Temple of Augustus and Livia

Temple of Augustus and Livia


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The Temple of Augustus and Livia (Temple d’Auguste et de Livie) is a well preserved Roman temple in Vienne, France. Whilst first built sometime between 20 BC and 10 BC, several features of the Temple of Augustus and Livia date to the 1st century AD.

The temple’s great state of preservation is largely the result of it being incorporated into a church as early as the 5th century and later restored in the 19th century.

Temple of Augustus and Livia history

Vienne became a Roman colony around 47 BC under Julius Caesar, although after years of conflict with the local Allobroges, the settlement was moved to Lugdunum. However, while occupying the site of Vienne, the Romans constructed a temple dedicated to the imperial cult honouring the Emperor Augustus and his third wife, Livia. These physical structures served an essential political and religious role in integrating local populations.

The Temple of Augustus and Livia had two stages of construction: firstly, the building was made from southern stone, dating back to 20-10 BC. Most of the structure was later rebuilt around 40 AD, the construction swift as temples to the first emperor were treated with particular reverence. Eventually, the great temple stood in the hexastyle Corinthian style, dominating the forum that it shared with other characteristic Roman structures.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, as Gaul was Christianised, the temple served as the parish church of Sainte-Marie-la-Vieille until the French Revolution. From 1792, the church was used as the temple of Reasons and the commercial court of Vienne. Before 1852, the building also housed the city museum and library, after which it was restored to its original Roman incarnation and gained historical monument status.

Temple of Augustus and Livia today

Today, the temple stands as an impressive testament to the Gallo-Roman settlement in Vienne. On the eastern side you might note the frieze engraved with moveable letters in a series of inscriptions, dedicating the temple to ‘Rome and to Augustus Caeser, son of the divine’. The dedication also extended to the then-deified Livia.

You can wander around the foot of the raised temple, nestled within a bustling modern city square and only a few minutes walk to the Gère de Vienne and Rhône. To get a taste of the temple’s former glory, visit the Temple of Augustus and Livia at night as it is lit up from below.

Getting to the Temple of Augustus and Livia

If driving, the temple is located just off the N7 and there is parking nearby at Parking Saint Marcel, a 4 minute walk away. For those using public transport, the nearest bus stops are Temple de Cybèle on route 2 and 4 (4 minutes away) and Jue de Paume on routes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (3 minutes away).


7 Most Famous Ancient Roman Temples

The richness of Roman culture can be appreciated through well-known Roman architecture works. Many of them still visible today have become great heritage sites. Among the many Roman architectural splendors, ancient Roman temples need special mention. The maintenance and construction of these temples was a vital part of ancient Roman religion. Ancient Roman temples are not only found in Rome and different parts of Italy, but also in the Middle East, North Africa and northern Europe. Mentioned below are seven popular ancient Roman temples, which are are among some of the ancient Roman buildings still standing:

1. Pantheon


Pantheon
Image credit: Flickr

Among the best preserved ancient Roman architectural structures and ancient Roman temples, the Pantheon tops the list. The Pantheon was built in Rome in 126 AD and was dedicated to all Roman Gods and Goddesses. The temple was also later used by the Roman Catholic Church. The Pantheon consists of a large circular portico with colossal Corinthian columns made of granite. The porch opens into a rotunda, which is again topped with a concrete dome and the Oculus, a central opening. The Pantheon should be visited when it is raining in Rome as the rain pours into the building through the Oculus!

2. Maison Carrée


Maison Carrée
Image credit: Wikimedia

Located in Nimes, France, this architectural splendor was constructed by Roman General Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 16 BC. The temple was dedicated to his two sons. Unfortunately, both of them died at a very young age. When it comes to the best preserved ancient Roman temples in the world, this one ranks high on the list. In the 4th century, it was transformed into a Christian church, saving it from destruction. The temple has been used as a hall, stable, storehouse and finally as a museum.

3. Baalbek


Baalbek
Image credit: Wikimedia

Baalbek, also known as Heliopolis, is one of the most beautiful Roman temples located in northeastern Lebanon. Romans constructed three temples there from the 1st century BC to over two more centuries. The temples are known as Jupiter, Bacchus, and Venus. The temple of Jupiter was created to be the largest in the entire Roman Empire and was lined by 54 large granite columns, each of them being 70 feet tall. Presently only 6 of these magnificent pillars exist, but they are still very impressive. The Temple of Bacchus is the best preserved temple at this site. It was built in 150 AD. This temple is dedicated to Bacchus, who is also known as Dionysus, who is the Roman God of wine.

