jump up^ 1.93 m (6 ft. 3 ¾ in.).
  2. Jump up^ According to the memoirs of the antiquarian Pietro Santi Bartoli noted in Haskell and Penny 1981:318).
  3. Jump up^ Accession number MC 0409
  4. Jump up^ National Gallery of Art. “A Masterpiece from the Capitoline Museum, Rome: The Capitoline Venus”
  5. Jump up^ Nancy Thomson de Grummond (11 May 2015). Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Routledge. pp. 240–241. ISBN 978-1-134-26854-2.
  6. Jump up to:a b “Capitoline Venus”Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  7. Jump up^ Illustration, National Archaeological Museum, Athens, gift of M. Embeirikos, 1924, acc. no. 3524; it is sometimes confused with a version of Antonio Canova‘s Venere Italica completed by Canova on behalf of the British connoisseur Thomas Hope (1769–1831), whose heirs sold it in 1917; Hope’s Venus is conserved at the Leeds Art Gallery (Hugh Honour, “Canova’s Statues of Venus”, The Burlington Magazine114 No. 835 (October 1972), pp. 658-671, esp. p. 667).
  8. Jump up^ “Apo tis en troadi afroditis minofantos epoiei”
  9. Jump up^ Christian Hülsen, Le Chiese di Roma nel Medio Evo: S. Gregorii in Clivo Scauri
  10. Jump up^ William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, (1870) vol. II.1044.
  11. Jump up^ Atsma, Aaron.Of Type Capitoline Venus Theoi Project. Retrieved on May 13, 2008.
  12. Jump up^ Atsma, Aaron. “Tauride Venus“. Theoi Project. Retrieved on May 13, 2008.
  13. Jump up^ Aphrodite: Tauride Venus“. State Hermitage Museum. Retrieved on May 13, 2008.


  • Haskell, Francis and Nicholas Penny, 1981. Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900. Yale University Press. Cat. no. 84.
  • Helbig, Wolfgang. Führer durch die öffentlichen Sammlungen klassischer Altertümer in Rome. 4th edition, 1963–72, vol. II.
  • Wilton, A. and I. Bignamini (editors.). Grand Tour: the lure of Italy in the eighteenth century London, Tate Gallery Publishing, 1996. no. 228, pp. 269–270. (the Campo Iemini Venus).





Giacobbe Giusti, Venere Landolina

Giacobbe Giusti, Venere Landolina

Aphrodite of the Syracuse type. Parian marble, Roman copy of the 2nd century CE after a Greek original of the 4th century BC; neck, head and left arm are restorations by Antonio Canova. Found at Baiae, Southern Italy.


Giacobbe Giusti, Venere Landolina

La Venus Pudica del Museo archeologico regionale di Siracusa, nota col nome di Venere Landolina dal nome dell’archeologo Saverio Landolina che la scoprì nel 1804. Si tratta di una copia romana del secolo II d.C. da un originale ellenistico.

Giacobbe Giusti, Venere Landolina


Venere Landolina.JPG
Autore sconosciuto
Data copia romana di un originale greco della prima metà del II secolo d.C.
Materiale marmo
Ubicazione Museo archeologico regionale Paolo OrsiSiracusa

La Venere Landolina è una scultura marmorea, copia romana di un originale greco della prima metà del I secolo a.C., conservata nel Museo archeologico regionale Paolo Orsi di Siracusa.

Storia e descrizione

La Venere Landolina di Siracusa venne rinvenuta in un ninfeo negli Orti Bonavia poi Giardino Spagna da Saverio Landolina Nava, nel 1804Bernabò Brea la lodò per l’eccellenza del modellato, lo squisito trattamento del nudo, di incredibile vivezza e morbidità“.[senza fonte]

La statua, una Venus pudica, si ispira, come le altre varianti del tema, all’Afrodite cnidia di Prassitele, con particolari similitudini con la Venere capitolina e la Venere de’ Medici (solo quest’ultima è un originale greco).

Del tipo landolino si conoscono varie copie, tra cui una completa della testa, ma di fattura più tarda, al Museo archeologico nazionale di Atene, che presenta un’acconciatura uguale a quella della Venere capitolina.

L’opera ritrae Venere al bagno, nella posizione pudica o, più probabilmente, una Venere Anadiomene, cioè nascente. Essa infatti si copre con la destra il seno, ruotando elegantemente la testa, e con la sinistra regge un panno calato sui fianchi (come la Venere di Milo), che si apre teatralmente gonfiato dal vento, rivelando le gambe della dea.

