The original Pantheon built by Marcus Agrippa was destroyed along with other buildings in the great fire of Rome in 80 AD. The Pantheon was subsequently rebuilt circa 118 AD during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian, however the name of the Agrippa can still be seen inscripted across the facade of the Pantheon. The building was repaired by the emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla in 202 AD, for which there is another, smaller inscription. This inscription reads "with every refinement they restored the Pantheon worn by age'. In 609 the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave the building to Pope Boniface IV who converted the Pantheon into a Christian church. The Pantheon temple is still standing, with little alteration, besides the loss of the old ornaments and statues. The artist Raphael was buried in the Pantheon at his own request, and in recognition of his achievements.
The structure is a hundred and fifty-eight feet high, and about the same width. The facade has the classical appearance of a Roman Temple with a colonnaded portico surmounted by a triangular front. The entrance leads to the interior of the Pantheon and its round shape makes up the supporting drum for the celebrated cupola. A cupola is a rounded vault resting on a usually circular base and forming a roof or a ceiling. The cupola opening, or oculus, is 8.7 meters (29 feet) wide. The opening in the cupola is completely open to the elements and is not covered with glass. Rain water can therefore soak the Pantheon floor and there are rain water drains, which are holes in groups of four, in the floor. At its base, the dome is 23 feet thick, but only two feet thick at the rim of the oculus. The roof of the Pantheon is curiously vaulted, void places being here and there for the greater strength. The rafters were pieces of brass of 40 feet in length. There are no windows in the whole of the Pantheon, only a round hole at the top of the roof, which serves very well for the admission of light. The walls on the inside are either solid marble or incrusted with marble. The front, on the outside, was covered with brazen plates, gilt, the top with silver plates which have now been changed to lead. The brass doors were of extraordinary work and magnitude. The massive 60 tons columns used for the portico were quarried in Egypt. They were transported all the way to Rome using barges. However the columns for the building of the Pantheon were wrongly sized, as can be seen by the size of the building immediately above and backing the portico.
The interior of the Parthenon is surrounded by by large niches which housed statues of Roman Gods. It is round so as to place all gods at the same level of importance. The seven magnificent niches are situated between 2 Corinthian columns where every niche held a statue. These statues were believed to represent the seven gods linked to worship of the planets. The niche in front of the entrance stands out from the rest due to it's greater size and different framing.
The seven astrological planets known to the ancient Romans were the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. It therefore would be a reasonable assumption that the Roman gods affiliated to these planets were depicted in the Pantheon statues. It might also be reasonable to assume that the Pantheon statue of Jupiter (Jove) the king of the gods held the prominent position of all the Pantheon statues. For facts and information about these gods and goddesses please click the appropriate link:
Apollo the God of the Sun
Diana the Goddess of the Moon
Jupiter the King of the Gods
Mars the God of War
Mercury the Messenger of the Gods
Saturn the God of Time
Venus the Goddess of Love
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