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Papers of the British School at Rome 76 (2008), pp. 173-81 and 355 The Jerusalem Temple treasure and the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano in Rome by John Osborne Located on the ancient Via Sacra, adjacent to the imposing ruins of the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine, the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano occupies an important place in the history of early medieval Rome. Whether by accident or design, it represents the first documented instance of a Christian presence invading the very heart of the ancient city, as well as an early exam- ple in Rome of a standing secular building being converted for new use as a Christian church (FIG. 1)." Precisely when this conversion took place can be determined with considerable certainty. The Liber Pontificalis biography of Pope Felix IV (526-30) records that 'He built the basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian in the city of Rome, in the area called the Via Sacra, close to the tem- ple of the City of Rome'. The passage is unusual for its explicit references to ' Research for this paper was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I should like to thank Laura Marchiori and Stefano Riccioni for their assistance. For the structure: P. Whitehead, 'The church of SS. Cosma e Damiano in Rome', American journal of Archeology 31 (1927), 1-18; R. Krautheimer, Corpus Basilicarum Chmtianarum Romae, 5 vols (Vatican City, 1937-77), 1, 137-43; S. Episcopo, 'SS Cosma e Damiano, Basilica', in E.M. Steinby (ed.), Lexicon Topographicum Urhis Romae, 6 vols (Rome, 1993-2000), I, 324-5; G. Kalas, Sacred Image/Urban Space: Images, Installations, and Rituals in the Early Medieval Roman Forum (Ph.D. thesis, Bryn Mawr College, 1999), 108-72; P.L. Tucci, 'Nuove acquisizioni sulla basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano', Studi Romani 49 (2001), 275-93; and H. Brandenburg, he prime chiese di Roma IV—VII secolo. L'inizio dell'architettura ecclesiastica occidentale (Milan, 2004), 222-31. - As has been noted by many, including recently Brandenburg, Le prime chiese di Roma (above, n. 1), 222: 'Si tratta del primo luogo di culto cristiano costruito nel vero e pro- prio centra monumentale di Roma'. For a discussion of the continuity in occupation and use of the Roman Forum during the late classical and early medieval periods, see R. Meneghini, 'II Foro Romano e i Fori Imperiali', in R. Meneghini and R. Santangeli Valenzani, Roma nel- I'altomedioevo: topografia e urhanistica della citta dal V al X secolo (Rome, 2004), 157-88. The installation of a church also may have prompted the use of adjoining space for burial: M. Capponi and M. Ghilardi, 'Scoperta, nel 'Templum Pads', di un'area sepolcrale proba- bilmcnte contemporanca alia fondazione dei SS. Cosma e Damiano', in F. Guidobaldi and A. Guiglia Guidobaldi (eds), Ecclesiae Urhis. Atti del congresso internazionale di studi sulle chiese di Roma f/V-X secolo) (Vatican City, 2002), 733-56. ? I,. Duchesne (ed.), Liber Pontificalis, 2 vols (Paris, 1886-92), I, 279: 'Hie fecit basilicam sanctorum Cosmae et Damiani in urbe Roma, in loco qui appellatur via Sacra, iuxta templum urbis Romae'. English translation from R. Davis (trans.), The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1989), 51.

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Page 1: Jerusalem Temple Treasure, St.cosma e Damiano in Rome

Papers of the British School at Rome 76 ( 2 0 0 8 ) , p p . 1 7 3 - 8 1 a n d 355

The Jerusalem Temple treasure and the church of Santi

Cosma e Damiano in Rome

by John Osborne

Located on the ancient Via Sacra, adjacent to the imposing ruins of theBasilica of Maxentius and Constantine, the church of Santi Cosma e Damianooccupies an important place in the history of early medieval Rome. Whetherby accident or design, it represents the first documented instance of a Christianpresence invading the very heart of the ancient city, as well as an early exam-ple in Rome of a standing secular building being converted for new use as aChristian church (FIG. 1)." Precisely when this conversion took place can bedetermined with considerable certainty. The Liber Pontificalis biography ofPope Felix IV (526-30) records that 'He built the basilica of Saints Cosmas andDamian in the city of Rome, in the area called the Via Sacra, close to the tem-ple of the City of Rome'. The passage is unusual for its explicit references to

' Research for this paper was supported by the Social Sciences and HumanitiesResearch Council of Canada. I should like to thank Laura Marchiori and Stefano Riccionifor their assistance.

