Temple of Saturn
Dedicated in the 490s B.C., the Temple of Saturn is the oldest sacred place in Rome after the Temples of Vesta and Jupiter. It was rebuilt in 42 B.C. and again, in the fourth century A.D. The temple's high podium and the columns of the porch can still be seen. The state treasury was located here. Saturn's cult statue was filled with oil and bound with woolen bonds. The festival of the cult was held each year on December 17, the Saturnalia. The woolen bonds were taken off, public gambling was allowed, and a public banquet was held, ending with a shout of &ldquoIo Saturnalia!&rdquo In Roman homes, slaves and masters reversed roles at meal-time, with the masters waiting on the slaves. The holiday, which lasted for seven days, has been called Rome's most popular.
Temple of Saturn, Roman Forum - History
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Temple of Saturn, Rome
The Temple of Saturn is, without a doubt, the most iconic structure on the Roman Forum, with its monumental columns being the postcard image of the legendary ruins. It sits at the base of the Capitoline Hill, next to the Arch of Septimius Severus.
The history of the temple starts in the 5th century BC when it was built by Tarquinius, the last king of the city-state of Rome prior to the rebellion that led to the establishment of the Roman Republic. The structure endured several modifications since and what we see today is the latest restoration following the devastating fire that took place in the 3rd century BC.
After serving as a temple of Saturn, it then housed, at some point, a bank, which is only logical given that Saturn was the god of wealth and abundance. The Romans also worshiped him as the god of agriculture. Later, as they embraced the Greek pantheon of gods, Saturn was identified with Kronos and became the highest ranking of the Roman deities, at par with Jupiter. With the winter solstice also being in high regard by the Romans, the week-long winter festival they celebrated, marking the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere, was called Saturnalia. The final day of the festival, known as the day of "the invincible sun", fell upon December 25. The festival involved lavish feasting and exchange of gifts, quite similar to the contemporary Christmas tradition.
The last standing eight majestic Ionic columns of the temple produce the impression of grandeur that is usually associated with Rome. Facing them up close, one can truly feel like a tiny speck of sand in the endless ocean of time.
Why You Should Visit:
An excellent psychological "shake-up", along with other Roman Forum sites.
Try and view reconstructed images to really appreciate how the temple must have been in ancient times.
Daily: 8:30am-4:30pm (Jan 2–Feb 15) 8:30am-5pm (Feb 16–Mar 15) 8:30am-5:30pm (Mar 16–last Sat of March) 8:30am-7:15pm (last Sun of March–Aug 31) 8:30am-7pm (Sep 1–30) 8:30am-6:30pm (Oct 1–last Sat of Oct) 8:30am-4:30pm (last Sun of Oct–Dec 31)
Last admission always one hour before closing time. CLOSED: Dec 25, Jan 1.
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Temple of Saturn
As the seat of all the wealth of Rome, the Temple of Saturn, built on Capitoline Hill in the Forum Romanum, provided an appropriately grand setting as Rome’s treasure house. The Temple was first built around 497 B.C.E. in the Roman architectural style that was heavily influenced by Ionic and Greek architecture. While there were specific building requirements for Roman temples, the style changed with each reconstruction. The first rendition of the temple was built with columns in the Corinthian style which was very similar to the Ionic style of columns except for the capitals (at the base and top of the columns) which were wider than the columns as opposed to the Corinthian style which were the same width as the column. Vitruvius states, “Corinthian columns have all their proportions like the Ionic, with the exception of their capitals.” The temple was rebuilt by aedile L. Munatius Plancus in 42 B.C.E. This version of the temple was destroyed in a fire in 283 C.E. and was rebuilt for the third time under the rule of Emperor Diocletian using the Ionic style for the columns. In all renditions, the Temple of Saturn had the peripteral or six column structural elements in front and back. The decision to use the Temple to house the treasury has been attributed to Saturn being related to the agricultural wealth of Rome. “Because of the link of Saturn with agriculture, the original source of Rome’s wealth, the temple was the repository for the State treasury…” Temple of Saturn. The Aerarium, or treasury, housed in the temple was not always used for its original purpose. In times of war the Consuls could raid it for additional funds as was the case under Hannibal (247
183 B.C.E.) and Julius Caesar (100 – 44 B.C.E.). While it was rebuilt several times over the centuries, its Ionic columned portico is one of the few surviving pieces still standing in the old Roman Forum today.