4. Palmyra


Palmyra
Image credit: Flickr

Palmyra in Syria is located in an oasis 130 miles north of Damascus. History says that for a long period, in fact for centuries, Palmyra was a wealthy and prominent city which was located along the caravan routes. These routes linked Persia with the Mediterranean ports of Roman Syria. The main sightseeing attraction at the destination includes the colossal temple of Bel, the colonnade which comprised 1,500 Corinthian columns and the monumental arch.

5. Temple of Augustus and Livia


The Temple of Augustus and Livia
Image credit: Wikimedia

Built during the end of the 1st century BC, the Temple of Augustus and Livia is one of the main attractions for travelers and tourists visiting France. The best thing about this architectural splendor (located in Vienne, France) is that it is almost intact. It has a pretty close resemblance to the famous Roman temple Maison Carrée in Nimes. This temple was initially dedicated to Augustus. However, some changes took place in the later years and in 41 AD, it was assigned for the second time to Livia, Augustus’s wife, by Claudius, her grandson. Claudius was a Roman emperor who was born closeby in Lyon.

6. Sbeitla Forum Temples


Sbeitla Forum Temples
Image credit: Pixabay

Many people do not know that Sbeitla, also known as Sufetula, is a well-preserved Roman city, which is located in the midwest of Tunisia. The planning of the city was quite extraordinary with a vast, almost square forum. Surrounded by a wall, the forum is paved with stone slabs. There is a gateway on one side of the forum and three Roman temples on the opposite side. Three most prominent Roman Gods are worshipped there – Jupiter, Juno and Minerva and there is a separate temple for each of these gods. Though there was the option of building a single temple, the inhabitants constructed different temples. The same kind of arrangement can be seen at Baelo Claudia in Spain.

7. Temple of Zeus at Aizanoi


Temple of Zeus at Aizanoi
Image credit: Wikimedia

Aizanoi has been inhabited since 3,000 BC. The city became rich and wealthy during the Roman Empire with the production of grain, wool, and wine. One of the most impressive structures in Aizanoi is the Temple of Zeus. This temple is well preserved in almost the whole of Anatolia and the time of construction was around 2nd century AD. The money, which was needed for the creation of the temple, was obtained by renting out land all around the temple. There were no clear boundaries of the renting area and hence people did not pay proper taxes. It was Emperor Hadrian, who settled this dispute. The copies of the letters which were issued were inscribed later on the walls of the temple.


Temple of Augustus and Livia

The Vienne forum temple was built in about 20-10 BC and was dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus. It can be compared to the Maison Carrée in Nîmes. The temple owes its survival to a later transformation into a church.

The Vienne forum temple was built in about 20-10 BC and was dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus. It can be compared to the Maison Carrée in Nîmes. The temple owes its survival to a later transformation into a church.

This is an example of the transfer to a provincial Gallo-Roman city of the model of a temple raised on a podium, with Roman Corinthian order decoration. Only the rear part is generally thought to have been built early in the reign of Emperor Augustus, in about 20-10 BC. The architectural and decorative variations on the cornice and the capitals, for example, suggest another, later building project on the monument in about 40 AD.

On the eastern side, the frieze and the architrave are engraved with moveable letters in a series of inscriptions. The oldest is a dedication to "Rome and to Augustus Caesar, son of the divine (Julius Caesar)". The two combined subjects of veneration (Rome and the Emperor Augustus), along with Augustus' deified wife, Livia, were an essential political and religious element in integrating local urban populations.

The monument stood on a platform looking out over the banks of the Rhone (to the west) and near a projecting rock (below the law court today). Colonnaded porticoes set apart a sacred area around the temple. It was discovered early on during the excavations. The forum stretched out towards the east with its limit set by a public building featuring the two arcades that can be seen in the Cybèle garden. The forum was a huge, enclosed and monumental public structure. Through its majestic, colonnaded architecture it expressed the civic values or administrative functions of the Gallo-Roman city.


Construction makes school

Elected 3rd President of the United States, Jefferson had public buildings built on the model of the temple of Augustus and Livia and his twin, the Maison Carrée in Nîmes.

Co-production has made a splash. Thus in most American states, today we find a capitol, seat of the legislature, whose facade strangely resembles the temple of Augustus and Livia!
In Vienna today, a small plaque near the temple recalls that a US President passed by in 1784 and remembers his visit!


