Ponte Sublicio
The literary tradition associates the Aventine hill with the legend of Rome's foundation: there, Remus is said to have taken the auspices while his brother Romulus chose the Palatine hill. The opposition between the two locations perhaps finds its exegesis in a supposed antagonism between patricians and plebeians that, as stated by the ancient sources, started in the 5th century BC. By the Late Republican period, because of the status of the dwellers and the nature of the religious cults, the Aventine became commonly associated with the plebs; the Palatine with the patriciate.
The earliest fortification walls on the Aventine, remnants of which are still visible in several locations, are attributed to the king Servius Tullius (6th century BC). Since the hill remained outside the sacred boundaries of the city (pomerium) until the principate of Claudius (AD 41-54), the Aventine was the ideal place for the foundation of temples dedicated to deities that did not belong to the original Roman pantheon that, according to Roman religious prescriptions, could not be located inside the pomerium. The settling of people deported since the Early Republican period from the newly conquered towns of Latium on the Aventine also promoted the introduction and diffusion of new cults.
The earliest known temple on the Aventine was that of Diana founded by the king Servius Tullius. In its vicinity once stood the temple of Minerva, religious center for some of the city's commercial guilds. In the area of modern Santa Sabina was probably located the temple of Juno Regina, dedicated in 392 BC by Furius Camillus. A sanctuary of Ceres, Liberus, and Libera was dedicated in 493 BC on the northeastern slope of the Aventine, in front of the Circus Maximus. With the expansion of Rome's sacred boundary by the emperor Claudius, the area of this temple fell under the religious and legal prescriptions of territories "intra pomerium".
During the Imperial period, new cults of oriental deities were introduced on the Aventine. A sanctuary of Jupiter Dolichenus was dedicated in AD 138; its remains have been identified in the 1930s. Under the church of Santa Prisca there is a shrine to the god Mithra dating to the 2nd century AD; in the same period, the structure under the church of Santa Sabina functioned as a center of congregation for devotees of Isis.
Intense building activity affected the urban image of the hill through time. Initially, there was the construction of mostly apartment buildings, promoted by the lex Icinia de Aventino publicando of 456 BC that declared the hill public land (ager publicus) and distributed it to members of the plebs. Aristocratic residences during this period, such as that of the poet Ennius (239-169 BC) were rare. It was only during the Imperial period that the Aventine became a predominantly aristocratic neighborhood. The ancient sources place here the house of the emperor Vitellius in the second half of the 1st century AD, and at the beginning of the 2nd century AD the personal estates of Trajan (privata Traiani) and the house of his friend, the general Lucius Licinius Sura, that was probably located in proximity of his bath complex.
The opulence of the residences was probably the cause of the destruction of the Aventine by the army of Alaric, king of the Visigoth, that ransacked Rome in AD 410. After the incursions, many of the properties were donated to the church by their Roman owners, who did not have the means to restore or maintain them. Thus, in the 5th century AD, the earliest Christian churches – including Santa Sabina, San Bonifacio, and Santa Prisca – were erected.
The progressive abandonment of the hill and the raise of Christian buildings determined a return to the primarily agricultural destination of the Aventine, which continued until twenty year ago, in spite of a building boom at the beginning of the 20th century.

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