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Why is the Temple of Augustus so impressive?

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On the occasion of the battle of Philippi in 42 BC, Octavian promised to erect the Temple of Augustus in Rome dedicated to Mars Ultor (Avenger). The competition saw himself and Marc Antony defeat the assassins of Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius, avenging his death. This great Temple was conceived in the center of an imposing forum, the second in chronological order in Rome.

The function of the new monumental square was to give greater mobility to the crowds that thronged in the two oldest forums and to provide new space for processes and commercial activities. But it was, above all, a representative center destined to glorify the figure of the emperor. The large exedras that opened onto the side arcades were a novelty that would then inspire the Forum of Trajan. He consolidated his power following the defeat of Antonio in the Battle of Actium. Therefore, Augusto took care of the urban and architectural reorganization of the capital, which represented an essential expression of the new political course he inaugurated.

The new monumental complex was erected ex-manumits (financed with the spoils of war) and on private land, an area purchased by private individuals, located on the slopes of the Quirinale near the populous Suburra district. At the end of the entrance on the left was a large square room with vibrant marble decoration.

The Temple of Mars Ultor occupies a similar position to the Temple of Venus Genetrix in the Forum of Caesar. The central staircase is in cement work. At the same time, the podium is in square tuff, covered with large Carrara marble slabs. So, it was accessed using a front staircase of 17 marble steps on concrete foundations, interrupted in the center by an altar inserted in the center of the stairs. Two fountains occupied the ends. Eight columns were arranged on the facade and many on the long sides. The interior space was marked by seven columns on each side next to the walls, arranged on two floors. The cell ended with an apse, in the center of which there were statues of Venus and Mars.

Details about the Temple of Augustus

Indeed, in the center of the square of the Temple of Augustus, there was probably a colossal statue of Augustus on the triumphal quadriga. Therefore, the Corinthian colonnade of the arcades, raised a few steps from the level of the square, was made up of ancient yellow marble shafts.

The entrance’s attic was decorated with caryatid figures inspired by those of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis of Athens. Alternating with shields with rich framing and decorated in the center with the heads of Ammon or Jupiter or other deities in the Hellenistic style. Inside, the back walls were adorned with semi-columns in ancient yellow marble. Alternating with niches in which statues depicting figures from republican history were exhibited.

Under the complex’s arcades, the urban praetors’ judicial activities took place inside the Temple. There were sessions of the Senate to deliberate on wars and triumphs. In addition, the logo lost and then recovered by the legions at war, such as those lost by Crassus in the battle of Carre or those sadly lost by Quintilio Varo in the battle of Teutoburg, was kept there. In the sixteenth century, the Colossal statue of Marforio was found inside the Forum area. Now on display in the Capitoline Museums (courtyard of the Palazzo Nuovo).

Representation of the Temple of Augustus

temple of augustus


You might also want to know.

1. What does the title Augustus mean?

AVG (Augustus): denotes the title first given to Octavian in 27 BCE by the Senate. It means “elevated, raised”; the holder of this title is above men, but he is not a god.

2. Why is the temple of Augustus important?

The Temple of Augustus is important because this monumental place was built during Roman rule in honor of the Roman Emperor Augustus (63 BC -14 AD).

3. What was the social policy of Augustus?

Augustan propaganda, in particular, argued that Rome’s ills stemmed from the abandonment of ancient virtues. And the decadence of the family institution: the Romans. Tended to marry increasingly rarely, births continually declined, and adulterers were the order of the day.

4. What remains of the Forum of Augustus?

The forum consists of a square surrounded by porticoes, with the temple of Mars Ultor in the middle. From it, the podium, stairs, and three columns remain. It was one of the most revered temples of the empire, where relics such as Julius Caesar’s sword were kept.

5. What is the difference between an Augustus and a Caesar?

Both Augustus and Caesar had seen the inadequacies and evils of the state. Their diagnosis coincided perfectly. Profoundly different was the cure. Caesar continuously operated alone, like a lone navigator. Indeed, Augustus believed in teamwork; he knew how to be the director.


What’s impressive is that Augusta erected the sacrarium Divi Augusti in that consecrated lot (Suetonius, Life of Augustus, 5). These are the years in which Livia dedicates a signum of her husband in the theater of Marcellus and obtains the use in the city of the carpenter. A two-wheeled and covered chariot, as sacerdos Divi Augusti. A seditious servus public now guards the sacrarium.

In the sacrarium, controlled by Livia as a widow and priestess, Augusta had transferred the personal correspondence of her dead husband. On a day in 26 AD Livia, angry with Tiberius, had consulted and read some letters from Augustus in the sacrarium to put the new principles in difficulty with embarrassing passages written by Augustus about him. What treachery! A fire then destroyed the sacrarium.

In 42 AD, Claudius deified Livia, associated her cult with Augustus, and rebuilt the cult building in the same place. Still, this time on a rectangle of ground inaugurated by the wishes. Therefore on a temple, the sacred building built on top has been termed the Temple. Indeed, the additur is now of a higher rank, imperial freedmen. At the same time, a second aedicula was erected next to the Temple. Where the college of senators had statues of the Caesars pitched.

The fire of 64 AD also destroyed this Temple, and the place of worship was moved and renovated. Therefore, the Temple of Augustus was prepared by Nero but built by Vespasian and will last until late antiquity.