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Ara Ditis Patris et Proserpinae

Article on p152 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):


A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

DIS PATER ET PROSERPINA, ARA: an altar in the extreme north-western


part of the campus Martius, the TARENTUM (q.v.), said to have been found
by a Sabine from Eretum, Valesius, who, at the command of an oracle, was
seeking water to heal his children of a plague (Val. Max. II.4.5;
Fest. 329, 350).

It was also said to be •twenty feet below the surface of the ground. On this
altar were offered the sacrifices at the ludi Tarentini, which were afterwards
merged with the ludi saeculares (Liv. Ep. 49;
Phlegon, Macrob. 4; cf. Censorin. de die nat. 17.8; Zos. II.4). The altar of the
time of the empire was discovered in 1886-1887, behind the Palazzo
Cesarini, 5 metres below the level of the Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Two
blocks of the altar itself, which was 3.40 metres square, were found resting
upon a pedestal which was approached by three steps, and a
large pulvinus belonging to it was also found (Cons. 13). Behind it was a
massive wall of tufa and round it a triple wall of peperino. Not far away, in a
mediaeval wall, were found large portions of the marble slabs containing
the inscriptions that record the celebration of the ludi saeculares by
Augustus in 17 B.C., and by Severus in 204 A.D. The altar itself is no longer
visible(HJ 477-478;Mitt. 1891, 127-129;Mon. L. I.540-548; NS 1890, 285; BC 1
887, 276-277; 1894, 325; 1896, 191-230;EE VIII.225-309; CIL VI.32323-
32337; PT 135-137; Cohen, Aug. 188 = BM Aug. 431; Wissowa,
Ges. Abh. 189-209).