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Doric Temple

Description of the Temple (Reg VIII, Ins 7, 30)

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The foundation, 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.
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The 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 fragments remain.
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Directly 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.
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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.

The temple, 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.

It 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.
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Almost the 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.  
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Images ©Jackie and Bob Dunn are reproduced by permission from their website at www.pompeiiinpictures.com
(Su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali: Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei)




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