Building Projects



  • Self promotion/private:
  • Mausoleum of Augustus STRABO, VIRGIL. Strabo's describes it as beautiful in a beautiful area suggesting people will want to visit and pay respect to imperial family. size etc. shows the power of the imperial family. also shows Augustus as a pious family man. 
  • Augustus' Sun Dial PLINY
  • Necessary/for the people:
  • restored channels of the aqueducts RES GESTAE 20
  • Restored flaminian way RES GESTAE 20
  • Agrippa built Aqua Julia and Aqua Virgo and restored Aqua Appia, Aqua Annio and Aqua Marcia FRONTINUS. SUETONIUS also mentions number of aqueducts built
  • 'often urged leading citizens to embellish the city with new public monuments or to improve and restore ancient ones' SUETONIUS LIFE OF AUG
  • Restored Capitol and Theatre of Pompey without incribing his name on them (did not seek to credit himself etc.) RES GESTAE
  • Restored 82 temples and built the senate house RES GESTAE
  • Temple of Apollo on the Paletine SUETONIUS, RES GESTAE
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  • Did little building work during his reign
  • 'building activities were slight. His only two public works were the Temple of Augustus and a new stage for Pompey's theatre' TACITUS ANNALS 6.45
  • SUETONIUS LIFE OF TIB also mentions these as his only two public works and even says they 'remained uncompleted' 
  • 'with what pious munificence...does he now rear the temple to his father!' PATERCULUS very complimentary of Tiberius even though it seems he did so little
  • restored all buildings that suffered injury but claimed none of them as his own - restored them in the names of the original builders DIO 57.10
  • after fires he 'paid for the rebuilding of certain blocks of house on the Caelian Hill' SUETONIUS
  • Finished construction of a bridge at Ariminum began by Augustus
  • Temple of Augustus PLINY 'temple of Divus Augustus on the Paletine built by his wife' suggests Livia had more to do with the temple than Tiberius
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  • Built private temple on the Paletine. DIO He apparently wanted to move the statue of Olympian Zeus from Olympia to temple, after remodelling it to look like him. Also converted temple of Castor and Pollux into a vestibule for his own palace. SUETONIUS
  • Aqueducts: began construction of an aqueduct in the Tibur district SUETONIUS LOG 21
  • began two other aqueducts after those in Tiberius' reign FRONTINUS
  • Beginnings of an amphitheatre: DIO tells us he demolished many large buildings and erected wooden stands. SUETONIUS also mentions the beginnings of construction of an amphitheatre near the Saepta. He also says that while the Gaius' aqueduct was finished by his successor, the amphitheatre was left abandoned. 
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  • SUETONIUS says his works were 'not numerous but they were important'. Goes on to talk about the building of Aqua Claudia, the draining of Fucine Lake (something which gave like 30,000 men jobs etc. so very good in that sense) and the harbour at Ostia. Suetonius compares the lighthouse Claudius puts in Ostia to the ancient wonder at Alexandria.
  • FRONTINUS also talks of the various aqueducts
  • PLINY NATURAL HISTORY also talks about Claudius' work finishing off Gaius' aqueducts saying they 'surpassed previous aqueducts'
  • He improved the appearance of Circus Maximus using more marble and building starting gates for the chariot races SUETONIUS LIFE OF CLAUDIUS
  • Harbour at Ostia: Inscription near Ostia says the building of it liberated the city from danger of flooding -suggestion the harbour had this benefit as well as aiding grain supply. PLINY talks of how Claudius used Gaius' ship for intended to import his obelisk as part of the harbour.
  • Draining Fucine Lake described by PLINY as 'one of the most important achievements of Claudius'. It was designed to provide more arable land (suitable for crops) and stop flooding problems. Claudius' building projects were all for practical purpose. 
  • Roads: Via Claudia Nova and Via Claudia Valeria and also built 43 bridges according to Inscriptions
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  • Domus Aurea: TACITUS 'Nero profited by his country's ruin to build a new palace' seems to suggest the fire was nice and convenient for Nero who just wanted to build himself a palace
  • 'His wastefulness showed most of all in the architectural projects' SUETONIUS also speaks quite negatively and goes on to give detailed description of Domus Aurea so we know how elaborate and massive it was. 
  • PLINY'S comment that he saw in his day 'the city ringed by the houses of the emperors Caligula and Nero'
  • TACITUS after fire however Nero did have building regulations put in place. Streets were properly aligned and houses built around courtyards, there were also height restrictions and he built all these new buildings at his own expense. fixed proportion of houses also had to made of fireproof stone. Tacitus speaks more favourably of Nero here. 
  • Rebuilds temple of Vesta (aureus AD65-6 of Nero on one side and the temple on the other)
  • Aqua Neroniana (archaeological evidence)
  • PLINY talks about the Colossus (giant bronze statue of the emperor) being built. Such enormous statues were usually reserved for the gods. Nero's statue was later converted to a statue of a sun god.
  • SUETONIUS does say that Nero introduced 'his own new style of architecture in the city' He built porches for the fronts of apartments and private houses to act as fire-fighting platforms
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  • Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum): deliberately built something for the people of Rome on the site of the Domus Aurea which burned down in 69AD
  • Personally instigated the restoration of the Capitol 'collecting the first basketful of rubble' SUETONIUS. 
  • Undertook to recover 3000 bronze inscriptions which had recorded all the decrees of the Senate and Assembly. DIO stresses how enthusiastic Vesp was about starting this project as he began it 'immediately' upon becoming emperor. DIO also confirms Suetonius' rubble story
  • Built the Temple of Peace (praised by PLINY as being one of the most beautiful projects in Rome surpassing the Ara Pacis. it represented a return to normality after the chaos of the civil wars.
  • According to DIO he restored a number of buildings in not his own name but the original builders'
  • PLINY tells us that Vespasian replaced Nero's colossus' head at huge expense making it a state of the sun god Helios. 
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  • DIO and SUETONIUS briefly mention completed amphitheatre
  • Baths of Titus SUETONIUS
  • Titus only reigned from 79-81AD and the disaster of Vesuvius struck soon after his accession so not much building work got done during his reign.
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  • SUETONIUS says he restored a great number of important buildings including the Capitol but he let no names be inscribed on them except his own, not even the original builders'
  • Arch of Titus to capitolise on his brother's popularity. Archaeological evidence and inscription saying the Roman people and senate dedicate it to Titus. 
  • Flavian Temple SUETONIUS 5
  • Stadium and concert hall and an artificial lake for sea battles SUETONIUS 5
  • Temple of Capitoline Jupiter SUETONIUS 5
  • SUETONIUS LOD 12 says it is hardly suprising Domitian ran out of money - spent so much on building projects and the army. 
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