Temple of Saturn

Temple of Saturn

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The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum was a sacred ancient Roman temple dedicated to Saturn, the god of seed-sowing.

Temple of Saturn history

One of the oldest of the Roman Forum structures, the Temple of Saturn was originally built sometime between 501 BC and 497 BC and reconstructed in the fourth century BC. However, this second incarnation burned down and the Temple of Saturn was restored in 42 BC by Roman senator Lucius Munatius Plancus.The columns we see today survive from that time. It was again restored after fires in 283 A.D. and 400 A.D.

Due to the link between Saturn and agriculture, the original source of Rome’s wealth, the temple was the repository for the State treasury, the Aerarium Populi Roman, which was located beneath the stairs under the high podium. It also contained the bronze tablets on which Roman law was inscribed.

In the cella was an ivory statue of Saturn, its feet fettered with woollen bonds, which were symbolically loosened on the Saturnalia. The Temple of Saturn was closely linked with the celebration of Saturnalia in December, during which slaves and masters would dine together. It later came to be associated with New Year’s Day and Christmas.

The ruins of the temple’s façade are a good example of what is termed Spoila, in re-building the temple builders made use of stone from other, older buildings. For example, the shafts of the standing columns were all created from shafts of stone that were once part of other architectural features. Of the eight columns, only three were created using a single, solid piece of stone.

All the others were made by fixing together broken lengths, hence the bracing we see around the shafts today. The only fresh material used in rebuilding the temple’s façade was the white marble out of which the Ionic capitals were made.

Temple of Saturn today

Largely destroyed in the mid-fifteenth century, all that remains of the Temple of Saturn are six of its Ionic granite columns crowned with a frieze thought to date to approximately 30 BC.

Today the Temple of Saturn is part of the Roman Forum, and the entry fee covers both the Forum and the Palatine Hill.

The Temple of Saturn also appears in Assasin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

Getting to the Temple of Saturn

The temple is near many other popular sites within Rome and the nearest bus and train station is Colosseo.

Temple of Saturn, Rome

The Temple of Saturn is, without a doubt, the most iconic structure on the Roman Forum, with its monumental columns being the postcard image of the legendary ruins. It sits at the base of the Capitoline Hill, next to the Arch of Septimius Severus.

The history of the temple starts in the 5th century BC when it was built by Tarquinius, the last king of the city-state of Rome prior to the rebellion that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. The structure endured several modifications since and what we see today is the latest restoration following the devastating fire that took place in the 3rd century BC.

After serving as a temple of Saturn, it then housed, at some point, a bank, which is only logical given that Saturn was the god of wealth and abundance. The Romans also worshiped him as the god of agriculture. Later, as they embraced the Greek pantheon of gods, Saturn was identified with Kronos and became the highest ranking of the Roman deities, at par with Jupiter. With the winter solstice also being in high regard by the Romans, the week-long winter festival they celebrated, marking the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere, was called Saturnalia. The final day of the festival, known as the day of "the invincible sun", fell upon December 25. The festival involved lavish feasting and exchange of gifts, quite similar to the contemporary Christmas tradition.

The last standing eight majestic Ionic columns of the temple produce the impression of grandeur that is usually associated with Rome. Facing them up close, one can truly feel like a tiny speck of sand in the endless ocean of time.

Why You Should Visit:
An excellent psychological "shake-up", along with other Roman Forum sites.

Try and view reconstructed images to really appreciate how the temple must have been in ancient times.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8:30am-4:30pm (Jan 2–Feb 15) 8:30am-5pm (Feb 16–Mar 15) 8:30am-5:30pm (Mar 16–last Sat of March) 8:30am-7:15pm (last Sun of March–Aug 31) 8:30am-7pm (Sep 1–30) 8:30am-6:30pm (Oct 1–last Sat of Oct) 8:30am-4:30pm (last Sun of Oct–Dec 31)
Last admission always one hour before closing time. CLOSED: Dec 25, Jan 1.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Rome . Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Additional source material

34. The Navel of Rome (Umbilicus Romae). Sources.

Notitia, Sites in Region VIII:

