Buy authentic ancient coins of Maxentius Roman Emperor, who ruled
The Temple of Venus and of Rome (Latin: Templum Veneris et
Romae) was the largest known
Ancient Rome. Located at the far east
side of the
Forum Romanum near the
Colosseum, it was dedicated to the
Venus Felix (Venus the Bringer of Good
Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome). The
architect was the
Hadrian. Construction of the temple
began in 121. It was officially inaugurated by Hadrian in 135, and
finished in 141 under
Antoninus Pius. Damaged by fire in 307,
it was restored with alterations by the emperor
In order to build the temple, erected on the remnants of
Domus Aurea, the
Colossus of Nero was moved and placed
amphitheatre, which shortly afterwards
became known as the
Colosseum. Unimpressed by his emperor's
Hadrian's most brilliant architect,
Apollodorus, made a scornful remark on
the size of the seated statues within the cellae, saying that they would
surely hurt their heads if they tried to stand up from their thrones.
Apollodorus was banished and executed not long after this.
Further restoration was performed under
Eugenius, a short-lived
usurper (392-394) against
Theodosius I, whose policy was the
restoration of Pagan cults and temples.
Temple of Venus and Roma seen from the
A severe earthquake at the beginning of the 9th century unfortunately
destroyed the temple once again. Around 850
Pope Leo IV ordered the building of a
Santa Maria Nova
Over the centuries most of the columns surrounding the temple
disappeared. Presently only a few remain standing in their original
positions, while others that have gone missing have been replaced by
Set on a
stylobate measuring 145 metres
(476 ft) in length and 100 metres (328 ft) in width, and stood 29.5 metres
(97 ft) tall, being 31 metres (102 ft) counting the statues, the
peristyle (also peripteral)
building measured 110 metres (361 ft) in length and 53 metres (174 ft)
in width. The temple itself consisted of two main chambers (cellae),
each housing a cult statue of a god—Venus,
the goddess of love, and
Roma, the goddess of
Rome, both figures seated on a throne.
The cellae were arranged symmetrically back-to-back. Roma's cella faced
west, looking out over the Forum Romanum, and Venus' cella faced east,
looking out over the Colosseum. A row of four
lined the entrance to each cella, and the temple was bordered by
colonnaded entrances ending in
staircases that led down to the Colosseum.
The west and east sides of the temple (the short sides) had ten white
and the south and north (the long sides) featured eighteen white
columns. All of these columns measured 1.8 metres (6 ft) in width,
making the temple very imposing.
A reconstruction of the temple interior by German Architect Josef
Bühlmann from 1913 depicts two longitudinal colonnades of
Corinthian columns forming a central
nave flanked by two
aisles below a
vaulted ceiling. Resting on the columns
a double impost forms a double
entablature extending back into the
exedra, with a cofferred half-dome
ceiling above the seated statue. The walls behind the aisles are inset
with smaller columns standing some distance above the floor on a plinth.
Small statues set in
niches between these columns punctuate
the walls, the niches surmounted by alternating
arched and triangular
pediments. More small statues are
positioned on the
entablature above each small column.
As an additional clever subtlety by Hadrian, Venus also represented
love (Amor in Latin), and "AMOR" is "ROMA" spelled backwards.
Thus, placing the two divinities of Venus and Rome back-to-back in a
single temple created a further symmetry with the back-to-back symmetry
of their names as well. Within Venus' cella was another altar where
newly wed couples could make sacrifices. Directly adjacent to this altar
stood gigantic silver statues of
Marcus Aurelius and
Faustina the Younger.
Use of the Temple today
Canopy erected at the Temple of Venus and
Rome during Good Friday ceremonies.
Since the papacy of John Paul II, the heights of the temple and its
position opposite the main entrance to the Colosseum have been used to
good effect as a public address platform. This may be seen in the
photograph below where a red canopy has been erected to shelter the Pope
as well as an illuminated cross, on the occasion of the Good Friday
ceremony. The Pope, either personally or through a representative, leads
the faithful through meditations on the stations of the cross while a
cross is carried from there to the Colosseum.
Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maxentius (c.
