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The Temple of Portunus today.

The Forum Boarium was the cattle forum venalium of Ancient Rome and the oldest forum that Rome possessed. It was located at a flat place near the Tiber between the Capitoline, the Palatine and Aventine hills. Here, too, is where the first bridges were built. The Boarium was by the premier port of Rome (Port Tibernius), and experienced intense commercial activity.

The Forum Boarium was the site of the first gladiatorial contest at Rome which took place in 264 BC as part of aristocratic funerary ritual—a munus or funeral gift for the dead. Decimus Junius Brutus Scaeva put on a gladiatorial combat in honor of his deceased father with three pairs of slaves serving as gladiators.

The site was also a religious center housing the Temple of Hercules Victor, the Temple of Portunus, and the massive 6th or 5th century BC Great Altar of Hercules.


Temple of Hercules Victor (T. Herculis Victoris). The temple of Portunus on the right. Etching by Giuseppe Vasi, mid 18th century.

The Temple of Hercules Victor or Hercules Olivarius (Hercules as protector of the olive trade), is a circular peristyle building dating from the 2nd century BC. It consists of a colonnade of Corinthian columns arranged in a concentric ring around the cylindrical cella, resting on a tuff foundation. These elements originally supported an architrave and roof which have disappeared. It is the earliest surviving marble building in Rome.

The Temple of Portunus is a rectangular building built between 100 and 80 B. C. It consists of a tetrastyle portico and cella mounted on a podium reached by a flight of steps. The four Ionic columns of the portico are free-standing, while the six columns on the long sides and four columns at the rear are engaged along the walls of the cella. It is built of tuff and travertine with a stucco surface.

At the end of the Roman Empire, the area became overtaken with shops. Both temples were subsequently converted to Christian churches.

Across the street is the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin famous for its Bocca della Verità.

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Coordinates: 41°53′20″N 12°28′52″E / 41.88889°N 12.48111°E / 41.88889; 12.48111



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