The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus ("Jupiter, greatest and best"; also known as the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus or "Aedes Iovis Optimi Maximi Capitolini," Latin), was the great temple on the Capitoline Hill in Ancient Rome.
Much of what is known of the first Temple of Jupiter is from later Roman tradition. It was said that the Temple of Jupiter was dedicated on September 13 in the first year of the Roman Republic, c. 509 BC. It was sacred to the Capitoline Triad consisting of Jupiter and his companion deities, Juno and Minerva. Lucius Tarquinius Priscus vowed this temple while battling with the Sabines, and seems to have laid some of its foundations; a large part of the work, however, was done by Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, who is said to have nearly completed it.
Tradition also had it that prior to the temple's construction shrines to other gods occupied the site. When the augurs carried out the rites seeking permission to remove them, only Terminus and Iuventas were believed to have refused. Their shrines were therefore incorporated into the new structure. Because he was the god of boundaries, Terminus' refusal to be moved was interpreted as a favorable omen for the future of the Roman state.
The man to perform the dedication of the temple was chosen by lot. The duty fell to Marcus Horatius Pulvillus, one of the consuls in that year.
The original Temple measured almost 60 x 60 m and was considered the most important religious temple of the whole state of Rome. Each deity of the Triad had a separate cella, with Juno Regina on the left, Minerva on the right, and Jupiter Optimus Maximus in the middle. The temple was decorated with many terra cotta sculptures. The most famous of these was of Jupiter driving a quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses, which was placed at the peak of the pediment. This sculpture, as well as the cult statue of Jupiter in the main cella, was said to have been the work of Etruscan artisan Vulca of Veii.
The second building burnt down during the course of fighting on the hill in 69 AD, when Vespasian battled to enter the city as Emperor in the Year of the Four Emperors. It was replaced by the Emperors Vespasian, Titus and Domitian Ancient sources tell us Domitian used at least twelve thousands talents of gold for the gilding of the bronze roof tiles alone. In keeping with previous versions, elaborate relief sculpture adorned the pediment. A Renaissance drawing of a damaged relief in the Louvre Museum shows a four-horse chariot (quadriga) beside a two-horse chariot (biga) to the right of the latter at the highest point of the pediment, the two statues serving as the central acroterion, and statues of the god Mars and goddess Venus surmounting the corners of the cornice, serving as acroteria.
On the face of the pediment the god Jupiter was flanked by Juno and Minerva, seated on thrones. Below was an eagle with wings spread out. A biga driven by the sun god and a biga driven by the moon were depicted either side of the three gods.