Capitoline Temple

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Reconstructed model
Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on a Roman denarius , 78 BC. Chr., Albert 1280

The Capitoline Temple ( Latin aedes Capitolina ) was the temple of the Capitoline Triassic , consisting of Jupiter Optimus Maximus , Juno Regina and Minerva, located on the southern summit of the Capitol Hill in Rome in Roman antiquity . A sanctuary dedicated to these three deities is called the Capitol . Since the temple was mainly dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, it is also known as the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus (Latin Aedes Iovis Optimi Maximi Capitolini ).

The cult images of the Triassic were each in their own cella in the temple . The cella of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was in the center, Juno on the left and Minerva on the right. In addition, there were other cult images, especially those gods closely associated with Jupiter, e.g. B. of Summanus . On the roof, as an acroterion, there was an image of Jupiter steering a quadriga .

The pictorial decoration of the original temple consisted of terracotta statues, after Pliny the Elder of Vulca , an Etruscan artist from Veii had been made.

Building history

First construction

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus , the temple had been promised by Lucius Tarquinius Priscus during the royal period , who also began the earthworks for the foundations, which, according to modern studies, should have been very difficult with the nature of the hilltop. Under his successor Lucius Tarquinius Superbus , the last king of Rome , the building was supposedly largely completed. According to later tradition, however, it was inaugurated in the first year of the Roman Republic on September 13, 509 BC. By Marcus Horatius Pulvillus , the incumbent consul , to whom this honor was granted by lot. According to Plutarch , it should have happened during this temple consecration that Publicola , a competitor of Horatius, had Horatius (incorrectly) reported during the rite that his son had died in the camp. But Horatius, a model of ancient Roman aequitas , was not deterred and calmly ended the ceremony.

The Capitol had been burned down or destroyed several times in the course of history, but was always rebuilt on the same foundations. The base of the building is almost square and measures 62 m × 54 m. In the meantime, parts of the foundations were exposed during excavations and can be viewed today.

The exact floor plan of the facility continues to be heatedly debated, so that several proposals for floor plans exist side by side. Up until the excavations, the supposed appearance was known from a relief showing the emperor Marcus Aurelius with family members at a scene of sacrifice . The Capitol can be seen in the background. The tetrastylos shown there is incompatible with the findings.

Second construction

The temple was first built in 83 BC. At the time of Sulla , destroyed during the Roman civil wars. The Sibylline Books , writings with oracle sayings from fabulous prehistoric times, which had been consulted in critical situations of the state, also burned in this fire .

The temple was rebuilt in 69 BC. Consecrated by Quintus Lutatius Catulus . The floor plan was retained, but the materials used for the construction were more valuable.

In this second temple building Brutus and the other murderers Gaius Julius Caesar holed up . The temple was renovated by Augustus .

Third construction

The second temple building burned down on December 19, 69 when fighting broke out between Vespasian's troops and the defenders of the city during the year of the Four Emperors . As the new emperor, Vespasian hurried to rebuild the temple and commissioned the knight Lucius Iulius Vestinus to do so . The new building - again more splendid than its predecessor - was consecrated in 75.

Fourth building

The third building burned down in a great fire in the city of Rome as early as 80. Domitian , emperor since 81, built the fourth and most magnificent building, which was to outlast the centuries that followed. Both the roof and the doors were heavily gilded. According to Plutarch, the cost of gilding alone was 12,000 talents of silver, which would have been an immense sum.

With this gilding, the ruin also began in late antiquity: In the 5th century the army master Stilicho had the gold plates removed from the doors, Geiserich removed the gold from the roof shingles and Narses finally removed parts of the statue decorations. As a result, the still impressive building seems to have slowly deteriorated until it was built over by a Roman noble family in the 16th century when the Palazzo Caffarelli was built.

The location of the building was forgotten and in the 17th and 18th centuries the temple was even suspected on the northern part of the Capitol, the arx . Only after excavations from the middle of the 19th century onwards was the Capitolium unequivocally located again.


Only remnants of the foundations remain from the building today. An exposed section of the foundation wall can be seen in a separate section of the Conservator's Palace. In addition, individual ashlars of the temple can be seen in Piazzale Caffarelli and in Via del Tempio di Giove .


  • Emil Aust: The Capitoline Cult. In the article Iuppiter . In: Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (Hrsg.): Detailed lexicon of Greek and Roman mythology . Volume 2.1, Leipzig 1894, Col. 705-744 ( digitized version ).
  • Filippo Coarelli : Rome. An archaeological guide. Verlag von Zabern, Mainz 2000, ISBN 3-8053-2685-8 , pp. 48–51.
  • Harriet I. Flower: Remembering and Forgetting Temple Destruction: The Destruction of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus in 83 BC. In: G. Gardner, KL Osterloh: Antiquity in Antiquity. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-16-149411-6 , pp. 74-92.
  • Reinhard Förtsch : Capitolium. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 2, Metzler, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-476-01472-X , Sp. 972 f.
  • Samuel Ball Platner: Aedes Iovis Optimi Maximi Capitolini. In: A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome. Oxford University Press, London 1929, pp. 297-302 ( ).
  • RT Ridley: Unbridgeable Gaps: the Capitoline temple at Rome. In: Bullettino della Commissione Archeologica Comunale di Roma 106, 2005, pp. 83-104.
  • John Stamper: The architecture of Roman temples: the republic to the middle empire. Cambridge University Press, New York 2005, pp. 6–33 ( limited preview in Google Book Search).

Web links

Commons : Capitoline Temple  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. Pliny, Naturalis historia 35,157.
  2. Cicero , De re publica 2,20,36. Pliny, Naturalis historia 12,157. Tacitus , Histories 3.72. Titus Livius 1,38,7; 1.55.1. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiquitates Romanae 3.69; 4.59. Ausonius , Ordo nobilium urbium. 121 leg
  3. Cicero, De re publica 2,24,44; In Verrem 5,19,48. Livy, Ab urbe condita 1,55-56. Pliny, Naturalis historia 3.70 (9).
  4. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiquitates Romanae 4.61; 5.35.3. Livy, Ab urbe condita 1.55-56.1; 2,8,5-8; 7.3.8. Polybios , Historiai 3.22. Plutarch , Publicola 14.
  5. Pliny, Naturalis historia 7,138. Tacitus, Histories 3,72,3.
  6. Tacitus, Histories 3.71 to 72.
  7. Plutarch, Publicola 15.3.
  8. ^ Aust: Iuppiter . In: Roscher: Lexikon , Sp. 706.

Coordinates: 41 ° 53 ′ 32 "  N , 12 ° 28 ′ 54"  E