On This Day
46 BC – Julius Caesar dedicates a temple to Venus Genetrix, fulfilling a vow he made at the Battle of Pharsalus.
The Temple of Venus Genetrix (Latin: Templum Veneris Genetricis) is a ruined temple in the Forum of Caesar, Rome, dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus Genetrix, the goddess of motherhood and domesticity. It was dedicated to the goddess in 46 BCE by Julius Caesar.
The forum and temple were originally planned as early as 54 BC, and construction began shortly thereafter.
On the eve of the Battle of Pharsalus, Caesar vowed the temple to Venus Victrix. He eventually decided to dedicate the temple to Venus Genetrix, the mother of Aeneas, and the mythical ancestress of the Julian family. The Temple was dedicated on 26 September 46 BC, the last day of Caesar’s triumph. The forum and temple were eventually completed by Octavian.
The area was damaged by the fire in 80 AD. Later the temple was rebuilt by Domitian and was restored and rededicated by Trajan on 12 May 113 AD. It was then burned again in 283 AD, and again restored this time by Diocletian. The three columns now visible belong to this later reconstruction. If still in use by the 4th-century, it would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.
Structure and Location
The temple was built of brick faced with marble and had eight columns (octastyle) on the facade, and also eight columns on each side. The columns were spaced one and a half diameters apart (pycnostyle). The ceiling of the temple was vaulted. There were some nontraditional elements in the design of the temple such as the height of the podium it sat upon and the method of accessing it.
“Access to the cella was afforded by circulation through the flanking arches, up narrow stairs on either side, to a landing in front of the temple, from which several more steps extending the width of the facade conducted to the cella level.”
It was placed at the far end of the court enclosed by the Forum, a practice that was borrowed by the Romans from the Etruscans and which later became a standard architectural feature throughout the Roman Empire. The Temple sat embedded in the remaining slope that had been cleared away from the Capitoline Hill.
Frieze-archivatre representing Cupids, from the first order of the cells internal decoration from the Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Caesar, Trajanic age, 113 AD, Museo dei Fori Imperiali, Rome (8070749843).jpg
Items found inside the Temple include a statue of Venus by Arcesilas as well as statues of Julius Caesar. Numerous Greek paintings by Timomachus of Ajax and Medea, six collections of engraved gems, a breastplate decorated with pearls from Britannia, and a controversial golden statue of Cleopatra as the goddess Isis once filled the Temple.
The Temple was styled in Corinthian order. This included carved mouldings, capitals, and entablature. One of the mouldings, the cyma moulding, has carved dolphins, shells, and tridents. These particular symbols refer to Venus and the sea.
There were three fountain basins: one at the front of the facade and one on either corner of the Temple.
Born On This Day
1876 – Edith Abbott, American economist, social worker, and author (d. 1957)
Edith Abbott (September 26, 1876 – July 28, 1957) was an American economist, social worker, educator, and author. Abbott was born in Grand Island, Nebraska. Edith Abbott was a pioneer in the profession of social work with an educational background in economics. She was a leading activist in social reform with the ideals that humanitarianism needed to be embedded in education. Abbott was also in charge of implementing social work studies to the graduate level. Though she was met with resistance on her work with social reform at the University of Chicago, she ultimately was successful and was elected as the school’s dean in 1924, making her the first female dean in the United States. Abbott was foremost an educator and saw her work as a combination of legal studies and humanitarian work which shows in her social security legislation. She is known as an economist who pursued implementing social work at the graduate level. Her younger sister was Grace Abbott.
Social work will never become a profession—except through the professional schools
The Edith Abbott Memorial Library, in Grand Island, Nebraska, is named after her.
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