Circus Flaminius

The Circus Flaminius was a large, circular area in ancient Rome, located in the southern end of the Campus Martius near the Tiber River.[1] It contained a small race-track used for obscure games, and various other buildings and monuments. It was ‘built,’ or sectioned off, by Gaius Flaminius in 221 BC.[2]

Coordinates: 41°53′34″N 12°28′39″E / 41.8927578°N 12.4774218°E

Circus Flaminius by Giacomo Lauro
Engraving of the Circus Flaminius by Giacomo Lauro in 1641.

Topography and structures

In its early existence, the Circus was a loop, approximately 500 meters in length stretching across the Flaminian Fields. During the 2nd century BC, this broad space was encroached upon by buildings and monuments. The circus had no permanent seating, nor were there any permanent structures to mark the perimeter of the race track. By the early 3rd century AD, the only open space that remained was a small piazza in the center, no more than 300 meters long, where the ludi (public games) had always been held.

There were many structures in the vicinity of the circus (“in circo Flaminio”). The Temple of Pietas lay on the edge of the Forum Holitorium to the southeast. The Temple of Mars was situated in the northwest. It is estimated that by 220 BC there were six temples, including one to Apollo, in the Flaminian Fields. In AD 15, statues to the deified Augustus were erected, dedicated by C. Norbanus Flaccus. Also inside was the Porticus Octaviae. The entrance to the piazza was marked by one of three large marble arches erected in honor of Germanicus, engraved with records of his military conquests. To the east was the Theatre of Marcellus.

A fragment of the Severan marble plan preserves a mention of the Circus Flaminius.


The Circus Flaminius was never meant to rival the much larger Circus Maximus, and, unlike the Circus Maximus, it was not just an entertainment venue. It almost certainly lacked a track designed for chariot racing.[3] The only ludi held there were the Taurian Games, which featured horseback racing around turning posts (metae).[4] The obscure Taurian Games were held to propitiate the gods of the underworld (di inferi), and seem to have been symbolically grounded in the site itself, as they were never moved to a different circus. Equestrian events were also associated with underworld deities in other rituals and festivals in the Campus Martius. Strabo makes no mention of equestrian activities taking place in the Circus Flaminius. Valerius Maximus, who is likely to be in error, is the only ancient source that claims the Ludi Plebeii (Plebeian Games) were held there. In 2 BC, the circus was flooded for the slaughter of 36 crocodiles to commemorate the building of the Forum of Augustus.[5]

The Circus Flaminius was also used as a market. Assemblies were often held within it. In 9 BC, it was the venue when Augustus delivered the Laudatio of Drusus.

The buildings remained in use until the end of the fourth century, when the area was finally abandoned.


  1. ^ Pier Luigi Tucci, 'Nuove ricerche sulla topografia dell’area del circo Flaminio’, Studi Romani 41 (1993) 229-242
  2. ^ John H. Humphrey (1 January 1986). Roman Circuses: Arenas for Chariot Racing. University of California Press. pp. 543–. ISBN 978-0-520-04921-5.
  3. ^ T.P. Wiseman, Remus: A Roman Myth (Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 211
  4. ^ Varro, De lingua latina 5.154; also recorded by the Fasti Ostienses.
  5. ^ Cassius Dio Roman History 55.10


  • Platner, Samuel (1929). A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Oxford University Press.
  • Civilization of the ancient Mediterranean: Greece and Rome. II. Scribner's. 1998.
  • Humphrey, John (1986). Roman Circuses: Arenas for Chariot Racing. Butler & Tanner Ltd. pp. 540–545. ISBN 0-520-04921-7.
14 regions of Augustan Rome

In 7 BC, Augustus divided the city of Rome into 14 administrative regions (Latin regiones, sing. regio). These replaced the four regiones or "quarters" traditionally attributed to Servius Tullius, sixth King of Rome. They were further divided into official neighborhoods (vici).Originally designated by number, the regions acquired nicknames from major landmarks or topographical features within them.

