Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
The Temple, well preserved thanks to the conversion into church (San Lorenzo in Miranda), was dedicated by the emperor Antoninus Pius to the memory of his wife Faustina in 141 AD. When Antoninus died, twenty years later, the Senate added his name to the dedication. Looking at this temple, we can appreciate the difference between Greek and Roman temples. The Greek temples usually have access stairways on each side, while the Roman ones stand on a high podium and the access to the building is provided only by a front staircase. Moreover, the altar is located on the steps, outside the building. This is because the Roman rites were celebrated outside. It was open only once a year, in the dies natalis, the day that remembered the inauguration of the temple, to celebrate the deity owner of the temple. Unlike churches, the ancient temples didn’t have any priest permanently assigned to the daily service. The pontiffs who were responsible for celebrating the Roman rituals moved from time to time in various places of worship where their presence was necessary.
It is generally stated that the signs still visible at the top of the large columns adorning the front of the temple are due to an unsuccessful attempt to bare the building. They would be the tracks left by the rubbing of ropes placed there by predators who wanted to retrieve the marble to reuse it somewhere. However, if this were the case, the signs of friction would be necessarily more profound on the front of the columns, with respect to the rear, and so, indeed, is not. The hypothesis is then that those grooves are due to the support elements of a roof, made evidently close to the colonnade of the temple when the building had fallen into disuse.