For the structure: P. Whitehead, 'The church of SS. Cosma e Damiano in Rome',American journal of Archeology 31 (1927), 1-18; R. Krautheimer, Corpus BasilicarumChmtianarum Romae, 5 vols (Vatican City, 1937-77), 1, 137-43; S. Episcopo, 'SS Cosma eDamiano, Basilica', in E.M. Steinby (ed.), Lexicon Topographicum Urhis Romae, 6 vols(Rome, 1993-2000), I, 324-5; G. Kalas, Sacred Image/Urban Space: Images, Installations,and Rituals in the Early Medieval Roman Forum (Ph.D. thesis, Bryn Mawr College, 1999),108-72; P.L. Tucci, 'Nuove acquisizioni sulla basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano', StudiRomani 49 (2001), 275-93; and H. Brandenburg, he prime chiese di Roma IV—VII secolo.L'inizio dell'architettura ecclesiastica occidentale (Milan, 2004), 222-31.

- As has been noted by many, including recently Brandenburg, Le prime chiese diRoma (above, n. 1), 222: 'Si tratta del primo luogo di culto cristiano costruito nel vero e pro-prio centra monumentale di Roma'. For a discussion of the continuity in occupation and useof the Roman Forum during the late classical and early medieval periods, see R. Meneghini,'II Foro Romano e i Fori Imperiali', in R. Meneghini and R. Santangeli Valenzani, Roma nel-I'altomedioevo: topografia e urhanistica della citta dal V al X secolo (Rome, 2004), 157-88.The installation of a church also may have prompted the use of adjoining space for burial:M. Capponi and M. Ghilardi, 'Scoperta, nel 'Templum Pads', di un'area sepolcrale proba-bilmcnte contemporanca alia fondazione dei SS. Cosma e Damiano', in F. Guidobaldi andA. Guiglia Guidobaldi (eds), Ecclesiae Urhis. Atti del congresso internazionale di studi sullechiese di Roma f/V-X secolo) (Vatican City, 2002), 733-56.

? I,. Duchesne (ed.), Liber Pontificalis, 2 vols (Paris, 1886-92), I, 279: 'Hie fecitbasilicam sanctorum Cosmae et Damiani in urbe Roma, in loco qui appellatur via Sacra,iuxta templum urbis Romae'. English translation from R. Davis (trans.), The Book of Pontiffs(Liber Pontificalis) (Liverpool, 1989), 51.

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174 OSBORNF.

Rome's pre-Christian urban geography, no doubt reflecting the unprecedented nature of Felix'saction. With only a few exceptions, previous imperial and papal patronage of ecclesiasticalarchitecture, as Richard Krautheimer has demonstrated, had been concentrated in areas wellaway from the centre, at first in the suburban cemeteries and catacombs (for example, the shrinechurches at the tombs of Saints Peter, Paul, Lawrence, Agnes and Sebastian), and then in the'non-official' zones of habitation. Even in the fifth century, when the papacy began increasing-ly to take on a more political role in the city's affairs, the major building activities were locatedprimarily around the periphery of the urban perimeter, and above all in the zone surroundingSan Giovanni in Laterano, where the early medieval popes resided. No previous pontiff isrecorded as having introduced a Christian building, whether new or recycled, to the area of theancient Forum and its cluster of public spaces and buildings in the valley between theCapitoline, Palatine and Esquiline Hills.4

Additional confirmation of the patronage may be found in the substantial mosaic with whichPope Felix adorned the pre-existing apse of the rectangular hall (PLATE 1).' This mosaic is dom-inated by a central image of Christ, shown at the time of the Second Coming, flanked by thetwo primary patron saints of the Roman church, Peter and Paul, who in turn present the twotitular saints to whom the new church was dedicated: the holy physicians, Cosmas and Damian.6

At the far left stands the pope, shown offering a small model of his new church, in the hope thathe too, as the metrical inscription beneath explains, 'may be granted life in the airy vault ofheaven'. This wish is reinforced by the presence beside him of a palm tree, in which sits a

•* R. Krautheimer, Rome: Profile of a City, 312-1508 (Princeton, 1980). 32-58. For an overview of the'Christiani/.ation' of the city, see also L. Pani Ermini, 'Lo 'spazio cristiano' nella Roma del primo millennio', inL. Pani Ermini (cd.), Christiana Loca. \JO spazio cristiano nella Roma del primo millennio, 2 vols (Rome,2000-1), I, 1 5—37, esp. p. 29. Although archaeology in recent decades has led to some substantial rethinking ofKrautheimcr's division of Rome into zones of abitato and disabitato, the general observation regarding the areasof focus for papal building projects still holds true.

