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Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus

Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus

This was the great temple on the Capitolium, one of the two peaks of the Capitoline Hill. It was dedicated the Capitoline Triad, Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. Tarquinius Priscus (reigned 616-578 B.C.) vowed this temple, but tradition states that a large part of the work was done by Tarquinius Superbus (reigned 535-510 B.C.). With his overthrow in 509 B.C., the first consul of the new Republic dedicated it on September 13. Here on each January 1 the new consuls took office in a colorful ceremony. Each month on the Ides, a white sheep was sacrificed to Jupiter. On the special Ides of September—the temple's annual festival—there was a great banquet for the people of Rome in which the statues of the three gods participated. It was prone to disaster, burning down in 83 B.C., A.D. 69, and 80. The last rebuilding occurred under Domitian (A.D. 51-96). Impressive remains of the temple can be seen today in and around the Conservators' Palace.

Aedes Iuppiter Optimus Maximus Capitolinus

From Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, rev. Thomas Ashby. Oxford: 1929, p. 297-302.

The great temple on the Capitol, dedicated to Jupiter and his companion deities, Juno and Minerva, the Capitoline Triad. Tarquinius Priscus vowed this temple while battling with the Sabines, and seems to have laid some of its foundations, but a large part of the work was done by Tarquinius Superbus, who is said to have nearly completed it. According to the tradition current in later times, there were shrines of other deities on the site intended for this temple, all of whom allowed themselves to be dispossessed in the proper way except Terminus (q.v.) and Iuventas (q.v.). These shrines were therefore incorporated in the new temple, and the action of Terminus was regarded as a prophecy of the permanence of the cult and of Rome itself (Cic. de rep. II.36; Liv. I.38.7, 55, 56; Plin. NH III.70; Dionys. III.69; IV.61; Tac. Hist. III.72; Plut. Popl.13-14). The dedication of the temple on 13th September was ascribed to the first year of the republic, when this honour fell to Horatius Pulvillus by lot (Liv. II.8; VII.3.8; Polyb. III.22; Tac. Hist. III.72; Plut. Popl. 14; cf. Plin. NH XXXIII.19).

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Additional source material

  • Ancient Library Sources (from Peter Aicher, Rome Alive: A Source Guide to the Ancient City, vol. 1, Bolchazy-Carducci: 2004) [Works cited]

    10. Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Sources.


    As heard and reported by Varro, Catulus, who was in charge of rebuilding the Temple of Jupiter [after it burned in 83 BC], said that when he wanted to lower the ground level of the large foundational platform of the Capitoline so that more steps could lead up to the temple on a taller podium that corresponded better with the size of the pediment, the existence of subterranean rooms beneath the precinct prohibited this alteration. These were underground chambers and cisterns in which the Romans were accustomed to store old statues that had fallen off the temple and other religious items that were part of consecrated offerings.

    Gellius, Attic Nights 2.10

    [More primary sources and commentary]

  • Aedes Iuppiter Optimus Maximus in Katherine Rinne's Aquae Urbis Romae: The Waters of the City of Rome, an on-line cartographic history of nearly 2800 years of water infrastructure and urban development in Rome.
  • German Archaeological Institute
  • Flickr images
  • Wikipedia

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