Database of texts and images
Of Gallo-Roman antiquities (15th-17th centuries)


Ville Arles (Bouches-du-Rhône, 13)
Subject(s) Circus
Author(s) Platter, Thomas II
  Physician from Basel, younger brother of Felix Platter (1574-1628)
Resource type
Date 1596
References Platter A λ V, f. 88v°= Keiser 1968, pp. 135-136

Constans 1921, pp. 325-345 ; Keiser 1968 ; Le Roy Ladurie 1995 ; Le Roy Ladurie 2000 ; Lemerle 2005, p. 90 ; Rothé/Heijmans 2008, pp. 419-426


The passages in italics were added by Platter subsequently to the period in which the rest of the text was written (1604-1605). The circus aedicule described by Gervase of Tilbury in the 13th century no longer existed in the 16th century; only the obelisk remained, the upper part of which had been moved to the suburb known as the Faubourg de la Roquette, where it was taken by several authors for an altar dedicated to Diana


« Vor der statt an dem ort; welches man la Roquette nennet, sindt noch zwo große seül; wie ettlich meinen, von steinen gegoßen, auf welchen [136] der groß unndt abscheüchlich altar gewesen ist, dem keyser Augusto zugeeignet, auf welchem man alle jahr zu gewißer zeit, als den ersten tag maij, zwen junge knaben also lebendig (pro salute totius provinciae) zu glücklicher wolfahrt der gantzen provintz hatt aufgeopferet, die deßwegen in gemeinem kosten zevor woll sindt gemestet worden, unndt hat man nach verrichtetem opfer daß volck, welches dem greülichen opfer zugesehen hatt, mit der jünglingen blut woll bespritzet.»
= “ Just outside the town, in a suburb known as “La Roquette”, there are two large columns. Reputed to be made of conglomerated stone and to have been cast as single blocks, they supported a horrible altar dedicated to the emperor Augustus, on which, every year, at a certain time, namely, the 1st day of May, two young boys were sacrificed (pro salute totius provinciae) for the good of the entire province. In preparation for the sacrifice, the citizens of Arles collectively paid for the two boys to be greased and, afterwards, the people who came to watch this cruel event were copiously sprayed with the blood of the youths.