Sant’Urbano alla Caffarella: è l’Heroon di Annia Regilla
In: Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma: 121, 2020
Temple of Sant’Urbano has been at the centre of many – often conflicting, nevertheless highly respected – studies since the Eighteenth century. These studies allow the author to draw a comprehensive profile of the patron, dedicatees and decorative aspects of the temple. It was built on the top of a ‘sacred hill’ overlooking the Almo river and stands out for its high pediment, which was rare in the Roman world. The harmonious set of terracotta (finely crafted geisa) and marble decorations suggest that the temple was built following a single design plan, probably under Marcus Aurelius. Originally, the vault was originally decorated with rosettes and birds culminating with a central scene. Based on a thorough comparison of the present state of preservat sn with the early drawings by Piranesi and D’Agincourt, the bas-relief scene is reconstructed as Herodes Atticus walking and talking with Annia Regilla. She is a priestess of Demetra, he is a rhetorician and philosopher. The convergence point is marked by a dove, possibly alluding to Faustina the Elder/Aphrodite. The octagon dates back to 150/160 AD and is related to a frieze of arms (later than 112/113 AD): this allows the author to describe it as the heeron that Herodes Atticus commissioned in memory of his wife, while mourning her hypocritically. Possibly he took advantage of the imperial cult of the deifed Faustina the Elder, to whom the temple was dedicated, along with the earlier Demeter.