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CAMPUS MARTIUS
Form: "Field of Mars".
A plain lying to the north of Rome, outside the Pomerium, between the Tiber, the Quirinal and the Capitoline Hills. (See POMERIUM.) During the regal period it was part of the property of the Crown, and, after the expulsion of the kings, was dedicated to Mars. The northern part, on the banks of the Tiber, served as an exercise-ground for the Roman youth for athletics, riding, or military drill. The smaller part, next to the city, was used for the meetings of the Comitia Centuriata, and for holding the lustrum. In the midst of it stood an altar to Mars, which formed the centre of the ceremony of the lustrum, and of some other festivals held on the spot in honour of that deity. (See LUSTRUM.) Until the end of the republican age there was only one building on this part of the Campus, the Villa Publica. This was the residence assigned to foreign ambassadors and Roman generals on their return from war, to whom the senate granted audiences in the neighbouring temple of Bellona. But in B.C. 55 Pompeius erected in the Campus the first stone theatre built in Rome, with a great colonnade adjoining it. Here too Julius Caesar commenced his marble saepta, or inclosures for the Comitia Centuriate, with a great colonnade surrounding the ovile. (See COMITIA.) These were completed by Agrippa in 27 B.C. In B.C. 28, Octavianus Caesar added the Mausoleum, or hereditary burial-place of the Caesars, and Agrippa the Pantheon and the first Thermoe or Baths. Under the succeeding emperors a number of buildings rose here; for instance, Domitian's Race-course (Stadium) and Odeum. The rest of the Campus was left free for gymnastic and military exercises, the grounds being magnificently decorated with statues and colonnades. The altar survived until the last days of ancient Rome.
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