Evidente è la ricerca di una resa naturalistica e idealizzata del corpo femminile nudo, che all’epoca aveva messo in secondo piano i significati sacrali legati alla figura della dea nelle rappresentazioni anteriori.

Giacobbe Giusti, Venere Landolina

La versione del Museo archeologico nazionale di Atene

Maupassant e la Venere Landolina

Nel 1885 Guy de Maupassant effettuò un tour della Sicilia, passando anche da Siracusa dove visitò la Venere Landolina da poco ritrovata. Nel suo Viaggio in Sicilia[1] descrive la statua con commenti entusiasmanti:

« Penetrando nel museo, la scorsi subito in fondo ad una sala, e bella proprio come l’avevo immaginata.
Non ha la testa, le manca un braccio; mai tuttavia la forma umana mi è parsa più meravigliosa e più seducente.
Non è la donna vista dal poeta, la donna idealizzata, la donna divina o maestosa, come la Venere di Milo, è la donna così com’è, così come la si ama, come la si desidera, come la si vuole stringere.
È robusta, col petto colmo, l’anca possente e la gamba un po’ forte, è una Venere carnale che si immagina coricata quando la si vede in piedi. Il braccio caduto nascondeva i seni; con la mano rimasta, solleva un drappeggio col quale copre, con gesto adorabile, i fascini più misteriosi. Tutto il corpo è fatto, concepito, inclinato per questo movimento, tutte le linee vi si concentrano, tutto il pensiero vi confluisce. Questo gesto semplice e naturale, pieno di pudore e di impudicizia, che nasconde e mostra, che vela e rivela, che attrae e che fugge, sembra definire tutto l’atteggiamento della donna sulla terra.
Ed il marmo è vivo. Lo si vorrebbe palpeggiare, con la certezza che cederà sotto la mano, come la carne.
Le reni soprattutto sono indicibilmente animate e belle. Si segue, in tutto il suo fascino, la linea morbida e grassa della schiena femminile che va dalla nuca ai talloni, e che, nel contorno delle spalle, nelle rotondità decrescenti delle cosce e nella leggera curva del polpaccio assottigliato fino alle caviglie, rivela tutte le modulazioni della grazia umana.
Un’opera d’arte appare superiore soltanto se è, nello stesso tempo, il simbolo e l’esatta espressione di una realtà.
La Venere di Siracusa è una donna, ed è anche il simbolo della carne.
Dinnanzi al volto della Gioconda, ci si sente ossessionati da non so quale tentazione di amore snervante e mistico. Esistono anche donne viventi i cui occhi ci infondono quel sogno di tenerezza irrealizzabile e misteriosa. Si cerca in esse qualcos’altro dietro le apparenze, perché sembrano contenere ed esprimere un po’ di quell’ideale inafferrabile. Noi lo inseguiamo senza mai raggiungerlo, dietro tutte le sorprese della bellezza che pare contenere un pensiero, nell’infinito dello sguardo il quale è semplicemente una sfumatura dell’iride, nel fascino del sorriso nato da una piega delle labbra e da un lampo di smalto, nella grazia del movimento fortuito e dell’armonia delle forme.
Così i poeti, impotenti staccatori di stelle, sono sempre stati tormentati da una sete di amore mistico. L’esaltazione naturale di un animo poetico, esasperato dall’eccitazione artistica, spinge quegli esseri scelti a concepire una specie di amore nebuloso, perdutamente tenero, estatico, mai sazio, sensuale senza essere carnale, talmente delicato che un nonnulla lo fa svanire, irrealizzabile sovrumano. E questi poeti sono, forse, i soli uomini che non abbiano mai amato una donna, una vera donna in carne ossa, con le sue qualità di donna, i suoi difetti di donna, la sua mente di donna, ristretta ed affascinante, i suoi nervi di donna e la sua sconcertante femminilità.
Qualsiasi creatura davanti a cui si esalta il loro sogno diventa il simbolo di un essere misterioso, ma fantastico: l’essere celebrato da quei cantori di illusioni. E la creatura vivente da loro adorata è qualcosa come la statua dipinta, immagine di un dio di fronte al quale il popolo cade in ginocchio. Ma dov’è questo dio? Qual è questo dio? In quale parte del cielo abita la sconosciuta che quei pazzi, dal primo sognatore fino all’ultimo, hanno tutti idolatrata? Non appena essi toccano una mano che risponde alla stretta, la loro anima vola via nell’invisibile sogno, lontano dalla realtà della carne.
La donna che stringono, essi la trasformano, la completano, la sfigurano con la loro arte poetica. Non sono le sue labbra che baciano, bensì le labbra sognate. Non è in fondo agli occhi di lei, azzurri o neri, che si perde così il loro sguardo esaltato, è in qualcosa di sconosciuto e di inconoscibile. L’occhio della loro dea non è altro che un vetro attraverso cui essi cercano di vedere il paradiso dell’amore ideale.
Se tuttavia alcune donne seducenti possono dare alle nostre anime una così rara illusione, altri non fanno che eccitare nelle nostre vene l’amore impetuoso che perpetua la razza.
La Venere di Siracusa è la perfetta espressione della bellezza possente, sana e semplice. Questo busto stupendo, di marmo di Paros, è – dicono – La Venere Callipigia descritta da Ateneo e Lampridio, data da Eliogabalo ai siracusani.
Non ha testa! E che importa? Il simbolo non è diventato più completo. È un corpo di donna che esprime tutta l’autentica poesia della carezza.
Schopenhauer scrisse che la natura, volendo perpetuare la specie, ha fatto della riproduzione una trappola.
La forma di marmo, vista a Siracusa, è proprio l’umana trappola intuita dall’artista antico, la donna che nasconde rivela l’incredibile mistero della vita.
È una trappola? Che importa! Essa chiama la bocca, attira la mano, offre ai baci la tangibile realtà della carne stupenda, della carne soffice bianca, tonda e soda e deliziosa da stringere.
È divina, non perché esprima un pensiero, bensì semplicemente perché è bella. »


