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Pompeii‎ > ‎Public Buildings‎ > ‎

Temple of Apollo

Description of the Temple (Reg VII, Ins 7, 32)

The Temple of Apollo lies on the Via Marina to the north of the Basilica on the western side of the Forum. The fact that fragments of Attic black and red figure pottery and inscribed Etruscan bucchero were found in the area of the temple testify to the existence of the cult of Apollo in Pompeii as early as the 5th century BC. The ground plan of the temple we see today dates from the 2nd century BC. It was frequently remodelled up until its final restoration after the earthquake of AD62.
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To the left of the steps is an Ionic column (F) (pictured right) dedicated by the Augustan duoviri L. Sepunius Sandilianus and M. Herrinius Epidianus. Early sketches made soon after the court was excavated show the column topped with a sundial. The probability that the sundial actually does belong with the column is strengthened by the fact that these two men also placed a sundial on the circular bench in the Triangular Forum.

Near the foot of the stairs is a large travertine altar (E) (pictured below) with the dedicatory inscription with the names of the four officials who erected it when Pompeii was a Sullan colony, around 80BC.
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Various basins (pictured above) and statues were found in the court. Other divinities besides Apollo were honoured in the sanctuary and statues and altars for their worship were placed in the court. The pedestals of the statues still remain where they were originally placed in front of the colonnade, but the statues have long since been removed. A copy of the statue of Apollo (pictured right) has been returned to its original pedestal. The statuary included the marble herma of Hermes as a youth with a cloak over his head in the guise of Psychopompus, the conductor of souls to the underworld. (A similar herma can still be seen in the Stabian Baths).

On the north side of the court is a doorway to a room (G), which was probably occupied by the caretakers of the temple.

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The temple lies at a slight angle to the axis of the Forum, probably due to the fact that it followed the course of a street on its eastern side before the colonnade of Popidus was built. The difference in direction is concealed by the increasing thickness from south to north of the pillars between the forum and the temple court (see plan). The spaces between the pillars were originally left open, but were later walled up with the exception of the three opposite the side of the podium. These have since also been closed.

Around 10BC a high wall was raised on the west side, so that the temple could not be overlooked by properties facing the temple on that side. The temple was thus virtually fully enclosed, isolating it from the surrounding buildings.

The entrance (A) (pictured top left) opens off the north side of the Via Marina onto a rectangular, colonnaded court (B). The continuous colonnade (pictured left) composed of 48 columns was originally of 2 storeys. The colonnade was built of tufa, and coated with white stucco. No remains of the upper gallery have been found, and it is quite possible that when the colonnade was restored after AD62, the second storey was omitted. After the earthquake the columns were transformed from Ionic to Corinthian by a heavy layer of stucco and the entablature was also redecorated with a frieze of griffins. This layer of stucco has since fallen off.

The temple stands on a high podium (C) (pictured left), in front of which is a broad flight of stairs. The Corinthian columns in front of the temple are continued in a colonnade which is carried completely round the cella. The small cella (D) is paved in polychrome mosaic composed of green and white marble and slate bordered by three bands, the outer band decorated with a meander design. The cult statue was not found and all that remains is the base at the back wall.
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The wall decoration of both the temple and the colonnade was originally in the first style. After the earthquake the temple was redecorated inside and out with a coating of stucco dressed to resemble ashlar work of white marble (pictured lower left). The walls of the colonnade were painted in the fourth style with subjects from the Illiad including the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, the embassy of the Greeks to Achilles and the rape of the Palladium.
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