The Temple of Domitian
Built on the slope of the hill south of Ephesus and extending into the center of the city, this prominent temple could be seen from nearly everywhere in Ephesus, including the land and harbor entrances. The Ephesians, who built it to honor their emperor in order to gain the greatest benefits from him, pressured other Ephesians and the province of Asia Minor to declare the emperor “Lord and God.”
Huge columns more than thirty-five feet high supported the two-hundred-by-three-hundred-foot podium on which the temple of Domitian rested. One unusual feature is that these columns had carvings that represented various deities. Apparently the Ephesians designed the podium this way in order to declare that the emperor was supported by all the world’s gods and that he was the culmination of all deity, the final lord of heaven and earth, the god of gods.
Although not large, the forty-by-sixty-foot temple had four columns in the front and a row of columns around the outside (eight in front and back, thirteen on the sides). A large marble altar stood on a raised platform and had a U-shaped colonnade around it with the open end facing the temple. On altars such as this one, the people were required to sprinkle incense to declare that Caesar was lord.
A statue of what is believed to be Domitian stood near the temple and altar. Based on the huge arm and head that have been excavated, researchers believe the statue was twenty-seven feet tall. After Domitian died, he was discredited by the Roman senate, and the temple was rededicated to his beloved father, Vespian, who was emperor from AD 69-79. Today, the ruins reveal the emperor’s great earthly glory and also declare the futility of denying the lordship of the God of the Bible.
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