The Temple of Saturn

Episode 23,  Sep 20, 2020, 04:09 PM

The Temple, repaired and rebuilt over many centuries, is one of the most ancient buildings in the Forum.  Its construction was ordered by the last Etruscan King, Tarquin the Proud, in the late 6th or early 5th century BCE and was to be sited in front of an altar already dedicated to Saturn.

It is easily recognized by its 8 remaining Ionic columns – six along the front and one on each side forming the front portico.  These support an entablature with an inscription that can be translated as “The Senate and People of Rome Restored what was consumed by fire”.  This evidences restoration work from the late fourth century.

Over 500 years before this, in the early to mid-first century BCE, Lucius Munatius Plancus used his spoils of war to reconstruct the temple.  Munatius had been one of the generals successfully campaigning in Gaul alongside Julius Caesar and returned to Rome a wealthy man.  However, following Caeser’s assassination he repeatedly switched allegiances to try to remain in favor with however seemed to have the upper hand in the pursuit of overall control of the empire.

The design of the Temple of Saturn however did not significantly change over the centuries despite being repeatedly repaired.  The portico originally had 6 columns at the front and two additional full columns on each side. There was a single main set of steps at the front that lead up to a pair of entrance doors.