Temple Building in the Early Republic (5th–4th Centuries BC): History and Political Meaning

Smorchkov Andrey M.

The author tries to reveal the specific features of early republican temple building, mainly in connection with the evolution of political power. At this stage construction of temples was chiefly communal. This was due to the economical situation and to the policy of the patricians, who were not interested in the growth of executive power in the hands of magistrates. At the beginning of the republican period a number of temples were built, dedicated to the ensemble of gods that covered all the spheres of communal life and met the religious needs of the main social forces. The «series» of temples erected at the beginning of the Republic implied a policy concerning public temple building. A short splash of individual temple building in the early 4th century BC, connected with the outstanding personality of M. Furius Camillus, had no long-run consequences at first, but was an anticipation of the next stage. The Senate drew conclusions from the excessive power concentrated in Camillus’ hands and kept its control over temple building. Communal character of construction was not favourable for its scale. The situation changed on the verge of the 3rd century BC, when almost all temples were built by magistrates at the expenses their office could provide for. The practice became characteristic of the next period of temple building.

Keywords: ancient Rome, Early Republic, temple construction, Senate, magistrates