The Temple of Augustus in Pula

The building in the center of attention of any person in the main city square is the Temple of Augustus, which is completely preserved sacral monument. The temple was dedicated to Roma and Emperor Augustus, and is most probably built in the 1 st decade of the 1 st century AD. During the Middle Ages, the temple had secular purpose. It was used for grain storage, and supposedly it was also the home to the Christian church for a short amount of time. On the wall of the temple, from the inside and the outside, there are many visible damages, which were cause by putting in the new windows, reordering the building into three floors, and fire which in several occasions ruined the roof construction. During World War II, the temple was directly hit with and airplane bomb, which dispersed among the pillars, and almost ruined it to the ground. Italian archaeologists have rebuilt and reconstructed it during the two-year military ruling of the city (1945-1947). The structure is built in the shape of a simple parallelogram with front porch which is built on four pillars. Four smooth pillars of the front portico, and one on each side, end with classic capitals in Corinthian style, and they all confirm that the temple was built in the time of Augustus, as were the whole Forum.

The Temple of Augustus had a twin. Identical building was built on the other corner of the northern part of the Forum, but only the frontend is preserved, while everything else is now part of the communal palace, starting from the Middle Ages. Its symmetry was probably completed with the central temple of the Capitolinum Trinity, the third temple which was probably dedicated to the official gods of the Empire. Complete loss of this temple is ascribed to the hatred of the first Christians towards pagan temples after the 4 th century. Even though today, the Temple of Roma and Augustus is in the state it was before the bombing, it still ruined a large piece of the inscription on the corona above the pillars in the facade, which had inscribed that the temple was dedicated to “the goddess Roma (personification of Rome) and the Emperor Augustus, son of divine Caesar, the father of the homeland”.

The inscription was very significant, because it set the date of construction before the death of Augustus, which is before 14 AD, but after 2 BC, when he received from the senate honorary title “Father of the homeland” (pater patriae). Thus the temple is probably built between these two years. The temple of Augustus is one of the finest examples of the architecture of the early Empire.


Temple of Mars Ultor, Rome

The Temple of Mars Ultor stands in the Forum of Augustus in Rome and was built to commemorate Augustus' victory in 42 BCE at the Battle of Philippi over the assassins of Julius Caesar. The building became the place where important military decisions were taken and a site of several state ceremonies with a military connotation.

The Forum of Augustus

The Forum of Augustus originally covered some 8,000 square metres and was built next to Caesar's Forum. Later, it would be bordered on the left side by Trajan's Forum and on the right by Nerva's Forum to create the complex known today as the Imperial Fora. Dominating this civil space created by Augustus was the temple dedicated to Mars, the god of war in his guise as 'the Avenger' (Ultor).

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The temple was finally inaugurated (although still not quite finished) in 2 BCE and it came to function as the focal point of Roman military strategy. For example, Augustus decreed that it should be the meeting place for the Senate when decisions of war were taken. The temple was also the place where young Roman males were ceremoniously given their adult toga, thus becoming eligible for military service, and it was the official departure point for commanders embarking on military service in the empire.

The temple was designed to reflect the style of the nearby Temple of Venus in Caesar's Forum and so create an architectural harmony. There was one notable difference, though, in that the temple of Mars Ultor was made one and a half times bigger. The temple, typical of Roman architecture, was built on a raised platform and entranced via steps which were originally flanked by fountains, once again, in imitation of the arrangement outside the Temple of Venus.

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Temple Exterior

The exterior of the temple was constructed using the Italian white Luna marble from Cararra. The Corinthian columns were 17.8 m high and arranged in a row of eight on the façade and eight down each side, three of which are still standing today. The flooring was laid with a mixture of coloured marble - yellow Numidian, purple Phrygian and Lucullun red and black. The interior cella had two sides of columns, probably also in purple marble, and in the wall behind these there were purple Phrygian pilasters on either side of niches which contained statues. The column capitals and those of the pilasters were especially interesting as, instead of the usual volutes, they had representations of Pegasus who was thought to carry the thunderbolts of Zeus, the god's traditional weapons. The interior ceiling was composed of coffered slabs embellished with gilded rosettes.

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Statue of Mars

The centre-piece of the whole temple was a huge marble statue of Mars who resided in the apse of the cella ahead of five Egyptian alabaster covered steps and surrounded by the legionary standards which the Parthians had taken but which, following Roman victory, were recaptured and restored to Rome. The torso of this statue may well be the one now in the Capitoline Museums of Rome with the head, arms and legs having been restored.

Later Additions & Re-Use

Behind the temple stands a 30 m high tufa wall which is topped with white travertine. It was constructed to separate the Forum from the hill residences behind it and to act as a firewall should a fire start in this densely-populated area of the city. In the 1st century CE Tiberius added two arches to the temple sides in honour of his two sons Drusus the Younger and Germanicus but these have now been lost except for the foundations of one. In the 2nd century CE Hadrian repaired parts of the building but from the 5th century CE the building went into decline and blocks began to be re-used in other building projects. From the 12th century CE soil was added to the site and the area used for agriculture, however, as the drains were then blocked, a marsh formed until the area was drained in the 16th century CE.


Read about the incredibile story of the House of Augustus and Livia

Octavian, the man who would become the emperor Augustus, chose the location of his future home carefully. The history of Rome began on the Palatine Hill, where Romulus and Remus were found by the she-wolf, so the Palatine seemed like an obvious choice for the man who was about to begin a new chapter in Roman history, as the first emperor of Rome.

Octavian bought the house of the famous orator Quintus Hortensius &ndash a contemporary of Cicero, who wrote about him &ndash and used the site for his own projects. While the expanded villa was being constructed in 36 BC, the building was struck by lightning, and this was interpreted by the soothsayers as a sign from the god Apollo. Consequently, Octavian had a magnificent temple to Apollo built on the spot where the lightning had struck, and organised an inauguration ceremony with the court poets.

Although the temple is no longer standing, the rooms of the House of Augustus can be explored on a tour. The villa may seem understated when compared to the decadent Domus Aurea of Nero, but it&rsquos still extraordinarily beautiful. The rooms are decorated with colourful frescoes &ndash pine branches, theatrical masks, swans and illusionistic architecture. One of the bedrooms may well have belonged to Octavian, but he sometimes chose to sleep outside when it was hot, lying near the fountain while someone fanned him. The most beautiful room is perhaps Octavian&rsquos study, with its painted satyrs, plants and winged female figures. This was the room which Octavian retired to whenever he wanted to be left alone, in order to work without interruption.

While Octavian was less hedonistic than other Roman rulers, even he had his excesses. According to Suetonius, at one banquet he caused a scandal by dressing up as Apollo:

There was besides a private dinner of his, commonly called that of the &ldquotwelve gods,&rdquo which was the subject of gossip. At this the guests appeared in the guise of gods and goddesses, while he himself was made up to represent Apollo. (&hellip) The scandal of this banquet was the greater because of dearth and famine in the land at the time, and on the following day there was an outcry that the gods had eaten all the grain and that Caesar was in truth Apollo, but Apollo the Tormentor, a surname under which the god was worshipped in one part of the city. He was criticized too as over fond of costly furniture and Corinthian bronzes and as given to gaming.

The House of Livia was excavated in the nineteenth century, and identified as belonging to Livia after the discovery of a lead pipe labelled &ldquoIVLIA AVGVSTA&rdquo. It is likely that Livia often shared the house with Octavian, and it may have been here that she gave birth to Tiberius, the future emperor.

There are more exquisite frescoes to be discovered in the House of Livia, as the large atrium and adjoining rooms are decorated with vivid mythological scenes, such as the Cyclops Polyphemus pursuing a nymph and Mercury freeing Io. There are also scenes of Egyptian life and beautiful illusionistic architecture, similar to the graceful colonnades depicted in the House of Augustus. The paintings are incredibly well-preserved, having been protected by remaining underground for centuries, and the original mosaic floor still remains.

To see more impressive Roman ruins, join our tour of the Private Colosseum Tour.


Sources:

Balsdon, J.P.V.D. Roman Women: Their History and Habits. NY: John Day, 1962.

Bauman, Richard A. Women and Politics in Ancient Rome. NY: Routledge, 1992.

Dixon, Suzanne. The Roman Mother. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1988.

Purcell, Nicholas. "Livia and the Womanhood of Rome," in Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society. Vol. 32, 1986, pp. 78–105.

Richardson, Geoffrey Walter and Theodore John Cadoux. "Livia Drusilla," in Oxford Classical Dictionary.

Rutland, Linda W. "Women as Makers of Kings in Tacitus' Annals," in Classical World. Vol. 72, 1978–79, pp. 15–29.

Treggiari, Susan. "Domestic Staff at Rome in the Julio-Claudian Period, 27 BC. to AD. 68," in Histoire Sociale, pp. 241–255.

——. "Jobs in the Household of Livia," in Papers of the British School at Rome. Vol. 43, 1975, pp. 48–77.


France - Vienne - Temple of Augustus and Livia (c.25 back.)

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Watch the video: The true colors of Augustus of Prima Porta


Comments:

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