Circus (building)

The Roman circus (from Latin, "circle") was a large open-air venue used for public events in the ancient Roman Empire. The circuses were similar to the ancient Greek hippodromes, although circuses served varying purposes and differed in design and construction. Along with theatres and amphitheatres, Circuses were one of the main entertainment sites of the time. Circuses were venues for chariot races, horse races, and performances that commemorated important events of the empire were performed there.

According to Edward Gibbon, in Chapter XXXI of his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the Roman people, at the start of the 5th century:

...still considered the Circus as their home, their temple, and the seat of the republic.

Forum Holitorium

The Forum Holitorium (Italian: Foro Olitorio; English: Vegetable-sellers' Market) was the site of a commercial marketplace (macellum) for vegetables, herbs and oil in ancient Rome. It was "oddly located" outside the Porta Carmentalis in the Campus Martius, crowded between the Forum Boarium ("Cattle Market") and buildings located in the Circus Flaminius.

Gaius Flaminius

Gaius Flaminius C. f. L. n. was a leading Roman politician in the third century BC. Twice consul, in 223 and 217, Flaminius is notable for his Lex Flaminia land reform of 232, the construction of the Circus Flaminius in 221, and his battle against Hannibal's army in 217 during the Second Punic War where he was defeated and killed. Flaminius is celebrated by ancient sources as being a skilled orator and a man possessed of great piety, strength, and determination. He is, however, simultaneously criticised by ancient writers such as Cicero and Livy for his popular policies and disregard of Roman traditions, particularly during the terms of his tribunate and second consulship.

Ludi Plebeii

The Plebeian Games (Latin Ludi Plebeii) were an ancient Roman religious festival held November 4–17. The games (ludi) included both theatrical performances (ludi scaenici) and athletic competitions for the purpose of entertaining the common people of Rome.

Marcus Fulvius Nobilior (consul 189 BC)

Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Roman general, a member of one of the most important families of the plebeian Fulvia gens.

He started his political career as curule aedile in 195 BC. When praetor (193 BC) he served with distinction in Spain, and as consul in 189 BC he completely broke the power of the Aetolian League. On his return to Rome, Nobilior celebrated a triumph (of which full details are given by Livy) remarkable for the magnificence of the spoils exhibited. On his Aetolian campaign he was accompanied by the poet Ennius, who made the capture of Ambracia, at which he was present, the subject of one of his plays. For this Nobilior was strongly opposed by Cato the Censor, on the ground that he had compromised his dignity as a Roman general. In 179 BC he was appointed censor together with Marcus Aemilius Lepidus.

He restored the temple of Hercules and the Muses in the Circus Flaminius, placed in it a list of Fasti drawn up by himself, and endeavoured to make the Roman calendar more generally known. He was a great enthusiast for Greek art and culture, and introduced many of its masterpieces into Rome, amongst them the picture of the Muses by Zeuxis from Ambracia.

Fulvius was grandson of Servius Fulvius Paetinus Nobilior (consul in 255 BC). He was named for his father. He had two sons, both of whom obtained the consulship: Marcus Fulvius Nobilior (in 159 BC) and Quintus Fulvius Nobilior (in 153 BC).

Ponte (rione of Rome)

Ponte is the fifth rione of Rome, and is located in Municipio I. Its name (meaning "bridge" in Italian) comes from Ponte Sant'Angelo, which connects Ponte with the rione of Borgo. This bridge was built by Emperor Hadrian (and originally named after him Pons Aelius) in 134 AD to connect his mausoleum to the rest of the city. Though Pope Sixtus V changed the rione limits so that the bridge belongs now to Borgo, not to Ponte any more, the area has kept its name. Its logo is obviously a bridge.

In ancient Rome, the area belonged to the IX Augustan region called Circus Flaminius, that was a part of the Campus Martius. Nero built another bridge, that was called Neronianus or triumphalis because the Via Triumphalis, the Triumphal Way, passed over it: Starting with Titus, the victorious Emperors celebrating their Triumphs entered Rome marching through it.

Nero's bridge was also called Pons Vaticanus (meaning "Vatican Bridge" in Latin), because it connected the Ager Vaticanus to the left bank, later Pons ruptus ("broken bridge"), because it was already broken in the Middle Ages. In ancient Rome there was a port that was used to carry the materials for temples and great works to the Campus Martius.