Tenney, Frank. “The Sacred Treasure and the Rate of Manumission.” The American Journal of Philology, Vol. 53, No. 4 (1932), pp. 360-363
University of Chicago. “Temple of Saturn.” Accessed February 16, 2014 http://penelope.uchicago.edu/
Vitruvius, On Architecture, Translated by Frank Granger. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962.
 Vitruvius, On Architecture, trans. Frank Granger (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1962), 203
Roman temples are another major attraction in the capital city of Italy. Some of the Roman temples that are most significant in the history of Rome, including the Roman Forum Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Jupiter Stator, and the Temple of Castor and Pollux, are all located within the Roman Forum, easily one of the most popular attractions in the whole city. If you already have plans to visit the Forum, you will be able to see some of the Roman temples mentioned above along with other such as the Temple of the Vestals, monuments, and public buildings.
The Romans had many temples to worship their Pagan gods. The Temple of Jupiter was used to worship the Roman equivalent of Greek's Zeus, king of the gods and grandfather to Rome's founders, Remus and Romulus. The Temple of Mars was the place to implore the God of War for victory on the battlefield, and ancient Romans worshiped at the Temple of Apollo to discern predictions and prophecies of the future. Many key temples that are still around today are located in the Roman Forum or even in private homes on the Palatine Hill where Roman's often had private places of worship.
The ancient Roman temple ruins that can be found within the modern city of Rome today hearken back to a time when Roman Paganism was the order of the day, centuries before Constantine and the early Christians brought another brand of religion to the table. It would only be a matter of years after this happened that the one-time Roman Empire was plunged into the dark ages and sacked. Many believe that the ushering in of Christianity and the concomitant discouragement of free thinking led to this demise. One can only imagine the progress that would have been made and the strides that could have been taken for humanity if the switch from Paganism to Christianity had not brought along with it such myopic views, fear-based doctrine, and power hungry leaders.
Places like the Roman Forum Temple of Saturn were used by Roman Pagans to perform various rites and ceremonies, usually that involved an animal sacrifice. More often than not this part of the ceremony would be conducted outside so as to make the whole affair easier to clean up. The Roman temples did not tend to be too large and served the practical purpose of being the meeting place for offering sacrifices to the pagan gods. Ancient Roman temple ruins tell the story of the ancient Romans who would gather to pray to gods such as Jupiter, Neptune, Apollo, and Cupid.
The Roman Forum Temple of Saturn is located on the west end of the Forum. It is an monument to Saturn, the agricultural god of the ancient Romans. All that remains of what was once a massive temple is the columns and various bits of the front portico and the pediment. It is still a hugely popular attraction within the confines of an even more popular attraction, the Roman Forum.
If you are making plans to visit Rome, you should consider traveling around to the various ancient Roman temple ruins. These are some of the most ancient and historically significant vestiges of the time when Rome was the preeminent empire in the world.
When you visit Rome, you will have many kinds of sites at your disposal to explore, a vast collection of galleries, museums, churches, and ancient Roman temple ruins. It could take months on end to visit all of the popular sights, so it is worth it to take some time in advance of your trip to prioritize what it is you absolutely do not want to miss. For many people, attractions like the Forum, Pantheon, and Colosseum are all a foregone conclusion.
Temple of Saturn was the first temple built in the Forum Romanum in Rome in 498 BCE. It had an important role in the Saturnalia, and the cellar housed the Roman treasury.
