Aedes Castoris

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The temple ruins in the Roman Forum.

The Aedes Castoris , German Castor temple or Dioskurentempel , is a temple at the Roman Forum in Rome, which was dedicated to the Dioscuri Castor and Pollux, the twin sons of the god Zeus and Leda . It is one of the oldest temples in the forum and, according to ancient tradition, was built in 499 or 496 BC. And 484 BC. Be inaugurated.

In the form preserved today, it was rebuilt under Emperor Augustus and consecrated in the name of Tiberius and his late brother Drusus as part of the redesign of the forum in 6 AD . The occasion and time of the vowing of this new building are unknown.

Tradition, interpretation, name

The temple is said to have been built during the Battle of Lake Regillus in 499 BC. BC by the Roman dictator Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis . In 484 BC The temple was consecrated by a son of Postumius. Whether it is the consul of the year 466 BC. BC, Spurius Postumius Albus Regillensis , or his brother Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis , consul of the year 464 BC. BC, acted, is unclear. It is based on the tradition that the Dioscuri appeared in the battle of that time and helped the Romans to victory. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus , the city of Rome built the temple on the forum out of gratitude. According to the fasts , the day of initiation was January 27th, only Livy narrates July 15th.

Ancient authors already mentioned the epiphany of the Dioscuri in the battle of Lake Regillus together with a similar appearance of the brothers in the battle between Lokroi Epizephyrioi and Croton on the Sagra River, which took place around 560 BC. Is to be set. Since Marta Sordi's investigations, it has been considered likely that the Battle of the Sagra was the inspiration for the “myth” in Rome and was retrospectively incorporated. The erection of a temple for the Dioscuri, whose cult in Latium has been since the 6th century BC. Can be proven, manifested possibly the state-supporting function of the patriciate for the young republic. As rider gods, they are said to have embodied the patriciate that rides and is important for the existence. The objection was made that before the 4th century BC BC the Roman cavalry did not play a decisive role in the Roman army.

In 117 BC The temple was renovated by Lucius Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus . The temple served as a venue for Senate meetings several times in the late Republic .

Until the 1st century AD, the building was usually referred to as aedes or templum Castoris . Only then are the plural forms or both dioscurs mentioned in Latin literature by name. The Greek writers always regard the building as the sanctuary of the Dioscuri.

The temple in the 5th century BC Chr.

The structures in opus quadratum made of Cappellaccio tuff uncovered during the excavations are to be connected to the first building. Accordingly, it was an Italian-type temple with three cells behind a deep pronaos . The orientation already corresponded to the one that can still be observed today, but the temple was a little smaller than the Augustan building without a grandstand in front. The temple podium measured around 27.50 × 37.00 meters and around 3.50 meters high. The vestibule , supported by 4 × 3, probably stone pillars , was around 19 meters deep, the cells were around 18 meters deep.

Reconstruction of the 2nd century BC Chr.

Remains of Opus caementicium , the ancient concrete, testify to a remodeling in the course of the 2nd century BC. When the tribune was placed in front of the temple. In this context, the pronaos has also been shortened a little. The podium itself was partially dismantled and clad with slabs of peperin so that it could be used as a grandstand. The floor plan was probably reduced to a peripteros sine postico , that is, the column position only ran around on three sides, the back, however, had no columns. The cella floor of this construction phase was designed with a white mosaic.

The Temple of Metellus

The podium was now formed from three Caementicium complexes, which were later covered by the Tiberian building. The building was probably an octastyle peripteros with eight front pillars, like its predecessor sine postico . Columns and entablature were made of Roman travertine , which was covered with stucco, while the cella walls were made of blocks of Anienne tuff. The interior of the cella was decorated with three columns on the long sides, of which the foundations have been preserved. The floor was covered with a mosaic, the edges of which were framed by a multicolored meander . During the 1st century BC The mosaic was replaced by a floor in opus sectile , which represented cubes in perspective.

In his second speech against Verres, Cicero reports on selective renovation work on the building of Metellus, which was carried out in 74 BC. Were commissioned. In the run-up to these measures, there should have been considerable disagreements between Verres and the contractor previously responsible for the maintenance of the temple. When the work was re-tendered at massively overpriced prices, Verres is said to have enriched himself.