The active life of the area went on during the Middle Ages and the modern period, and this activity deleted almost all signs of ancient Rome in the rione. The population increased because many people moved from the surrounding hills to Ponte because of the lack of water in other parts of Rome, since it was then possible to drink the water of the River Tiber. Moreover, the rione was on the edge of Ponte Sant'Angelo, thus all the main streets of Rome were leading there and the area was full of pilgrims going to the Vatican. That is why it was full of locals, restaurants, shops of holy objects, etc.

During the 16th century the rione was very important for its streets, like Via Giulia and Via dei Coronari; that is why several palaces of the greatest families of Rome were built according to the projects of famous artists, thus making the area very famous.

A common event in the area was to see a small procession led by a person dressed in black, covering his face, carrying a crucifix on his shoulders. On a wagon there was a chained condemned man kissing continuously another image of Jesus. The destination of the procession was the square in front of Ponte Sant'Angelo, where there were gallows to hang the man.

Although Ponte was a quite rich area, it was the one most affected by the frequent flooding of the River Tiber.

The look of the rione changed completely after Rome became capital of reunited Italy in 1870: the embankments of the river were built to stop the flooding and new bridges were made to connect Vatican City and the rione Prati to the rest of Rome. All the narrow streets leading to the river were lost, to make space for the embankments, but it is still possible to see the typical look of the older rione in the inner parts of the area.

Porticus Octavia

The Porticus Octavia (Octavian Portico) was a portico in ancient Rome, built by Gnaeus Octavius in 168BC to commemorate a naval victory over Perseus of Macedonia. It stood between the Theatre of Pompey and the Circus Flaminius. Pliny describes it as a double portico with bronze Corinthian capitals, for which it was also called the Porticus Corinthia. It may have been the earliest use of this architectural order in Rome, and is possibly to be identified with remains in the Via S. Nicola ai Cesarini, represented in the Severan Marble Plan (frg. 140). Velleius Paterculus called it multo amoenissima, or "by far the loveliest" of the porticoes, but has left no traces.In 33 BC, Octavian (the future Augustus) recovered the military standards lost by Gabinius to the Illyrians, and displayed them at the Porticus Octavia, which he rebuilt to commemorate the conquest of Dalmatia.


Regola is the 7th rione (historical quarter) of Rome, Italy. It is located in Municipio I of the city. The name comes from Arenula (the name is present in the modern Via Arenula), which was the name of the soft sand (rena in Italian) that the river Tiber left after the floods, and that built strands on the left bank. The logo of the rione is a rampant deer with a turquoise background.

During the Roman empire, the area belonged to the Campus Martius. In particular, in the modern Regola there was the Trigarium, the stadium where the riders of the triga (a cart with three horses) used to train.

Emperor Augustus divided Rome into 14 regions; according to this, the modern Regola belonged to the IX region called Circus Flaminius. In the Middle Ages it entered the fourth of the seven new ecclesiastic regions, even if at that time the limits of the rioni were not very clear.

Also because of the very frequent floods of the river Tiber, the area was unhealthy and it was drained at the end of the Middle Ages.

In 1586, when rione Borgo was made, the number of rioni increased to 14, and Regola became the VII with the name of Arenule et Chacabariorum.

In 1875, after the walls to stop the floods of the Tiber were built, the look of the area changed completely, removing all the things that grew up close to the river during the centuries.

Though small, the rione contains many kinds of buildings: palaces, hospitals, churches, embassies, prisons and poor houses.

Public libraries in Regola include the Biblioteca centrale Centrale dei Ragazzi.

Sant'Angelo, Rome

Sant'Angelo is the eleventh historic district or rione of Rome, and is located in Municipio I. Often written as rione XI - Sant'Angelo, its coat of arms is an angel on a red background, holding a palm branch in its left hand. In another version, the angel holds a sword in its right hand and a scale in its left.Sant'Angelo, the smallest of Rome's rioni, lies along the Tiber river east of Tiber Island. Rioni bordering this district, clockwise from north to south, include Regola, Sant'Eustachio, Pigna, Campitelli, and Ripa. Sant'Angelo's western border is the river.