The Temple of Saturn (Templum Saturni or Aedes Saturnus) is the oldest temple in the Forum Romanum, consecrated for the first time in c. 498 BCE. It is located in the W. end of the Forum, behind the Rostra and the Basilica Julia, across the Clivus Capitolinus from the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.
There have been three temples dedicated to Saturn on the location. The first was built in the last years of the Roman Kingdom, but was first consecrated in the first decade of the Roman Republic. Very little is known about this archaic temple, but it was probably Etruscan in style, just as the contemporary Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus on the Capitolium.
The first temple was torn down in 42 BCE and a new temple built in stone, by the aedile L. Munatius Plancus. The tall, massive, travertine clad podium, measuring 40×22.5m with a height of 9m, is from this building. This temple was in turn destroyed by the fire of 283 CE, which destroyed major parts of the Forum Romanum.
The temple was reconstructed under Diocletian after the fire, but the ground plan and podium from 42 BCE was retained. The temple was of the Ionic order with six columns on the facade. The eight surviving columns of red and grey granite are from this third temple, which largely used recycled material—not all columns, bases and capitals match stylistically.
The inscription on the architrave is also from this period. It reads: “Senatus populusque romanus incendio consumptum restituit” meaning “The Roman senate and people restored what fire had consumed”.
In front of the podium, under the now collapsed stairway, were two rooms, one of which served as the Aerarium, the State Treasury. On the side of the podium holes remain from where a plate was attached for the posting of public documents and acts pertinent to the Aerarium.
The location of the Temple of Saturn relative to other surviving structures
An altar dedicated to Saturn, the Ara Saturni, stood in front of the temple, on the other side of the road that passes just in front of the temple. The remains of this altar are now under a roof just in front of the Umbilicus Urbis Romae, near the Arch of Septimius Severus. See this map on the right for an illustration of the probable location of the altar.
Inside the temple stood a statue of of Saturn, which would be carried in procession when triumphs were celebrated. The feast of the Saturnalia on December 17th was a part of the cult of Saturn and was started with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn.
Saturn and Lead
The Roman god Saturn was most frequently associated with agriculture, wealth, and plenty. The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum also housed the state treasury and a holiday known as Saturnalia was dedicated to the deity. However, Saturn also had darker and mercurial aspects. To Romans, he was synonymous with the Greek titan Cronus, who devoured his children and castrated his father, Uranus. His name was even associated with the symptoms of lead poisoning, as those suffering from the malady were called saturnine. Another peculiar link is that the Romans named the slowest-moving planet they knew of after a god who represented a metal that we know to cause severe developmental and neurological disabilities.
“The name [Saturnine] derives from the Middle Ages, when certain soils, elements and metals were given the names of planets according to their perceived nature. The technical name for lead was “Saturn”, as it was astrologically associated with a slow, cold, sombre temperament”
— François Retief, Lead Poisoning in Ancient Rome
Temples in The Roman Forum: Interesting Facts
The city of Rome sparkles with so many ancient wonders that one single trip would not be enough to uncover their secrets. The Foro Romano, or, which is universally popular as the Roman Forum is steeped in history. This is why we always suggest a Tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum so you can delve deeper into its amazing past. The Roman Forum used to be a melting pot of religion, politics, social and commercial activities. The ancient temples, structures and ruins are well worth a visit any day as they all have intriguing tales to tell. So, before you pack your bags, pause and learn about some of the magnificent temples that dotted this place when it throbbed with bustling lives.
The temple ruins that are found in the forum are relics of a past when these mighty monuments were constructed not only for gods but also for mighty men. Let us explore some of the most iconic ones.
The Roman Forum
The Temple of Vesta: Welcome to the temple of Vesta, that was the home to the sacred fire which the six Vestals guarded. Vesta was the goddess of the home, family, and health, and the sacred fire was the symbol of the safety of the Romans along with their prosperity. The temple was circular in shape as opposed to the rectangular constructional style of that era. An interesting fact about this temple is, it used to be a storage of valuable documents like wills.
