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The Republic to the Middle Empire

This book examines the development of Roman temple architecture from its ear-
liest history in the sixth century B.c. to the reigns of Hadrian and the Antonines
in the second century A.D. Although archaeologists, architects, and historians have
studied these temples since the Renaissance, this book is unique for its specific
analysis of Roman temples as a building type. John Stamper analyzes their formal
qualities, the public spaces in which they were located, and, most importantly, the
authority of precedent in their designs. The basis ofthat authority was the Temple
of Jupiter Capitolinus, the city's first and most important temple. Stamper chal-
lenges the accepted reconstruction of this temple, proposing a new reconstruction
and an assessment of its role in the transformation of Rome. He also traces Rome's
temple architecture as it evolved over time and how it accommodated changing
political and religious contexts, as well as the effects of new stylistic influences.

John W. Stamper is Associate Professor and Associate Dean in the School of

Architecture at the University of Notre Dame. Both an architect and architectural
historian, he is the author of Chicago's North Michigan Avenue: Planning and Devel-
opment, 1Q00-1Q30.

The Republic to the Middle Empire

University of Notre Dame

The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom

The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK
40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011-4211, USA
477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, vie 3207, Australia
Ruiz de Alarcn 13, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Dock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town 8001, South Africa

John W. Stamper 2005

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and

to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2005

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

Typefaces Bembo 11/14 pt., Weiss, Trajan, andjanson System VSTipXig [TB]

A catalog record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Stamper, John W.
The architecture of Roman temples : the republic to the middle empire / J o h n W Stamper.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-521-81068-x
1. Temples, Roman - Italy - Rome. 2. Temple ofJupiter Capitolinus (Rome, Italy)
3. Architecture, Roman Italy - Rome - Influence. 4. R o m e (Italy) - Buildings,
structures, etc. I. Title.
NA323.S73 2004
726'.i207'o9376 - dc22 2004045666

