The Fountain of the Dioscuri is located in the Piazza del Quirinale in the center Rome. It consists of two enormous statues of the Dioscuri and their horses, plus the Quirinal Obelisk. The monument is also known as the Monte Cavallo Fountain.
Fountain of the Dioscuri Rome
History and description
The Fontana dei Dioscuri was commissioned by Pope Sixtus V Peretti and designed by Domenico Fontana (1588). The fountain got its water from the Aqua Felice Aqueduct. The obelisk was added in 1786, when it was transported to the Quirinal Hill from the Campo Marzio. The architect of the move was Giovanni Antinori and he had been ordered to do so by Pope Pius VI. It was not an easy job, since the statues turned out quite difficult to handle. It also took two attempts to remove the 15m tall obelisk to its present site.
Fontana had designed a fountain with an octagonal basin with a pedestal in the middle. A second basin rested on this pedestal. Enormous statues of the Dioscuri with their horses embellished the fountains.
Unfortunately the original fountain was destroyed and today’s version dates from the year 1818, when Pope VII Chiaramonti had a new one built, this time made of granite and with a circular instead of an octagonal lower basin.
Although the pedestal bears an inscription claiming the statues were made by Fidia and Prassitele, in reality these are copies of Greek originals.
The Dioscuri Castor and Pollux
In Greek and Roman mythology, Castor and Pollux (otherwise known as the Dioscuri) were twin brothers, albeit with different fathers. Castor was the son of the king of Sparta, and thus mortal, while Pollux‘s father was none other than Zeus himself. They are generally depicted as horsemen. According to legend, the twins fought at the head of the Roman army against the Latin League in the battle of Lake Regillus (around 496 BC). After the battle they were spotted at the Spring of Juturna in the Roman Forum. A temple dedicated to the brothers was subsequently constructed near the Spring.