The Temple of Saturn: This magnificent temple was built around 497 B.C., in dedication to Saturn, who was the god of agriculture. It happens to be the oldest temple in the Forum and there is an interesting fact about this temple that you should know, this temple was also used as a bank or, a treasury, where the wealth of Rome was kept. This temple got rebuilt again and again, as it was gutted by fire a couple of times. However, now only the iconic 8 columns stand bearing the traces of the past glory.
The Temple of Saturn
The Temple of Venus and Rome: This temple was built by Emperor Hadrian, and was dedicated to Venus Felix and Roma Aeterna. The former brought about good fortune, and the latter symbolized Eternal Rome. Apart from being one of the largest temples in the Forum, it had a magnificent design and contained statues of Venus Felix and Roma Aeterna. The temple got destroyed during the 9th century due to an earthquake.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux: Another ancient temple of the Roman Forum, was the temple of Castor and Pollux, who were the twin demi-gods, and was constructed around 484 B.C. A podium and three remaining columns now stand proud to mark the spot where the twin brothers once appeared.
The Temple of Castor and Pollux
The Temple of Caesar: The name does ring a bell and yes, you are right this temple was built to honor the man and legend, Julius Caesar who was cremated on that spot. This temple was built in 29 B.C. by Emperor Augustus, who initiated the custom of deifying leaders by building this temple to honor Caesar as a deity.
The Temple of Romulus: This temple was another monument constructed with the purpose of deification. This time around it was built in memory of Romulus, who was the son of Maxentius, and died at a young age. This circular temple was built around A.D. 307, however, this Romulus was not the founder of Rome, about whom we read in the myths. Today it is better known as the ‘Basilica Santi Cosma e Damiano’, as it has since been transformed into a Catholic church.
The Temple of Romulus
So, those were some of the legendary temples the Roman Forum proudly housed, now only the ruins of these magnificent constructions remain. The Roman Forum is one of the most important archaeological sites in the western world and it is fun for the whole family to visit so if you are looking for the best family tours in Rome, then a visit to these sites should be high on your list.
The Story of the Temple of Saturn
The story of the Temple of Saturn is a golden story, beginning in a Golden Age, and telling of a golden treasure. It begins in times so far away that man cannot discern things clearly, but, as through a soft summer haze, he may see somewhat of fertile lands, of great forests, of calm rivers he may hear faint echoes of the lowing of cattle, of the call of the hunter, of the laughter of children and thus he may know that the place on which he dreamily gazes is one of both peace and plenty.
That happy land was called Saturnia, because, so the old stories say, among its green hills and valleys a good king, named Saturn, ruled lovingly over his contented people. He taught them how to plant their fields, to build their homes, and to live aright: and in his days all men stood equal and wanted nothing. The people were so joyous and the earth seemed so fair, that it was believed that the god Saturn himself had come to dwell therein and those bright days of the years when the world was young are still spoken of as a Golden Age.
And so the legend grew, and it was said that Saturn's home was on the hill called by the Romans the Capitoline, and that at its foot an altar was raised to him, after he had disappeared from among mankind. This altar was placed there by Hercules, great Jupiter's mighty son, who taught those early people, not only to cease the sacrifice of human beings and to make less cruel offerings to the god, but to pray to him with their heads bare and free. For Hercules, like Saturn himself, had come from the far-off land of Greece, where the customs were unlike those of Italy and thus he honoured the gods after the manner of his country. So it came to pass that in the Temple of Saturn, which in aftertimes stood in this altar's place, men worshipped with their heads unveiled, even as did the Greeks the Roman custom, however, was to draw down the veil, that the sights of the world might not turn the mind from the prayer muttered by the priest during the solemn stillness of the holy rites.