ISBN o 521 81068 x hardback


List of Illustrations page vii

Preface xiii

Introduction: The Authority of Precedent i

1 Building the Temple ofJupiter Capitolinus 6

2 A New Reconstruction of the Temple 19

3 Etrusco-Roman Temples of the Early Republic 34

4 Assimilation of Hellenistic Architecture after the Punic Wars 49

5 The Corinthian Order in the First Century B.C. 68

6 Architecture and Ceremony in the Time of Pompey and

Julius Caesar 84

7 Rebuilding Rome in the Time of Augustus 105

8 Augustus and the Temple of Mars Ultor 130

9 Temples and Fora of the Flavian Emperors 151

10 The Forum Traiani 173

11 Hadrian's Pantheon 184

12 Hadrian and the Antonines 206

Epilogue 219

Notes - 223
List of Abbreviations 261
Works Cited and Consulted 265
Index 281

T his study's primary intention has been to analyze

the architectural, religious, and political impor-
tance of the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome
Flaminia, were built, destroyed, and then rebuilt again.
In some cases, this was a cycle that was repeated two
or three times. The Temple ofJupiter Capitolinus was
from the time of its dedication at the beginning of built and rebuilt four times between 525-507 B.C. and
the Republic to the middle Empire. The Capitoline A.D. 82. With each of these rebuildings, certain features
Temple exerted a powerful influence on Roman so- of the temple's plan or stylistic details were altered to
ciety for centuries, serving as the focal point of the reflect the changing political and religious context and
city's religious and political culture. From its location the effects of new stylistic influences.
on top of the Capitoline Hill, the temple dominated This book began with a challenge to the currently
the city around it just as the Parthenon came to domi- accepted reconstruction of the Temple of Jupiter Capi-
nate Athens after its construction in the midfifth cen- tolinus, arguing that its width, length, height, and in-
tury B.C. The Capitoline Temple was a timeless beacon teraxial spacings are far too large for the technology of
guarding over the city, evoking memories of Rome's Roman builders in the sixth century B.C. Because of its
founding, its greatest leaders, and its long tradition of exaggerated size, it has been viewed by most architec-
celebratory events. tural historians as an anomaly in the history of Roman
Throughout the Republic, no other temple in architecture. This exaggerated size has always made it
Rome rivaled the Capitoline Temple in size or re- difficult to relate the Capitoline Temple to any other
ligious and political importance. Most other temples temples, whether Etruscan, republican, or imperial.
were barely half its size, and none commanded such an The new reconstruction proposed here is based
imposing site. It was only in the time of Augustus, with on a different interpretation of the building's physi-
the construction of the Temple of Mars Ultor, that it cal evidence and written accounts by ancient authors.
was rivaled in scale and prominence. The width of this It also takes into account a comparative study of later
temple's pronaos was, in fact, nearly equal to that of the temple architecture in R o m e to which it was indu-
Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus as it is reconstructed in bitably linked. It proposes a building whose dimen-
this study, suggesting that Augustus's architects looked sions are more compatible with both contemporary
to the ancient building as a precedent. The Capitoline and later temples, and thus more within the capabili-
Temple may have been the model in a similar man- ties of builders in the sixth century B.C. The Temple
ner for Vespasian's architect in building the Templum ofJupiter Capitolinus presented here is seen not as an
Pacis and again for the builders of the Temple of Divus anomaly, but as a paradigmatic building that had a ma-
Traianus and the Pantheon. jor influence on the designs of many later temple struc-
This study's second intention was to analyze tures and their iconographie programs, at least until the
Rome's temple architecture as it changed over time. It middle of the second century A.D.
has taken into account the fact that many of the tem- The review of Etrusco-Roman temples from the
ples, whether in the Forum Romanum, the Forum fifth and fourth centuries B.C. revealed a period of ex-
Boarium, the Largo Argentina, or around the Circus perimentation in plan type yet a continuing use of


characteristic Etruscan and Latin features, for instance, like Pompey's Temple of Venus Victrix and Caesar's Fo-
the tall podium, widely spaced columns in a deep rum Julium. Integral to this discussion was an analysis
pronaos, and terra-cotta decorative details. Temples of the role of temple architecture in the processions
from this period owed much to the Temple of Jupiter and ceremonies of the late Republic.
Capitolinus in terms of their plans, architectural forms, The assimilation of Hellenistic architecture into
and symbolism, yet they were all built at a scale about Roman building practices began to change at the time
half its size as it is reconstructed in this study. This of the second triumvirate Octavian, Antony, and
in itself is a significant difference, but not nearly so if Lapidus - in the late first century B.C. Roman builders
we consider the fact that they would have been only and architects continued to be influenced by eastern
about one-third the size of the previously accepted re- styles and building techniques, especially those of Asia
construction. Minor, but at the same time they made their own dis-
The analysis of Roman temple architecture in the tinct interpretations. They also began to exert an in-
third and second centuries B.C. covered an important fluence on other regions, including Athens. Their dis-
period of transition from the Etrusco-Roman tradi- tinctly Roman interpretations of the Corinthian Order
tion to an adaptation of the Hellenistic style, espe- were evident, for instance, in the Temple of Divus
cially the introduction of the Ionic Order. As Rome Julius, Temple of Saturn, Temple of Apollo Palati-
systematically conquered more territory in the east- nus, and the Temple of Apollo Sosianus. We see in
ern Mediterranean, it increasingly absorbed the ar- these buildings a certain continuity that was unique
chitectural forms of Hellenistic Athens, Priene, and to Rome. Most of them had marble Corinthian cap-
Pergamon initially in the form of the Ionic Order, and itals with precise formal and technical characteristics
then in the Corinthian. that showed a clear influence of Hellenistic sources but
The writings of Vitruvius were also introduced with Roman refinements.
in this context. Although he wrote his Ten Books of Discussion then focused on the Temple of Mars
Architecture much later, in the first century B.C., his Ultor, Augustus's most important building in Rome,
theories on temple architecture most directly applied constructed in 37-2 B.c. A comparison between this
to the Ionic Order, which was introduced into Rome building and the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus revealed
two centuries earlier. The Temple of Portunus in the dimensional similarities in the width of its pronaos,
Forum Boarium, for instance, closely corresponded to which suggest a direct architectural link. It was an indi-
his theories of architectural beauty and illustrates the cation that Augustus and his architects may have looked
way builders typically followed the proportional canons at the Capitoline Temple with renewed interest as a ref-
Vitruvius described, while altering them when they erence point for their own imperial architecture. They
felt it necessary for visual refinement. Discussion of saw it as a building to emulate or recall as an important
Vitruvius's theories early in the study also provided an part of Augustus's efforts to establish and maintain the
outline of his systems of categorization according to legitimacy of his rule. At the same time, this compar-
plan and faade types so that they could be used as a ison provided a review of the differences between the
reference throughout the study. Etrusco-Roman style of the early Republic and the
The introduction of the Corinthian Order was classicism of Augustus.
then described as a further aspect of Hellenistic in- The architecture of the Flavian dynasty from the
fluence on Roman architecture. Early examples of the second half of the first century A.D. represented the
new order included the Round Temple by the Tiber, work of an especially prodigious group of builders who
the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli, and Temple B in Largo achieved a new level of refinement and perfection in
Argentina. Contemporary with these was the partial temple architecture. They constructed the Temple of
transformation of the Capitoline Temple by the dicta- Vespasian, Templum Pacis, and Forum Transitorium,
tor Sulla, who used elements of Corinthian columns and they rebuilt the Capitoline Temple twice, making
from the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens as he re- it a more characteristically Corinthian structure while
built the structure after a fire. The introduction of the maintaining its original plan. They also constructed the
Corinthian Order into R o m e continued with projects Arch of Titus, which was placed on the axis of the Via

