Though today we call most Greek religious buildings "temples," the ancient pagans would have referred to a temenos, or sacred precinct. Its sacredness, often connected with a holy grove, was more important than the building itself, as it contained the open air altar on which the sacrifices were made. The building which housed the cult statue in its naos was originally a rather simple structure, but by the middle of the 6th century BCE had become increasingly elaborate. Greek temple architecture had a profound influence on ancient architectural traditions.
The rituals that located and sited the temple were performed by an augur through the observation of the flight of birds or other natural phenomenon. Roman temples usually faced east or toward the rising sun, but the specifics of the orientation are often not known today; there are also notable exceptions, such as the Pantheon which faces north. In ancient Rome only the native deities of Roman mythology had a templum; any equivalent structure for a foreign deity was called a fanum.
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Famous quotes containing the word temples:
“These temples grew as grows the grass;
Art might obey, but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that oer him planned.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)