Temple of Castor & Pollux

Temple of Castor & Pollux

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Temple of Castor and Pollux

The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Italian: Tempio dei Dioscuri ) is an ancient temple in the Roman Forum, Rome, central Italy. [1] It was originally built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (495 BC). Castor and Pollux (Greek Polydeuces) were the Dioscuri, the "twins" of Gemini, the twin sons of Zeus (Jupiter) and Leda. Their cult came to Rome from Greece via Magna Graecia and the Greek culture of Southern Italy. [2]

The Temple of Castor and Pollux III: The Augustan Temple. Occasional papers of the Nordic Institutes in Rome, 4

The temple dedicated to Castor and Pollux, vowed by A. Postumius in 499 B.C. and dedicated in 485 B.C., restored by L. Caecilius Metellus in 117 B.C. and rebuilt by the emperor Tiberius between 7 B.C. and A.D.6, is located at the southeast corner of the Forum Romanum. Its three columns and entablature have survived since antiquity as the conspicuous remnants of an octostyle peripteral temple with a 50-foot Corinthian order arranged in the pycnostyle rhythm. These remains have been variously associated with the temple of Jupiter Stator and the Graecostasis, but were conclusively identified asthe temple of Castor in the mid-nineteenth century. Pietro Rosa, Otto Richter and Giacomo Boni excavated and restored the podium in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, identifying the Metellan temple and an imperial rebuilding. In 1960, Donald Strong and John Ward Perkins conducted a detailed analysis of the architectural remains and established that the surviving columns, conventionally considered to be of late Roman date, were in fact contemporary with Tiberius’ recorded rebuilding. 1 In 1982, Adriano La Regina, the then superintendent, instituted a major programme of study and conservation of all the monuments in and around the Forum and invited foreign schools in Rome to participate. Denmark, Sweden and Norway combined forces for a new survey and excavation of the temple of Castor between 1983-9, while the Finnish Institute took on a re-investigation of the adjacent Lacus Juturna. A series of preliminary reports on the survey and excavation of the temple of Castor were produced throughout the 1980s, and the first volume of reports, which was concerned only with the pre-Augustan phases, was published in 1992 2 two further volumes, on the excavations carried out in and around the podium, were delayed until 2008 3 the volume presently under review completes the series. It documents all the evidence for the Augustan phase of the temple that is still in situ, and also includes record of the other architectural and sculptural pieces that may once have belonged to it.

The first four chapters, joint-authored by Kjell Aage Nilson, Claes B. Persson and Jan Zahle, explain the materials, techniques and construction processes that were used to build the foundations, podium, and the superstructure of the temple (chapter two) the authors then reflect on some of the planning and economic considerations that are evident in the substructures (chapters three) and the measuring system and proportions of the temple (chapter four). In the latter chapter, Nilson and Persson demonstrate that the Augustan builders preserved the proportions of the Metellan temple by reapplying them in Tiberius’ building at a ratio of 6:7.

Siri Sande is responsible for the following seven chapters, the first three of which take the form of catalogues. Sande sets out the evidence for the podium and the tribunal (chapter five), the temple superstructure (chapter six), and stone fragments discovered during excavation (chapter seven). The account of the superstructure of the temple (chapter six) is the longest chapter in the book, and progresses from the column base to the sima. Each category is prefaced with a discussion of technical features, form and style. A discussion of the significance of these findings by Sande follows in chapter 8.