Sacra at a point where it framed a view of the Temple In summary, this book has sought to draw atten-
across the Forum Romanum. It was the Flavians' way tion to the authority of precedent in the design of
of politically honoring the memory of Jupiter and asso- Rome's temple architecture from the early Republic
ciating their name with the temple's symbolic reference to the time of Hadrian and the Antonines. Crucial to
to Rome's founding. this thesis is the proposed reconstruction of the Tem-
Discussion of the Temple of Divus Traianus, the ple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which allows us to recognize
giant temple begun by Trajan and finished by Hadrian, its central role as a paradigm in Rome's architectural
again pointed out similarities in dimensions that may development. Possessing the political status of its as-
have existed between this temple and those of the Capi- sociation with the founding of the Republic and its
toline Temple. Like Augustus, Trajan responded to the religious authority as the temple dedicated to Jupiter,
city's most important architectural precedent, contin- Juno, and Minerva, it was the most important archi-
uing the revival of interest in its historical significance tectural model for generations of temple builders. The
and exploiting its compelling power to maintain the site of Rome derived its authority from the history
legitimacy of his rule. of its founding, and the Temple ofJupiter Capitolinus
This dimensional unity in temple architecture in symbolized the legitimate access to and maintenance
imperial Rome culminated with Hadrian's Pantheon, of political power.
which had the same 115-foot width as the Temple of Political and religious symbols permeated imperial
Jupiter Capitolinus as it is reconstructed in this study. Rome, from visual displays and honorific inscriptions
Maintaining a long association with the East, Hadrian on public monuments to coins and literary texts. Em-
associated himself with both Zeus and Jupiter. His link perors had many political and religious symbols to use
to the deities and his emulation of certain aspects of the in acquiring and consolidating their power. The re-
Capitoline Temple in his design of the Pantheon, plus publican consuls and dictators and imperial rulers alike
its equidistant location between the Capitoline Temple drew on architecture and ceremony to foster power
and the Mausoleum of Augustus, were discussed as a and legitimacy in Rome and the rest of the Empire. 2
representation of both the unity and the universal char- How they did so is revealed most vividly in the temple
acter of the religious and political life of the Roman and forum complexes on which they lavished much of
Empire. Hadrian's far-reaching interests led him to em- their energy and money and which remain so striking
brace on one hand a Hellenistic identity based on the for us to observe today in Rome's ageless topography.
city of Athens and the cult of Zeus and, on the other The establishment and maintenance of political
hand, the Latin culture focused on R o m e and the Capi- and religious auctoritas through architecture and cer-
toline triad Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. The Pantheon emony was a part of Rome's development from its
served as a unique manifestation of this religious and founding in the eighth century B.c. to the end of the
political synthesis across cultural borders, its architec- Empire. We cannot, in fact, fully understand its archi-
ture reflecting both tradition and innovation. tecture unless we understand the relationship between
The analysis of Hadrian's Temple of Venus and architecture and the political and religious intentions
Rome and the two temples built by his successor, behind its production. Architecture and its urban set-
Antoninus Pius, further considered his link to Zeus tings, combined with the ritual ceremonies that took
in Athens and the influence of the precedent of the place within them, were the very essence of Roman
Temple of Olympian Zeus. It concluded with the work society and culture. 3 While symbolizing the apparent
ofAntoninus Pius and the transformations his architects presence of an overriding political authority, the public
made to the Hadrianic style in the middle of the second buildings and urban spaces of ancient R o m e also repre-
century A.D.! These temples of Hadrian and Antoninus sent a social balance, a mutually held belief in the value
Pius were not the last constructed in Rome, but they of urban settings and ritual ceremonies, an acceptance
were the last to represent a discernable unity in tem- and, in many cases, a powerful visual expression of the
ple design with a lineage going back to the Capitoline overt presence of state authority.
Temple and the Roman adaptation of the Hellenistic As stated in the Introduction, precedents in ar-
orders. chitecture form the basis of a continuous evolution