The temple of Tiberius

Column bases of the Castor temple.

The temple rose on a nearly 6 meter high and including a platform about 30 × 50 meters in size.

The temple was accessible via stairs on the side, which initially led to the platform in front. From there one reached the pronaos of the temple via a wide flight of steps.

The temple, built of Carrara marble , was a pycnostyle peripteros of 8 × 11 columns . The pillars stood on composite bases , the double hollow of which, called Scotia or Trochilus , was separated by a bezel decorated with two round bars . The lower column diameter was 1.475 meters. The richly decorated Corinthian capitals follow the normal type, but show a rare variant in the interlacing of the helices. The abacus of the capitals ended with an egg stick .

Capitals and entablature inside of the Castor temple.

Above it was the architrave with three fascias, the festoons of which were intricately decorated with candelabra- shaped ax crosses around rosettes and tendrils in the spandrels . An anthemion of hanging, flamed palmettes and intricate compositions of lotus cups adorned the middle of the three architrave fasciae. The fascia themselves were separated by a bead rod and scissors kymation . A richly vegetalized stirrup kymation completed the architrave. The frieze , on the other hand, was simply left smooth and bore a three-line inscription on the front.

Rich, corresponding profile sequences switched to consoles geison with its of acanthus leaves under captured Volutenkonsolen . The intermediate cassette fields , however, were simply decorated with rosettes. A pipe frieze with a final egg stick crowned the Corona. All these ornaments stood in a strict axial relationship to one another, which was also taken up for the last time by the non-functional gargoyles . Starting from the pillars, these correspondences ran through the entire building.

Presumably the richness of the exterior construction continued in the interior design, although no structural elements can be proven to be associated with the interior decoration. Since the construction of the Metellus already had an internal arrangement, such an arrangement is also to be assumed for the construction of the Tiberius. In addition, the Forma Urbis shows that the Castor temple had an interior arrangement.


  • Otto Richter: The Castor Temple at the Roman Forum. In: Yearbook of the German Archaeological Institute. Volume 13, 1898, pp. 87-114, plates 6-9 ( digitized version ).
  • Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer : Corinthian normal capitals (= Roman communications . 16. Supplementary booklet). Kerle, Heidelberg 1970, pp. 123-125.
  • Henner von Hesberg : Konsolengeisa of Hellenism and the early imperial period (= Roman communications. 24th supplement). Kerle, Heidelberg 1980, pp. 208-209.
  • Siri Sande, Jan Zahle: The Temple of the Dioscuri in the Roman Forum. In: Mathias Hofter (ed.): Emperor Augustus and the lost republic. An exhibition in the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, June 7th - August 14th, 1988. von Zabern, Mainz 1988, pp. 213–224.
  • Siri Sande: Indagini sull'elevato augusteo del tempio dei Castori. In: Archeologia Laziale . Volume 10, 1990, pp. 38-42.
  • Ralf Schenk: The Corinthian Temple until the end of the Augustus' Principle (= International Archeology. Volume 45). 1997, pp. 163-165, ISBN 978-3-89646-317-3 .
  • Inge Nielsen, Birte Poulsen (Ed.): The Temple of Castor and Pollux
    • Volume 1: Pia Guldager Bilde, Inge Nielsen, Carl Nylander, Birte Poulsen, among others: The Pre-Augustan Temple Phases with Related Decorative Elements (= Lavori e studi di archaeologia. Volume 17). De Luca, Rome 1992.
    • Volume 2.1: Birte Poulsen, Pia Bilde Guldager: The Finds and Trenches (= Occasional papers of the Nordic Institutes in Rome. Volume 3). "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, Rome 2008.
    • Volume 2.2: Mats Cullhed, Karen Slej: The Finds and Trenches (= Occasional papers of the Nordic Institutes in Rome. Volume 3). "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, Rome 2008.
    • Volume 3: Kjell Aage Nilson, Claes B. Persson, Siri Sande, Jan Zahle: The Augustan Temple (= Occasional papers of the Nordic Institutes in Rome. Volume 4). "L'Erma" di Bretschneider, Rome 2009.

