Cumae was founded by Ionians from Euboea around 750. Cumae had a Temple to Apollo and Sibyline oracle that channeled Apollo. In Greece, Apollo and its oracle became active in the eighth century. It wasn't a pan-Hellenic god, however, until after the Lelantine War (c. 720-650)

When was the Cumaean temple to Apollo created? Would it have been the religion of the founding Cumaeans, or did it come at a later date?

I will throw something more into the question for fun. What happened to the temple of Apollo in Oscan Cumae c. 421-338?

  • 1
    That's a good question. The Temple of Apollo was excavated back in 1912, so I'm not sure how accurate their dating of the temple's foundation would have been. Aug 22, 2017 at 3:03
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    At first I thought "surely this is no more than a 5 minute search in Google?", but as it turns out... nope! I tried several languages and there seems to be no definite source that gives more than a vague "8th to 6th century BC".
    – Marakai
    Aug 22, 2017 at 4:59
  • Did you at least find a source that discusses it?
    – John Dee
    Aug 22, 2017 at 5:25
  • I can't even find the date that Cumae was founded. Most Greek colonies have an exact date.
    – John Dee
    Aug 22, 2017 at 22:43
  • This links states that Cyme/Cumae was founded no later than mid 8th century BC. Griechische Geschichte von den Anfängen bis in die Gegenwart, Part 3, Volume 4
    – Marakai
    Aug 23, 2017 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


There are two temples at Cumae which have been associated with Apollo, an upper one and a lower one.

The latter, which is the one your question appears to refer to, is the more definitely identified but there is no established early date as "facts and finds are deficient". The earliest likely date would appear to be late 6th century BC.

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Map source: Raymond V. Schoder, Ancient Cumae in Scientific American Vol. 209, No. 6 (December 1963), p. 112

On the construction,

The oldest phase of the temple, in light of the research conducted so far, dates back to the end of the 6th century BC: its base is made of square blocks of tuff.

Although there is no physical evidence that it was dedicated to Apollo at this time, it seems to be generally accepted by scholars that the dedication dates from this time or perhaps several decades later. There was further construction during the 5th century and major reconstruction was done during the time of Augustus (the temple itself was demolished). Later, it was turned into a Christian basilica. Consequently,

Many questions bedevil the interpretation of finds, of construction periods, orientation, and associated cult buildings....

In a review of Cuma e il suo parco archeologico. Un territorio e le sue testimonianze (1996), A. G. McKay notes that the authors devote 20 pages to the lower temple, and summarizes the Apolline cult and sanctuary as follows:

Common sense suggests that the cults of Apollo, Demeter and Hera dawned with the Euboean settlement*(1)*. However, finds recovered from a votive deposit, along with a 7th century ВС bronze oracular disk (103), suggest that Hera may have had priority at Cumae....If true, and facts and finds are deficient, Apollo's primacy was probably indebted to Delphic (or Delian?) influence and to Aristodemus (2), Cumae's 6th century tyrant. De Jorio' s find of a Roman dedicatory base in 1818 identified the Apollo temple.

Note 1: The author dates the founding of the colony to circa. 730 BC.

Note 2: Aristodemus c. 550 – c. 490 BC

That there was construction work done on the temple at the time of Aristodemus is tentatively confirmed by the style of a fragment of a clay statue which has been dated to the mid to late 6th century.

On the upper temple, McKay's review states:

The "Temple of Jove"...(but Temple of Apollo" would be a reasonable alternative) on the upper terrace. Excavated between 1924 and 1932, the 6th century ВС temple, oriented east-west, proved to be a long narrow sekos, with adyton, and with painted terracotta revetments. The Greek building was probably dismantled during the Samnite era.

There does not appear to be any physical evidence saying to whom this temple was dedicated. The reference by Virgil to two sites for Apollo, one high and one low, has seemingly lead some scholars to suggest that the (higher) temple previously attributed to Jupiter may in fact have been for Apollo.

On the temple of Apollo in Oscan Cumae c. 421-338, when the city was captured

Cumae suddenly ceased to be a Greek city at all; it became Campanian in government, language, customs and population, although many Greek women remained and most of the Greek buildings survived. A new Samnite temple was built at the foot of the acropolis. An Oscan inscription survives from the temple of Apollo above the Sibyl's cave, showing that the Greek cult was to some extent retained.

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    This is very compelling to me in a number of ways. I've opened a bounty primarily for you, but am going to wait a day or two. Did you mean to repeat the phrase, "Apollo, Demeter, and Hera dawned..."
    – John Dee
    May 23, 2019 at 3:23

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