Temple of Vesta


Temple of Vesta

The Temple of Vesta (Latin: "Aedes Vestae") in the Roman Forum stands between the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of Caesar, the Regia and the House of the Vestal Virgins. The temple has a number of significant architectural features. It was modeled after the first Roman houses which were round huts made of mud and straw. Since the worship of Vesta began in private homes, the architecture seems to be a reminder of its history. The temple used Greek architecture with Corinthian columns, marble, and a central cella. The internal cella was surrounded by twenty Corinthian columns built on a podium fifteen meters in diameter. The roof had a vent, which made tending Vesta's sacred flame a demanding task. Another round outer wall went along the entire outside with more columns.

All temples to Vesta were round, and had entrances facing east to symbolise connection between Vesta’s fire and the sun as sources of life. The Temple of Vesta in the Forum Romanum was built in the 3rd century B.C. It is not truly a temple because it was never inaugurated, nor does it hold a statue of Vesta, but only her sacred flame and the Palladium. The Palladium was a statue of Athena (Roman Minerva) believed to have been brought by Aeneas from Troy. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the Romans believed that the Sacred fire of Vesta was closely tied to the fortunes of the city and viewed its extinction as a portent of disaster.

Since there was fire enclosed in the temple, there was risk of burning. The Temple of Vesta did burn twice in its history. In AD 64 a huge fire during the rule of the infamous Nero burned most of Rome, including the Temple of Vesta. After a fire in 191, Julia Domna, the wife of Septimius Severus, had the temple restored. Unfortunately, since that time, the temple has been looted and was stripped of its marble during the 16th century. The section standing today was reconstructed in the 1930s.

Upon close examination of the reconstructed remains. It is clearly visible how the original restorations had been carried out. Instead of rebuilding the temple from scratch much of the scorched marble was resurfaced with Roman concrete completely covering the intricate carvings on white corinthian marble.

Other temples

* The round Temple of Hercules Victor in the Forum Boarium was initially thought to be a temple of Vesta.

* The Temple of Vesta, Tivoli.


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