The rione's terrain is low and flat and, until recent times, particularly susceptible to flooding from the river.

The historical significance of Sant'Angelo is mainly the result of the presence here of the Roman Ghetto.

Taurian Games

The Taurian Games (Latin Ludi Taurii or Ludi Taurei, rarely Taurilia) were games (ludi) held in ancient Rome in honor of the di inferi, the gods of the underworld. They were not part of a regularly scheduled religious festival on the calendar, but were held as expiatory rites religionis causa, occasioned by religious concerns.Ludi Taurii are recorded in 186 BC as a two-day event. Varro mentions them as occurring in the late Republic. During the reign of Antoninus Pius, they were held every five years from 140 to 160 AD, within a period beginning on the day after the Ides of May and continuing through the Kalends of June. Some scholars extrapolate that like the lustrum (purification ritual), the Ludi Taurii were regularly quinquennial. Others caution that the five-year schedule under Antoninus Pius, attested by the Fasti Ostienses, is never mentioned in other sources. The limited evidence suggests the Ludi Taurii were important mainly in the context of religious revivalism during the Augustan and Antonine eras.The Taurian Games were horse races, or less likely chariot races, on a course around turning posts (metae). In the 19th century, they were sometimes confused with the archaic Tarentine Games (ludi tarentini), which were replaced by the Saecular Games. Horse racing along with the propitiation of underworld gods was characteristic of "old and obscure" Roman festivals such as the Consualia, the October Horse, and sites in the Campus Martius such as the Tarentum (where the ludi tarentini originated) and the Trigarium. The Ludi Taurii were the only games held in the Circus Flaminius.If the games are Etruscan in origin, as Festus and Servius claim, taurii probably comes from the Etruscan word tauru, "tomb." The design of the turning posts (metae) on a Roman race course was derived from Etruscan funerary monuments. Festus, however, offers an etiology based on Latin taurus, "bull."

Temple of Hercules Custos

The Temple of Hercules Custos (Latin:Aedes Herculis Custodis) was a Roman temple dedicated to 'Hercules the Guardian'. Its location is unknown and no remains have been found.

Its history is unclear. Ovid writes that it was to the west of the Circus Flaminius - it was probably built around the same time (221 BC). It was re-built by Lucius Cornelius Sulla after consulting the Sibylline Oracles. This consultation of the oracles and the epithet 'Custos' seems to imply it was built and/or rebuilt in response to a major crisis, though it is unknown what its nature was.

In 218 BC the senate decreed a supplicatio in the Aedes Herculi. Though there were several temples of Hercules, this probably refers to that of Hercules Custos. The decemvirs ordered a statue to be set up in the temple of Hercules Custos in 189 BC

Temple of Hercules Musarum

The Temple of Hercules Musarum (Latin: Aedes Herculis Musarum) was a temple dedicated to Hercules in ancient Rome, near the Circus Flaminius.

It was built by Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, who conquered of the Greek city of Ambracia in 189 BC. It was probably completed and dedicated during his triumph in 187 BC. The epithet 'Musarum' means 'of the Muses' and refers to Nobilior's discovery that Hercules was known in Greece as 'Musagetes' or 'leader of the Muses'. The temple contained copies of the fasti and statues taken from Ambracia, including statues of the Muses. The Portico of Metellus was later built near the temple.

In 29 BC Lucius Marcius Philippus restored the temple and built a portico around it, later known as the Portico of Philippus. Part of the temple's floorplan is known from a fragment of the 3rd century Forma Urbis Romae.

Temple of Juno Regina (Campus Martius)

"Temple of Juno Regina" redirects here. For the other temple of this name, see Temple of Juno Regina (Aventine).The Temple of Juno Regina (Latin: templum or aedes Iuno Regina) was a temple in ancient Rome dedicated to "Queen Juno". It was near the Circus Flaminius in the southern half of the Campus Martius. It was vowed by consul Marcus Aemilius Lepidus in 187 BC during his final battle against the Liguri and dedicated on 23 December 179 BC, whilst he was censor. It was linked by a portico to a temple of Fortuna, possibly the temple of Fortuna Equestris. It was probably to the south of the Portico of Pompey, on the western side of the circus Flaminius.