' W. Oakcshott, The Mosaics of Rome (London, 1967), 90-4; and Kalas, Sacred Image/Urban Space(above, n. 1), 148-57. Pope Felix's activities at the site consisted primarily in the installation of these mosaics.The lower walls retained their fourth-century marble decorations in opus sectile. These were still in place in thesixteenth century when they were recorded by Pirro Ligorio and others: see L. Luschi, 'Gli antichi edifici dellabasilica dei SS. Cosma e Damiano: osservazioni sui disegni ligoriani', in R. Farioli Campanati (cd.), Seminariointemazionale di stndi sul tema 'Ricerche in archeologia e topografia in memoria del Prof. Nereo Alfieri (XL11Icorso di cultura sull'arte ravennate e bizantina) (Ravenna, 1998), 429-52. The apse mosaic was substantiallyrestored in the late sixteenth century, and then again in the course of extensive renovations made to the churchby members of the Barberini family in the seventeenth century: see V. Tiberia, // restauro del mosaico della basil-ica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano a Roma (Todi, 1991), and V. Tiberia, // mosaico restaurato. L'arco della basilicadei Santi Cosma e Damiano (Rome, 1998). Drawings made by Antonio Eclissi in the 1630s provide more detailsthan are visible today: J. Osborne and A. Claridge, The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo. Series A, Part II:Early Christian and Medieval Antiquities, 2 vols (London, 1996-8), I, 94-7.

6 Cosmas and Damian were physicians who practised their medicine without exacting payment. Theythus belong to a category of Christian saints known as the anargyroi (literally those without silver, that is withoutmoney).

' '... ut aetheria vivat in arce poli'. Full text cited in Duchesne (cd.), Liber Pontificalis (above, n. 3), I,280, n. 3, and discussed below.

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JERUSALEM TEMPLE TREASURE AND SANTI COSMA E DAMIANO 175

FIG. 1. Church of Santi Cosma e Damiano. (Photo: John Osborne.)

phoenix, a time-honoured symbol of death and resurrection. In subsequent centuries, the gen-eral iconographic formula of this apse composition would be enormously influential, constitut-ing the basis for ninth-century apse mosaics in the Roman churches of Santa Prassede, SantaCecilia in Trastevere and San Marco, as well as the tenth-century painted apse of Santa Mariain Pallara.s

While it is perhaps not a surprise that a Christian presence eventually should have found itsway into the more public spaces of the city centre, and it would shortly thereafter be followedby a number of others (for example, Santa Maria Antiqua and Sant'Adriano, to name but two),

^ For this influence and a list of examples, see the comments of U. Nilgen, 'Die Bilder iiber dem Altar.Triumph- und Apsisbogcnprogrammc in Rom und Mittelitalien und ihr Bezug zur Liturgie', in N. Bock, S. deBlaauw, C.I;. Frommel and H. Kessler (eds), Kunst und Liturgie im Mittelalter (Akten des IntemationalenKongresses der Ribliotheca Hertziana und des hlederlands Instituut te Rom, Rom, 28-30 September 1997) (Beiheftzum Romischen Jahrbuch fur Kunstgeschichte 33) (Munich, 2000), 75—89, at p. 76. The originality of the iconog-raphy has been the subject of considerable debate. Given the evident authority of this formula in subsequent cen-turies, some scholars have argued that the Santi Cosma e Damiano apse must have copied some unknown earl-ier model, now lost: see GJ. Hoogewerff, 'II mosaico absidale di San Giovanni in Laterano ed altri mosaiciromani ' , Rendiconti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia 27 (1953), 297-326 ; and Krautheimer,

Rome: Profile of a City (above, n. 4), 93-4. An opposing argument, stressing the originality of the Santi Cosma eDamiano apse composition and claiming that it sened as the direct model for later copies, has been presentedby P.J. Nordhagcn, 'Un problema di carattere iconografico e tecnico a S. Prassede', in Roma e leta carolingia(Rome, 1976), 159-66.

