List of Religious and Cultic Structures in Pompeii

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The following article, titled "List of Religious and Cultic Structures in Pompeii", attempts to enlist known religious structures, temples, shrines and other cultic buildings in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. This article includes all the strucutes regardles of their size, physical existence (where the structure once stood and was later demolished or assumed in to another building).

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Overview

The residents of Pompeii were immersed in the sacred. Beyond the numerous places of worship in the town, each sanctuary housed numerous statues of deities, often arranged as votive offerings. In a polytheistic world, the gods were never solitary figures. Every deity possessed multiple facets and spheres of influence, and their coexistence with other gods in sanctuaries allowed for a more distinct delineation of their "personalities".

The temples and statues discovered in the sanctuaries of Pompeii (and Herculaneum) reveal that the grouping of gods in a sanctuary and their connections with the emperor or local dignitaries served as a means to define the religious inclinations of the respective cult. Particularly noteworthy are the statues representing ancestral divinities, embodying the religious and historical memories of the city.

Religious Buildings

circa 150 BCE

Temple of Asclepius
Since the discovery of the temple (Tempio di Asclepio), the smallest of the religious buildings of Pompeii, it sparked a vivacious debate on the divinity that was worshiped here. On the basis of an inscription in the Oscan language it was thought that the temple was dedicated to Jupiter Meilichios (sweet as honey), a deity linked to the underworld whose places of worship usually stood outside the village. Most probably the temple was dedicated to Asclepius, patron of medicine, as indicated by the discovery of a terracotta statue, today at the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, and a medical kit.

The temple is situated on an elevated platform, featuring four Corinthian columns at the front and two on each side. Behind these columns lies the cella, where excavations revealed terra-cotta statues of Jupiter and Juno, along with a bust of Minerva. At the centre of the courtyard there is the tuff altar; a steep staircase leads to the temple sanctuary with four columns on the façade and two on the sides, with Corinthian capitals decorated with a bearded male head. In the cell there were the foundations of the cult statues of Asclepius and Hygeia. The temple was probably built between the third and the second century BCE.

circa 150 BCE

Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter, also known as the Capitolium, or Temple of the Capitoline Triad, was a temple in Roman Pompeii, at the north end of its forum. Initially dedicated to Jupiter alone, it was built in the mid second century BCE at the same time as the temple of Apollo was being renovated - this was the area at which Roman influence over Pompeii increased and so Roman Jupiter superseded the Greek Apollo as the town's highest god. The temple structure was built in 150 BCE to dominate the forum, and it became Pompeii's main temple after the Roman conquest.

circa 120 BCE

Temple of Apollo or the Sanctuary of Apollo
The sanctuary of Apollo is one of the most important and ancient places of worship in the city of Pompeii. Its origins can be traced back to the first quarter of the sixth century BCE. Around the same time the sanctuary-temple complex was expanded and a podium was added with a roof decorated with architectural elements of terracotta, as evidenced by the discovery that that these materials were also reused in the foundations ofthe building towards the end of the second century BCE (circa 120 BCE), following a major renovation, the building took the shape and form visible today except a few later changes made to the temple.

The current temple structure dates back to the Roman period and retains its built carried out in 120 BCE and consecrated to the Greek and Roman god Apollo. Located in the forum (market place) and facing the northern side of the town, it is the town's most important religious building and has ancient origins. The sanctuary's present appearance dates from its second century BCE rebuild, and a further reconstruction to repair damage from the 62 CE earthquake, repairs which were left incomplete at the time of the eruption.

circa 80 BCE

Temple of Venus
The Temple of Venus Pompeiana lies immediately to the right on entering the city by way of the Marina Gate. The goddess Venus Pompeiana was the patron goddess of Lucius Cornelius Sulla as well as of the city of Pompeii. Prior to the founding of the Roman colony the site had been occupied by houses but these were cleared away in the early years of the colony to make way for the temple complex. In less than 250 years the temple was twice built and twice destroyed; a third building was in the course of construction at the time of the eruption.

circa 30 BCE

Temple of Fortuna Augusta
Like many other places of worship throughout the Roman Empire, this small temple with marble capitals and columns and with the altar at the front, was not only dedicated to the celebration of specific rituals in honour of Emperor Augustus (31 BCE-14 CE) but also to the propaganda in favour of the imperial house by the local elite. In this case, an inscription gives us the name of the builder of this temple: Marcus Tullius, son of Marcus, duoviri of Pompeii. The construction of the temple at his own expense and on land owned by him, made Marcus Tullius a strong supporter of the emperor. The cult of Fortuna Augusta was looked after by a group of slaves and liberti, that is groups particularly related to the emperor as the guarantor of their rights and ambitions. The marble coatings that adorned the building were removed just a few years after the eruption. There was a statue of Fortuna in the cell of the temple and statues of the imperial family in the niches on the side.

circa 10 BCE

Temple of Isis
The Temple of Isis is a Roman temple dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis. This small and almost intact temple was one of the first discoveries during the excavation of Pompeii in 1764 CE. Its role as a Hellenized Egyptian temple in a Roman colony was fully confirmed with an inscription detailed by Francisco la Vega on July 20, 1765 CE. The preserved Pompeian temple is actually the second structure; the original building built during the reign of Augustus was damaged in an earlier earthquake, in 62 CE. At the time of the 79 CE eruption of Vesuvius, the Iseum was the only temple to have been completely re-built.

circa 25 CE

Sanctuary of Lari Pubblici
This sanctuary, together with the other temples for the imperial cult, such as the Temple of the Genius Augusti and the Portico of Concordia Augusta, was built in an area formerly taken up by shops. The large building, completely open on the Forum, was fitted with a central altar, where sacrifices could be offered for the emperor as well as for citizens of Lari. There are two large exedras on the two sides of the central apse and several niches intended to house the statues of the imperial family. Only a few fragments of the rich marble covering are preserved, which was destroyed shortly after the eruption 79 CE. The Sanctuary was built prior to the earthquake of 62 CE but after the rule of Augustus (first decades of the 1st century CE).

circa 50 CE

Temple of Genius Augusti
The Temple of the Genius Augusti was built upon the requests of Mamia, mentioned in an inscription as priestess of Cerere and of the Genius of Augustus. The architecture adopted the same design elements as the adjacent Portico of Concordia Augusta, as indicated by the marble decoration of the façade. The temple included a small courtyard, an altar and a small temple with four columns on a high basis, accessible from both sides. The beautiful marble decoration with floral motives filled with rich fauna, today seen at the entrance of the Portico of the Concordia of Eumachia, was likely to belong to the entrance of the temple.

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References

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