Temple of Divus Iulius

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Temple of Divus Iulius as seen from the Palatine Hill

The Temple of Divus Iulius ( Latin aedes Divi Iuli ) was the temple built in Rome for the deified Gaius Iulius Caesar .

History and location

Roman Forum with the Temple of Divus Iulius on the left. Reconstruction drawing by Bechetti.

The temple is located on the southeastern narrow side of the Roman Forum in Rome at the point where the body of the murdered Caesar was cremated. After the deification of Romulus as Quirinus, Caesar was the second Roman to be worshiped as a god. However, the Divus Julius was not an assimilation to an existing god, as was the case with the assimilation of Alexander the Great to Zeus - Ammon . Rather, he embodied a new god based on the Roman model, the god of gentleness, as found in Clementia Caesaris . After Caesar was burned in the forum, initially only an altar ( Appian , Civil Wars 1,4; 2,148; 3,2) and a marble column from Giallo Antico with the inscription Parenti Patriae (the father of the fatherland) reminded of the Ustrinum . The then consul Publius Cornelius Dolabella had the column removed immediately. But soon afterwards the office of a Flemish Divi Iulii as priest of the cult for the Divus Iulius was established and Mark Antony was still in 44 BC. Designated as the first incumbent. The priesthood belonged to the influential flamines maiores and was founded in 40 BC. First occupied.

Construction of the temple began two years after Caesar was murdered in 42 BC. Praised by the Senate under the pressure of the triumvirs Octavian , Marcus Antonius and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus ( Cassius Dio 47, 18, 4). Only on August 18, 29 BC After a three-day triumph of Octavian, who later became Augustus, the temple was consecrated (Cassius Dio 51, 21). The start of construction seems to have begun in the year 36 BC , thanks to a coin issue by Octavian showing a small temple with the entablature inscription DIVO IUL (io). To fall. The realization of the building project seems to be due to the commitment of Octavian, because as Augustus he boasts in his report of deeds, the Res Gestae , to have built the temple.

Building description

The console geison from the Temple of Divus Iulius.
Front view of the temple with a protective roof over the integrated altar. In the background is the temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina

The temple, which was uncovered in 1872 and re-examined archaeologically in 1888, 1898/99 and 1950, has been largely destroyed because this area was used as a quarry in the Renaissance and Baroque periods . Only the three mighty cores of the temple podium made of opus caementicium , the ancient concrete, have been preserved. Only a few marble structural elements of the rising architecture have been preserved, the wall foundations were robbed down to the lowest layers. In combination with written records and the evidence of the coin images, the temple can be largely reconstructed.

The caementicium cores were originally covered with tuff blocks, which in turn were covered with marble slabs. In the area of ​​the pillars and the cella front wall, the foundation blocks were made of travertine .

The western caementicium core was approximately 16.80 meters wide, 6.30 meters deep and 3.30 meters high. The adjoining cores had a height of about 5.50 meters and a width of 14.50. The middle core carrying the pronaos had a depth of about 7.90 meters. The eastern core bearing the cella was about 6.20 meters deep. A separate, small cement base between the pronaos and cello foundations carried the almost 4 meter wide door threshold.

Since the western core was not deep enough to accommodate a staircase to the approximately 2.20 meter higher central core, some of the steps must have been between the front pillars. The front pillars therefore stood on pedestals in this area. According to Vitruvius (III 3.2) the temple was a pycnostylus , that is, the clear distance between its columns, the intercolumnium , corresponded to 1.5 times the lower column diameter. Judging by the width of the stone foundation, six columns divided the temple front. The narrow sides of the pronao, on the other hand, offered space for three columns or protruding anteens . A decision cannot be made.