Western Roman Emperor from 306 to
Maximian, and the son-in-law of
Galerius, also an emperor.
and Caesar: 306-307 A.D.
Augustus: 307-308 (with Maximian and Constantine I)
308-312 A.D. (Sole Reign)
Birth and early life
Maxentius' exact date of birth is unknown; it was
probably around 278. He was the son of the emperor
Maximian and his wife Eutropia.
As his father became emperor in 285, he was regarded
as crown prince who would eventually follow his father on the throne. He
seems not to have served in any important military or administrative
Diocletian's and his father's reign,
though. Early (the exact date is unknown) he married
Valeria Maximilla, the daughter of
Galerius. He had two sons,
Valerius Romulus (ca. 295 – 309) and an
unknown one.When he was about 8 years old he burned his carpet in his
room which resulted in the death of his brother, Pompulus Arenas.
In 305, Diocletian and Maximian resigned, and the
Augusti. Although with
Constantine and Maxentius two sons of
emperors were available, they were left out from the new
Maximinus Daia were appointed Caesars.
Some sources (Lactantius,
Epitome) state that Galerius hated Maxentius and used his
influence on Diocletian that Maxentius be ignored in the succession;
maybe Diocletianus also thought that he was not qualified for the
military duties of the imperial office. Maxentius retired to an estate
some miles from
When Constantius died in 306, his son Constantine was
crowned emperor on
July 25 and subsequently
accepted by Galerius into the
tetrarchy as Caesar. This set
the precedent for Maxentius' accession later in the same year.
Praetorian Guard which were still
stationed at Rome, riots broke out. A group of officers of the city's
calls them Marcellianus, Marcellus and Lucianus) turned to Maxentius to
accept the imperial purple, probably judging that the official
recognition which was granted to Constantine would not be withheld from
Maxentius, son of an emperor as well. Maxentius accepted the honour,
promised donations to the city's troops, and was publicly acclaimed
306. The usurpation obviously
went largely without bloodshed (Zosimus names only one victim); the
prefect of Rome went over to Maxentius and retained his office.
Apparently the conspirators turned to Maximian as well, who had retired
to a palace in
Lucania, but he declined to resume
power for the time being..
Maxentius managed to be recognized as emperor in
central and southern Italy, the islands of
Sicily, and the
African provinces. Northern Italy
remained under the control of the western Augustus
Severus, who resided in
Maxentius refrained from using the titles Augustus or
Caesar at first and styled himself princeps invictus (Undefeated
Prince), in the hope of obtaining recognition of his reign by the senior
emperor Galerius. However, the latter refused to do so. Apart from his
alleged antipathy towards Maxentius, Galerius probably wanted to deter
others from following the examples of Constantine and Maxentius and
declaring themselves emperors. Constantine firmly controlled his
father's army and territories, and Galerius could pretend that his
accession was part of the regular succession in the
tetrarchy, but neither was the case
with Maxentius: he would be the fifth emperor, and he had only few
troops at his command. Galerius reckoned that it would be not too
difficult to quell the usurpation, and early in 307, the Augustus
Severus marched on Rome with a large army.
The majority of this army consisted of soldiers who
had fought under Maxentius' father
Maximian for years, and as Severus
reached Rome, the majority of his army went over to Maxentius, rightful
heir of their former commander, who dealt out a large amount of money.
When Maximian himself finally left his retreat and returned to Rome to
assume the imperial office once again and support his son, Severus with
the rest of his army retreated to
Ravenna. Shortly after he surrendered
to Maximian, who promised that his life be spared.
After the defeat of Severus, Maxentius took
possession of northern Italy up to the
Alps and the
Istrian peninsula to the east, and
assumed the title of Augustus, which (in his eyes) had become vacant
with the surrender of Severus.
