Temple of Mars Ultor

3d model and reconstruction

Temple of Mars Ultor

The front decoration of the temple is known through a relief from the age of Claudius, the Ara Pietatis Augustae, while the group of statues in the cella was reconstructed on the basis of another relief showing Mars, Venus and the Divine Julius, found in Carthage and kept in the museum of Algiers.

Abundant epigraphic and literary sources, including the biography of Emperor Augustus (Res Gestae Divi Augusti) provided further valuable data, useful for the reconstruction of the monument.

There are finally some drawings by Renaissance artists, including Palladio, Sangallo and Peruzzi, which reproduce architectonic details of the temple.

There is also archaeological evidence of the paving and capitals.

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Short history of

Temple of Mars Ultor

Built against the back wall of the Forum of Augustus and placed on the central axis of the square, is the Temple of Mars Ultor. The temple was voted by Augustus in 42 BC, before going into battle with the murderers of Julius Caesar Brutus and Cassius, which gave rise to the name of the temple: Ultor = avenger.

It is a peripteral temple sine posticum, built on a raised podium. In the center of the front stairway is an altar on which provincial governors celebrated a sacrifice before leaving for the provinces, while two fountains decorated the two ends of the stairway. Augustus also added two bronze caryatids to the front of the temple, which came from the tent of Alexander the Great.

On the fronton of the temple, known to us from contemporary coins and reliefs, was a figure of Mars in a central position, flanked on one side by Venus, Romulus and the personification of the Palatine, and on the other by Fortuna, the goddess Rome, and the Tiber.

Inside the cella were seven columns per side, surmounted by elaborate Corinthian capitals in marble, decorated by winged Pegasuses. In the back, inside the rear apse were the statues of the cult representing Mars, Venus, and perhaps the Divine Julius.