Web links

Commons : Aedes Castoris in Rome  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Livius 2,20,12, according to which the temple was only praised to Castor (aedem Castori vovisse) .
  2. Livy 2,42,5.
  3. Cicero , De natura deorum 2.6; 3.11; Dionysius of Halicarnassus , Antiquitates Romanae 6,13; Plutarch , Aemilius Paulus 25.
  4. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiquitates Romanae 6,13,4: ... ὃν ἐπὶ τῆς ἀγορᾶς κατεσκεύασεν ἡ πόλις .
  5. Livy 2,42,5.
  6. Marta Sordi: La leggenda dei Dioscuri nella battaglia della Sagra e di Lago Regillo. In: the same (ed.): Contributi dell'Istituto di storia antica. Volume 1. Vita e Pensiero, Milan 1972, pp. 47-70
  7. Luigi Bessone: Sulle epifanie dei Dioscuri. In: Patavium. Volume 6, 1995, pp. 91-100; Thuri Lorenz : The Epiphany of the Dioscuri. In: Heide Froning , Tonio Hölscher , Harald Mielsch (eds.): Kotinos. Festschrift for Erika Simon. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1992, pp. 114-122; Gregor Weber : Kaiser, dreams and visions in principate and late antiquity (= Historia . Individual writings. Vol. 163). Steiner, Stuttgart 2000, pp. 254 f.
  8. See for example Frank Kolb: Rom. The history of the city in ancient times. CH Beck, Munich 1995, pp. 120-122.
  9. Thuri Lorenz: The Epiphany of the Dioscuri. In: Heide Froning, Tonio Hölscher, Harald Mielsch (eds.): Kotinos. Festschrift for Erika Simon. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz 1992, pp. 114-122, here pp. 120 f.
  10. Cicero , In Verrem actio secunda I – V 2,1,154 ; Pseudo-Asconius, Commentary on Cicero, Speeches against Verres 2,1,154; Cicero, For Aemilius Scaurus 46 ; Asconius , Commentary on Cicero, For Aemilius Scaurus 46 .
  11. Cicero , Pro P. Sestio 15 (34); 37 (79); 38 (83); 39 (85); In Verrem actio secunda I – V 1.131. 132, 133, 134; 3.41; De haruspicum responso 28.49 ; In Vatinium 31. 32; In L. Calpurnium Pisonem 5.10 ; Pro T. Annio Milone 18; De domo sua ad pontifices 110; epistulae ad Quintum fratrem 2,3,6; Livy 2,20,12; 2.42.5; 8,11,16; 9,43,22; Asconius , Commentary on In L. Calpurnium Pisonem 23; Suetonius , Caesar 10; Festus 246, 286; Gellius , Noctes Atticae 11,3,2; Monumentum Ancyranum 4.13; Plautus , Curculio 481; see. also Cassius Dio 37,8: τοῦ γάρ τοι ναοῦ κοινοῦ οἱ πρὸς τὸν ἀδελφὸν τὸν Κάστορα ὄντος, ἐπ᾽ ἐκείνου μόανου ἡῦί γιωτνμαντοῦ ἐπωτνετντοί ἐπωτνετντνοί ἐπωτνετντοί ἐπωτνμαντοί ἐπωτυε
  12. Pliny , Naturalis historia 10,121; 34.23; Suetonius, Tiberius 20; Caligula 22; Florus , Epitoma 3,3,20; Historia Augusta , Maximinus Thrax 16.1; Valerian 5.4; Notitia Regionum VIII; Chronograph from 354 146; Asconius, Commentary on pro Aemilio Scauro 46; Lactantius , Institutiones Divinae 2,7,9.
  13. Dionysius of Halicarnassus 6:13 ( τὸ τῶν Διοσκούρων ἱερό ); Cassius Dio 38.6; 55.27.4; 59,28,5 Plutarch , Sulla 33 ( τὸ Διοσκόρειον ); Cassius Dio 60,6,8; Appian , bellum civile 1.25; Plutarch, Sulla 8; Pompey 2; Cato Minor 27 ( νεὼς τῶν Διοσκούρων )
  14. Cicero , Reden gegen Verres 2,1,130-150.

Coordinates: 41 ° 53 ′ 30.7 ″  N , 12 ° 29 ′ 8.2 ″  E