East front of temple and altar, looking N, Poseidonia, "Temple of Pos...

North side of pronaos, tipped step block, looking NE, Poseidonia, "Te...

View of houses in N part of city, with "Temple of Neptune" in ba...

Overview of temple, looking NNW, Poseidonia, "Temple of Neptune"...

East front of temple, Poseidonia, "Temple of Poseidon", Paestum

Upper part of E front of temple, Poseidonia, "Temple of Poseidon"...

Context: Poseidonia
Type: Temple
Summary: Temple dedicated to Hera, adjacent to the older Temple of Hera I in the southern religious sanctuary of the site.
Date: ca. 460 BC

Overall dimensions of stylobate 24.26 m. x 59.98 m. Dimensions of cella building 13.49 m. x ca. 45.30 m. Width of ptera 4.83 m. (east); 4.38 m. (west). Axial intercolumniation of exterior columns: 4.47 m. (fronts); 4.295 (contracted intercolumniation at front corners); 4.50 m. (flanks); ca. 4.36 m. (contracted intercolumniation at flank corners). Lower column diameter of exterior columns 2.11 m. (fronts); 2.04 m. (flanks); lower column diameter of upper columns of interior colonnade 1.49 m. Height of exterior columns 8.88 m.

If the proposed unit of measurement of 30 cm. = 1F is accepted, derived from an average intercolumniation of 4.50 m., de Waele 1980, 399, the proportions of the temple can be expressed as follows: overall dimensions 81 x 200 F; dimensions of cella 45 x 135 F; width of ptera 16 F (east), 14 F (west); axial intercolumniation 15F; lower column diameter 7.5 F; height of exterior columns 29.5 F; height of entablature 10 F.

Region: Campania
Period: Classical

Architectural Order:



The temple is peristyle, with 6 x 14 columns, a distyle in antis pronaos, and a distyle in antis opisthodomos. To the right of the cella door, a staircase led to the roof; to the left was a small utility room. Inside the cella, a double colonnade of seven columns divides the cella into a nave and two side aisles. Above the lower colonnade, an upper colonnade of smaller columns helps support the roof. Double angle contraction is employed in the temple: the corner intercolumniations at the flanks and fronts are reduced, in order for the triglyphs in the frieze above to be centered over the columns. This contraction is distributed over the first two intercolumniations at the corners. Certain optical refinements are also employed: the stylobate is curved upwards slightly towards the center, to avoid an impression of sagging; the horizontal cornices are also slightly curved; and the columns incline slightly inwards. These features suggest that the architect was influenced by developments in mainland Greek architecture.

Date Description:

The evidence for the date of the temple is based on perceived similarities between it and the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, known to have been completed by 457 B.C. The optical refinements throughout the temple suggest that the architect was aware of developments in Doric architecture on the mainland, although an attempt to date the temple to after the construction of the Parthenon (Gottlieb 1953, 95-101), has generally not been accepted.


The temple was constructed in ca. 460 B.C. There is no evidence of substantial later repairs or restorations, with the exception of the addition of a semicircular flight of steps at the east fac\ade in the Roman period. Although the cella walls were removed to provide building material in the Byzantine period, the temple today is extremely well-preserved, with all columns of the peristyle in situ, and the superstructure preserved up to the horizontal and raking cornices.

Other Notes:

The temple contains some archaizing features, such as the low profile of the echinus of the column capitals, the use of 24 flutes on the columns instead of the canonical 20, the presence of fourteen columns along the flanks instead of thirteen, and the generally squat proportions of the columns and entablature. However, the optical refinements, and the knowledge of the theory of angle contraction, compensate for these archaizing features and lend a dynamic and harmonious aspect to the temple. The temple is devoid of sculptural decoration: neither the metopes nor the pediments were sculpted.

Due to its large size, the temple was believed by early travellers to have been dedicated to Poseidon, titular divinity of the site of Poseidonia. The presence of numerous terracotta votive reliefs, however, indicate that the temple was the second temple to be dedicated to Hera at Paestum, adjacent to the Temple of Hera I, the so-called Basilica at the site. Unlike other temples at the site, which combine Ionic and Doric architectural features, the Temple of Hera II is purely Doric, perhaps the only concession to the Ionic order being the absence of regulae and guttae above the architrave, and in their place a continuous crowning molding.

Other Bibliography:

Koldewey and Puchstein 1899, 24-31, pl. 4; Krauss 1943, 44-63; Gottlieb 1953, 95-101; Sestieri 1953, 14-18; Dinsmoor 1975, 110-111; de Waele 1980, 388-394; Lawrence 1983, 181-4; Pedley 1990, 81-88.