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176 OSBORNE

it is interesting to speculate about what may have prompted the selection of this specific hall forsuch a prominent honour. As Siri Sande has noted, there was no shortage of available buildingssuitable for such a purpose, including structures such as the nearby Basilica Aemilia, whosearchitecture was somewhat closer to the normal form of a Roman basilical church. Why didPope Felix pick this particular structure? For, as Hugo Brandenburg has commented recently,the choice is unlikely to have been random.10

A number of factors may have played a role in this regard. The choice of the two healingsaints, Cosmas and Damian, is obviously significant, and their salvific potential is referred todirectly in the apse inscription. Various scholars have been prompted to speculate that Felix IVand subsequent pontiffs were attempting to 'Christianize' a pre-existing zone of healing, by con-verting existing, and presumably highly popular, pagan healing cults into those of appropriateChristian saints — in much the same way that the influential cult centre of Isis medica atMenouthis, near Alexandria, had been converted in the first half of the fifth century to a shrineof the healing saints Cyrus and John." Evidence to support this view comes not only from thesomewhat unusual choice (at least in terms of the city of Rome) of two non-Roman saints for thededication, but also from the evidence gleaned from other healing sites that were situated invery close proximity, including the Lacus Juturnae and the later church of Santa MariaAntiqua.1

This paper aims to add one additional possibility to the list of potential reasons why PopeFelix IV may have chosen this building for his new church, related to the previous function ofthat specific site. The structure that became Santi Cosma e Damiano comprised the southeastcorner of a large and significant complex: the Templum Pacis (Temple of Peace), constructedby the Emperor Vespasian between 71 and 75 CE to commemorate the Roman victory in theJewish War and the capture of the city of Jerusalem (70 CE).1' It was a show-piece project, siteof a library and an important art collection, lauded by Pliny the Elder, who informed us thatVespasian here placed on public display the famous works of art that previously had been loot-ed by the Emperor Nero in order to decorate his Golden House.14 The precise original functionof this particular apsed hall is not known, although it combined with an adjoined circular

9 S. Sande, 'Old and new in old and new Rome', Acta ad Archaeologiam etArtium Historiam Pertinentia17(2003), 101-12, at p. 104.

"-1 Brandenburg, he prime chiese di Roma (above, n. 1), 223.11 Brandenburg, Le prime chiese di Roma (above, n. 1), 223. For the parallel at Alexandria: P. Sinthern,

'Der Romische Abbacyrus in Geschichte, Legende und Kunst', Romische Quartalschrift 22 (1908), 197-239; andH. Delehaye, 'Les saints d'Aboukir', Analecta Bollandiana 30 (1911), 448-50.

' - See J. Aronen, 'La soprawivenza dei culti pagani e la topografia cristiana dell'area di Giutuma e dellesue adiacenze', in E.M. Steinby (ed.), Lacus lutumae I (Rome, 1989), 148-74; D. Knipp, 'The Chapel ofPhysicians at Santa Maria Antiqua', Dumbarton Oaks Papers 56 (2002), 1-23; and B. Brenk, 'Zur Einfiihrungdes Kultes der heiligen Kosmas und Damian in Rom', Theologische Zeitschrift 62 (2006), 303-20. It is temptingto speculate that this proximity to a site of healing by water may have prompted the attention given in the apsemosaic to the river Jordan, singled out for identification by an inscription.

15 F. Coarelli, 'Pax, Templum', in Steinby (ed.), lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae (above, n. 1), IV,67-70.

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JERUSALEM TEMPLE TREASURK AND SANTI COSMA E DAMIAXO

vestibule, the so-called Temple of Romulus,1' to provide a formal entranceway to the Templum(and later Forum) Pacis from the Via Sacra. The brickwork suggests that the structure in its pres-ent form dates principally from the early years of the fourth century. That it may have exercisedsome civic function in late antiquity, possibly related to the office of the praefectus urbis, mayperhaps be implied from the fact that the outer wall of the large chamber behind the apse wasthe location for the display of the Forma Urbis Romae, the famous Severan marble plan of thecity, some fragments of which were rediscovered in this vicinity beginning in 1562.16 GregorKalas has raised the intriguing possibility that it was the presence of the marble plan that drewPope Felix IV to the site. The plan, in his view, served as a site of memory for the grandeur ofthe ancient city, and its appropriation by the papacy would thus be reflective of their largerambitions to transform the city into an urbs Christiana, while also encouraging visitors to turntheir thoughts from the earthly city to a higher spiritual plane.1