R UINS OF THE F ORUM , END OF THE N INETEENTH C ENTURY
The Temple of Saturn, the oldest temple of the Forum, was begun in the days of Tarquin the Proud, and was built on a natural platform of earth on the side of the hill, and, when temples were made in the Forum to other gods, their foundations were made in imitation of this platform. Thus each of the temples was raised from the ground and was reached by a flight of steps. The number of steps in these flights was always unequal, so that, as an omen of good, the worshipper might put his right foot on the first and on the last step.
But before reaching the steps of the Temple of Saturn, the reverent Roman, coming to offer his sacrifice to the gracious god, first passed through an open space enclosed by a railing. This space was called the Area of Saturn, and, as he went along, the worshipper might stop to read some of the laws that were graven on the stelae, or upright slabs of stone, that stood around the Area. Once, they say, a violent wind arose, and, when its fury was over, many of these stelae had fallen and were in fragments. Then the soothsayers cried out that the end of the Republic was at hand, and among those that heard them many lived to see these words come true.
But if it happened that the worshipper had not time to read the laws, he who truly honoured the gods would still linger a moment before the statue of Silvanus, which stood in the Area beneath the shade of a fig tree. For Silvanus was akin to Saturn, aiding him in his care over the fields and the forests, and having as his own special charge the boundaries of the farm, such as those of the pastures and of the cornfields. The fig tree, near the statue of Silvanus, grew so large that its roots spread under the image, so that it was in danger of falling. To prevent this disaster, the tree was taken up, after prayers and sacrifices by the priestesses of Vesta, whose duty it was to attend all such solemn rites.
And now, at last, the worshipper, having paid his devotions before the altars that also stood in the Area, mounted the steps and entered the Temple of Saturn itself. Over its entrance were carved the figures of two Tritons, creatures half men, half fish, holding aloft large shells, as if to blow a warning note. Now the Tritons obeyed the commands of Neptune, god of the boundless sea, and, as over his blue domain they rode the white sea-horses, they wound their big shell-trumpets to still the rough, restless waves. Across the waters from Greece they had safely escorted Saturn, and their figures on his temple seemed still to guard him, and as if ready to quiet all disturbance that might come near the sacred place.
Within the temple stood the statue of Saturn, immortal protector of the earth's precious increase. His image was made hollow, but was filled with the oil from the olive, for did he not have the green world under his care? and in his hand was a sickle, for did he not reward work with rich harvests? and about his feet were bound ribbons of wool, for did he not also guard the animals of the farm?
So it was Saturn that watched over the wealth of the early Roman people, for in those days their riches lay in their fields and in their flocks. Then when the Romans had grown greater, and their wealth was counted, not in golden stores of grain, but in shining bars of gold itself, what more natural than that Saturn should still guard it, and that, even as other gods had in their care other treasures, he should have in his temple the public riches of the whole Roman nation?
Now in the first days of the Republic there was a consul named Valerius, who, because of the help he rendered the people, became known as "Poplicola," or the "People's Friend." He it was who ordered that the money belonging to the State should be placed for safe keeping in a strong-room made under the floor of the Temple of Saturn for Rome was not only growing larger, but was constantly at war, and much money was needed both for the city and for the army. So each citizen gave to the nation according to his means, and for this reason Poplicola allowed the people themselves to elect as treasurers two young men called quaestors. These officers were under the direction of the Senate, and thus the Aerarium, or Treasury of Rome, was watched over by both the god and the government.
At first, the money placed in the Treasury was only bars of copper, on each of which was stamped some figure, as of an ox, a sheep, or a fowl, for in the early times all debts had been paid and all exchanges had been made with such animals. Later, rough copper coins were made, and some of them bore on one side the head of Janus, on the other the ship that had brought Saturn to Italy. Still later silver and gold were used. For many years all payments were made by weight—as at the time when the Romans weighed out the ransom demanded by Brennus, the Gaul—and scales were kept in the temple for this purpose.
