A Tourist in Rome - Temple of Jupiter
|Location:||Inside the Capitoline Museum|
|Time:||about 10 minutes|
|Cost:||see Capitoline Museum|
|Hours:||see Capitoline Museum|
The Temple of Jupiter was the most important temple in ancient Rome, located on the Capitoline Hill, and towering over the Roman Forum. Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, king of Rome from 616 BC to 578 BC, vowed to build this temple to the most supreme of the Roman gods while battling with the Sabines. The foundations and most of the temple were completed by Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud), who ruled from 535 BC to 510 BC, and was the last king of Rome before the revolt that formed the republic. It is said that the Temple of Jupiter was dedicated on September 13, 509 BC to the Capitoline Triad, consisting of Jupter, Juno and Minerva. The temple measured about 200 feet by 200 feet and was of hexastyle design, having 6 columns across the front, and 7 columns along each side. (Note that this is different from the illustration in the Marcus Aurelius Relief, which shows only 4 columns across the front.) Each column was of the Tuscan order. Each deity of the triad had a separate chamber, with Juno on the left, Minerva on the right, and Jupiter in the center. The statue of Jupiter was made of terra cotta, sculpted by Vulca of Veii (an Etruscan town 10 miles north of Rome), commissioned by Tarquin the Proud. On top of the roof was a terra cotta sculpture of Jupiter driving a chariot drawn by four horses (a quadriga), also cast by artists in Veii. The Temple of Jupiter was the final stop of Rome's military triumphal processions (victory parades), and the spoils of war were deposited in the temple.
The original temple burned in a fire of 83 BC during the civil wars under the dictator Sulla, but it was rebuilt and dedicated in 69 BC. That building burned down on December 19, 69 AD when an army loyal to Vespasian battled to enter the city during the Year of the Four Emperors. Vespasian rebuilt the temple and dedicated it in 75 AD, that one burned in 80 AD, and Domitian rebuilt the temple, which lasted until all the pagan temples were closed by the emperor Theodosius in 392 AD, after which it was sacked by the Vandals in 455 and destroyed in the 16th century when a palace was built on the site reusing material from the temple. Today, portions of the temple foundations can be seen in the Capitoline Museum, as shown in the images on this page. These foundations have been dated to the second half of the 6th century BC, so were from the original building.