In the subsequent four chapters (8-11), Sande moves on to more analytical discussion and conclusions. In chapter 8, Sande examines the exterior and interior order of the temple and discusses its mature, Late Augustan style. Sande treats each architectural feature individually, considering the decorative parts in light of comparative examples in Rome and the Roman world, and in reference to relevant modern scholarship. In chapter 9, Sande considers the design processes involved in the temple’s construction, proposing that a workshop directed by a master mason, or ‘designer,’ produced the architectural decoration of the temple of Castor, with links to the temple of Apollo in Circo and the temple of Concordia. In chapter 10, Sande briefly explains the similarities and differences between the new reconstruction drawings of the temple produced by Nilson and Persson, and the earlier reconstructions offered by Otto Richter in 1898. In short, Nilson and Persson produce a more monumental entrance to the temple by adding two steps below the front columns to make the bases more visible, and they reconstruct the podium so that the lateral stairs and the tribunal are connected to it. It is unfortunate that L’Erma di Bretschneider misprinted three elevations of the reconstructed temple in plates 9, 11 and 12.1, making it difficult to discern some of the roof details, and the raking cornice in particular. In the concluding chapter, chapter 11, Sande places the Augustan phase of the temple of Castor in its wider topographical, historical and religious context. Sande proposes that the reduction of the deep Metellan tribunal by the shallower Augustan tribunal reflects the political climate of the Principate in which the need for speakers’ platforms was diminishing. Sande interprets the maintenance of the same proportions in the Tiberian as in the Metellan temple not as a practical solution to the re-use of the podium, but as a measure of the Augustan builders’ respect for religious protocols. Sande concludes with final reflections on the temple’s place in religious architecture in Rome. The decorative style of the temple of Castor echoes that of earlier temples in the capital, and counters the neat chronological progression that is so often proposed for the development of the Roman Corinthian order, in which the rich decorative style of the late Triumviral/early Augustan period developed into the Classicizing canon as exemplified by the temple of Mars Ultor. Sande cites the temple of Castor as a valuable example of the eclectic and experimental nature of Augustan architecture.

The volume certainly fulfils its stated aim of providing a full presentation of the evidence for the temple and a careful record of its architectural and sculptural pieces. Pia Guldager Bilde even records the early modern graffiti on the columns (Appendix 2) while Helen Dorey from Sir John Soane’s Museum in London provides a catalogue raisonné of Soane’s collection of plaster casts, models and sketches relating to the temple (Appendix 3). It is therefore a truly comprehensive collection of all the evidence. Over and above the value of the volume as a documentary resource, however, Sande’s contributions provide valuable overviews of Augustan religious architecture and significant discussions of the processes involved in the design and construction of a major public temple in Rome. Sande deftly contextualizes the archaeological evidence in relation to the economics of construction, ideologies of building and rebuilding in Rome, the dissemination of architectural style, and the socio-political context of Augustan and early Imperial Rome, and judiciously evaluates modern scholarship on these topics in the process.

Throughout the volume its authors state their hope that it will inspire future discussion, and my following comments are offered in the spirit of this.

Although Sande considers the two-part Corinthian capital to be an outmoded carving practice (chapter 6, p. 147), and a ‘retrospective’ element of the temple (chapter 11, p. 256), the capitals from the Augustan temples of Apollo in Circo, Apollo Palatinus and Mars Ultor were also constructed with this technique, and other examples of the two-piece capital dating to the Julio-Claudian and Flavian periods can be found in Rome. The two-piece capitals from the exterior order of the temple of Castor were therefore neither out-dated nor retrospective, and their presence simply reflects the selection of a technique that was best suited to contemporary lifting technology.

Some of Sande’s proposals regarding the temple’s cella are unpersuasive (chapter 6, pp. 204-8). To Sande, the absence of secure evidence for the temple’s cella suggests that it was spoliated in a single operation and by public decree any attempt to reconstruct it must remain hypothetical (p. 208). However, she makes a case for identifying some fragmentary evidence for the cella. Firstly, Sande examines twenty-five fragments of fluted giallo antico columns that were discovered on the site of the cella during the Scandinavian excavations (p. 206). The majority of these fragments include fillets with dimensions that are approximately half the width of the fillets on the shafts of the 50-foot exterior order. On the basis of the find spots, material and dimensions of these fragments, Sande reasonably estimates that they derived from an interior order in the cella of c. 25 Roman feet.

