Temple of Castor and Pollux - History and Facts | History Hit

Temple of Castor and Pollux

Rome, Lazio, Italy

The Temple of Castor and Pollux in the Roman Forum was built following a military victory.

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020

About Temple of Castor and Pollux

The Temple of Castor and Pollux (Templum Castoris) was an ancient Roman temple in Rome’s Forum. First constructed in the 5th century BC, the Temple of Castor and Pollux was then rebuilt in the early first century AD.

Temple of Castor and Pollux history

The Temple of Castor and Pollux was dedicated to Helen of Troy’s twin brothers and symbolised the military power of the Roman city state. Legend had it that Castor and Pollux helped the Romans in their victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (499 BC) and had appeared to them nearby.

The temple honouring the Dioscuri Castor and Pollux is one of the oldest monumental cult buildings on the Forum. During the different epochs of the Republic and Imperial Period there were continual attempts to expand the temple’s functions or to exploit it for ideological purposes. In line with these efforts, the building was altered and reshaped numerous times.

In subsequent centuries the temple always played a central role in the happenings on the Forum. In the late Republic, the temple developed more into a space for political decision making, because the Senate held their meetings in its cella and used its podium as a speaker’s platform. Thus, the temple increasingly turned into a place of political attention and later evolved into one of the central areas of the Forum where the rioting during the 1st century BC took place.

Freed from its original aristocratic connotations, the temple served – in conscious opposition to the area of the Curia and the Comitium which was controlled by the Senate – as a stage on which politicians sought to gain the support of the people. At the beginning of the Imperial Period the political connotations of the temple were very weak – instead, the cult building of the Dioscuri was increasingly used as a space of Imperial representation.

The temple also served as an office of weights and measures and as a treasury for the money of private individuals as well as of members of the Imperial dynasty. The small chambers (Tabernae) at the side of the podium provided a workspace for different kinds of professions – e.g. a dentist worked in the first taberna on the west side.

Temple of Castor and Pollux today

It is the remains of the second incarnation of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, rebuilt under the Roman Emperor Tiberius, that visitors to the Roman Forum can see today. These comprise an ornate podium with several standing columns.

Getting to Temple of Castor and Pollux

The temple is located within the Roman Forum. To reach the Roman Forum from the city centre, visitors can take bus lines 51, 75, 81, 673, 175, 204 or tram 30.

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