Castor and Pollux


Dioscuri , Castor and Pollux, statue, Rome, Italy

Public Art : Castor and Pollux statues

Also known As : Dioscuri

Sculptor: Unknown

Date: Unknown

Description: Two marble statues depicting Castor and Pollux. Both naked figures are featured with their trusty steads. One of the statues is 5.5m tall while the other is 5.8m tall.

Location: Perched on the top of the stairs of the Piazza del Campidoglio, Capitoline Museum, Rome, Italy (Capitoline Hill, the smallest of the seven hills). 

History of the Castor and Pollux Statues : The entrance to the piazza outside the Capitoline Museum is guarded by the statues of Castor and Pollux. The statues were placed in the piazza in 1583 after being discovered during excavations in 1567 . Originally Michaeangelo had wanted the Castor and Pollux statues from the  Piazza del Quirinale to adorn the square but had great opposition from Pope Gregory XIII who had just commenced building the Papal summer palace.

Background of Dioscuri: Castor and Pollux were twin brothers in Greek legend and are often referred to as Dioscuri, the "sons of Zeus". Castor was said to be mortal and a skilled horse tamer whilst Pollux was believed to be immortal and a skilled boxer. On Castor death Pollux prayed to Zeus that he share his own immortality with Castor. Zeus granted his request and they were transported to the sky as constellations and became guardians of mariners, the Gemini.
In Roman legend it is believed that divine intervention by the brothers resulted in a Roman victory at the battle of Lake Regillus. A temple in the Roman Forum and many statues were erected in their honour.

fig leaf campaign, Castor and Pollux statues, Rome, public artTrivia : One of the statues has a fig leaf covering his privates. This was part of the "fig leaf campaign" of the 1500s lead by the Roman Catholic Church, who were horrified at the nudity depicted in Renaissance art. As a result many naked statues were covered descretely with a plaster fig leaf. Queen Victoria was also a great advocate of the  "fig leaf campaign" during her reign. When the copy of Michelangelo's David was displayed in London she demanded it be fig leafed.

When the statues were unearthed near the Circus Flaminius they were found in pieces. The heads had to be restored. The one on the left entirely, while the other just his nose, chin and hair.

Some believe the statues depict Augustus's grandsons Gaius and Lucius who were referred to as Castor and Pollux when they were alive.

 Castor and Pollux statue, Rome, Italy

Castor and Pollux statue, Rome, Italy, public art

Castor and Pollux, Rome, Italy




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