[After gaining sole power] Romulus's first act was to
build a wall around the Palatine, the place of his own childhood.
The first founders of Rome walled in the Capitoline,
Palatine, and Quirinal hills.… The fourth king Ancus Martius
extended the walls across the Caelian and Aventine hills and the
valley floor between them, … and the sixth king Servius added the
Esquiline and Viminal to Rome's walled area.
Claudius also extended the pomerium of Rome [in AD 49],
by an ancient custom whereby those who extended the empire might
also expand the boundaries of the city. However, Rome's leaders,
even those who greatly expanded the empire, had not availed
themselves of this privilege, with the exception of Sulla and the
The pomerium's expansion under the kings (whether in
accordance with their vainglory or their true achievements) is
variously reported, but I think that the beginning of
Rome's foundation and the pomerium that Romulus established can be
reliably traced as follows. From the point in the Forum Boarium
where the bronze statue of the bull stands today (appropriately,
since this is the species yoked to the ritual plow), a furrow was
plowed to designate the city limits. It ran first to the Great Altar
of Hercules [119.] and then along the base of
the Palatine hill, in a line preserved today by regularly spaced
boundaries stones. From here, the line extended to the Altar of
Consus, then to the Old Assembly Grounds [Curiae
Veteres] nearby, then to the Shrine of the Lares and on
past the Roman Forum. Sources report that the Forum itself and the
Capitoline hill were not part of Romulus's original city but added
by Titus Tatius. The pomerium was soon enlarged to keep pace with
The boundaries of the pomerium as extended by Claudius
are easy to recognize and also documented in the public records.
[In 91 BC] Marcus Livius Drusus turned his
efforts…towards granting citizenship to the Italians. While he was
working on this problem and was returning home one day to the
Palatine surrounded by the large and unruly crowd that
accompanied him wherever he went, he was stabbed in front of his
house with a knife that the assassin left behind in Drusus's side.
Within a few hours he was dead.
I should not omit to mention one instance that reveals
Drusus's character. When he was building his house on the Palatine
(on the same site where Cicero later built his house, subsequently
owned by Censorinus and presently [c. AD 30] by Statilius Sisenna),
his architect promised that he would build Drusus a house with total
privacy, shielded from the view of all prying eyes. Drusus
responded, “I want you, insofar as it is in your powers,
to build me a house in which everything I do will be visible to
My house is on view to practically the entire city.
Cicero, On his House
[Clodius, Cicero's bitterest political and personal
foe, outmaneuvered him and had the orator exiled in 58 BC.] Cicero's
property was confiscated, his house razed to the ground as though it
belonged to a foreign enemy, and the site was dedicated for a temple
to Liberty. Cicero himself received the penalty of exile, which he
was forbidden to spend in Sicily, since he was banished 500 miles
from Rome, with the further provision that if he should ever be seen
inside this distance, both he and those who harbored him could be
killed with impunity.
The violence with which Cicero's home was destroyed by
Clodius [in 57 BC] was matched by the splendor to which the Senate
[In court, Cicero defends a young ambitious politician
against charges of political violence, arguing that the charges were
trumped up by his ex-lover Clodia.] The prosecution finds it
reprehensible that my client Caelius moved out of his
father's house.… But that was at an age when he was old enough to
run for public office, and since his father's house was far from the
Forum, Caelius moved not only with his father's permission, but with
his encouragement. He rented a house—at a modest rate—on the
Palatine so that he would have readier access both to my and
Crassus's homes and to his own supporters.
[Would, though, that he had never moved to the
Palatine!] For you will find, judges, that the young man's move to
the Palatine, and the Palatine Medea [his lover Clodia] whom he met
there, were the cause of all his troubles, or rather the slander
that caused his troubles.
Cicero, In Defense of
Caelius18 [65 BC]
Visitor to mighty Rome: wherever you look
Was simply grass and hill before Aeneas came;
Along the Palatine's crest where Apollo's temple stands
Evander's cattle roamed and ruminated at will.
Up until now I have been discussing Caligula in his
capacity as an emperor. We must now consider him in his capacity as
When Caligula was on the verge of assuming a royal
crown, converting the appearance of the Principate into the
institution of monarchy, and someone pointed out to him that he
already rose above both emperors and kings, Caligula began to claim
for himself divine status. He gave out orders that the exceptionally
revered and beautiful statues of deities, such as the Jupiter at
Olympia, were to be brought to Rome from Greece, decapitated, and
supplied with a head of his own likeness. He also extended a part of
the Palatine palace all the way out to the Forum, transforming the
Temple of Castor and Pollux into an entrance hall for the Palace.
There in the temple he would often take his seat between the twin
gods, presenting himself for worship to those who approached. Some
even greeted him as Jupiter Latiaris, [a form of Jupiter worshipped
on Mt. Albanus].
On clear nights when the Moon was full, he would
welcome the lunar deity into his bed with passionate embraces, but
by day he had private words with Jupiter Capitolinus, and would
whisper in the god's ear or put his own ear to Jupiter's lips. At
times he would raise his voice and even quarrel with the god: once
he was heard to quote Homer in threatening tones, “Either
you move me, or I move you…!” Finally Caligula announced
that he had been won over by Jupiter's entreaties to live together.
He then built a bridge above the Temple of the Deified Augustus to
connect the Palatine and the Capitoline, and soon laid the
foundations of a new house near the Temple of Jupiter.
The emperor Vespasian resided infrequently on the
Palatine, spending most of his time at the estate called the Gardens
of Sallust, where he would receive anyone who wished to see him, not
just the senators.… He was considered an autocrat only in his care
of the public welfare; in all other respects he lived a
common life on the level of others.
[There are many examples of Antoninus Pius's (AD
138-161) peaceful and generous character.] There was a Greek
philosopher from Chalcis named Apollonius who had been summoned to
Rome by the emperor. When Antoninus sent word for him to come to the
Domus Tiberiana (where the emperor was then living) to tutor Marcus
Aurelius, Apollonius said, “The teacher should not come to
the pupil, but the pupil to the teacher.” Antoninus only
smiled, saying “It was easier for Apollonius to get from
Greece to Rome than from his own house to the Palatine.”
Imperial Lives, Antoninus Pius