The joint rule of Maxentius and Maximian in Rome was
tested further when Galerius himself marched to Italy in the summer of
307 with an even larger army. While negotiating with the invader,
Maxentius could repeat what he did to Severus: by the promise of large
sums of money, and the authority of Maximian, many soldiers of Galerius
defected to him. Galerius was forced to withdraw, plundering Italy on
his way. Some time during the invasion, Severus was put to death by
Maxentius, probably at Tres Tabernae near Rome (the exact circumstances
of his death are not certain). After the failed campaign of Galerius,
Maxentius' reign over Italy and Africa was firmly established. Beginning
in 307 already, he tried to arrange friendly contacts with Constantine,
and in the summer of that year, Maximian travelled to
Gaul, where Constantine married his
Fausta and was in turn appointed
Augustus by the senior emperor. However, Constantine tried to avoid
breaking with Galerius, and did not openly support Maxentius during the
In the conference of
Carnuntum in the autumn of 308,
Maxentius was once again denied recognition as legitimate emperor, and
Licinius was appointed Augustus with
the task of regaining the usurper's domain.
Late in 308,
Domitius Alexander was acclaimed
Carthage, and the African provinces
seceded from Maxentian rule. This produced a dangerous situation for
Maxentius, as Africa was critical to Rome's food supply. Under the
command of his
praetorian prefect Rufius Volusianus,
he sent a small army to Africa which defeated and executed Alexander in
310 or 311; Maxentius used the opportunity to seize the wealth of
Alexander's supporters, and to bring large amounts of grain to Rome.
Also in 310, he lost
Istria to Licinius, who could not
continue the campaign, however, as Galerius fell mortally ill and died
the next year.
Maxentius' eldest son
Valerius Romulus died in 309, at the
age of about 14, was
consecrated and buried in a mausoleum
Villa of Maxentius at the
Via Appia. Near the villa, Maxentius
also constructed the
Circus of Maxentius.
After the death of Maximian in 309 or 310, relations
with Constantine rapidly deteriorated, and Maxentius allied with
Maximinus to counter an alliance
between Constantine and Licinius. He allegedly tried to secure the
Raetia north of the Alps, thereby
dividing the realms of Constantine and Licinius (reported by Zosimus);
the plan was not carried out, as Constantine acted first.
By the middle of 310 Galerius had become too ill to
involve himself in imperial politics.cs.
He died soon after
Galerius' death destabilized what remained of the Tetrarchic system.
On hearing the news, Maximinus mobilized against Licinius, and seized
Asia Minor before meeting Licinius on the Bosphorus to arrange terms for
Maxentius fortified northern Italy against potential invasions. He also
strengthened his support among the Christians of Italy by allowing them
to elect a new
Bishop of Rome,
Maxentius was far from secure, however. His early
support was dissolving into open protest;
by 312, he was a man barely tolerated, not one actively supported.
Without the revenues of the empire, Maxentius was forced to resume
taxation in Italy to support his army and his building projects in Rome.
The election of a bishop did not aid much, either, as Diocletian's
persecution had split the Italian church into competing factions over
the issue of apostasy. The Christians of Italy could easily see that
Constantine was more sympathetic to their plight than Maxentius.
In the summer of 311, Maxentius mobilized against Constantine while
Licinius was occupied with affairs in the East. He declared war on
Constantine, vowing to avenge his father's "murder".
Constantine, in an attempt to prevent Maxentius from forming a hostile
alliance with Licinius,
forged his own alliance with the man over the winter of 311–12 by
offering to him his sister Constantia in marriage. Maximin considered
Constantine's arrangement with Licinius an affront to his authority. In
response, he sent ambassadors to Rome, offering political recognition to
Maxentius in exchange for a military support.
Two alliances, Maximin and Maxentius, Constantine and Licinius, lined up
against one another. The emperors prepared for war.
War against Constantine
Maxentius expected an attack along his eastern flank
from Licinius, and stationed an army in Verona.
Constantine had smaller forces than his opponent: with his forces
withdrawn from Africa, with the praetorian and Imperial Horse Guard, and
with the troops he had taken from Severus, Maxentius had an army equal
to approximately 100,000 soldiers to use against his opponents in the
north. Many of these he used to garrison fortified towns across the
region, keeping most stationed with him in Verona. Against this,
Constantine could only bring a force of between twenty-five and forty
thousand men. The bulk of his troops simply could not be withdrawn from
the Rhine frontiers without negative consequences.
