BOOKS, STOREROOMS, LIBRARIES, AND COPIES
Josephus’ observation that in the Templum Pacis “were accumulated and stored all objects for the sight of which men had once wandered over the whole world, eager to see them severally while they lay in various countries” – paintings, statues, and the spoils from the Temple at Jerusalem – can be extended to the books of the Library of Peace. Domitian “provided for having the libraries, which were destroyed by _re, renewed at very great expense, seeking everywhere for copies of the lost works, and sending scribes to Alexandria to transcribe and correct them” (Suet., Dom. 20); something similar happened when the library of the Templum Pacis was created ex novo. As noted previously, from an architectural point of view, the great hall followed the model of the Library of Apollo on the Palatine Hill. Like any copies, probably it did not have the same prestige as the original Augustan library, and the same might be said about the works available there. Although it was a meeting place for a circle of intellectuals, judging from Galen, its holdings were not particularly valuable. It would seem that this library was “senza pubblico” in the sense that the Flavians might have decided to provide the Templum Pacis with a library, regardless of its possible visitors.
Working primarily with literary, archaeological, and epigraphical evidence, it has been possible to recover a great deal of information about Roman libraries and book collections. From Ephesus, Timgad, and other sites, we have an idea of their physical appearance; inscriptions and literature provide information on staffing and management; and we know something about the existence, building history, or both, of dozens of libraries in Rome, Italy, and the provinces of the Roman Empire. Yet, the Library of Peace has been too often overlooked.
The existence of a library in the Templum Pacis is explicitly attested to by Aulus Gellius, the author of the Noctes Atticae, a collection of notes on grammar, philosophy, and various other topics. He refers to this library during the age of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius (AD 138–161 and 161–180, respectively). In particular, he tells two different episodes that involve Latin texts. There is no doubt, however, that these disappeared forever when the library was
destroyed by the fire of AD 192.