Sande’s following identifications of other architectural sculpture fragments with the temple of Castor’s cella are less convincing. Sande tentatively proposes that a base fragment with a lower torus and plinth found during the Finnish excavations of the Lacus Juturna, and a nearly complete base reportedly discovered in the Basilica Iulia in 1853, both with oak-decorated lower toruses, derived from the temple of Castor’s cella. The first base fragment was discovered re-used in a late Antique wall near a modillion fragment which Sande confidently attributes to the temple of Castor because it features the garlic motif, an Augustan and Julio-Claudian architectural decoration on the ends of the temple of Castor’s modillions. However, the same argument could assign these base fragments with the adjacent temple of Divus Julius, although the uncertain find spots of both mean that any identification is difficult to support.

Sande also proposes that some figural capitals, allegedly discovered near the temple of Castor during Rosa’s excavations of the site in 1870, derive from the temple’s cella (pp. 206-7). Sande observes that the acanthus foliage on the figural capitals replicates the decoration of the exterior capitals in miniature. Sande’s observations certainly support an argument in favour of the capitals having been carved in the same workshop as that which produced the architectural decoration for the temple of Castor, but, again, there is too much uncertainty regarding their find spot to confirm a provenance.

Sande’s hypotheses are tentatively and carefully offered, and to pursue these lines of thought more fully probably lies beyond the scope of the volume. However, anyone who wishes to consider the reconstruction of the interior of the temple of Castor will have to take her arguments into account.

The Temple of Castor and Pollux III is a beautifully presented publication, and is now the major reference for specialists who are investigating this important temple. The volume will also be of great value to scholars interested in the religious architecture and architectural decoration of the Augustan and early Imperial periods.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Materials, technique and building devices
3. The foundation and the core of the podium and of the tribunal
4. The measuring system and proportions of the temple
5. The facing of the podium and the tribunal
6. The superstructure of the temple
7. Catalogue of fragments found during the excavation
8. The style
9. Workshop and tradition
10. The reconstruction drawings of the Augustan temple
11. Conclusion
Appendix 1 A rebuilding of the Metellan temple?
Appendix 2 Early modern graffiti on the superstructure of the Temple of Castor and Pollux.
Appendix 3 Catalogue of drawings, models and plaster casts from the Temple of Castor and Pollux, Forum Romanum, in Sir John Soane’s Museum, London.
Sections, plans and elevations of the remains and reconstructions of the temple

1. D.E. Strong and J.B. Ward-Perkins. 1962. ‘The Temple of Castor in the Forum Romanum’ in PBSR 30: 1-30.

2. Nielsen, I. and B. Poulsen ed. 1992. The Temple of Castor and Pollux. The pre-Augustan temple phases with related decorative elements. Lavori e studi di archeologia 17 Soprintendenza Archeologica di Roma, Edizioni de Luca.

3. Bilde, P. G. and B. Poulsen. 2008. The Temple of Castor and Pollux II.1. The Finds and Slej, K and M. Cullhed. 2008. The Temple of Castor and Pollux II.2. The Finds and Trenches.

The Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Forum Romanum in Rome was built and dedicated after the battle at Lake Regillus in 496 BCE.

The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Templum Castorum or Aedes Castoris) introduced the Greek cult of the dioscuri into Rome, in its very heart, the Forum Romanum. It is located between Basilica Julia across the Vicus Tuscus, the Temple of Divus Julius, the Arch of Augustus and the Temple of Vesta.

The foundation of the temple is closely related to an ancient myth. The last, deposed king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus, and his allies, the Latins, waged war on the infant Roman Republic. It came to a battle near the Lake Regillus in c. 496 BCE.

The legend says that two able, but unknown horsemen helped the losing the Roman troops to victory, and immediately afterwards they were seen watering their horses at the Spring of Juturna in the Forum Romanum.

They were identified as the Dioscuri, and the dictator, Aulus Postumius Albinus, vowed to build a temple in their honour. The temple was finished by his son in 484 BC.

Castor’s temple was dedicated the same year, on the fifteenth of July. It had been vowed during the Latin war by Postumius, the dictator. His son, being made duumvir for this special purpose, dedicated it.

