Description of the Temple (Reg VIII, Ins 7, 30)
unlike the podia of the other temples in Pompeii was built up in a
series of broad, high steps (right). The number of columns, 32 columns in all, with 7 columns on the shorter sides, was
deduced from the spaces between surviving stumps. The columns were set
well out from the cella, classifying the temple as pseudodipteral
according to Vitruvius. On account of the large space between the
entrance to the cella and the front columns it was possible to have an
odd number of columns in front.
base (A) is well preserved, measuring 21 x 28 m approximately, with a
narrow stairway to the south. The cella was divided into two chambers
(B) and (C). In the inner chamber is a large flag embedded in the floor,
perhaps the base for an offerings table. On the long pedestal on the
north exterior wall of the cella stood a terra cotta deer, of which some
in front of the temple at the foot of the steps where the principal
altar usually stands is a small enclosure (D) bounded by an outer wall
and low inner wall (pictured right). According to August Mau it is a
heroon, a shrine dedicated to, and used for the commemoration of, a
hero. In its placing in the most sacred spot in front of the temple it
suggests that it was dedicated to the mythical founder of the city.
Instead of a single
altar in front of the temple there are three (E), all made of blocks of
tufa, two of them resting on a single foundation; the third is built on
the ground without a foundation, and is of a later date.
which occupies the southern part of the Triangular Forum,
was built in the sixth century BC, when Pompeii was under the influence
of the powerful Greek state of Cumae. It was consecrated to Hercules,
mythical founder of the city and later included the cult of Minerva.
was reconstructed several times during the Samnite
period, but was possibly abandoned during the Roman age. The temple
bore more than a
passing resemblance to the temples built around the same time at
Paestum: it had sturdy wide-fluted columns with
wide, very flat
capitals with the columns completely surrounding the cella.
whole building was contructed of tufa, only the capitals, of which
there remain a few fragments, being made of limestone from nearby
Sarno. The proportions of the columns with their flaring capitals and
the narrow intercolumniations point to an early period. In respect to
age this temple ranks with the oldest of those at Selinunto in Sicily
and must have been built in or around the sixth century BC.
* Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are
reproduced by permission from their website at
(Su concessione del Ministero per
i Beni e le Attività Culturali:
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di
Napoli e Pompei)