  1. ^ pagg. 127-129-131-133


  • Pierluigi De Vecchi ed Elda Cerchiari, I tempi dell’arte, volume 1, Bompiani, Milano 1999. ISBN 88-451-7107-8
  • Guy de Maupassant, Viaggio in Sicilia, Sigma edizioni.

Giacobbe Giusti, Sitting bull Louvre

Giacobbe Giusti, Sitting bull Louvre

Giacobbe Giusti, Sitting bull Louvre

Original file ‎(2,790 × 1,800 pixels, file size: 2.59 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg); ZoomViewer: flash/no flash


English: Sitting bull. Black marble (formerly inlaid), found in Warka (ancient city of Uruk), Djemdet-Nasr period (ca. 3000 BC).
Français : Statuette de taureau couché. Marbre noir originellement incrusté, découvert à Warka (ancienne cité d’Uruk), période de Djemdet-Nasr (v. 3000 av. J.-C.).
Dimensions H. 12.7 cm (5 in.), L. 22.2 cm (8 ½ in.), W. 8.6 cm (3 ¼ in.)
Department of Oriental Antiquities, Richelieu wing, ground floor, room 1a

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Relief showing aquilla from the Arch of Claudius.

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Detail of the central breastplate relief on the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta shows the return of the Aquilae lost to the Parthians. The return of the eagles was one of Augustus’s notable diplomatic achievements

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Augusto di Prima Porta, il re Fraate IV dei Parti restituisce le insegne (l’aquila) dei Romani sottratte durante la sconfitta di Carre forse a Tiberio, affiancato da una lupa

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Aquila esposta al Museo archeologico nazionale d’Abruzzo a Chieti. L’aquila è stata rinvenuta nell’area archeologica di Amiternum, in occasione di scavi eseguiti nel corso degli anni settanta del Novecento. Fusione piena e ritoccata con bulino semicircolare.

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

“The Reliefs of Trajan’s Column by Conrad Cichorius. Plate number LXXII: Arrival of Roman troops (Scene XCVIII); The emperor sacrifices by the Danube (Scene XCIX); Trajan receives foreign embassies” {Aquilla at the upper left}

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

A modern reconstruction of an aquila

An aquila, or eagle, was a prominent symbol used in ancient Rome, especially as the standard of a Roman legion. A legionary known as an aquilifer, or eagle-bearer, carried this standard. Each legion carried one eagle.

The eagle was extremely important to the Roman military, beyond merely being a symbol of a legion. A lost standard was considered an extremely grave occurrence, and the Roman military often went to great lengths to both protect a standard and to recover it if lost; for example, see the aftermath of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, where the Romans spent decades attempting to recover the lost standards of three legions.