Besides the money, both in bars and in coin, the quaestors had charge also of certain records of importance to the nation. Under their care were the accounts of public expenses, reports from all generals and governors of provinces also sentences of death, names of ambassadors from strange lands, and the general record of births and deaths. But the quaestors had in their care another charge, one more precious than gold, more important than records, for in the Aerarium of the Temple of Saturn were also kept the Roman standards—emblems of the nation's courage, honour, and power. The earliest standard under which the Romans went forth to conquer Was a simple bundle of hay, placed on the top of a long pole, for they were farmer-soldiers and fought for their lands as well as for the glory of their country. But when Rome's name was mightiest, a golden eagle, holding in its claws a thunderbolt, was carried aloft before her victorious hosts.
To follow the standards wherever the nation's glory or honour called was the chief duty of a Roman, and no pleasure, no trouble, was great enough to keep him from obeying. Once, when a deadly pestilence had stricken Rome for two long years, and the people were overcome with sickness and sadness, certain of their enemies dared to carry their attacks close to the distressed city. Angered at this advantage taken of their weakness, yet alarmed at their peril, the Romans appointed a dictator. By his orders the Roman standards were brought from the Temple of Saturn, and, in the grey of the morning, were borne beyond the gates. And there every Roman who had strength enough left to carry arms rallied in answer to his country's need, and offered his life to save the city and to protect the helpless sick and dying. Such men can never be conquered, and the standards were soon brought back to Rome in triumph.
After a time, the quaestors had yet one more charge given to them, for they were made also the guardians of the "sacred gold" of Rome. When the victorious Gauls had humbled Roman pride, the wisest among the magistrates took counsel together and decided that a fund should be put aside against times of extreme need, such as another war with those dreaded enemies from the north, or in case of any other pressing necessity of the State. This fund was called the Aerarium Sanctius, or the Sacred Treasury, and was also in the Temple of Saturn, where it was most jealously guarded. It was, however, entirely separate from the general treasure, and the money, which was in bars of gold, amounted to enormous sums as the years went on.
As their wealth grew greater, the Romans did not forget to honour the god in whose temple their treasure was so safely kept, but worshipped Saturn faithfully and once a year celebrated a great feast in his name. This was the Saturnalia, which took place in December, after the grain was garnered and when man was ready for rest and for enjoyment and the people were commanded by the Senate to observe this festival forever. It began with a sacrifice to Saturn in his temple, and was followed by a public feast, at the end of which the people gave themselves over to every kind of pleasure. It was as though men strove to recall once more the Golden Age, for during the Saturnalia they all stood equal and joyous freedom ruled the hour. Slaves were waited upon by their masters, prisoners were set at liberty, even criminals were pardoned, and no battles were fought during that happy time, which lasted for seven days.
Next to their faith in the power of the god to guard the nation's riches, was the confidence of the Roman people in the surety of the government to pay all the nation's debts and such was their pride that, even to themselves, they would not acknowledge that the Treasury of Rome could fail. When the magistrates proclaimed that, on account of the expenses of the army during the war with the Carthaginians, there was no money left with which to make needed repairs in the city, the citizens, and especially the Plebeians, would not have the work stopped. The workmen themselves were the first to come forward to say that they would not ask for pay until the war was over, and soon after the money of widows, and of those that were under age, was placed in trust in the Treasury, to show the confidence of even the most unprotected. So great was the enthusiasm that the soldiers also refused their pay, and every Roman of every class vied with his neighbour to prove his pride and his trust in the Treasury of the Republic.
