Temple of Rome and Augustus

Temple of Rome and Augustus (after 19 BCE)

The temple of Rome and Augustus from the east

The Acropolis saw few alterations during the roman period. Apart from some repair works, the most important of which, the one of Erechtheion after a fire, the only new building was the Temple of Rome and Augustus.

This temple was of round shape and was a “monopteros“, i.e. it didn’t have a wall behind the columns. In its interior probably housed a statue of Augustus and the deified Rome. It had a diameter of 8,6 metres, height of 7,3m and had 9 ionic columns. It was constructed from pentelic marble and stood 23m east of the Parthenon. Another theory assumes that it was located east of the Erechtheion.

It was built at the end of the 1st century BCE, definitely after 27 BCE when Octavian received the title of Augustus. The most possible date of construction is between 17 and 10 BCE. It is possible that the Athenians constructed the temple to seem favorable to the emperor, during a period with not so good relations between Athens and Rome.

 

 

The monument can be identified with certainty, as the inscription of its entablature still survives on the Acropolis. The inscription reads:

[Ο Δ]ΗΜΟΣ ΘΕΑΙ ΡΩΜΗΙ ΚΑΙ Σ[ΕΒΑΣΤ]ΩΙ ΚΑΙΣΑΡΙ ΣΤΡΑ[ΤΗΓΟΥ]ΝΤΟΣ […]
ΟΠΛΙΤΑΣ ΠΑΜΜΕΝΟΥΣ ΤΟΥ ΖΗΝΩΝΟΣ ΜΑΡΑΘΩΝΙΟΥ ΙΕΡΕΩΣ ΘΕΑΣ
ΡΩΜΗΣ ΚΑΙ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΩΣ ΕΠ ΑΚΡΟΠΟΛΕΙ ΕΠΙ ΙΕΡΕΙΑΣ ΑΘΗΝΑΣ
ΠΟΛΙΑΔΟΣ ΜΕΓΙΣΤΗΣ ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΔΟΥ ΑΛΑΙΕΩΣ ΘΥΓΑΤΡΟΣ
ΕΠΙ ΑΡΧΟΝΤΟΣ ΑΡΗΟΥ […]ΟΡΙΩΝΟΣ ΠΑΙΑΝΙΕΩΣ
The People [of Athens dedicates the temple] to goddess Rome and Augustus Caesar, when general of the hoplites was […] and when priest of the goddess Rome and Augustus on the Acropolis was Pammenes son of Zenon from Marathon, and priestess of Athena Polias was Megiste daughter of Asclepides from Alai, during the archonship of Areos, son of […]orion from Paiania.

 

The temple had its own priest as it is obvious from the inscribed marble throne at the Theatre of Dionysos which reads:  [ΙΕΡΕΩΣ] ΘΕΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΕΠ’ ΑΚΡΟΠΟΛΕΙ ([throne of the priest] of God Augustus on the Acropolis).

The columns of the temple are smaller but detailed copies of the Erechtheion’s columns. This helps assume that the temple’s construction was undertaken by the same engineers who repaired the Erechtheion after the fire.

The parts of the temple are in relatively good condition and today lie east of the Parthenon.

 

The temple of Rome and Augustus with the emperor’s statue, from the south The inscription on the temple’s entablature

 For more information on the Roman Acropolis see below:

ACROPOLIS