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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Temple of Portunus

The Temple of Portunus dates from the Roman Republic period, which reflects both on Etruscan and Greek practices. Like the Etruscans, the Romans built urban temples in commercial centers as well as in special sanctuaries. An early example is a small rectangular temple standing on a raised platform beside the Tiber River in Rome, probably from the second century BCE and probably dedicated to Portunus, the god of harbors and ports. This temple acts as the perfect hybrid of Greek and Etruscan temples. The pseudoperipteral plan consists of a rectangular cella and a front porch at one end reached by a broad, inviting flight of steps, but the Roman architects have adopted the Greek Ionic order, with full columns on the porch and  engaged columns around the exterior walls of the cella with a continuous frieze in the entablature. At a first glance this temple may look Greek, but there are two main differences to distinguish it from Roman architecture. First, Roman architects released the form of the column from its post-and-lintel structural base and engaged it onto the surface of the wall as a decorative feature. Second, while a Greek temple encourages viewers to walk around the building to explore its uniformly architecture, Roman temples are defined in relation to interior spaces in which visitors are invited to enter through only one opening, as opposed to many, along the longitudinal axis of a symmetrical plan.

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