From Vows to Numbers
This chapter presents a quantitative reconstruction of temple building during the fourth and third centuries, evaluating the scale of the monumental intervention into Rome's topography and the labor demands that it triggered. The temple constructions of the middle Republic exemplify a social commitment to smallness — repetitive smallness. When it comes to size, no temple that was erected during the middle Republic compares to the Capitoline Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Yet what the middle Republic lacks in the size of its temple foundations it makes up for in their sheer number, and in the rhythms that the regularity of their construction imposed on Roman civic life. The chapter then explores the political and economic inputs that had to be coordinated for temples to rise from the ground. It also considers the possibility that the relatively minimal upfront costs of temple construction were a means of veiling the far greater costs of secular monumental projects: the aqueducts and roads that from the period of the Samnite Wars engineered a profound and lasting revolution in how Romans and non-Romans interacted with and conceived the res publica.
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