Hadrian's Villa--page 8 (of nine pages): The Canopus

Architect unknown; it is likely that Hadrian participated in the design and planning of his villa
early 2nd century CE

Included on this site are the following areas of the villa:
page 1: the Pecile and the Heliocaminus Bath
page 2: areas of or near the Imperial Palace, including the Building with Doric Pillars
page 3: Maritime Theater
page 4: Philosophers' Chamber and Greek and Roman Libraries
page 5: Piazza d'Oro
page 6: Building with Fishpond and Large Baths
page 7: Praetorium, Small Baths and Vestibule, Nymphaeum with three Exedra
page 8: the Canopus
page 9: the Serapeum and the Temple of Venus

The Canopus

Built in a narrow valley, this area was designed to recall the Canopus canal, an arm of the Nile River between Alexandria and Abukir. Canopus was a port city on the Nile delta with a world-famous temple dedicated to Serapis.

Looking toward the Serapeum

This area may have been used as a summer banqueting hall with less important guests arranged along the sides of the Canopus. See the Serapeum at the far end (south) of the Canopus.

Looking toward the Exedra

A number of statues, mostly copies of Greek works (now copies in cement while the original copies reside inside) decorated the perimeter.

The Carytids, copies of the Korai from the Erechtheon on the Athenian Acropolis

These female figures were flanked by silenus figures, who hold baskets on their heads, with the basket replacing a capital. (One Silenus has lost his basket and both have lost their arms!) Some scholars speculate that the carytids and Silenus figures once supported a pergola that was beautifully reflected in the water.

The Semicircular end with statuary--the so-called Ares and two Wounded Amazons--all copies of Greek originals

This colonnade has alternating lintels and arches. This curvilinear portico is sometimes called "baroque" because of this stylistic exuberance.
Center: Wearing a tall helmet, this figure has been identified as Ares, although Adembri identifies him as Hermes,"recognized by the caduceus, a typical attribute of the god, traces of which are apparent on his right arm" (88). The other Wounded Amazon is a copy of the Greek original by Polyclitus.

Front and rear views of a copy of the Wounded Amazon by Phidias for the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

According to Adembri, this is "the most complete copy known to us from the ancient world and although it is not entirely preserved, [it] has allowed researchers to reconstruct a composite sketch of the Greek original: conceived as a standing figure who leans upon a spear, in order to compensate for her weakness caused by a wounded leg" (89).

The crocodile, originally in cipollino marble, which is veined in a way suggesting the animal's hide

Other sculpture around the Canopus include personifications of the Nile and Tiber, one a sphinx and the other the she-wolf with Romulus and Remus. This crocodile was probably part of a fountain since lead pipe was found between his jaws. Other sculptures discovered here are now in museums throughout Italy and Europe.

Continue to page 9: the Serapeum and the Temple of Venus.

Work Cited and/or Consulted:
Benedetta Adembri. Hadrian's Villa [official guidebook]. Milan: Electa, 2000.
Nicoletto Lanciano. Hadrian's Villa: between heaven and earth. Rome: Apeiron, 2005.

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© 2005 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.

Page created by Mary Ann Sullivan