This, indeed, was not the only time that the Treasury was refilled by the united action of the people, for, during the war with Philip of Macedon, again the Romans supplied the wants of the State. The army had been made ready, but men were needed to row the fleet for the Roman ships were not like our ships, which are driven by powerful machinery, but were moved by huge sails, aided by strong men at long oars. Now there was no money in the Treasury with which to hire these rowers, and without the fleet, how could the coast be protected? The Senate proclaimed that a tax be placed upon private citizens, and that each man, according to his wealth, bring money to the Treasury. But the people were weary of paying for an army whose victories, although bringing glory to Rome, ended by leaving themselves poorer so they came into the Forum in immense multitudes, and complained bitterly of the injustice of the tax. Upon this, another meeting of the Senate was held. The magistrates looked helplessly at one another. No money in the Treasury, no money from the people. What then was to be done? As they were still considering this matter, there rose from among them the wise Consul Laevinus, who thus addressed the assembly:—
"Those of high station and of noble name should set a right example to those of low condition and of humble birth. We should first do willingly ourselves what we would ask others to perform. So let us, senators and nobles of Rome, put into the public Treasury all of our gold, silver, and, coined brass, only reserving those things which, being signs of our station, are due to our families. And let us do this before passing a decree upon the people, so that our zeal for the welfare of the Republic may inspire them by its pure ardour."
In reply to these noble words, the Senate moved a warm vote of thanks to Laevinus, and then each member hastened to carry his gold, silver, and brass to the Temple of Saturn. With so much goodwill did every man bring his portion, and with so much eagerness did he endeavour to have his name first upon the public register, that the clerks were hard pressed to enter all the contributions. Then, seeing the generosity of the nobles, the people were ashamed and quickly brought to the Treasury all that they were able to give. Thus, without any decree, or any use of force by the Senate, the fleet was provided with rowers, and more than this, a fund was added for their future support.
R ESTORATION OF THE T EMPLE OF S ATURN .
There was only one man that had no respect for either the god or the government protecting the Treasury of Rome, and yet he was the greatest Roman of them all. Forcing all things and all men to aid him in carrying out his mighty plans, Julius Caesar, needing large sums of money for his army, seized upon this gold of the Aerarium Sanctius itself. This was not done, however, without much opposition from both the Quaestors and the Tribunes, the magistrates of the Plebeians. But turning them all aside, Caesar went into the Temple of Saturn and approached the Aerarium. Then one of the tribunes, named Metellus, placed himself against the locked doors, and cried out that Caesar was breaking the laws of Rome, and that only through his own dead body should the sacred gold of the people be reached. At this, the great Conqueror grew angry and scornfully replied:—
"There is, O Metellus, a time for law, and there is also a time for war. When the last is over, I will speak with thee about the first. Rome and her people are now mine, and I shall do with all even as I will."
Having said this, Caesar asked for the keys, but these no man was able to find so he sent for smiths, who forced open the strong doors. Before he passed the threshold, however, Metellus spoke once more in warning and in entreaty, and some in the crowd around encouraged him. But Caesar, raising his voice so that all should hear, made only a short reply.
"If thou disturb me further, I will kill thee," he said calmly and this, O rash man, is harder for me to say than to do!"
Whereupon Metellus shrank back in fear, and Caesar possessed himself of the most precious riches of the Roman people. And men said that, for the first time, Rome was poorer than Caesar—for he had many debts. Yet in making the city poorer for the moment, Caesar enriched the nation for all time for with his army he went forth conquering and to conquer, and the boundaries of Rome were widened until they reached from sea to sea.
Augustus, the next great Master of Rome, had the Temple of Saturn enlarged and beautified but after his day there came a long pause in its story. The emperors had their own treasury, and, as their power grew, that of the State faded. The time of the people had gone by. In the reign of Carinus, a most wicked emperor, a great fire injured Saturn's temple, and after this it was restored, but hastily, and without care. Over the entrance were placed the letters S. P. Q. R., to show that the work had been done under the direction of the Senate and the People of Rome for the next emperor, Diocletian, being a Christian, would not put his name on the temple of a god whom he denied. Soon the worship of all the gods was forbidden, and the temple was no longer used even as a Treasury and little by little it fell into ruins.
Eight columns of the portico now stand upon a part of the foundation, and these, with some steps that perhaps led to the Aerarium, are all that can be seen to-day of Saturn's ancient shrine.
The god of the Golden Age has deserted his temple, the Golden Treasure has been taken away, and the Golden story is ended.