Scalae Gemoniæ

Scalae Gemoniæ

The Scalae Gemoniæ was a flight of steps leading up to the Capitoline past the carcer, on which the bodies of certain criminals, who had been executed, were thrown and left exposed for a time — a frequent practice during the empire. They are often mentioned, first under Tiberius, and are called scalae Gemoniæ, …gradus gemitorii, and…gradus Gemonii. Only two…passages give any topographical information, but that does not determine the course of these steps with precision. It is probable, however, that it coincided approximately with the present Via di S. Pietro in carcere. It is possible that the Gradus Monetae, mentioned by Ovid, may have connected in some way with these steps. Gemoniæ was undoubtedly connected in the popular mind with gemo, ‘I groan’ but incorrectly. It is rather derived from the proper name Gemonius, but the reason for its use is unknown. The most famous to be meet their demise on the sight were the former confidant of Tiberius, Sejanus; and the emperor Vitellius. Death of Sejanus and his Family Cassius Dio mentions the Scalae in Roman History – Book LVIII: ‘For the moment, it is true, he [Sejanus] was merely cast into prison; but a little later, in fact that very day, the senate associated in the temple of Concord not far from the jail, when they saw the attitude of the populace and that none of the Pretorians was about,…condemned him to death. By their order he was executed and his body cast down the Stairway [Scalae Gemoniæ], where the rabble abused it for three whole days and afterwards threw it into the river. His children...