Last night I had the distinct pleasure of dinner at the Pantheon. I’m trying to upload some photos to the gallery. On the outside of the Pantheon, engraved in that wonderful Roman font, it says “M. AGRIPPA L. F. COS. TERTIUM FECIT”. I’m told it means “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, in his third consulate, made it.” Something about the sheer self-indulgence of proclaiming on the front of this magnificent building, “MARCUS AGGRIPA BUILT THIS” carries great humor for me. It’s a bold statement of magnificent accomplishment. The only modern counterpart that I can think of is “Trump Tower” but it’s not quite the same as “DONALD, SON OF TRUMP, BUILT THIS”.

We had dinner in the square and I sat so I could see it the whole time. Yes, Marcus Agrippa, we hear you. You built it. Although apparently you didn’t:

The building we see today as the Pantheon is not actually the original building by that name. The first incarnation of the Pantheon was built by Agrippa, the son-in-law of the Roman Emperor Augustus, about 25 B.C. The first building was a traditional rectangular Roman temple made of travertine (limestone rock). Although it was on the same site, it was oriented in a different direction.

As with many ancient cities, Rome suffered the tragedy of large fires in 60, 64, 79, 100 and 110 A.D. The first Pantheon was severely damaged during a fire and was rebuilt by Domitian. That building was destroyed in another fire, supposedly caused by a lightning strike. The Emperor Hadrian built the temple we know today as the Pantheon during the period 118 to 128 A.D. There was a tradition in Rome to rebuild temples like the previous one. Apparently in this case, the only thing to survive in the new temple was the inscription over the portico, which probably gave the new building an important social and political connection to the past.

3 Responses to “I BUILT THIS”

  1. Nick Says:

    Yes, it was built in Hadrian’s time and it was the largest free standing dome for centuries. Go to Florence (Firenze) and see the dome of the Cathedral there if you have time, in fact, go to Florence even if you don’t have time, it’s a great city.

  2. Nick Says:

    Forgot to mention that there is a great book about the dome in Florence that also contains a lot of information about the Pantheon and the Roman concrete formula, titled Brunelleschi’s Dome by Ross King.

  3. anne Says:

    So I read the gelato post, and then I click on your link to the new photos, and it loads the first shot, of a sculpture of a man drooling vociferously.

    I think to myself, “Boy those Italians have been crazy about gelato for a really long time!”

    Give me your basil, give me your celery, give me your pinenuts…. –

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