"Castor and Pollux" Capitoline Hill - Campidoglio Tip by jungles

Capitoline Hill - Campidoglio, Rome: 86 reviews and 145 photos

  Castor (or is it Pollux?) on the Campidoglio
by jungles

Castor and Pollux originally come from Greek mythology and were later borrowed by the Romans, as is the case with almost the entire pantheon of Roman mythology. They were twin brothers born as the result of the god Zeus taking the form of a swan and seducing the mortal Leda. Thus the twins are only half-immortal. They are also referred to as the Dioscuri or as the Gemini, which means twins in Latin. The Gemini constellation (and zodiac sign) is named after them, and its two brightest stars are named Castor and Pollux.

In Rome they were credited with helping the young Roman Republic win a battle against its enemy the Latins, and so a temple was built in honour of them in the Roman Forum in 484 B.C. Several other temples to them were built in Rome throughout its history. Michelangelo's design called for two ancient sculpures of the twins, recovered from an ancient temple, to be placed at the top of the Cordonata. Two statues stand there today, but in fact they are not the ones Michelangelo had in mind. Those statues ended up in the piazza in front of the Palazzo del Quirinale under one of Rome's obelisks. The two on the Campidoglio are also ancient statues that have been heavily restored, though they are from a different temple. If you look closely you will see many cracks where the broken pieces were put together.

In modern times, the twins' names were used in the John Woo movie Face/Off, in which Nicholas Cage plays Castor Troy, a terrorist whose partner-in-crime is his twin brother Pollux.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 3, 2006
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