Temples of Cloacina

In Arts, History, Yale on February 13, 2009 at 10:39 am

 What were John Trumbull’s “Temples of Cloacina?”

  1. A painting of Roman temples
  2. Follies constructed on his estate
  3. Outhouses behind the Brick Row
  4. A poem he wrote after visiting Rome



When John Trumbull drew up the site plan for Yale’s  Brick Row in 1793, he wanted to preserve the beauty of his landscape design.  So he hid the outhouses in a small copse behind the Row, identifying them as the “Temples of Cloacina,” a contemporary term referring to an outhouse or sewer.  Cloacina, was the Roman deity (later aligned with Venus) that presided over the main sewer system in Rome.  Roman citizens realized that a good sewer system kept everyone healthy.  The foundations of the goddess’s shrine are still visible today outside the Basilica Aemilia, standing over the drain that flows under the basilica.  Evidence of Trumbull’s temples is long gone.  But who knows–archaeologists may find some remains under the Old Campus someday.

Architectural drawings and maps of Yale University buildings and grounds, ca. 1728-1990 (inclusive). Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University


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