Livy, “Ab urbe condita”, book 2, 42 [5]

The archaic temple was completely reconstructed and enlarged in 117 BCE by L. Cecilius Metellus Dalmaticus after his victory over the Dalmatians. This second temple was again restored in 73 BCE by Gaius Verres.

In 14 BC the temple was destroyed by a fire that ravaged major parts of the forum, and it was rebuilt by Tiberius, then heir to the throne. Tiberius’ temple was dedicated in 6 CE. The remains visible today are from the temple of Tiberius, except the podium, which is from the time of Metellus.

In republican times the temple served as a meeting place for the senate, and from the middle of the 2nd century BCE the front of the podium served as a speakers platform. During the imperial period the temple housed the office for weights and measures, and was a depository for the State treasury.

The temple was peripteral, with eight Corinthian columns on the short sides and eleven on the long sides. There was a single cella, which was paved with mosaics. The podium measures 32×49.5m and 7m in height. It is constructed in opus caementicium and was originally covered with slabs of tufa, which were later removed. According to ancient sources the temple had a single central stairway to access the podium, but the excavations have identified two sideways stairs.

As many other buildings on the Forum Romanum, the temple has suffered destruction, looting and ruin since Antiquity. Today the podium survives without the facing, and of the temple proper remain only three columns and a piece of the architrave.

Temple of Castor and Pollux (Castor, Aedes, Templum)

CASTOR, AEDES, TEMPLUM, the temple of Castor and Pollux at the south- east corner of the forum area, close to the fons Iuturnae (Cic. de nat. deor. iii. 13 Plut. Coriol. 3 Dionys. vi. 13 Mart. i. 70 . 3 FUR fr. 20, cf. NS 1882, 233 ). According to tradition, it was vowed in 499 B.C. by the dictator Postumius, when the Dioscuri appeared on this spot after the battle of Lake Regillus, and dedicated in 484 by the son of the dictator who was appointed duumvir for this purpose ( Liv. ii. 20 . 12, 42. 5 Dionys. loc. cit.). The day of dedication is given in the calendar as 27th January (Fast. Praen. CIL i 2. p. 308 Fast. Verol. ap. NS 1923, 196 Ov. Fast. i. 705-706 ), but by Livy (ii. 42. 5) as 15th July. The later may be merely an error, or the date of the first temple only (see WR 216-217, and literature there cited).

Its official name was aedes Castoris (Suet. Caes. 10 : ut enim geminis fratribusaedes in foro constituta tantum Castoris vocaretur Cass. Dio xxxvii. 8 and regularly in literature and inscriptions-Cic. pro Sest. 85 in Verr. i. 131 , 132, 133, 134 iii. 41 Liv. cit. and viii. 11. 16 Fest. 246, 286 1 Gell. xi. 3 . 2 Mon. Anc. iv. 13 Plaut. Curc. 481 CIL vi. 363 , 9177, 9393, 9872, 10024-aedes Castorus (CIL i 2. 582. 17) or Kastorus (ib. 586. 1 cf. EE iii. 70 ) appear merely as variants of this), but we also find aedes Castorum (Plin. NH x. 121 xxxiv. 23 Hist. Aug. Max. 16. Valer. 1. 4 Not. Reg. VIII Chron. 146), and Castoris et Pollucis 2 (Fast. Praen. CIL p. i 2. 308 Asc. in Scaur. 46 Suet. Tib. 20 Cal. 22 Flor. Ep. iii. 3 . 20, cf. Lact. Inst. ii. 7 . 9 CIL vi. 2202 , 2203, although perhaps not in Rome, cf. Jord. i. 2 . 369), forms due either to vulgar usage or misplaced learning. Besides aedes, templum is found in Cicero (pro Sest. 79 in Vat. 31, 32 in Pis. II, 23 pro Mil. 18 de domo 110 de harusp. resp. 49 ad Q. fr. ii. 3. 6), Livy once (ix. 43. 22), Asconius (in Pis. 23 in Scaur. 46), the Scholia to Juvenal (xiv. 261), the Notitia and Chronograph (loc. cit.). In Greek writers it appears as τὸ τῶϝ Διοσκουρων ἱερόν( Dionys. vi. 13 ), τὸ Διοσκόρειον(Cass. Dio xxxviii. 6 lv. 27 . 4 lix. 28 . 5 Plut. Sulla 33), ϝεὼς τῶνΔιοσκούρων (Cass. Dio lx. 6 . 8 App. BC i. 25 Plut. Sulla 8 Pomp. 2 Cato Min. 27).