But Vespasian's Temple of Peace had also housed another set of objects, and these, or rathertheir memory, may have been increasingly significant to the inhabitants of a ChristianizedRome: the treasure from the Temple in Jerusalem, brought back to Rome to celebrate the im-perial triumph, as depicted in the famous relief that adorns the nearby Arch of Titus.'8 The con-temporary historian Flavius Josephus recorded that Vespasian placed the golden objects fromJerusalem in his new lemple of Peace, while retaining the tablets of the law and the purplehangings in his palace,19 and there is some evidence to suggest that in subsequent years theywere the focus of pilgrimage by visiting Jewish scholars/"

The subsequent history of the Temple treasures is not traced easily. Despite later medievalclaims to their possession put forward by the clergy of San Giovanni in Laterano,21 there seems

14 Pliny, Natural History 34.19.84; see also 3536.74, 35.36.101-2, 35.36.109 and 36.11.58. For the artcollection: R. Lanciani, New Tales of Old Rome (London, 1901), 233—4; and E. La Rocca, 'La nuova imagine deifori imperial]: appnnti in margine agli scavi', Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archdologischen Instituts. RomischeAhteilung 108 (2001), 171-213, esp. pp. 195-207. Prokopios ofCaesarea {History of the Wars 8.21.11-14) record-ed that part of the sculpture collection was still in place in the sixth century.

' ' For the medieval and post-medieval phases of this structure, see A. Russo, 'II tempio di Romolo alForo Romano: testimonianza stratigrafica di una fase medievale', Archeologia Medievale 28 (2001), 241—66.

16 For the marble plan, see A. Claridge, Rome: an Oxford Archaeological Guide (Oxford, 1998), 153-5;and Kalas, Sacred Image/Urban Space (above, n. 1), 128-34. For the sixteenth-century rediscovery, see P. Jacks,The Antiquarian and the Myth of Antiquity: the Origins of Rome in Renaissance Thought (Cambridge, 1993),218-20.

' ' Kalas, Sacred Image/Urban Space (above, n. 1), 157.'^ L. Yarden, The Spoils of Jerusalem on the Arch of Titus: a Re-investigation (Stockholm, 1991).19 Josephus, The Jewish War Books 5-7, trans. H. Thackeray (Cambridge (MA), 1961 [1928]), VII,

158-62.

-^ See D. Noy, 'Rabbi Aqiba comes to Rome: a Jewish pilgrimage in reverse?', in J. Eisner and I.Rutherford (eds), Pilgrimage in Graeco-Roman and Early Christian Antiquity: Seeing the Gods (Oxford, 2005),373-85.

- ' The claim is made in the Descriptio Lateranensis Ecclesiae, the first edition of which may be datedto the late eleventh century: see R. Valentini and G. Zucchetti (eds), Codice topografico della citta di Roma, 4vols (Rome, 1940-53), III, 337. See also I. Herklotz, Gli eredi di Costantino. II papato, il Laterano e la propagan-da visiva nel XII secolo (Rome, 2000), 172-3.

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178 OSBORXF

little doubt that the golden objects were removed from Rome in 455 as part of the enormousbooh1 seized by King Geiseric of the Vandals, who had them shipped to his capital at Carthage.In the early sixth century, with the fall of the Vandal kingdom in north Africa to the imperialforces commanded by Belisarius, they were on the move once again. The historian Prokopiosof Caesarea, an eyewitness, reported that the Temple treasure was taken first to Constantinople,where it featured prominently in the triumph celebrated in the Hippodrome, before being senton by the Emperor Justinian to the Christian churches in Jerusalem." There the trail growscold, although it is unlikely that they could have survived the calamitous events of the early sev-enth century, including the dramatic sack of the city by the Persians in May 614.

Although the Temple of Peace had lost its treasure some 70 years before Felix IV's conversionof the hall and vestibule into a Christian church, it is possible that some memory of these sacredobjects lingered on, thus making this site particularly appropriate for a subsequent Christianpresence, and indeed considerably more so than other potential candidates. Both the contentsof the Temple treasure and their source were known to medieval Romans, since in addition tothe account of Josephus they are mentioned in a number of subsequent sources."1

If the choice of the site had been prompted in part by its historical associations, it might beexpected that this would be reflected in some way in the documentary record; but, as we haveseen, the Liber Pontificalis is completely silent in this regard. There is, however, a second 'docu-ment' recording the papal conversion of the site, namely the mosaic decorations with theirimages and dedicatory inscription. Can these be plumbed in any way for useful clues?

