Roman Places of Worship
Roman Places of Worship - The Capitol
housing the Temple of Jupiter, Minerva and Juno
The capitol contained in it three temples: one to Jupiter,
one to Juno, and one to Minerva. Jupiter's was in the
centre, whence he was poetically called “Media qui sedet aede
Deus” meaning the god who sits in the middle temple. The temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, was
built because of a vow made by Tarquinius Priscus, in the
Sabine war. Only the foundation of the Temple of Jupiter was laid before his death
nephew, Tarquin the Proud, finished it with the spoils taken
from the neighboring nations.
The original temple stood on a high ridge stretching over four acres of
ground. The front of the Temple of Jupiter was adorned with three rows of pillars,
the other sides with two. The ascent from the ground to the
entrance of the temple was by a hundred steps. Fabulous gifts and ornaments
were donated to the Temple of Jupiter.
The Emperor Augustus gave at one time two thousand pounds weight of
gold and in jewels and precious stones worth a small fortune.
The original Temple of Jupiter temple was first consumed by
fire in the Marian war, and then rebuilt by Sylla. This too was demolished in
the Vitellian sedition. Emperor Vespasian undertook the
building of a third temple, which was burnt about the time
of his death. Domitian raised the last and most glorious of
all which featured elaborate and expensive gilding. A Christian
church now stands on the Capitol over the site of the Temple
Roman Places of Worship - The Pantheon
The pantheon was built by Marcus Agrippa, son-in-law to
Augustus Caesar, and dedicated most probably to all the gods
in general, as the name implies. The structure is a hundred
and fifty-eight feet high, and about the same breadth. The
roof is curiously vaulted, void places being here and there
for the greater strength. The rafters were pieces of brass
of forty feet in length. There are no windows in the whole
edifice, only a round hole at the top of the roof, which
serves very well for the admission of light. The walls on
the inside are either solid marble or incrusted with marble. The front,
on the outside, was covered with brazen plates, gilt, the
top with silver plates which are now changed to lead. The
gates were brass were of extraordinary work and magnitude.
The Pantheon temple is still standing, with little alteration,
besides the loss of the old ornaments and was converted into
a Christian church by Pope Boniface III.
Roman Places of Worship -
The Temples of Saturn and Janus
There are two other temples, particularly worth notice in
so much for the magnificence of the structure, as for the
customs that depend upon them, and the remarkable use to
which they were put. These are the temples of Saturn and
The first was famous on account of serving for the public
treasury, the reason being because
it was believed that Saturn first taught the Italians to coin money.
However, it was most
probably because it was the strongest place in the
city. All the public registers and
records were kept in the Temple of Saturn, among which were the libri elephantini, or great
ivory tables, containing a list of all the tribes and the
schemes of the public accounts.
The Temple of Janus was a square building, some say of entire brass,
so large as to contain a statue of Janus, five feet high,
with brazen gates on each side, which were kept open in war,
and shut in time of peace.
Roman Places of Worship
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