A Temple of Jupiter Stator was later built next to it. Both temples were surrounded by the Portico of Metellus and this portico and both temples were later rebuilt and rededicated by Octavian as the Porticus Octaviae.

Temple of Jupiter Stator (2nd century BC)

The Temple of Jupiter Stator (Jupiter the Stayer) was a temple of Ancient Rome in the southern Campus Martius.

The Temple of Jupiter Stator was a temple of Ancient Rome, named after the god Jupiter, in his form of Jupiter Stator (Jupiter the stayer). Together with the Temple of Juno Regina (Juno in the form of "Queen Juno") and the enclosing Porticus Metelli (later rebuilt as the Porticus Octaviae), it was built by Quintus Caecilius Metellus Macedonicus after his triumph, in 146 BC. It is referred to as aedes Iovis Metellina and aedes Metelli. It was inside the porticus Metelli, close to the Circus Flaminius, and its exact site is known to have been beneath the church of Santa Maria in Campitelli. The Temple of Juno Regina was just west of it, on the opposite side of the Via della Tribuna di Campitelli.

It is not stated in explicitly by Velleius that Metellus built both temples, but that is the natural inference from the passage. He is also said to have been the first to build a temple in Rome entirely of marble, and which probably applies to both structures. In front of the temples Metellus placed Lysippus' equestrian statues of Alexander the Great'a generals, and in them were several famous works of art.

According to Vitruvius (iii.2.5), the Temple of Jupiter was the work of Hermodorus of Salamis. It was a Hexastyle peripteral building with six columns along the short sides and eleven on the long sides. The space between the columns was equal to that between the columns and the wall of the cella. As there were no inscriptions on the temples and evidently representations of a lizard and a frog among the decorations (σαύρα, βάτραχος), the legend arose that the architects were two Spartans, Saurus and Batrachus and that as the decorations in the temple of Jupiter belonged to that of Juno and vice versa, the statues of the deities had been set up in the wrong cellae by the mistake of the workmen. The idea that an Ionic capital, now in S. Lorenzo fuori le Mura, has anything to do with the temples has generally been abandoned.

Temple of Mars

Not to be confused with the Temple of Mars Ultor.The Temple of Mars (Latin: Aedes Martis in Circo) was a temple built on the campus Martius in Rome in the 2nd century BC, near the Circus Flaminius, dedicated to Mars.

Consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus vowed a temple to Mars in 138 BC and construction began after 135 BC, financed by loot from his campaign in Hispania. It was dedicated in 132 BC during his triumph. It was designed by Hermodorus of Salamis. It was restored in the late Republic but retaining the older building's plan and features. If still in use by the 4th-century, the temple would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire, when the Christian Emperors issued edicts prohibiting non-Christian worship.

Temple of Neptune (Rome)

The Temple of Neptune (Latin: Aedes Neptuni) was an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Neptune on the Campus Martius near the Circus Flaminius in Rome.

Temple of Vulcan

Not to be confused with the Vulcanal.The Temple of Vulcan was a temple dedicated to Vulcan on the Campus Martius in Rome, probably near the Circus Flaminius. Legend holds that it was built by Romulus. It was struck by lightning in both 214 BC and 197 BC.

Villa Publica

The Villa Publica was a public building in ancient Rome, which served as the censors’ base of operation. It was erected on the Campus Martius in 435 BC. According to Livy, the first census was compiled there the year it was built. In 194 BC, the building, or buildings, was restored and enlarged. Villa Publica meant "House of the People" and although its location is unknown (it has been conjectured that it actually constituted a series of buildings near the Circus Flaminius), it is known from ancient sources that its area was wide, and that, at one point, most likely following further renovations in 34 BC, a large wall was built around it. In addition to holding the censors’ records and acting as the censors’ base of operations, the Villa Publica also served as a place where foreign ambassadors were greeted, where generals waited to hear if they would be granted a triumph, and it also acted as a base for army levies.

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