Description of the 'Basilica'
In front of the central exedra was a small group of
marble statues ((d), (e) and (f)). Two of the statues were of Augustus and Claudius
(pictured opposite) seated in curule chairs. A third statue was of
Titus wearing a breastplate decorated with elephants (pictured bottom right).
'basilica', measuring 68m by 40m, was built round a central court (j). Colonnaded on three
sides, the exterior walls of the portico (b) were decorated with arches
flanked by engaged columns separated by niches containing bronze
and marble statues (reconstruction lower right).
columns of the portico were of stuccoed brick. According to contemporary
sources, the portico and porch were paved in multi-coloured marble,
possibly in opus sectile
, while the central court, which was lower than
the surrounding colonnade, was paved with slabs of marble. The interior
of the portico was decorated in the fourth style
above the cornice with
scenes of lions and dolphins and heroic combat.
front of the side recesses were two bronze statues (g) and (h), one of
Augustus (above) and the other of Claudius (pictured below).
after its discovery, the true purpose of the 'Basilica' is still largely
unexplained. Named 'basilica' by the excavators who first explored it,
it has also been variously referred to as a 'temple' (Alcubierre), a
'forum' (La Vega and Bellicard) and a 'palaestra' (Ruggiero). It may
simply be a building dedicated to the Imperial cult, but, if so, it's certainly on a grand scale.
still virtually completely buried save for part of its entrance porch
(pictured below and lower left), this huge building was extensively explored
and thoroughly looted by its early excavators.
across the Decumanus Maximus from
the Basilica Noniana (k) and the College of the Augustales (i) the
building is fronted by a grand chalcidicum (porch) (a) (pictured left
and reconstructed below) which dramatically imposes itself on the Decumanus
Maximus. At the side entrances to the porch were pedestals for statuary.
rear wall of the portico has a central rectangular exedra
(c) and two
large side recesses (c). The exedra
and side recesses were decorated in
the fourth style
with large frescoes depicting 'Hercules and the infant
Telephus' (left), 'Theseus kissed by the youths rescued by the Minotaur'
(below), 'Chiron teaching Achilles the lyre' (lower left) and 'Marsyas
teaching Olympus the flute'.
statuary which adorned the portico and side niches included other
members of the Imperial family including Livia, Antonia, mother of
Claudius, Flavia and Domitia Longina, Empress and wife of Domitian.