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The "Temple of Minerva Medica".

The so-called Temple of Minerva Medica (Minerva the doctor) is a ruin of ancient Rome, between the via Labicana and Aurelian Walls and just inside the line of the Anio Vetus. Once part of the Horti Liciniani on the Esquiline Hill, now it faces the modern via Giolitti. Contrary to its mis-attributed name, it is in fact a 4th century dodecagonal nymphaeum of opus latericium, whose full dome only collapsed in 1828, surrounded on three sides with other chambers added at a later date. There is no mention of it in ancient literature or inscriptions.

The structure represents a staging-post between Roman secular architecture (the octagonal dining room of the Domus Aurea and the dome of the Pantheon in particular) and the architecture of nearby Byzantine churches. The diameter of the hall is about 24 metres, and the height was 33 (very important from the structural point of view, especially for the ribs in the dome). In the interior are nine niches, besides the entrance; and above these are ten corresponding round-arched windows. Both the interior and exterior walls were once covered with marble.[1]

In the fifteenth century Flavio Biondo's Roma Instaurata, these ruins are called Le Galluzze, a name of uncertain meaning that had been applied earlier to some ruins near the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Jord. II.130‑131). Since the seventeenth century the nymphaeum has frequently been wrongly identified with the Temple of Minerva Medica recorded in literary sources, on account of the erroneous impression that the Athena Giustiniani had been found in its ruins.[2]

Notes

  1. ^ (Durm, figs. 306‑308, 313, 339; Choisy, pl. X. i. pp82‑84; Sangallo, Barb. 12; Giovannoni in Ann. d. Società d. Ingegneri, 1904, 165‑201; LS III.158‑161; JRS 1919, 176, 182; RA 182‑188; cf. HJ 360, n44, for references to other illustrations and plans)
  2. ^ (HJ 360; LS III.158‑161)

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