The temple was begun in 141 by the Emperor Antoninus Pius and was intitially dedicated to his deceased and deified wife, Faustina the Elder. When Antoninus Pius was deified after his death in 161, the temple was re-dedicated jointly to Antoninus and Faustina at the instigation of his successor, Marcus Aurelius.
The building stands on a high platform of large peperino blocks. The later of two dedicatory inscriptions says, "Divo Antonino et Divae Faustinae Ex S.C." meaning, “To the divine Antoninus and to the divine Faustina by decree of the Senate.”
The ten monolithic Corinthian columns of its pronaos are 17 m. tall. The rich bas-reliefs of the frieze under the cornice, of garlanded griffons and candelabri, were often copied from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries.
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