The Ancient Library

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the columns were confined to the interior ; or, if used externally, it was only in decorating the TrptWos, or vestibule of entrance. This was the only change which took place in the form of these buildings, from the time of their first institution, until they were converted into Christian churches. The ground plan of all of them is rectangular, and their width not more than half, nor less than one-third of the length (Vitruv. /. c.) ; but if the area on which the edifice was to be raised was not pro­portionally long, small chambers (cfialddica) were cut off from one of the ends (Vitruv. I. c.), which served as offices for the judges or mer­chants. This area was divided into three parts, consisting of a central nave (media portions), and two side aisles, each separated from the centre by a single row of columns — a mode of construction particularly adapted to buildings intended for the reception of a large concourse of people. At one end of the centre aisle was the tribunal of the judge, in form either rectangular or circular, and sometimes cut off from the length of the grand nave (as is seen in the annexed plan of the basilica at Pompeii, which also affords an example of the chambers of the judices, or chalcidica, above men-



(Tacit. Ami. i. 75.) The two side aisles, as has been said, were separated^from the centre one by a row of columns, behind each of which was placed a square pier or pilaster (parastata, Vitruv. I. c.\ which supported the flooring of an upper portico, similar to the gallery of a modern church. The upper gallery was in like manner decorated with




tioned), or otherwise thrown out from the hinder wall of the building, like the tribune of some of the most ancient churches in Rome, and then called the hemicycle—an instance of which is afforded in the basilica Trajani, of which the plan is given below. It will be observed that this was a most sumptuous edifice, possessing a double tribune, and double row of columns on each side of the centre aisle, dividing the whole into five aisles.

The internal tribune was probably the original construction, when the basilica was simply used as a court of justice ; but when those spacious halls were erected for the convenience of traders as well as loungers, then the semicircular and external tri­bune was adopted, in order that the noise and con­fusion in the basilica might not interrupt the proceedings of the magistrates. (Vitruv. I. c.) In the centre of this tribune was placed the curule chair of the praetor, and seats for the indices, who sometimes amounted to the number of 180 (Plin. Ep. vi. 33), and the advocates ; and round the sides of the hemicycle, called the wings (cormta), were seats for persons of distinction, and for the parties engaged in the proceedings. It was in the wing of the tribune that Tiberius sat to overawe the judgment at the trial of Granius Marcellus.

columns of smaller dimensions than those below ; and these served to support the roof, and were connected with one another by a parapet-wall or balustrade (pluteus, Vitruv. I. c.), which served as a defence against the danger of falling over, and screened the crowd of loiterers above (subbasilicani^ Plant. Capt. iv. 2. 35) from the people of business in the area below. (Vitruv. I. c.) This gallery-reached entirely round the inside of the building, and was frequented by women as well as men, the women on one side and the men on the other, who went to hear and see what was going on. (Plin. /. c.) The staircase which led to the upper portico was on the outside, as is seen in the plan of the basilica of Pompeii. It is similarly situated in the basilica of Constantine. The whole area of these magnificent structures was covered in with three separate ceilings, of the kind called testtidinatum, like a tortoise-shell ; in technical language now denominated coved, an expression used to distin­guish a ceiling which has the general appearance of a vault, the central part of which is, however, flat, while the margins incline by a cylindrical shell from each of the four sides of the central square to. the side walls ; in which form the ancients ima­gined a resemblance to the shell of a tortoise.

From the description which has been given, it will be evident how much these edifices were adapted in their general form and construction to the uses of a Christian church ; to which purpose many of them were, in fact, converted in the time of Constantine. Hence the later writers of tlio.


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