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Regio V - Insula X - Santuario della Bona Dea V,X,2

This Sanctuary of the Bona Dea was excavated in the years 1938-1942. Some trenches were dug later, but these have still not been published. The goddess had another sanctuary in region IV (IV,VIII,3). See there for more information about the cult.

The complex was built in the republican period, perhaps in the early second century BC (tufa blocks). Details about the lay-out of this phase are not known. It was rebuilt in the period of Augustus (opus reticulatum). In this period the complex was surrounded by a high wall. Inside was a courtyard with a porticus. In the courtyard were found two basins, a well, an altar and a cippus. Because of a later filling the lower part of the paintings in the porticus has been preserved. In the north part was the temple of the Good Goddess, with a pronaos, not on a podium. To the east of the temple were a few rooms.

Plan of sanctuary

Plan of the sanctuary. Zevi 1997, fig. 4.

At the end of the second century AD the complex was rebuilt (opus mixtum and latericium), at a higher level (1.20). The plan remained the same. A curious detail are six round, brick columns, that form an integral part of the walls of the pronaos.

On the cippus in the courtyard is the inscription:

VALERIA HETAERA
DAT BON(ae) DEAE
OPIFERAE SACR(um)

Something was given to the aid-bringing Bona Dea by Valeria Hetaera.

The well-head in the courtyard is from the period of Augustus. According to an inscription it was offered by Terentia, daughter of Aulus, and wife of Cluvius. This is the same woman who donated a cryptam et calchid(icum) to Ostia, as is recorded in an inscription found in the Terme IV,IV,8. Her activity is probably an echo of Livia's predilection for Bona Dea, her personal protective deity.

To the years c. 85 - 50 BC belongs an inscription on a marble block (0.34 x 0.61), that later became part of the pavement:

OCTAVIA M(arci) F(ilia) GAMALAE (uxor)
PORTIC(um) POLIEND(am)
ET SEDEILIA FACIVN(da)
ET CVLINA(m) TEGEND(am)
D(eae) B(onae) CVRAVIT

Octavia, daughter of Marcus, wife of Gamala had the porticus plastered, added benches, and put a roof on the kitchen. Gamala is P. Lucilius Gamala, the builder of the Quattro Tempietti (II,VIII,2). The gifts by Octavia are probably an echo of a political struggle in Rome, between Cicero on the one hand, and Catilina and Clodius on the other. Clodius had desecrated the mysteries of the Bona Dea (restricted to women), by secretly participating in women's clothes. There are reasons to believe that Gamala was a friend of Cicero (Letters to Atticus, XII,23,3), and Octavia's activity may be regarded as support for Cicero's party.


Photographs and drawings



The pronaos of the temple seen from the south-east. Note the round brick columns.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



The pronaos of the temple seen from the south-west.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



The well-head donated by Terentia.
Photograph: Eric Taylor.



Drawing of the inscription of Octavia. From Zevi 1997, fig. 8.


Remains of wall-paintings from the porticus, from the period of Augustus.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



Remains of wall-paintings from the porticus, from the period of Augustus.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.



Remains of wall-paintings from the porticus, from the period of Augustus.
Photograph: Jan Theo Bakker.

[jthb - 7-Sep-2003]