No legionary eagles are known to have survived. However, a number of other Roman eagles, either symbolizing imperial rule or used as funeral emblems, have been discovered.[1]


The signa militaria were the Roman military ensignsor standards. The most ancient standard employed by the Romans is said to have been a handful (manipulus) of straw fixed to the top of a spear or pole. Hence the company of soldiers belonging to it was called a maniple. The bundle of hay or fern was soon succeeded by the figures of animals, of which Pliny the Elder (H.N. x.16) enumerates five: the eagle, the wolf, the ox with the man’s head, the horse, and the boar.[2][3] In the second consulship of Gaius Marius (104 BC) the four quadrupeds were laid aside as standards, the eagle (Aquila) alone being retained. It was made of silver, or bronze, with outstretched wings, but was probably of a relatively small size, since a standard-bearer (signifer) under Julius Caesar is said in circumstances of danger to have wrenched the eagle from its staff and concealed it in the folds of his girdle.[4]

Under the later emperors the eagle was carried, as it had been for many centuries, with the legion, a legion being on that account sometimes called aquila (Hirt. Bell. Hisp. 30). Each cohort had for its own ensign the serpent or dragon, which was woven on a square piece of cloth textilis anguis,[5] elevated on a gilt staff, to which a cross-bar was adapted for the purpose,[6] and carried by the draconarius.[7]

Another figure used in the standards was a ball (orb), supposed to have been emblematic of the dominion of Rome over the world;[8] and for the same reason a bronze figure of Victoria was sometimes fixed at the top of the staff, as we see it sculptured, together with small statues of Mars, on the Column of Trajan and the Arch of Constantine.[9] Under the eagle or other emblem was often placed a head of the reigning emperor, which was to the army an object of worship or veneration.[10]The name of the emperor, or of him who was acknowledged as emperor, was sometimes inscribed in the same situation.[11] The pole used to carry the eagle had at its lower extremity an iron point (cuspis) to fix it in the ground, and to enable the aquilifer in case of need to repel an attack.[12]

The minor divisions of a cohort, called centuries, also each had an ensign, inscribed with the number both of the cohort and of the century. This, together with the diversities of the crests worn by the centurions, enabled each soldier to take his place with ease.[13]

In the Arch of Constantine at Rome there are four sculptured panels near the top which exhibit a great number of standards and illustrate some of the forms here described. The first panel represents Trajan giving a king to the Parthians: seven standards are held by the soldiers. The second, containing five standards, represents the performance of the sacrifice called suovetaurilia.[14]

When Constantine embraced Christianity, a figure or emblem of Christ, woven in gold upon purple cloth, was substituted for the head of the emperor. This richly ornamented standard was called labarum.[15] The labarum is still used today by the Orthodox Church in the Sunday service. The entry procession of the chalice whose contents will soon become holy communion is modeled after the procession of the standards of the Roman army.

Giacobbe Giusti, Aquila (Roman)

Eagle and weapons from an Augustan-era funerary monument, probably that of Messalla (PradoMadrid)

Even after the adoption of Christianity as the Roman Empire’s religion, the Aquila eagle continued to be used as a symbol. During the reign of Eastern Roman EmperorIsaac I Komnenos, the single-headed eagle was modified to double-headed to symbolise the Empire’s dominance over East and West.

Since the movements of a body of troops and of every portion of it were regulated by the standards, all the evolutions, acts, and incidents of the Roman army were expressed by phrases derived from this circumstance. Thus signa inferre meant to advance,[16]referre to retreat, and convertere to face about; efferre, or castris vellere, to march out of the camp;[17]ad signa convenire, to re-assemble.[18] Notwithstanding some obscurity in the use of terms, it appears that, whilst the standard of the legion was properly called aquila, those of the cohorts were in a special sense of the term called signa, their bearers being signiferi, and that those of the manipuli or smaller divisions of the cohort were denominated vexilla, their bearers being vexillarii. Also, those who fought in the first ranks of the legion, in front of the standards of the legion and cohorts, were called antesignani.[19]

In military stratagems it was sometimes necessary to conceal the standards.[20]Although the Romans commonly considered it a point of honour to preserve their standards, in some cases of extreme danger the leader himself threw them among the ranks of the enemy in order to divert their attention or to animate his own soldiers.[21] A wounded or dying standard-bearer delivered it, if possible, into the hands of his general,[22] from whom he had received it signis acceptis.[23]

Lost Aquilae

Arch of Constantine

South attic

Arch of Constantine showing carvings of Aquila

Ancient imagery

Detail of the central breastplate relief on the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta shows the return of the Aquilae lost to the Parthians. The return of the eagles was one of Augustus’s notable diplomatic achievements.
Relief showing aquilla from the Arch of Claudius.