It was against the recommendations of his advisers and generals, against
popular expectation, that Constantine anticipated Maxentius, and struck
As early as weather permitted,
late in the spring of 312,
Constantine crossed the Alps with a quarter of his total army, a force
equivalent to something less than forty thousand men.
Having crossed the
Cottian Alps at the
Mont Cenis pass,
he first came to Segusium (Susa,
Italy), a heavily fortified town
containing a military garrison, which shut its gates to him. Constantine
ordered his forces set its gates on fire, scaled its walls, and took the
town quickly. Constantine forbade the plunder of the town, and advanced
into northern Italy.
At the approach to the west of the important city of Augusta Taurinorum
Italy), Constantine encountered a large force of heavily armed Maxentian
cataphracti in the ancient sources.
In the ensuing
battle Constantine spread his forces
into a line, allowing Maxentius' cavalry to ride into the middle of his
forces. As his forces broadly encircled the enemy cavalry, Constantine's
own cavalry charged at the sides of the Maxentian cataphracts, beating
them with iron-tipped clubs. Many Maxentian cavalrymen were dismounted,
while most others were variously incapacitated by the blows. Constantine
then commanded his foot soldiers to advance against the surviving
Maxentian infantry, cutting them down as they fled.
Victory, the panegyrist who speaks of the events declares, came easily.
Turin refused to give refuge to the retreating forces of Maxentius. It
opened its gates to Constantine instead. Other cities of the north
Italian plain, recognizing Constantine's quick and clement victories,
sent him embassies of congratulation for his victory. He moved on to
Milan, where he was met with open gates and jubilant rejoicing. He
resided there until the middle of the summer of 312 before moving on.
It was expected that Maxentius would try the same
strategy as against Severus and Galerius earlier; that is, remaining in
the well-defended city of Rome, and sit out a siege which would cost his
enemy much more. For somewhat uncertain reasons, he abandoned this plan,
however, and offered battle to Constantine near the
Milvian Bridge on
312. Ancient sources usually
attribute this action to superstition or (if pro-Constantinian) divine
providence. Maxentius of course had consulted soothsayers before battle,
as was customary practice, and it can be assumed that they reported
omens, especially as the day of battle
would be his dies imperii, the day of his accession to the throne
(which was October 28, 306). What else may have motivated him, is open
The armies of Maxentius and Constantine met north of
the city, some distance outside the walls, beyond the
Tiber river on the
Via Flaminia. Christian tradition,
Eusebius of Caesarea, claims that
Constantine fought under the
labarum in that battle, revealed to him
in a dream. Of the battle itself, not much is known – Constantine's
forces defeated Maxentius's troops, who retreated to the Tiber, and in
the chaos of the fleeing army trying to cross the river, Maxentius fell
into the water and drowned. His body was found the next day and paraded
through the city, and later sent to Africa, as a sign that he had surely
Overview and legacyy
Lactantius, under the influence of the
official propaganda later Christian tradition framed Maxentius as
hostile to Christianity as well. This image has left its traces in all
of our sources and has dominated the view of Maxentius well into the
20th century, when a more extensive use and analysis of non-literary
sources like coins and inscriptions have led to a more balanced image.
Maxentius was a prolific builder, whose achievements were overshadowed
by Constantine's issue of a damnatio memoriae against him. Many
buildings in Rome that are commonly associated with Constantine, such as
the great basilica in the
forum Romanum, were in fact built by
Discovery of Imperial
In December 2006, Italian archeologists announced
that an excavation under a shrine near the
Palatine Hill had unearthed several
items in wooden boxes, which they identified as the imperial
regalia, possibly belonging to
Maxentius. The items in these boxes, which were wrapped in linen and
what appears to be silk, include 3 complete lances, 4 javelins, what
appears to be a base for standards, and three glass and
chalcedony spheres. The most important
find was a scepter of a flower holding a blue-green globe, which is
believed to have belonged to the Emperor himself because of its
intricate worksmanship, and has been dated to his rule
Battle of Milvian Bridge by
The items have been restored and are on temporary display at the
Museo Nazionale Romano at the Palazzo
Massimo alle Terme.