An unusual view of the Meta Sudans across the Piazza del Colosseo in 1930

The excellent Rome Ieri Oggi site has started posting again on Twitter, and today posted the following fascinating image from 1930:

Note the Meta Sudans in the middle.  By this date the brick stub of this ancient fountain had only a handful of years more in the world, before Mussolini demolished it.

Marvellous to see it!

More Meta Sudans photos and a document on the demolition!

The excellent Roma Ieri Oggi site continues to upload old photographs of Rome.  I confess that I find the twitter feed more accessible than the website, and of course it allows for feedback.

A couple of days ago, I browsed through the feed and came across something very interesting.  First there was a photograph of the arch of Constantine and the Meta Sudans, taken around 1930, a few years before the latter was demolished.  Here it is:

But underneath another tweeter, “Paolo (@vonhoeneim)” posted three contemporary documents about the demolition.  Here’s the tweet:

Dall’Archivio centrale di Stato, tre documenti sulla demolizione della Meta sudans. Questa venne abbattuta per non impedire i flussi del traffico automobilistico e non, come si dice, per far sfilare la camicie nere.

From the Central State Archives, three documents on the demolition of the Meta sudans. This was removed so as not to obstruct the flow of car traffic and not, as is said, to allow the black shirts to parade.

He attaches evidence, which I will upload here (for twitter is ephemeral):

I can’t read this. Can any reader do so?

This is from the “office of the governor” and reads:

= APPUNTO PER S.E. IL CAPO DEL GOVERNO =

Mi onoro informare l’E.V. che, con la lettera odierna, di cui unisco copia, ho sottoposto a S.E. il Ministro dell’Educazio ne Nazionale la questione delle risoluzioni da adottarsi per i ruderi della base del Colosso di Nerone e della Meta Sudante, in relazione ai lavori in carso per l’allargamento della Via di S. Gregorio.

Con devoto ossequio

Roma, lì 7 settembre 1933-XI

I.e.

I am honored to inform the EV. that, with today’s letter, of which I add a copy, I have submitted to his excellency the Minister of National Education the question of the measures to be adopted for the ruins of the base of the Colossus of Nero and the Meta Sudans, in relation to the work in progress due to the widening of the Via di S. Gregorio.

And then there is this:

I.e.

mento rapidissimo dalla zona alta dei quartieri dell’Esquilino del Laterano e dei Monti, con la Via del Mare e con la Stazione di S.Paolo Lido di Roma, Appunto a tale scopo è già previsto l’allargamento del Viale Aventino ohe costituisce la diretta continuazione della Via di S.Gregorio.

Il traffico già intenso ohe in Questi ultimi anni si svolgeva in tutte le ore della giornata lungo la Via di S.Gregorio è venuto aumentando enormemento dopo l’apertura della Via dell’impero, cosi da consigliare a questo Governatorato le opportunità di provvedere senza indugio all’allargamento della strada. Precisamente verso la Via dell’impero erano già e saranno sempre più frequenti le comunicazioni con la nuova strada, sicchè é evidente la necessità di facilitare per quanto è possibile i raccordi, tra le due grandi arterie della nuova Roma di Mussolini, ambedue importantissime non solo per la loro bellezza estetica ma per la loro rispondenza si bisogni del movimento cittadino.

Si presenta perciò in vista della facilitazione di tale raccordo una questione che, nome l’E.V. avrà veduto, ha vivamente in bere usato in queste ultime settimane la stampa cittadina o la pubblica opinione, e cioè la conservazione dei due avanzi monumentali della Base del Colosso di Nerone, e della Meta Sudante.

Come appare dalla pianta allegata, la base del Colosso di Nerone costituisce indubbiamente un gravissimo imbarazzo per lo comuninazioni fra la Via dell’impero e la Via di S.Gregorio, obbligendo i veicoli provenienti dalla Via dell’impero ohe seguono, come è prescritto, ma marcia a destra a girare al di là del rudero, inflettendo uno stretto arco per raggiungere il passaggio tra l’Arco di Costantino ed il Palatino. E’ stata da varie parti avanzata la proposta di demolire il rudero della base del Colosso di Nerone (dopo averne fatto i più precisi rilievi) e di lasciarne la traccia nella pavimentazione stradale, con un piantato in travertino o in gradito o con altro materiale acconcio, e collocando nei pressi una iscrizione, che ricordi l’esistenza del rudero, individuandone esattamente la posizione.

… very fast from the upper area of ​​the Esquilino del Laterano and Monti districts, with the Via del Mare and the S.Paolo Lido station in Rome. Exactly for this purpose the widening of the Viale Aventino is already provided, which constitutes the direct continuation of the Via di S.Gregorio.

The already intense traffic that in recent years took place at all hours of the day along the Via di S.Gregorio has increased since the opening of the Via dell’Impero, so as to suggest to this office the need to provide without delay for the widening of the road. Precisely towards the Via del’Impero connections with the new road were already and will be more and more frequent, so that the need to facilitate as much as possible the connections between the two great arteries of Mussolini’s new Rome, both very important not only for their aesthetic beauty but for their correspondence, requires action by the city.

Therefore, as the name of the E.V has been mentioned, a question presents itself for the facilitation of the connection that has arisen in recent weeks in the city press and public opinion, that is the preservation of the two monumental remains of the base of the Colossus of Nero and the Meta Sudans.

