In a small park known as the Garden
of Aracoeli are the remains of walls
which are believed to be from two important ancient shrines, the fourth century
BC Temple of Juno Moneta and the Auguraculum, the
sacred area where priests read omens from the flight patterns of birds.
Both the Temple
of Juno Moneta and the
Auguraculum are known to have been on the Arx (Latin for “citadel”)
on the northern side of the Capitoline Hill.
The Auguraculum was an open-air temple on Capitoline Hill
where priests, known as augurs, would come to inquire of Jupiter, the king of the Roman gods, whether
or not a certain action should be taken. They would then interpret the flight
patterns of birds as an answer of “yes” or “no” to their
question. The practice of augury was an extremely important part of ancient
Roman society and in the earliest periods of Rome matters of law, politics and war would
be decided only after consulting with the augurs and determining the will of
the gods. One example of the augur’s
importance was recorded by the ancient Roman historian Livy, who writes
that the augurs were consulted at the Auguraculum to determine if Numa
Pompilius should become the second king of Rome in 715 BC. The proposed remains of the
Auguraculum can be seen in the Garden
of Aracoeli in a small
grassy area surrounded by a metal fence, directly across from a side entrance
to the Palazzo Senatorio.
of Juno Moneta on
Capitoline Hill was built in 344 BC by Lucius Furius Camillus, son of the famous
Roman soldier and statesman Marcus Furius Camillus. It is believed that this
temple may have replaced an earlier temple or sanctuary on the site that was
dedicated to the goddess Juno, the goddess of protection and wife of Jupiter,
the king of all the Roman gods.
The goddess Juno is referred to at this temple as “Juno
Moneta” (Latin for “Juno the Adviser”). The title of
“moneta” is a derivative of the Latin word “mone?”, which
means to “warn” or “advise”. Several ancient legends have
given an explanation for her title of “Juno Moneta”. One legend
stated that the sacred geese of the goddess had warned the Romans of an
imminent attack by the Gauls in 390 BC. A second legend stated that the Romans
heard the voice of the goddess coming from her temple with a warning that she
required a sacrifice.
of Juno Moneta is also
known today for its association with money. The mint of Rome and its workshops were set up in the
area near this temple some time after its construction, as early as 269 BC, when
silver coins were manufactured there. The mint remained in this location for
several hundred years. Because of its proximity to the Temple of Juno Moneta,
the Latin word “mon?ta” came to be associated with a mint and money.
Today, the Italian word for “currency” (moneta) and the English word
“money” are both derived from the Latin word “mon?ta”.
Some archaeologists have proposed that the remains of two
long walls in the Garden of Aracoeli belong to the Temple of Juno Moneta.
The walls are located to the right of the stairs which lead to the side entrance
of the Church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli.