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My Favourite Planet > English > Europe > Greece > Attica > Athens > galleries > Acropolis
to Athens photo galleries main page Athens galleries The Athens Acropolis 17 of 36
The east side of the Parthenon on the Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

The east side of the Parthenon, in front of which are the ruins of the Temple of Roma and Augustus.

Remains of the Temple of Roma and Augustus on the Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Parts of Ionic columns of the Temple of Roma and Augustus,
built some time after 27 BC.
 
The small circular temple, which stood on a rectangular poros foundation about 23 metres east of the Parthenon, was the last significant building constructed on the Acropolis during antiquity. It was the only Roman temple on the Acropolis, and the only temple in Athens dedicated to the cult of Emperor Augustus. Parts of its remains now stand on its original site (see photo below).

The temple was around 7.3 metres tall and had a diameter of around 8.6 metres, with a circular colonnade of nine Ionic columns supporting a conical roof. It is thought that the building was a monopteros (μονόπτερος) open, that is open, without a cella enclosed by a wall (as in the late 19th century reconstruction, right) [1].

It was identified as the Temple of Roma and Augustus after the discovery of part of the architrave bearing the dedicatory inscription by the Demos (people) to "the goddess Rome and Sebastos Caesar" (see photo below). The exact date of its construction is unknown.

The posthumous deification of Julius Caesar started the trend for the worship of emperors as gods. Several temples dedicated to Roma and the first emperor, Octavian, named Augustus (Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, 63 BC - 14 AD, reigned 27 BC - 14 AD), were built around the expanding empire during the reign of his successor Tiberius. Cities competed to become the official centre of the imperial cult for their province. (See Pergamon gallery 2, pages 6 and 7.)

Having supported Augustus' enemies Brutus and Cassius, and then Antony and Cleopatra, the Athenians were keen to please him when he finally proved victorious, and grateful that he only punished the city lightly (see Acropolis gallery page 8). It is therefore possible that this temple was built during his lifetime, some time after 27 BC when Octavius was awarded the title Augustus by the Roman Senate, perhaps around 19-17 BC.

It is known that both Augustus and his friend and ally Marcus Agrippa visited Athens [2] and became benefactors of the city; apparently, a cult grew around them here and at other Greek cities.

The dedication to Roma, as the personification of the imperial capital, served both to remind subject cities of the new centre of power, as well as to mitigate the hubris of the emperors. The mention of Roma was gradually dropped, and later imperial temples were dedicated to an emperor, often in conjunction with another god such as Jupiter/Zeus.

Similarities between the archtiectural details of the temple and those of members of the Erechtheion added during Roman period repairs have led to suggestions that the same architect may have been responsible for both works. Although the temple may have originally contained statues of Roma and Augustus, no sculpture fragments have so far been identified as belonging to the building.

Reconstruction of the Temple of Roma and Augustus, Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Reconstruction of the Temple
of Roma and Augustus. [3]
 
Statue of Emperor Augstus at My Favourite Planet

Emperor Augstus depicted
as a youthful hero. Detail of
a statue thought to have
been made in Thessaloniki
during the reign of his
successor Tiberius (14-37 AD).

Thessaloniki Archaeological
Museum.
photos and articles:
© David John
Acropolis gallery
photos of the Propylaea, Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Propylaia
 
photos of the Athena Nike Temple, Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Athena Nike
Temple
 
photos of the Parthenon, Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

the Parthenon
 
photos of the Erechtheion, Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

the Erechtheion
 
photos of the Odeion of Herodes Atticus, Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Odeion of
Herodes Atticus
 
photos of the Dionysos Theatre, Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Dionysos Theatre
For other features
of the Acropolis see
Gallery contents
Ionic column capital from the Temple of Roma and Augustus, the Acropolis, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

The capital of an Ionic column from the Temple of Roma and Augustus.
Reconstruction drawing of an Ionic capital of the Erechtheion at My Favourite Planet

Late 19th century reconstruction drawing of a similar, but larger Ionic capital
from the east porch of the Erechtheion. The similarities of such architectural
details have led to suggestions that the architect who designed the Roman
period repairs to the Erechtheion also built the Temple of Roma and Augustus.

Illustration from Jakob von Falke, Hellas und Rom, eine Culturgeschichte des classischen
Alterthums
. W. Spemann, Stuttgart, 1878. Published in English as Greece and Rome,
their life and art
. Translated by William Hand Browne. Henry Holt and Co., New York, 1886.
 
 
 
Vyzantino Greek Restaurant, Plaka, Athens, Greece
 
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Anthemiou 35,
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Kastellorizo, Greece

+30 22460 49 109

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greeklodgings.gr
 
The remains of the Temple of Roma and Augustus at the east side of the Parthenon at My Favourite Planet

The remains of the Temple of Roma and Augustus assembled near the east side
of the Parthenon. The architectural members were found in various locations around
the Acropolis and have been placed on the roughly rectangular poros foundations,
approximately 10.5 x 13 metres, at what is thought to be the location of the temple.
According to another theory, the temple may have stood to the east of the Erechtheion.
The architrave of the Temple of Roma and Augustus with the dedicatory inscription at My Favourite Planet

Part of the architrave of the Temple of Roma and Augustus with the
dedicatory inscription, displayed near the east end of the Parthenon.

[ὁ] δῆμος θεᾶι Ῥώμηι καὶ Σε̣[βασ]τῶι Καίσαρι στρα[τηγ]οῦντος ἐπὶ τ[οὺς]
ὁπλίτας Παμμένους τοῦ Ζήνωνος Μαραθωνίου ἱερέως θεᾶς
Ῥώμης καὶ Σεβαστοῦ Σωτῆρος ἐπ᾿ ἀκροπόλει, ἐπὶ ἱερείας Ἀθηνᾶς
Πολιάδος Μεγίστης τῆς Ἀσκληπίδου Ἁλαιέως θυγατρός,
ἐπὶ ἄρχοντος Ἀρήου τ[οῦ] Δωρίωνος Παιανιέως :

The deme (dedicated) to the goddess Rome and Sebastos Caesar, when the general of the
hoplites was Pammenes, son of Zenon from Marathon, the priest of the goddess
Rome and Sebastos Soter on the Acropolis; when the priestess of Athena
Polias was Megiste, daughter of Asclepides from the deme of Halai.
When the Eponymous Archon was Areos, son of Dorion from Paiana.

Inscription IG II² 3173

The word "Soter" (Σωτῆρος, Saviour) on line 1 (which also appears on line 3) was erased and replaced with "Caesar". It has been suggested that either the stonecutter was correcting his error, or that the alteration was made after the death of Augustus in 14 AD, since the appellation Soter was reserved for living emperors. Another possibility is that Augustus himself ordered the change, perhaps during one of his visits to Athens [see note 2].
Athena handing Emperor Augustus victory at My Favourite Planet

A medal of Emperor Augustus, showing Minerva/Athena
literally handing him victory in the form of Victoria/Nike.

Image source: James Stuart and Nicholas Revett,
The Antiquities of Athens, measured and delineated, Volume IV,
Of the Temple of Rome and Augustus at Pola, chapter II, page 13.
J. Taylor, London, 1816. At the Internet Archive.
 
Temple of Roma
and Augustus
Notes, references, links

1. The form of the monopteros was defined by Vitruvius in his discussion on circular temples.

Vitruvius, On Architecture, Book 4, chapter 8. At Bill Thayer's LacusCurtius website, University of Chicago.

2. Augustus visited Athens in 31 BC, he spent the winter of 22/21 BC in the city, and visited again in 19 BC and 12 BC.

3. Reconstruction of the Temple of Roma and Augustus, published in Hermann Luckenbach, Die Akropolis von Athen, page 46. R. Oldenbourg, Munich and Berlin, 1905. At Heidelberg University Digital Library.
 
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except where otherwise specified.

Additional photos: © Konstanze Gundudis

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Athens (street life)

Athens (Aristotle's Lyceum)

Dion

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Meteora

Pella

Polygyros

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