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This temple was restored in 117 B.C. by L. Caecilius Metellus (Cic. pro Scauro 46, and Ascon. ad loc. in Verr. i. 154 Plut. Pomp. 2). Some repairs were made by Verres (Cie. in Verr. i. 129-154 ), and the temple was completely rebuilt by Tiberius in 6 A.D., and dedicated in his own name and that of his brother Drusus (Suet. Tib. 20 Cass. Dio lv. 27 . 4 Ov. Fast. i. 707-708 ). Caligula incorporated the temple in his palace, making it the vestibule (Suet. Cal. 22 Cass. Dio lix. 28 . 5 cf. DIVUS AUGUSTUS, TEMPLUM, DOMUS TIBERIANA), but this condition was changed by Claudius. Another restoration is attributed to Domitian (Chron. 146), and in this source the temple is called templumCastoris et Minervae, a name also found in the Notitia (Reg. VIII), and variously explained (see MINERVA, TEMPLUM). It had also been supposed that there was restoration by Trajan or Hadrian (HC 161), and that the existing remains of columns and entablature date from that period, but there is no evidence for this assumption, and the view has now been abandoned (Toeb. 51). The existing remains are mostly of the Augustan period ( AJA 1912, 393 ), and any later restorations must have been so superficial as to leave no traces.

This temple served frequently as a meeting-place for the senate (Cic. in Verr. i. 129 Hist. Aug. Maxim. 16 Valer. 5 CIL i 2. 586. 1), and played a conspicuous role in the political struggles that centred in the forum (Cic. de har. resp. 27 de domo 54, 110 pro Sest. 34 in Pis. 11, 23 pro Mil. 18 ad Q. fr. ii. 3. 6 App. BC i. 25 ), its steps forming a sort of second Rostra (Plut. Sulla 33 Cic. Phil. iii. 27 ). In it were kept the standards of weights and measures ( CIL v. 8119 . 4 xi. 6726 . 2 xiii. 10030 . 13 ff. Ann. d. Inst. 1881, 182 Mitt. 1889, 244-245 ), and the chambers in the podium (see below) seem to have served as safe deposit vaults for the imperial fiscus ( CIL vi. 8688 , 8689), 3 and for the treasures of private individuals (Cic. pro Quinct. 7 Iuv. xiv. 260 – 262 and Schol.). No mention is made of the contents of this temple, artistic or historical, except of one bronze tablet which was a memorial of the granting of citizenship to the Equites Campani in 340 B.C. (Liv. viii. II. 16).