The Roman Forum (sometimes called the “Great” Forum), contains the following:

the Temple of Vespasian and Titus

the Temple of the Castors …

Notes: The existence in ancient Rome of three sites—the Mundus, Milestone, and Umbilicus—all dedicated to a ritualistic centering of the community and all located at the head of the Forum, seems redundant, and there is some confusion over the identity, terminology, and location of these three sites. The trouble begins with Plutarch's description of the Mundus as the trench drawn around the Comitium he calls the Mundus the center of the wider boundary ploughed around the city by Romulus, whereas other accounts of the Romulean foundation place the Palatine Hill at its center, and do not even include the Comitium area of the Forum as part of Romulean Rome. Perhaps some anachronisms are at play in Plutarch's account. Richardson, moreover, believes that Festus and Macrobius [32.2-32.4] all refer to another Mundus, separate from the one described by Plutarch and dedicated to the spirits of the underworld, perhaps related in form and origin to archaic underground granaries on the Palatine. Coarelli (in LTUR 3.288-9), again favoring the organic whole (as with his location of the Tarpeian Cliffs), considers not only that the sources refer to one Mundus, but that this unified Mundus can be further identified with the Umbilicus Romae. Richardson addresses the redundancy by equating the Umbilicus and the Milestone (discounting the division of the two terms in the Notitia).

That a ceremonial milestone, decorated in some way with gold and therefore often called the Golden Milestone, stood at the head of the Forum near the Temple of Saturn, and that Augustus first set this up, seems fairly certain from the sources. Whether this monument was the same as the Umbilicus Urbis (“Navel of the City”) or existed separately nearby is disputed. There is no evidence that either such monument recorded distances to other cities.

The first reference to an Umbilicus Urbis is found in the Notitia [c. AD 300] as part of a list which places it after the Temple of Concord and before the Temple of Saturn. This list also contains a reference to the Milliarium Aureum as a separate item. There are three mentions of the Umbilicus in the Einsiedeln Itinerary for pilgrims [c. AD 800] that place it in the same area. None of the sources tells us anything about the monument, except that it was selected for the list and therefore considered more worthy of mention than many other monuments.

One thing that does emerge from the references to the Mundus, the Milestone, and the Umbilicus is the importance for the Romans of a symbolic center of the city, its center considered not as a talismanic or essential power (the Capitoline temple and the Temple of Vesta rather embody that) but as an earthbound geographical center, perhaps of a small agrarian community at first (Plutarch's Mundus), and then of an urban empire with distant reaches measured out in every direction by milestones on the major roads.

The notion of a Mundus, however hazy its nature and despite the lack of physical remains, has had a life of its own and appears—creatively interpreted as a global fountain and basin—in newly founded towns of Fascist Italy such as Littoria near Rome, where it was placed at the crossing of the two chief roads in the city center. The Foro Italico in Rome has another such Mundus fountain across the plaza from Mussolini's obelisk.

35. Temple of Saturn. Commentary.

The worship of Saturn played an important part in both the mythology and calendar of Rome. His origins, which go further back than Livy's comment might suggest, are obscure, although very early his divine powers and domain included liberation. Later he became identified with the Greek god Kronos (since Dionysus, the wilder god of liberation in the Greek pantheon, was not an option for the Forum), and was subsequently styled in myth as the deity who was ousted from the gods' throne by Jupiter and ruled for a time over an agrarian Golden Age Italy, before Jupiter went on to occupy the Capitoline as well. His worship thus allowed the Romans to honor a simpler past even as they extended Jupiter's iron dominion in every direction, and his connection with myths of the Golden Age provided the poets the means to explore complex attitudes towards urban society and Roman rule.

The sources included below on the Saturnalia, the festival in honor of Saturn, fills out Saturn's role as a god of liberation. Held on December 17 and eventually lasting several days, it was a time in which the strict hierarchical social world of Rome was held in abeyance, or in many cases inverted. This inversion was symbolically represented in a ceremony on that day that apparently unwrapped the woolen bonds kept around the cult statue of Saturn for the rest of the year. Statius's description of the Saturnalia (an excerpt of a longer poem praising an especially lavish Saturnalia in Rome put on by the Emperor Domitian) indicates some of the terms of the inversion, in a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere [35.9]. Horace simply invites his slave to speak what is on his mind [35.10].

In light of this Saturnian spirit, it may seem odd that his temple was also the site of the public treasury of the Roman Republic. Macrobius offers two attractive explanations for this perhaps the temple's solid vault within a large podium also had something to do with it.

The gloomy remains of the Temple of Saturn are from a late C4 restoration, perhaps carried out as part of the final spirited resistance mounted by pagan Senators to the advance of regulations favoring Christianity in these years. The restoration is second-rate, and involved the reuse of damaged components from various ages.

