We already talked, in a previous article, about the history of the Temple of Isis (which was a testimony of the influence of other cultures upon roman religion), but the ancient city of Pompeii, like any other Roman city, was full of important religious buildings dedicated to various gods we want to talk about in this article.
The people of Pompeii worshipped several Gods, including Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva—the three principal deities of Rome—as well as Apollo and Venus, the patrons of Pompeii. Each god had a special day which would be made a public holiday, so that the Pompeians could visit the temple for whichever god was being celebrated. The gods were worshipped by processions and priests would make animal sacrifices at the altar which was in the front of the temple. Animal sacrifices reminded the ancient Romans that human beings had a higher place than that of animals but at the same time were much below that of the immortal gods. Special people called augur would take the remains of animals into the temples to predict the future.
TEMPLE OF APOLLO
We know that this temple was consecrated to Apollo thanks to the dedication in Oscan by quaestor Oppius Campanus that was found in the cell. The sacred area is surrounded by a portico with 48 Doric columns, in the centre of which, on a podium in the Italic style, is the actual temple. The interior originally contained a statue of a divinity (not found) and a rock of carved tuff representing the world’s navel, modeled on the one located in the famous sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi. At the bottom of the temple is an altar in Greek Marble dedicated shortly after 80 A.C. by Marcus Portius, Lucius Sestilius, Cneus Cornelius and Aulus Cornelius, quattuorviri of Pompeii.
TEMPLE OF JUPITER OR CAPITOLIUM
This was the main centre of religious life in Pompeii. Situated on the northern side of the Forum, it is dedicated to the highest divinity of ancient times - actually it was built in honour of the Jupter, Juno and Minerva triad - and towers above a wide staircase with two large arches either side which have remained virtually intact. The temple, dating back to the 2nd century B.C., was built in two stages, the second of which, scheduled towards the end of the same century, led to the expansion of the architectural structure.
TEMPLE OF THE PUBLIC LARES
This sanctuary was dedicated to the protector gods of the house and was built by the Pompeians as a token of their gratitude for having escaped the perilous earthquake. Executed in brick, it has a rectangular plan enlivened at the far end by an apse with fine ornamental columns and with niches on either side. The Lares were the tutelary deities of the house and were probably to be identified with the deceased: they protected the property and the family. Each house had a site or a small temple dedicated to them.
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Staff at Flashback Journey to Pompeii. Our goal is to bring you up-to-date information on events, continuing archeological excavations and more on Pompeii.