Two aspects of the mosaic decoration may be of some interest in this regard. The first is the

verse inscription at the base of the apse, written in gold letters set against a blue background,

and here cited in full:

AULA D(e)I CLARIS RADIAT SPECIOSA METALLISIN QUA PLUS FIDEI LUX PRETIOSA MICATMARTYRIBUS MEDICIS POPULO SPES CERTA SALUTISVENIT ET EX SACRO CREVIT HONORE LOCUSOPTULIT HOC D(omi)NO FELIX ANTISTITE DIGNUMMUNUS UT AETHERIA VIVAT IN ARCE POLI

Each of the three couplets contains an important piece of information. In the first, the vieweris informed immediately of the nature of the change: the building has been converted to a

-- Prokopios, History of the Wars 4.9.1-10. Whether the objects stolen by the Vandals and recovered byBelisarius were the originals, or later replacements masquerading as such, is immaterial. What is important isthat they were believed to be the originals in the early sixth century.

- ' For example, the Descriptio Lateranensis Ecclesiae (Valentini and Zucchetti (eds), Codice topografi-co della citta di Roma (above, n. 21), III, 336-9, 341-2) and the Graphia Aureae Urbis {Codice topografico dellacitta di Roma, III, 83-4). Both refer explicitly to the inclusion of'septem candelabra'. The Graphia confusinglylocated the Templum Pacis 'iuxta Lateranum', no doubt influenced by the latter's claim to possess the objects inquestion. The memory of the transfer from Jerusalem was also preserved by Jerome, Commentaria in joelemProphetam (J.P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus Series Latvia (Paris, 1844-91), XXV, 1,029).

Page 7: Jerusalem Temple Treasure, St.cosma e Damiano in Rome

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180 OSBORNE

The theme of the apse was further accentuated by the mosaics on the triumphal arch, whichincorporate images drawn from the Apocalypse, the apostle John's vision of the events thatwould take place at the end of time. This last book of the New Testament had provided a richsource of imagery for Christian art from at least the third century."' The two sides of the archtogether depicted the 24 elders of the Apocalypse, shown raising their crowns towards the mys-tic Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), seated on a throne at the apex. Although today only small por-tions of the arms and crowns of the foremost elders remain visible, with the remainder of thetwo sides now being hidden from view by the chapels inserted in the nave in the seventeenthcentury, the general appearance of the original scheme may be ascertained from its ninth-cen-tury copy at Santa Prassede. This formula for the decoration of a triumphal arch was not new atSanti Cosma e Damiano. It may be found a century earlier on the triumphal arch of the churchof San Paolo fuori le mura, although there it was a bust of Christ to which the crowns wereoffered, and not the image of the Lamb. Both arch mosaics also depicted the symbols of the fourevangelists, flanking the centre/1 But there is one significant difference between the twoschemes.

At Santi Cosma e Damiano a new and apparently unprecedented element has been intro-duced to the San Paolo iconography. Placed prominently at the top of the triumphal arch, flank-ing the enthroned Lamb of God, are seven large gold candlesticks/ While their presence hereis no doubt prompted in large part by a series of passages in the Apocalypse — Revelation1.12-13, 20; 2.1; and especially 4.5 ('... and before the throne burn seven torches of fire, whichare the seven spirits of God') — it is tempting also to see in the decision to add these to the pre-vious formula some allusion to the lost Temple treasure, and specifically to the menorah, thelarge seven-branched candelabrum that is featured so prominently in the Arch of Titus relief.

2 ' F. van der Meer, Maiestas Domini: Theophames de I'Apocalypse dans Fart chretien (Rome, 1938). Auseful overview of the influence on church decoration has been provided by D. Kinncy, T h e Apocalypse in earlyChristian monumental decoration', in R.K. Kmmcrson and B. McGinn (eds), The Apocalypse in the Middle Ages(Ithaca (NY)/London, 1992), 200-16.