35. Temple of Saturn. Sources.

Sources have it that the Capitoline Hill was originally called Mt. Saturnius, and from this Latium got the name “Land of Saturn,” as the poet Ennius in fact calls it. It is also written that an ancient town named Saturnia once existed on this hill.

Varro, The Latin Language 5.42

When Sempronius and Minucius were consuls [in 497 BC], the Temple of Saturn was dedicated and the festival day of the Saturnalia [on December 17th] was established.

Livy, History 2.21.2

The founders of the Temple of Saturn wanted the building to be Rome's treasury as well, because it was said that under the reign of Saturn no robberies took place within Italy's borders, or because under his rule private property did not exist. “It was forbidden to own the earth and to divide up fields with borders everyone strove for the common good,” as Virgil describes that time [in Georgics 1.126-7]. Therefore, the public funds of the people were lodged in the temple of the god under whose rule the wealth of the community was held in common.… Apollodorus says that the statue of Saturn is bound in wool fetters throughout the year, and is freed of them only on the day of the festival in his honor.

Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.8.3-5

[Caesar's men advanced on the Temple of Saturn.]

The tribune protecting the Treasury was thrown aside,

And the building was opened the Tarpeian Cliff

Echoed the great groan of the doors swung back.

With that, the wealth of the Roman people vanished,

A treasure amassed since the temple's founding—

Booty from the Punic Wars, from Philip in defeat,

Whatever our frugal ancestors saved

And the rich lands of the East sent in tribute.

Grim the spoils that come from a Roman temple.

Then for the first time was Rome poorer than a Caesar.

Lucan, The Civil War 3.153-8 161-2 167-8

Julius Caesar, entering Rome for the first time after the beginning of his civil war, took from the Treasury 15,000 gold ingots, 30,000 silver ingots, and 30,000,000 sesterces in coin.

Pliny the Elder, Encyclopedia 33.56

Old olive-oil is considered useful in preventing ivory from rotting: at any rate, the statue of Saturn in Rome is filled inside with the oil.

Pliny the Elder, Encyclopedia 15.32

Munatius Plancus rebuilt the Temple of Saturn [in 42 BC] using the spoils of the war [against alpine Raetia].

[Inscription on the pediment of the Temple of Saturn from late C4 AD]


The Senate and People of Rome restored this temple after it was destroyed by fire.

Father Apollo and stern Minerva:

Take holiday with the polished Muses:

We will call you all back on the first of the year.

Now Saturn, slip your shackles and reign

With drunken December, insolent Wit

And the smiling god of Mockery.

Let Jupiter wrap the world in cloud

And threaten to flood the fields

With winter rain, so long as Saturn

Showers us with abundant gifts.

Today one table feasts us all

In common, mixing young and old,

Men and women, high and low:

Here Liberty puts Rank in its place.

Statius, Occasional Poems 1.6.1-7 25-7 43-45

Take advantage of the freedoms December allows,

As our ancestors intended.

Horace, Satires 2.7.4-5

©2008 by the Rectors and Visitors of the University of Virginia. All rights reserved.

Temple of Saturn

Temple of Saturn was among the earliest temples in Rome and was set up in 497 B.C. on the site, as told in the sources (Festus, Serviiis), of an altar which had actually likewise been devoted to Saturn and which was then kept in a location of its own, as exposed by the Forma Urbis (huge marble plan of the city from the time of Septimius Severus).

Temple of Saturn – Reconstruction 3D Model

Reconstruction of the Forum with (above, from the left) the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Vespasian and Titus, the Temple of Concord and the Tabularium in the background.

The ‘Saturnalia’ was one of the most essential day of festivities in the Roman year, an occasion when temporary freedom was given to slaves-servants and presents were exchanged. This day was always celebrated here on 17th December: it later came to be associated with New Year’s Day (and Christmas). Temple of Saturn was entirely reconstructed in 42 B.C. by the aedile L. Munazius Strategycus and the columns we see today survive from that time. It was again restored after fires in 283 A.D. and 400 A.D.

Columns from Temple of Saturn in Roman Forum in Rome, Italy.

Roman Forum, Rome’s historic center, Italy – Temple of Saturn

As shown by the engraving on the architrave, the temple was again brought back in A.D. 283 after a fire. The 6 columns in grey granite on the front, the 2 in red granite on the sides and the pediment, consisting primarily of recycled blocks, come from this period.