As appears from the attached plan, the base of Nero’s CoIossus undoubtedly constitutes a very serious problem for the connections between the Via dell’Impero and the Via di S.Gregorio, obliging vehicles coming from the Via dell’Impero to follow, as designed, but it runs to the right to turn beyond the ruin, inflicting a narrow arch through which to reach the passage between the Arch of Constantine and the Palatine. The proposal to demolish the ruin of the base of the Colossus of Nero (after having made the most precise recordings) and to leave its trace in the road pavement, with traced in travertine or in gradito or with other acconcite material, has been advanced, and placing an inscription nearby, which reminds us of the existence of the ruin, identifying its exact position.

Unfortunately the document breaks off there before discussing the Meta Sudans, which was treated similarly.  It looks as if the impetus came from the local authorities, rather than the national government, however, in their eagerness to be seen to cooperate.

Finally here is another picture from Roma Ieri Oggi, from 1900, showing the Meta Sudans from an unusual angle, through the arch of the Arch of Constantine:

Wonderful to see it.

The destruction of the base of the Colossus and the Meta Sudans took place very recently.  So much that we might want to know is probably freely accessible in Italian archives, to those who read Italian.  I wish that someone would go through them all and make it accessible.

An unusual angle on the Meta Sudans

On the 15th December this image was posted, dated to the 1920s-30s:

It shows the Arch of Titus, and behind it the Colosseum, from the unusual vantage point of the Palatine hill.  But at this date, of course, it also shows the remains of the ancient Roman fountain, the Meta Sudans, which was demolished soon after by Mussolini.  Unhappily the image is too low-resolution for us to see much of it.  But each photo is precious.

An old photograph of the Meta Sudans from the Palatine (plus the Colosseum and Arch of Constantine)

The “Meta Sudans” was a fountain that stood next to the Colosseum.  The remains of the core were demolished by Mussolini in the 1930s, so there are quite a few photographs around.  Every so often I come across another.

Here’s one that I found on Twitter, published on 11 Jan 2018.  It is unusual, because it shows the monument from an unusual angle, from the Palatine hill.  Nice to have it!

1918 aerial photograph of the Colosseum, Meta Sudans and base of the Colossus

The tireless Italian site Roma Ieri Oggi has found yet more vintage photographs of the eternal city.  They are all worth looking at!  This batch are all from the air, and were taken in 1918.  Apparently they are part of an album which an admiral named Thaon di Revel left to the Museo del Risorgimento Italiano.

One of these in particular caught my eye.  It shows the area around the Colosseum.  The Meta Sudans is just visible beyond the Arch of Constantine, while above it is the rectangular platform on which the Colossus status once stood.  No sign as yet of the Via del foro imperiali, which dominates this area of Rome!

I could look at these photographs for ever…

An 1850 view of the Meta Sudans and the Arch of Constantine

Another splendid find from Roma Ieri Oggi!  This shows the Meta Sudans, with the Arch of Constantine and the ruins of the Palatine … in 1850!  Unusually this was taken from high-up in the Colosseum.  Marvellous!

The Meta Sudans in 1849 in Pierre Monami

A twitter post alerted me to the existence of an oil-painting from 1849 by Pierre Monami, depicting the Roman forum with the Arch of Constantine, the Meta Sudans, the Temple of Venus and Rome, and the Via Sacra leading to the Arch of Titus.  The painting was sold recently at Bonhams, who have a viewer on it here.

Zooming in we get this:

P. Monami, The Meta Sudans, 1849 (excerpt)

The most notable feature is that the Meta Sudans looks pretty much exactly as it does in 1930. The demolition of the top section took place earlier, it seems.

A close up of the Meta Sudans from 1910

The invaluable Roma Ieri Oggi site continues to upload photographs of old Rome, including photographs of vanished sites like the ancient fountain, the Meta Sudans.  A new one appeared a couple of days ago here.  It’s a close-up of the Meta Sudans, although I had to disable my anti-virus software (Kaspersky) in order to view it.  It seems that the site owner is very keen to monetise his site, and I suppose we cannot blame him for that.

Here’s the image anyway:

Meta Sudans, ca. 1910. Via Roma Ieri Oggi.

I wondered if we adjusted the light levels, whether we might get a little more; but sadly darkness is darkness.  Worth a try tho:

Wonderful to see these old photographs, tho. More! Note to non-Italian readers: remember that you can always view the Roma Ieri Oggi site using the Chrome browser, with built-in translation as you click. Google’s translator works really very well for Italian to English. So don’t be shy about visiting Roma Ieri Oggi.

More on the sestertius of Titus showing the Meta Sudans

A correspondent kindly drew my attention to the following piece in the Daily Express.

Rare Roman coin featuring early depiction of the Colosseum sells for £372,000

AN INCREDIBLE rare Roman coin featuring one of the earliest depictions of the Colosseum has sold for £372,000 – nearly five times its estimate.

The bronze Sestertius coin that dates back to AD81 is believed to be only one of 10 that exist today.

Seven are in museums around the world while the other three are in private hands.

This one, appearing in public for the first time in almost 80 years, was acquired by a wealthy British connoisseur of Roman bronze coins in 1939.

It had remained in the late collector’s family ever since but was today sold to a European private collector through London coin dealers Dix Noonan Webb.

A packed auction room watched on in amazement as the relic far exceeded its £80,000 estimate.

One side of the coin features an image of the famous Colosseum in Rome, which had only just been built.

It’s very interesting to learn that his coin is so rare.  In case they vanish from the web, I’d like to place here copies of the marvellous large photographs of the coin.  Note the depiction of the fountain, the Meta Sudans, to the left of the Colosseum, and some kind of long-vanished portico to the right.