Before collapsing in 1688, the pronaon of the Temple of Castor and Pollux (I-II century a. C.) was among the most admired ancient monument in Naples. It was considered a summa of the whole ancient history of the town, from its Greek origins to Roman imperial time and later to the conversion to the Christians. The temple and the Greek inscription carved on the frieze of its entablature were object of interest and study from the twelfth century until the seventeenth century by local antiquarians and foreign scholars. In the eight century a Christian church was built behind the columns of the ancient temple. In 1538 this church was chosen by Giampietro Carafa (1476-1559), future pope Paolo IV (1555-1559), to house the new religious order he had founded (1524) together with Gaetano da Thiene (1480-1547), the Theatins. Carafa is known mostly for his fight against heresy and Protestantism, than for its love for arts and antiquity. Nevertheless, in order to explain the reasons for choosing San Paolo, he clearly referred to the ancient remains of the temple by noting that the church was in “the most famous place of the town” (“celeberrimo urbis loco”). This essay will show how the construction of the new Theatin church gave a new meaning to the ancient remains: from living testimony of the magnificent ancient past of the city, the pronaon of the Temple of the Dioscuri gradually became a signum of the power of the Christian Church over the Pagan religion. The relation between antiquity and Christianity during the Counter Reformation period has been not been fully investigated by the architectural historians. The building history of new Theatin church of San Paolo Maggiore reveals the slow but radical change in the way antiquity was regarded from the early sixteenth century to the beginning of the next century. In 1538 the Church and the temple were still separated by a garden: even if they were two different buildings, the ancient remains were enough to give prestige to the church. In 1576-78 the Theatins rebuilt the stairs at the entrance of the temple and placed over the door on top of the stairs the following new inscription: “Ex dirutis marmoribus Castori, et Polluci falsis diis dicatis nunc Petro, et Paulo veri divis ad faciliorem ascensum opus faciendum curarunt clerici regulares. MDLXXVII”. Antiquity had to be conquered again by Christians in order to be accepted and history began a part of the present.

'Ex dirutis marmoribus' : The Theatines and the Columns of the Temple of the Dioscuri in Naples

LENZO, FULVIO
2015

Abstract

Before collapsing in 1688, the pronaon of the Temple of Castor and Pollux (I-II century a. C.) was among the most admired ancient monument in Naples. It was considered a summa of the whole ancient history of the town, from its Greek origins to Roman imperial time and later to the conversion to the Christians. The temple and the Greek inscription carved on the frieze of its entablature were object of interest and study from the twelfth century until the seventeenth century by local antiquarians and foreign scholars. In the eight century a Christian church was built behind the columns of the ancient temple. In 1538 this church was chosen by Giampietro Carafa (1476-1559), future pope Paolo IV (1555-1559), to house the new religious order he had founded (1524) together with Gaetano da Thiene (1480-1547), the Theatins. Carafa is known mostly for his fight against heresy and Protestantism, than for its love for arts and antiquity. Nevertheless, in order to explain the reasons for choosing San Paolo, he clearly referred to the ancient remains of the temple by noting that the church was in “the most famous place of the town” (“celeberrimo urbis loco”). This essay will show how the construction of the new Theatin church gave a new meaning to the ancient remains: from living testimony of the magnificent ancient past of the city, the pronaon of the Temple of the Dioscuri gradually became a signum of the power of the Christian Church over the Pagan religion. The relation between antiquity and Christianity during the Counter Reformation period has been not been fully investigated by the architectural historians. The building history of new Theatin church of San Paolo Maggiore reveals the slow but radical change in the way antiquity was regarded from the early sixteenth century to the beginning of the next century. In 1538 the Church and the temple were still separated by a garden: even if they were two different buildings, the ancient remains were enough to give prestige to the church. In 1576-78 the Theatins rebuilt the stairs at the entrance of the temple and placed over the door on top of the stairs the following new inscription: “Ex dirutis marmoribus Castori, et Polluci falsis diis dicatis nunc Petro, et Paulo veri divis ad faciliorem ascensum opus faciendum curarunt clerici regulares. MDLXXVII”. Antiquity had to be conquered again by Christians in order to be accepted and history began a part of the present.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11578/252899
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