Reconstruction Drawing of Roman Forum – Giuseppe Becchetti. 1893.

Even the columns do not constantly pair with the bases, which differ in design, and with the Ionic capitals. An avant-corps in front of the base included 2 podia, separated by a flight of stairs which caused the temple. Among these need to have consisted of the head office of the Roman State Treasury . The treasury (aerarium) was a room east of the narrow stairway. The holes for the lock can still be seen.

The treshold is still to be seen on the side facing the Forum. On the exact same side a series of routinely organized holes exposes the existence of a rectangle-shaped panel on which the general public documents concerning the treasury should have been published. The cella of the temple consisted of the statue of the god which was brought in procession for triumphal rites.

Temple of Saturn -Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

View of the Temple of Saturn at the Roman Forum, Rome. Inscription Reads: The Senate and People of Roma, restored following destruction by fire.

When this temple was constructed, Rome was going through an especially crucial period due to comprehensive scarcities, upsurges and an extreme financial and commercial crisis which defined the years subsequent to the fall of the monarchy.

The last ancient structure in Roman Forum: Column of Phocas

Reconstructed sketch of Roman Forum by E. Laurenti

The base of a column opposite the podium of the Temple of Saturn is all that remains of the “Miliarium Aureum” , the column erected by emperor Augustus to indicate the ideal point on which converged the major roads of the Empire and on which may have recorded the distances of the principal cities from Rome.

The last ancient structure in Roman Forum was the undecorated column erected in 608 in honour of the Byzantine Emperor Phocas. After that, the structures began to decay. The forum was used for other purposes, churches and fortresses were crammed into it. It served as a quarry and a cow pasture. Not until the 18th and 19th centuries did systematic excavations reveal the ancient ruins beneath a layer of rubble that was 10-15m/30-50ft deep. Imagination and small plaster models are required to conjure up the Roman Forum of the imperial era however, this does not reduce the evocative power of this unique place.

Temple of Saturn was the first temple built in the Forum Romanum in Rome in 498 BCE. It had an important role in the Saturnalia, and the cellar housed the Roman treasury.

The Temple of Saturn (Templum Saturni or Aedes Saturnus) is the oldest temple in the Forum Romanum, consecrated for the first time in c. 498 BCE. It is located in the W. end of the Forum, behind the Rostra and the Basilica Julia, across the Clivus Capitolinus from the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.

There have been three temples dedicated to Saturn on the location. The first was built in the last years of the Roman Kingdom, but was first consecrated in the first decade of the Roman Republic. Very little is known about this archaic temple, but it was probably Etruscan in style, just as the contemporary Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on the Capitolium.

The first temple was torn down in 42 BCE and a new temple built in stone, by the aedile L. Munatius Plancus. The tall, massive, travertine clad podium, measuring 40×22.5m with a height of 9m, is from this building. This temple was in turn destroyed by the fire of 283 CE, which destroyed major parts of the Forum Romanum.

The temple was reconstructed under Diocletian after the fire, but the ground plan and podium from 42 BCE was retained. The temple was of the Ionic order with six columns on the facade. The eight surviving columns of red and grey granite are from this third temple, which largely used recycled material—not all columns, bases and capitals match stylistically.

The inscription on the architrave is also from this period. It reads: “Senatus populusque romanus incendio consumptum restituit” meaning “The Roman senate and people restored what fire had consumed”.

In front of the podium, under the now collapsed stairway, were two rooms, one of which served as the Aerarium, the State Treasury. On the side of the podium holes remain from where a plate was attached for the posting of public documents and acts pertinent to the Aerarium.

The location of the Temple of Saturn relative to other surviving structures

An altar dedicated to Saturn, the Ara Saturni, stood in front of the temple, on the other side of the road that passes just in front of the temple. The remains of this altar are now under a roof just in front of the Umbilicus Urbis Romae, near the Arch of Septimius Severus. See this map on the right for an illustration of the probable location of the altar.

Inside the temple stood a statue of of Saturn, which would be carried in procession when triumphs were celebrated. The feast of the Saturnalia on December 17th was a part of the cult of Saturn and was started with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn.

Temple of Saturn (Saturnus Aedes)

The Temple of Saturn is located on the southeastern slope of the Capitoline Hill, between the Clivus Capitolinus and Vicus Iugarius. It faced northeast, toward the carcer (prison) and (eventually) across from the Arch of Septimius Severus. It is a quintessential Republican-era temple, grand in scale for the period of its inception, in the fifth century BC (circa 501-493 BC).