The traces of the earlier structures (including some opus quadratum belonging to the original temple see Ill. 12) indicate successive enlargements with some changes in the plan of cella and pronaos (for the discussion of these changes and the history of the temple, see Van Buren, CR 1906, 77-82 , 184, who also thinks that traces can be found of a restoration in the third century B.C. cf. however, AJA 1912, 244-246 ). The Augustan temple was Corinthian, octastyle and peripteral, with eleven columns on each side, and a double row on each side of the pronaos. This pronaos was 9.90 metres by 15.80, the cella 16 by 19.70, and the whole building about 50 metres long by 30 wide. The floor was about 7 metres above the Sacra via. The very lofty podium consisted of a concrete core enclosed in tufa walls, from which projected short spur walls. On these stood the columns, but directly beneath them at the points of heaviest pressure travertine was substituted for tufa. Between these spur walls were chambers in the podium, opening outward and closed by metal doors. From the pronaos a flight of eleven steps, extending nearly across the whole width of the temple, led down to a wide platform, 3.66 metres above the area in front. This was provided with a railing and formed a high and safe place from which to address the people. From the frequent references in literature (see above) it is evident that there was a similar arrangement in the earlier temple of Metellus. Leading from this platform to the ground were two narrow staircases, at the ends and not in front. The podium was covered with marble and decorated with two cornices, one at the top and another just above the metal doors of the strong chambers. Of the superstructure three columns on the east side are standing, which are regarded as perhaps the finest architectural remains in Rome. They are of white marble, fluted, 12.50 metres in height and 1.45 in diameter. The entablature, 3.75 metres high, has a plain frieze and an admirable worked cornice (for the complete description of the remains of the imperial temple previous to 1899, see Richter, Jahrb. d. Inst. 1898, 87-114 also Reber, 136-142 D’Esp. Fr. i. 87-91 ii. 87 for the results of the excavations since 1899, CR 1899, 466 1902, 95 , 284 BC 1899, 253 1900, 66 , 285 1902, 28 1903, 165 Mitt. 1902, 66-67 1905, 80 for general discussion of the temple, Jord. i. 2 . 369-376 LR 271-274 HC 161-164 Thed. 116-120, 210- 212 DE i. 175-176 WR 268-271 DR 160-170 RE Suppl. iv. 469 – 471 Mem. Am. Acad. v. 79-102 4 ASA 70 HFP 37, 38).

This temple was standing in the fourth century, but nothing is known of its subsequent history, except that in the fifteenth century only three columns were visible, for the street running by them was called via Trium Columnarum ( Jord. ii. 412 , 501 LS i. 72 , and for other reff. ii. 69, 199, 202 DuP 97). In the early nineteenth century it was often wrongly called the Graecostasis or the temple of Jupiter Stator.

Aedes Castor

From Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, rev. Thomas Ashby. Oxford: 1929, p. 102-105.

A temple of Castor (or the Dioscuri?) in circo Flaminio, that is, in Region IX, to which there are but two references. Its day of dedication was 13th August (Hemerol. Allif. Amit. ad id. Aug. CIL I 2 p325: Castori Polluci in Circo Flaminio Fast. Ant. ap. NS 1921, 107), and it is cited by Vitruvius (IV.8.4) as an example of an unusual type (columnis adiectis dextra ac sinistra ad umeros pronai), like a temple of Athene on the Acropolis at Athens, and another at Sunium (Gilb. III.76, 84).

What to See at the Temple of Castor and Pollux

When fully intact, the Temple of Castor and Pollux was a sizable edifice. The podium stood 23.5 Roman feet (7m) high and measured 108 by 168 Roman feet (32 x 50m). Inside were 25 small chambers, probably used for the temple's function as the office of weights and measures. One chamber seems to have been used by a dentist! The front of the podium was originally designed for use as a speaker's platform, but this was modified into a single flight of stairs by the 3rd century.

The temple itself was a Corinthian peripteros made of white Italian marble. The front and back each had eight columns the sides had eleven columns each. It stood 50 Roman feet (14.8m) high, plus another 12.5 Roman feet (3.8m) for the entablature.

Tempio dei Diosuri. July 15, 484 BC.

The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Tempio dei Dioscuri) is an ancient temple in the Roman Forum in Rome. It was originally built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (495 BC). Castor and Pollux (Greek Polydeuces) were the Dioscuri, the “twins” of Gemini, the twin sons of Zeus and Leda.

The last king of Rome, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, and his allies, the Latins, waged war on the infant Roman Republic. Before the battle, the Roman dictator Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis vowed to build a temple to the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux) if the Republic were victorious.

According to legend, Castor and Pollux appeared on the battlefield as two able horsemen in aid of the Republic and after the battle had been won they again appeared on the Forum in Rome watering their horses at the Spring of Juturna thereby announcing the victory. The temple stands on the supposed spot of their appearance.

One of Postumius’ sons was elected duumvir in order to dedicate the temple on 15 July (the ides of July) 484 BC.