-*> The original San Paolo arch mosaics were lost in the disastrous fire of 1823, but are recorded in anti-quarian drawings, and in particular Bibliotcca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Barb. Lat. 4406, fols 137v—138r: see S.Waetzoldt, 'Zur Ikonographie des Triumphbogenmosaiks von St Paul in Rom', in \liscellaned BihliothecaeHertzianae (Munich, 1961), 19-28; and G. Bordi, 'II mosaico dell'Arco Triomphale', in M. Andaloro led.),L'orizzonte tardoantico e le nuove immagini, 312-468 (La pittura medierale a Roma 312-1431. Corpus I) (Milan,2006), 395-407. The inscription, naming the Empress Galla Placidia and Pope Leo I, permits a dating between440 and 450. For additional comments on the two arches, and the possible influence of contemporary commen-taries on the Apocalypse, see C. Davis-Weyer, 'Discedente Loth a Sodomis: a Ticonian reading of the mosaic onthe arch of SS. Cosma e Damiano in Rome (526-530)', in Arte d'Occidente: temi e metodi. Studi in onore diAngiola Maria Romanini (Rome, 1995), 743-53. Millennialist concerns seem to have prompted renewed inter-est in Apocalypse imagery in the fifth century, and while no illustrated manuscript copies of the text survive fromthis era, it is widely believed that the ninth-century Trier Apocalypse (Stadtbibliothek, cod. 31) copies an earlierItalian model.

2 ' As recently noted by Herbert Kessler in his discussion of the murals on the triumphal arch atFerentillo: see H. Kessler, 'II cielo di San Pietro in Valle: fonti e significative)', in G. Tamanti (ed.), Gli affreschidi San Pietro in Valle a Ferentillo: le storie deH'antico e del nuovo testamento (Naples, 2003), 77-116, at p. 81.

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The specific circumstances of the loss of the Temple treasure also may have played some rolein the potential development of such a train of thought. Many Christians believed that the endof the world and the Second Coming of Christ would take place in or soon after the year 6000annus mundi (= 492 CE), and a number of political events of the mid-fifth century were inter-preted within this eschatological framework. It is perhaps significant that the arrival of theVandals was linked in this fashion to the apocalyptic 'Beast' of Revelation 13, and thus theanonymous north African author of the Liber Genealogns, in his entry for the year 452 CE, con-fidently explained how the Greek spelling of the name of the Vandal king added up to 666, thenumber of the Beast in John's vision (Revelation 13.18).28

Although the world did not end at the turn of the sixth century, as many had predicted, theapse mosaic of Santi Cosma e Damiano presents a detailed vision of what Christians believedwould in fact happen at the end of historical time. Given that the 'Old' Temple was interpretedas a trope for the 'New' Temple to be established following Christ's Second Coming,29 it seemsentirely appropriate that this vision should be placed at the very site where the memory of theOld Temple, symbolized through the presence of its precious objects, had been preserved overmany centuries, until the Vandal anti-Christ had stolen them away.'0

With Belisarius's dramatic recovery of the Temple treasure in 533, and the subsequent deci-sion by Justinian to restore the objects to Jerusalem, the eschatological associations of the sitemust have faded quickly, just as the extreme hardships suffered by the inhabitants of Rome dur-ing the prolonged period of the Ostrogothic Wars must have displaced quickly any lingeringmemories of the Vandal sack. But the memory of that event, and the importance of this par-ticular site, would have been alive and well in the late 520s, when Pope Felix IV chose thisbuilding, of the many available, to house the first Christian hall of worship in the heart of theancient eitv.

-^ 'I. Mommscn led.), Chronica Minora \\lonumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi IX)(Berlin, 1892), 195. See also P. Frederiksen, "Iyconius and Augustine on the Apocalypse', in Kmmerson andMcGinn (eds), The Apocalypse in the Middle Ages (above, n. 25), 20-37, esp. pp. 35-6.

-^ For example Bede, On the Temple, trans. S. Connolly (Liverpool, 1995), 5: 'The house of God whichKing Solomon built in Jerusalem was made as a figure of the holy universal Church'.

i(' In this context it is also interesting to consider that by the fifth century Rome was thought of as thespiritual successor to Jerusalem: see, most recently, H. Kesslcr, 'Rome's place between Judaea and Francia inCarolingian art', in Roma fra Oriente e Occidente [Settimane di studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull'AltoMedioero XLIX) (Spoleto, 2002), 695-718; and R. Warland, T h e concept of Rome in late antiquity reflected inthe mosaics of the triumphal arch of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome', Acta ad Archaeologiam et Artium llistoriamPertmentia 17 (200V), 127-41.

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