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Temple of Divine Trajan

"Although he built countless buildings everywhere, he himself never inscribed his own name on them except on the temple of his father Trajan."

Augustan History (Hadrian, IX.9)

With shafts of gray granite six feet in diameter, of which two fragments survive (as well as a single white marble capital), the Temple of Divine Trajan would have been as large as that of Mars Ultor, which may have served as its model. It usually is reconstructed as being backed against the precinct wall, with columns on three sides (octastyle peripteral sine postico). The temple also has been described as octastyle peripteral (eight columns along all four sides) and octastyle pseudo-dipteral, in which either engaged columns around the cella give the impression of a second, inner row of columns or the inner range of columns of a dipteral temple actually are omitted to provide more space between the cella wall and the outer range. An inscription indicates that the temple was dedicated to the deified Trajan and probably to Plotina, his wife, after her own death about AD 122, but Hadrian's titles on the fragment allow for a date anywhere from AD 119 to 128.

How the complex related to the libraries and Column of Trajan is not known, although the size of the temple and richness of materials suggest that it was designed to complement the column.

The temple has not been excavated but is shown on coins as raised on a high podium, with eight columns across the principle façade and a broad flight of stairs flanked by statues, possibly of Victory and Peace. In front, there is a large altar and, on either side of the temple, colonnades. A cult statue is depicted within, presumably of Trajan, and, in the pediment, a central figure, also assumed to be of Trajan, and two reclining ones. Acroteria include a figure at the apex of the pediment, which resembles the cult statue, and winged victories at the corners.

Reference: Lives of the Later Caesars (1976) translated by Anthony Birley (Penguin Classics).

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