Temple of Saturn

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The Temple of Saturn (Latin: Templum Saturni or Aedes Saturni; Italian: Tempio di Saturno) was an ancient Roman temple to the god Saturn, in what is now Rome, Italy. Its ruins stand at the foot of the Capitoline Hill at the western end of the Roman Forum. The original dedication of the temple is traditionally dated to 497 BCE, but ancient writers disagreed greatly about the history of this site.

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Overview

The Temple of Saturn is the oldest sacred place in Rome, after the Temples of Vesta and Jupiter.

In Roman mythology, Saturn ruled during the Golden Age, and he continued to be associated with wealth. His temple housed the treasury, the aerarium, where the Roman Republic's reserves of gold and silver were stored. The state archives and the insignia and official scale for the weighing of metals were also housed there. Later, the aerarium was moved to another building, and the archives transferred to the nearby Tabularium.

Brief History

circa 500 BCE

Roman Kingdom
The temple is thought to have first constructed in the later years of the Roman Kingdom under Tarquinius Superbus. Its inauguration by the consul Titus Larcius took place in the early years of the Republic, making it the oldest Republican temple after the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus.

Roman Empire
It was rebuilt in 42 BCE, and then again in the fourth century CE, by the senate and people of Rome, as recorded on the architrave. The surviving Ionic columns, with their scrolled volutes, date from this period. Suetonius in his book Life of Augustus (XXIX. 4-5), mentions that the reconstruction of the temple was undertaken by Lucius Munatius Plancus, at the encouragement of Augustus, who "often urged other prominent men to adorn the city with new monuments or to restore and embellish old ones, each according to his means".

The temple would have been closed during the persecution of pagans in the late Roman Empire.


Architecture

circa 500 BCE

Present Structure
The present ruins represent the third phase of the Temple of Saturn, which was built after a fire in 360 CE. The extant inscription on the frieze commemorates this restoration undertaken after the fire. This late 5th century rebuilding reflects pagan revivalism during this time period.

The pediment and eight surviving columns represent one of the iconic images of Rome's ancient architectural heritage. Except for the Ionic columns capitals carved in the Late Antique style, all of the materials remaining were taken from other buildings. Examples of the spolia used to construct the Temple of Saturn include Egyptian granite column shafts and a late Republican acanthus frieze.

circa 500 BCE

Architrave
The external architrave or the pediment bears the inscription "Senatus Populusque Romanus" and "incendio consumptum restituit", displayed in two lines, meaning "The Senate and People of Rome restored [the temple] consumed by fire.


Gallery

See Also

References

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