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Home > Route through the rooms > "Memories of the... > Decorative elements inside the Temple of Mars Ultor
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Drawing by Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481-1536)

"Memories of the Ancient Past" Section

Back in the 16th century, there was probably more of the architecture and various components of the Forum of Augustus to see than there is today. The architectural elements of the decorative details inside the cella in the Temple of Mars Ultor (aka Mars the Avenger) were visible for a long time and were sketched and painted by countless Renaissance artists and architects, some of whom also attempted to do a graphic recreation of how they must have looked in Ancient Times.
An orthogonal view done by architect Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481-1537) was one of the most impressive of these. Half showed a frontal view whilst the other half was a section revealing what could be seen inside, which means both the exterior and interior orders could be seen along with the decorative elements - of which the capital and column base have been documented - inside the cella. What makes it so significant is the way others referred to what he had done in lengthy written essays in which they sometimes introduced new elements that were the fruit of their own imaginations, or as in the case of Andrea Palladio, had a series of extremely interesting comments to make. 
The parts of the Temple of Mars Ultor and the high perimeter wall it backs onto that are still visible, have provided academics and architects with the opportunity, over the years, to hypothesize on its original plan and how the entire complex must have looked. The excavations carried out at different times during the 20th century, and to mark the most recent Jubilee however, provided new informations that have proved some of their ideas were completely wrong.

Decorative elements inside the Temple of Mars Ultor

Decorative elements inside the Temple of Mars Ultor

As one moves away from the white marble of the outside of the temple and beyond the pronaos (the space in front of the inner sanctuary), one is greeted by the colours of the strips of polychrome marble paving. Continuing on into the cella, which is accessed by a large doorway, the magnificence of the various coloured marbles and the detail of the decorative elements is immediately apparent. The double orders around the walls of the relatively high continuous podium, comprise free standing columns placed in front of lesene's, the shafts of both of which are in (white) Pavonazzetto marble - as seen in the pieces from the top of a column of the superior order, all topped with extremely elegant Corinthian capitals carved from statue-grade Luna marble. 
Details of the decoration on the capitals and the pilaster bases are known thanks to the existence of examples that are almost complete. The upper rank of leaves has been further embellished with carvings of winged horses (Pegasus) that emerge from elegant twists of Acanthus stems whilst the lower rank features only Acanthus leaves in typical Corinthian style. Other pieces displayed in the museum provide proof that other similar column capitals did exist along with others in which the top of the column was also decorated. There is a plaster cast on display that illustrates how the corresponding base of one of these columns was decorated.

Sculpture
From the Augustan Era 2 BC.
FA 2515
Sculpture
From the Augustan Era 2 BC
FA 2516
Sculpture
From the Augustan Era 2 BC
FA 3336
Sculpture
From the Augustan Era: 2 BC
FA 2851
Sculpture
From the Augustan Era 2 BC
FA 2800 e FA 2788
Sculpture
From the Augustan Era: 2 BC
FA 5460 e FA 5461
Sculpture
From the Augustan Era: 2 BC
FA 2519
Sculpture
From the Augustan Era: 2 BC
FA 2522

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