A Look at Templum and Aedes
in Livy’s
Ab Urbe Condita, Books One through Five

Catherine A. Dunar

Temples, with their religious, private, and public functions, serve as background for the exempla Titus Livius puts forth in his Ab Urbe Condita.  The words templum and aedes, besides telling the larger story, reveal details about word usage in the Augustan Age.  Careful examination of these terms in books one through five of Livy yields much information.   It is possible to see how Livy deviates from standard usages and at times employs one for the other.  Is this carelessness, or are we seeing Livy leading the way in language renovation during the Augustan Age?  A close look at these two terms reveals several aspects of each.   The word templum has the most shades of meaning. The meanings of templum, or temple, include the place from which the augur sat to watch the flight of birds, to the space measured out in the heavens, the boundaries in which the flights determined the good or bad auspices, to the measured out site on the ground for a temple, to the inaugurated building constructed of stone, to an outdoors sacred space, or finally, to a sacred place not a religious building (the Rostra, the Curia).   The augur, having inaugurated a space, thus conferred upon it the quality of being a public place, or a place for civic use and public assembly.  On the other hand,  “shrine” is a good translation for the term aedes.  The distinguishing characteristic of aedes is that it is a place that an augur has not inaugurated, and thus could not be used for official public gatherings and government usage.  Livy substitutes one term for another with subtlety and impunity.  Typical of this cross-over are the vowing of the never-built  templum of Jupiter Stator by Romulus during the battle with the Sabines, in a place in which there was already a fanum, or shrine, and of the Temple of Vesta, a space never inaugurated.  These examples, along with others discussed, provoke the question of Livy’s role in language development in the Augustan Age.

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