During the Republican period, the temple served as a meeting place for the Roman Senate, and from the middle of the 2nd century BC the front of the podium served as a speaker’s platform. During the imperial period, the temple housed the office for weights and measures, and was a depository for the State treasury.

The archaic temple was completely reconstructed and enlarged in 117 BC by Lucius Caecilius Metellus Dalmaticus after his victory over the Dalmatians. Gaius Verres again restored this second temple in 73 BC.

Commemorating the initial victory at Lake Regillus, a large calvary parade was held each year on July 15th and featured as many as 5,000 young men carrying shields and spears. Two young men, riding white horses, led the parade and represented Castor and Pollux.

In 14 BC a fire that ravaged major parts of the forum destroyed the temple, and Tiberius, the son of Livia by a previous marriage and adopted son of Augustus and the eventual heir to the throne, rebuilt it. Tiberius’ temple was dedicated in 6 AD. The remains visible today are from the temple of Tiberius, except the podium, which is from the time of Metellus.

The cult itself became associated with the imperial family. Initially, the twins were identified with Augustus’s intended heirs, Gaius and Lucius Caesar. After their premature deaths, however, the association with Castor and Pollux passed to Tiberius and his brother Drusus.

According to Edward Gibbon, the temple of Castor served as a secret meeting place for the Roman Senate. Frequent meetings of the Senate are also reported by Cicero. Gibbon said the senate was roused to rebellion against Emperor Maximinus Thrax and in favor of future emperor Gordian I at the Temple of Castor in 237 AD.

In the 15th century, only three columns of its original structure were still standing. The street running by the building was called via Trium Columnarum.

In 1760, the Conservatori, finding the columns in a state of imminent collapse, erected scaffolding for effecting repairs. Both Piranesi and the young English architect George Dance the Younger were able to climb up and make accurate measurements Dance had “a model cast from the finest Example of the Corinthian order perhaps in the whole World”, as he reported to his father.

Today the podium survives without the facing, as do the three columns and a piece of the entablature, one of the most famous features in the Forum.

Temple of Castor & Pollux - History


Curatorial note

These three Corinthian columns are the only substantial remains of the Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Forum Romanum, Rome.

The temple was referred to in Soane's day as the Temple of Jupiter Stator and the columns themselves frequently described as the 'Three columns in the campo vaccino' (the open area where cows graze). This model depicts the columns before more modern excavations - the ground level of the Roman Forum was not uncovered until the twentieth century and the bases of these columns were buried at the time this model was made.

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Tips for Visiting the Valley of the Temples

  • Sicily can get very hot. It is, of course, one of the many attractions to the island. However, you need to be prepared for the heat when you are exploring the Valley of the Temples as there is limited shade amongst the ruins. Take a hat, wear sun cream and make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • If possible, avoid visiting during the hottest times of the day (12-3pm).
  • Visiting the temples at different times can give you a different taste and atmosphere for them. For example, if you can visit at sunset, you will be treated to sublime views and impressive backdrops.
  • Try and plan your trip to allow times of rest along the way. The park covers a big area and, combined with the heat, can be energy-sapping for visitors of all ages and capabilities.
  • Remember that the ruins are very old and of huge historical significance. Though many have withstood huge impacts over time, they may be fragile and all park rules should be respected.
  • You can skip the queues by purchasing specific tickets ahead of time online. Be aware that some attractions can come at an added cost.
  • The park is split across two zones and if you are driving, you may have to walk back on yourself to return to your vehicle. This will increase the time you spend at the park, and the amount of ground you need to cover.
  • Different buses run to different points outside the park at varying frequencies. Check timetables before you travel to avoid lengthy waits before or after your visit.
  • You should allow around three hours for your visit.

An outstanding example of Greek art and architecture, the Valley of the Temples is a truly unmissable and invaluable experience for any visitor to Sicily. With so much to offer and such an extraordinary history, they feature near the top of any ancient history enthusiasts to see list and represent an opportunity for an enviable trip.

If you want to explore the Valley of the Temples and learn all about this fascinating place in person, get in touch with Italy4Real today and start planning your next adventure.

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