By Dr Nigel Pollard
Last updated 2011-02-17
As the city-state of Rome grew in size and importance, it came increasingly into contact with the Greek world, initially through trading and encounters with the Greek colonies of southern Italy and Sicily, and eventually (in the second century BC) through the conquest of Greece itself.
These new cultural contacts affected Roman religion in a number of ways. Romans came to equate some of their gods with Greek equivalents of similar character - Jupiter with the Greek Zeus, Juno with Hera, Mars with Ares; they also adopted some original Greek cults.
One such cult was that of Apollo, who was associated, amongst other things, with the sun, music and prophecy. The first temple to Apollo in Rome was built in the fifth century BC.
The image shown here is that of a terracotta plaque depicting one of the Greek myths associated with Apollo, namely his successful struggle with the hero Hercules for control of the sanctuary at Delphi in Greece (symbolised here by the Delphic tripod). It comes from a much later temple of Apollo, dedicated in 28 BC on the Palatine Hill in Rome by the first emperor Augustus, who considered Apollo to be one of his patron gods.
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