  1. Jump up^ Roman eagle found by archaeologists in City of London
  2. Jump up^ The ox is sometimes confusingly described as a Minotaur. See Festus, s.v. Minotaur.
  3. Jump up^ Theodore Mommsen, History of Rome, vol. 3, p. 459.
  4. Jump up^ Flor. iv.12
  5. Jump up^ Sidon. Apoll. Carm. v.409
  6. Jump up^ Themist. Orat. i. p1, xviii. p267, ed. Dindorf; Claudian, iv. Cons. Honor. 546; vi. Cons. Honor. 566
  7. Jump up^ Veget. de Re Mil. ii.13; compare Tac. Ann. i.18
  8. Jump up^ Isid. Orig. xviii.3
  9. Jump up^ see Causeus de Sig. in Graevii Thes. vol. x p2529
  10. Jump up^ Josephus, B.J. ii.9 §2; Suet. Tiber. 48, Calig. 14; Tac. Ann. i.3941iv.62
  11. Jump up^ Sueton. Vespas. 6
  12. Jump up^ Suet. July 62
  13. Jump up^ Veget. l.c.
  14. Jump up^ Bartoli, Arc. Triumph.
  15. Jump up^ Prudentius cont. Symm. i.466, 488; Niceph. H.E. vii.37
  16. Jump up^ Caesar, B. G. i.25, ii.25
  17. Jump up^ Virg. Georg. i.108
  18. Jump up^ Caesar, B. G. vi.37
  19. Jump up^ Caesar, B. C. i.43, 44, 56
  20. Jump up^ Caesar, B. G. vii.45
  21. Jump up^ Florus, i.11
  22. Jump up^ Florus, iv.4
  23. Jump up^ Tac. Ann. i.42
  24. Jump up^ Res Gestae Divi Augusti, 29
  25. Jump up^ Res Gestae Divi Augusti, 29
  26. Jump up^ Cassius Dio 47, 35–36
  27. Jump up^ Cassius Dio, 54.11
  28. Jump up^ Velleius Paterculus, Vell. II – 97
  29. Jump up^ Tacitus Annales 1, 60
  30. Jump up^ Tacitus, ann. 2,25
  31. Jump up^ Cassius Dio 60,8,7
  32. Jump up^ TaciteDe vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae41.
  33. Jump up^ Dion CassiusHistoire romainelivre LXVIII, 9, 3.
  34. Jump up^ Peter Schäfer (2003) The Bar Kokhba War Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Second Jewish Revolt Against Rome Mohr Siebeck ISBN 3-16-148076-7 p 118
  35. Jump up^ Cassius Dio LXXI.2
  36. Jump up^ Duncan B Campbell, The fate of the Ninth: The curious disappearance of Legio VIIII Hispana“, Ancient Warfare

External links

Giacobbe Giusti, Warrior of Capestrano

Giacobbe Giusti, Warrior of Capestrano


Giacobbe Giusti, Warrior of Capestrano


Giacobbe Giusti, Warrior of Capestrano

The Warrior of Capestrano

The Warrior of Capestrano is a tall limestone statue of a Picene warrior, dated to around the 6th century BC. The statue stands at around 2.09 m. It was discovered accidentally in 1934 by a labourer ploughing the field in the Italian town of Capestrano, along with a female statue in civilian attire, called Lady of Capestrano.[1]


The Warrior statue has traces of pink paint, and features a warrior wearing a hat with a huge brim, and a disk-type armor (kardiophylax) protecting his chest and back,[1] a wide belt, necklace, and armlets. Additionally, the warrior bears a short sword, knife, axe, and a defensive device known to the Greeks as mitra (a short apron covering the back).

South Picene inscription incised on the pillar standing to the right of the warrior reads: “Makupri koram opsút aninis rakinevíi pomp[úne]í” (“Aninis had this statue made most excellently for Rakinewis, the Pomp[onian]”).[citation needed]

Investigation subsequent to the statue’s discovery revealed that the vineyard where the statue was found was situated above an Iron Age cemetery.[citation needed]

Museo Archeologico Nazionale d’Abruzzo (Italian for National Archaeology Museum of Abruzzo) is an archaeology museum in ChietiAbruzzo.