of style and building practice, one architect describ- Romans expanded on these concepts at a time when
ing it as "form which has been accepted as the proper their military conquests and increasing wealth allowed
expression of good logic, fitness and beauty, proven by them to build new temple and forum complexes in
the test of time and accepted as a standard upon which Rome and its colonies. Thus, they promulgated newly
new expression can be modeled and with which it codified planning and building modes.
may be compared." 4 Architects in-the Roman world The Roman architectural community made this
operated much more in terms of precedent than most new expressive language its own, if not always out of
architects today are accustomed to. agreement with its principles, then because its aes-
This study examined how the design of temple thetic results fulfilled a deeply felt need for elegance
structures typically made reference to earlier prece- and monumentality in architecture. As temples became
dents, and how this process of both imitation and inno- taller, columns more slender and attenuated, forum
vation was essential to members of the Roman ruling spaces grander and more clearly and formally artic-
class in establishing and maintaining their political con- ulated, basilicas more solid, and triumphal arches more
trol. It was also essential to the general population - the refined, Romans felt a great satisfaction with their artis-
plebeians and the middle class in demonstrating their tic production. There was an assurance in their deci-
support for or disagreement with certain causes, their sion making. This movement toward internationalism
admiration for particular rulers, or their dissatisfac- was already well under way in the late Republic, but
tion with their political status. Impressive architectural reached its maturity in the time of the Flavians and
settings and elaborate public ceremonies were all ac- Hadrian.
knowledged modes of exercising power or establishing In looking at the temples of ancient Rome, this
auctoritas, a concept the ancient Romans understood book has provided an analysis of this cross-cultural
well. The pomp and spectacle of a triumphal proces- assimilation and transformation of early architectural
sion amid monumental marble-clad buildings became a traditions. It has described both the foreign sources
way of explaining, impressing, and mediating between of Roman architecture and its distinctly regional ele-
the rulers and the people. ments. It has identified the factors that allowed Roman
Although much of Rome's early architecture was architecture to transcend its precedents, to leap from a
derived from Etruscan and Latin traditions and prac- purely local or regional phenomenon to one of inter-
tices, Roman architects, engineers, and planners de- national importance. In part, it is the interplay of the
veloped their own identifiable system of planning and localized and the universal that confers on the architec-
building adapted to specific topographical conditions ture of ancient Rome its authority, its appropriateness
and constructional capabilities. Along with other cities as a transformable and compelling language for other
of central and southern Italy, R o m e was especially rich cultures. A universal style of architecture without some
in multicultural influences because it was there that the local characteristics can be lifeless and sterile, while a
Romans, Etruscans, Latins, and Sabines, and later the regional style without outside influences can appear to
Hellenistic Greeks, met one another. The Egyptians be provincial. Like any great architecture, that of the
and the Greeks had been the first to build columnar Romans, as this book has shown, possessed a unique
temples and to organize cities on a formal grid. The combination of both the universal and the regional.