Contrary to earlier assumptions that the temple was of Ionic order , research since the discovery of a Corinthian chapter fragment in post-excavations in 1950 has predominantly assumed that the temple was completely Corinthian . This was already clear in advance for pilasters and ante arrangements of the temple because of the numerous corresponding capital fragments. The temple's architrave and frieze are not preserved. The fragments and panels of a frieze of vine women that are connected to the temple cannot be connected to the exterior of the building because of their low height. Rather, they seem to have been part of the interior decoration or podium cladding. Geison and Sima , on the other hand, have been preserved in numerous blocks and fragments that are still in ruins today. The temple therefore had a console frame with flat consoles, mediated by a tooth cut . Between the consoles there are depictions in flat relief, mostly depicting rosettes, but also a laurel wreath , grapes, a palmette , a patera and a shield. Most of these motifs can be directly connected with the person of Caesar, for example the laurel wreath, which he was given the right to wear at any time after the victory of Munda. The grape can be related to the reintroduction of the Liber cult in Rome by Caesar.

A cement base on the northern cellapodium is evidence of the interior of the temple. It is about 1.10 meters high, 3.30 meters wide and 0.90 meters deep. Presumably this pedestal, for which a counterpart on the south side can be assumed, carried a small aedicule . The aedicules to be reconstructed probably contained the works of art donated by Augustus to the temple, including a painting by Apelles that depicted Aphrodite Anadyomene ( Strabon , XIV 2.19). The cult image depicted Caesar with a star, the Sidus Iulium , over his forehead.

Altar in front of the temple of Divus Iulius.

Speaker's platform

In front of the actual temple was the podium, which is still visible today, with the embedded altar. The platform was mainly used as a speaker's platform ( rostra aedis Divi Iuli ), but also for other public events. The Rostra aedis Divi Iuli were more important than the older Rostra , which were set up opposite on the west side of the forum.


The altar, erected spontaneously after the death of Caesar and immediately demolished by Dolabella, was renewed as part of the temple construction. It was in the form of a round altar in a semicircular exedra that cut into the western podium wall. Presumably, the altar was erected at the latest in the course of the start of construction, which began with the coin issue in 36 BC. Is to be brought into connection. After the fires of 14 BC BC and 9 BC BC and the subsequent redesign and elevation of the forum, the semicircular exedra of the western podium was closed with a wall, the altar hidden behind it and withdrawn from memory.

But even today, Caesar's admirers regularly put flowers on the altar of the temple.


  1. Res gestae divi Augusti 19.2; the spelling Iulii in Frontinus , de aquis 129.
  2. For the exact date, see Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum . Vol. I 2 217, 244, 248.
  3. Barbara Simon: The self-representation of Augustus in the coinage and in the Res Gestae. 1993, pp. 77-78. ISBN 3-86064-047-X
  4. Res gestae divi Augusti 19, 2; see. Robert Sablayrolles in: Pallas. Vol. 18, 1981, pp. 61-63.
  5. Augustus, Res gestae 21; Cassius Dio LI 22.
  6. Klaus S. Freyberger : Das Forum Romanum , 2nd revised and expanded edition, Philipp von Zabern, Darmstadt / Mainz 2012, ISBN 978-3-8053-4471-5 , p. 61.


  • Ernst Robert Fiechter . In: Journal for the History of Architecture . Vol. 8. 1924, p. 62 ff.
  • Heidi Hänlein-Schäfer: Veneratio Augusti. A study of the temples of the first Roman emperor . Rome 1985. pp. 99 ff., 255 ff.
  • Maria Montagna Pasquinucci: La decorazione architettonica del tempio di Divo Giulio . In: Monumenti Antichi . Vol. I 4. 1973, p. 273 ff.
  • Otto Richter : The Augustus buildings on the Roman Forum . In: Yearbook of the German Archaeological Institute . Vol. 4, 1889, 137 ff.
  • Otto Richter: The Temple of Divus Julius and the Arch of Augustus in the Roman Forum . In: Ancient monuments . Vol. 1. 1888, pp. 14–15 ( online )
  • Ralf Schenk: The Corinthian Temple until the end of the Principate of Augustus . Leidorf, Espelkamp 1997, ISBN 3-89646-317-9 (Internationale Archäologie Vol. 45), pp. 100-107.

Web links

Commons : Temple of Divus Iulius  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 41 ° 53 ′ 31.3 "  N , 12 ° 29 ′ 9.9"  E