Temple of Castor and Pollux Rome

Also called the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Temple of the Dioscuri is located in the Roman Forum in Rome. It is one of the most striking monuments among the many famous buildings on display.

Temple of Castor and Pollux Rome

Practical information

Temple of Castor and Pollux Rome
Temple of Castor and Pollux

The address of the Roman Forum is Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6 – Rome. Metro: Colosseo (line B). Entrance and opening hours Colosseum, Palatine and Roman Forum.

History Temple of Castor and Pollux Rome

Tempio dei Dioscuri Rome
The temple seen from the Santa Francesca Romana Basilica

The Temple of Castor and Pollux was built in 484 BC. However, what can still be seen today, part of the cornice and the three supporting columns, is the result of a 16th century reconstruction.

The remaining columns are 12.5 meters high and stand on a base that is itself 7 meters high, making the Tempio di Castore e Polluce rise above most monuments in the Forum.

The reason for building the temple was a battle won 15 years earlier against the kings of Tarquinia. This took place at Lake Regillus. Castor and Pollux had appeared there on their white stallions and won the war for the Romans. Moments later they appeared, again out of nowhere, at the Spring of Juturna (Lacus Laturnae) in the Forum Romanum, to quench the thirst of their horses and announce Roman victory. King Aulus Posumius then promised to build a temple.

The three remaining columns are remnants of the last of the many necessary renovations to which the temple was subjected. The later Emperor Tiberius ordered this reconstruction after a fire in 12 BC, but the dedication did not take place until 6 AD.

The podium dates back to an earlier restoration, in 117 B.C. Incidentally, a block of marble taken from this podium is supposed to have been reused for the base of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius. The front of this podium, which one could reach via two side steps, probably had a stand.

The Roman office for weights and measures was housed in the building for a time, and there were also some stores used by bankers.

A laurel tree grew near the temple. Whoever plucked a leaf from it with the right hand would become rich; whoever did so with the left hand could look forward to love and fame.

Castor and Pollux

Although Castor and Pollux, who were also known as the Dioscuri, had different fathers, they were twins. Their mother was Leda. Leda did the deed with the King of Sparta, who was Castor‘s father, and was raped by Zeus, Pollux‘s father. Zeus had turned himself into a swan first, though, so the brothers were born from an egg.

According to tradition, Pollux was immortal, but his brother was not. When Castor died, Pollux asked his father to make him immortal too. Zeus did so, but from then on they had to alternate between spending one day in the underworld and one day on Olympus. This did not go well for long and eventually they were placed in the sky as stars. (The constellation Gemini is named after Castor and Pollux.)

Temple of Castor and Pollux, Forum Romanum, Rome