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Temple of Vespasian

Description of the Temple (Reg VII, Ins 9, 2)

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The limited space available determined the irregularity of the plan, which is set at an angle with respect to the axis of the forum. The facade, lying parallel to the forum portico, is in brick, and projects beyond the neighbouring Building of Eumachia. The plain frontage with its single large entrance portal (pictured right) was originally dressed with a veneer of marble, remnants of which can be seen along the base of the facade.
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The entrance (A) leads into a vestibule (B) and hence to the courtyard (C), originally preceded by four columns, with perimeter walls of tufa reinforced with brick. The walls are decorated with a pattern of large blind windows framed by pilaster strips with triangular and curved pediments set over them.
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The Temple of Vespasian is also referred to as the Sanctuary of the Genius of Augustus. The attribution of the temple is still open to debate, but most archaeologists now think it is more likely to be a temple dedicated to Augustus rather than Vespasian. The temple lies between the Temple of the Lares Publici and the Building of Eumachia on the eastern side of the Forum.
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The temple stands at the centre of the back wall with a cella (pictured below) in brick set on a tall podium accessed from the rear by two sets of stairs. The cella (E), which retains the base on which the cult statue was set, was originally preceded by a tetrastyle porch (D).
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A marble altar, its four sides decorated with reliefs, stands at the centre of the courtyard. The principal side records the ritual sacrifice of a bull (pictured left). A priest performs a ceremonial offering on a tripod aided by his assistants. Behind him are two lictors and a flute player. In front of the priest, the executioner, carrying an axe, leads the bull to the sacrifice.

The reliefs on the north and south sides depict the objects used in the cult's ceremonies: a curved staff, a box containing incense, a small tablecloth, a shallow dish for the libations, a pitcher and a ladle.

The relief facing the temple (pictured left) consists of two laurel trees between which is hung a garland of oak leaves, the civic garland which, since Augustus, had been the symbol of imperial authority.

The temple had not been completely rebuilt at the time of the eruption. A door in the back wall of the courtyard gives access to three rooms ((F), (G) and (H)) used by the personnel in charge of the temple and as storerooms.
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