Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
The Domus Aurea Reconsidered
P. Gregory Warden

Abstract

The Domus Aurea was built by Nero after the fire of 64 A. D., and construction continued at least until Nero's death in 68. Although the building is described by Roman writers, none of the remains identified today as the Domus Aurea are mentioned in the literary sources. Previous scholarship, basing itself on literary sources and other Roman monuments, has shown that the Domus Aurea was a landscape park in which the architectural components were subordinated to a greater landscape design, but problems still remain with regard to topographical questions. The Domus Aurea is normally reconstructed as vast in scale, covering up to 80 hectares or a large part of ancient Rome. It is suggested here that the monument covered a much smaller area, perhaps only half that normally reconstructed. Problems of chronology are also discussed, particularly the question of what happened to the building after the death of Nero. It is suggested that the Esquiline wing, the best known of the buildings presently identified as the Domus Aurea, is only partially Neronian, and that its eastern section is Flavian in date. This revision affects our view of the development of Roman architecture and assigns less importance to the role played by Neronian architects in the "concrete revolution" of the 1st century A. D.

Log in through your institution