The temple was dedicated to Saturn , an agricultural divinity eventually paired with the Greek god, Kronus. The festivity of the Saturnalia to honor Saturn took place from December 17-23 (originally of a shorter duration, but extended to seven days by the imperial period). This end of year festivity was a period of revelry, gift exchange, and gambling. The public festival took place at the temple on December 17th. The remaining events focused on events at the home.

The temple was also held the treasury (aerarium) and was used as the office of the fiscal officers, the quaestors (Plutarch, Ti. Gracchus 10.6).

The temple was rebuilt by L. Munatius Plancus in the Augustan age (Suetonius, Aug. 29.5) and finally in the late fourth century, possibly instigated by the reign of Julian, who attempted to resuscitate the traditional gods and their rites. The inscription records that the Senate financed its reconstruction, after its destruction from a fire (CIL 6.937). The temple uses material from other temples, if not Plancus’ structure, but the capitals are impressive examples of Late Antique artistry.

SATURNUS, AEDES, (fanum also in Varro and Macrobius, templum also in Macrobius and Not.): the temple erected close to the original ara at the foot of the Capitoline and edge of the forum (Varro v. 42: in faucibus (Capitolii) Liv. xli. 21. 12: in foro Romano Macrob. i. 8. 1: ad Forum Fest. 322: in imo clivo Capitolino Serv. Aen. viii. 319, Auct. Orig. 3. 6: sub clivo Capitolino Serv. Aen. ii. 116, Hygin. Fab. 261: ante clivum Capitolinum Dionys. i. 34.4 vi. I. 4). It was the oldest temple of which the erection was recorded in the pontifical archives, but there was marked disagreement as to the exact date. One tradition ascribed its dedication to Tullus Hostilius according to another it was begun by the last Tarquin (Varro ap. Macrob. i. 8. I Dionys. vi. i. 4). Elsewhere, however, its actual dedication is assigned to the magistrates of the first years of the republic, either to Titus Larcius in his dictatorship in 50o (Macrob. loc. cit.), who also is said to have commenced building the temple in his second consulship in 498 (Dionys. vi. I. 4) or to Aulus Sempronius and M. Mamercus, the consuls of 497 (Liv. ii. 21. Dionys. loc. cit) or to Postumus Cominius, consul in 501 and 493, by vote of the senate (Dionys. loc. cit.). A different tradition seems to be preserved by Gellius (ap. Macrob. i. 8. I: nec me fugit Gellium scribere senatum decresse ut aedes Saturni fieret eique rei L. Furium tribunum militum praefuisse). Which Furius is referred to is not known (RE vii. 316, 354-356 Peter, Hist. Rom. Reliq. is. 155), and this form of the tradition is probably valueless.1 The dedication of the temple may safely be assigned to the beginning of the republic.

The location of the temple is connected to the much older Altar of Saturn, which tradition associates with the god himself founding a settlement on the Capitoline Hill. Construction of the temple is thought to have begun in the later years of the Roman Kingdom under Tarquinius Superbus (circa 497 BC. Its inauguration by the Consul Titus Lartius took place in the early years of the Republic. The temple was completely reconstructed by Munatius Plancus in 42 BCE.

The present ruins represent the third incarnation of the Temple of Saturn, replacing a second incarnation that had been destroyed by the fire of Carinus in 283 AD. The extant inscription on the frieze commemorates the restoration undertaken after the fire.

Saturn's Temple is a giant temple similar to Fort Knox that is located at the southwest corner of the map if Dogfood Temple is at the top middle area of the map.

When entering the corner, an abundance of guards will spawn. It is not needed to kill the guards. The temple is behind a gate that requires ANGER to break open. You will know you're near the gate when you see barbed wire on the walls.

Urchin will guard the temple by rolling around, instakilling any unfortunate person that got in it's way. There are four buttons scattered throughout the temple, and you need to press all of them with ANGER to kill Urchin.

The Temple of Castor and Pollux was built in 495 BC to commemorate the victory of the Battle of Lake Regillus and served as a meeting place for the Roman Senate. Sadly, not much of it survived to this day – all that is left are a few columns and a few other fragments. The Temple of Caesar, built in 29 BC, was dedicated to Julius Caesar, making him the first Roman resident to have a temple built in his honor.

Aušrys Uptas

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Watch the video: Temple of Saturn in Minecraft - 02112011


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