The early temple of Hera, known as the ‘Basilica’
The earliest temple at Paestum dating to around 550 BC is the so-called Basilica. When it was first rediscovered in the eighteenth century it was thought not to be a temple at all, as none of the entablature that formed the pediment at the end had not survived. So it was named the Basilica, or town hall. However numerous little figurines of the goddess Hera, who was the wife of Zeus the King of the Gods, have been found. Hera was presumably the patron goddess of the city and thus it is generally assumed that this temple was dedicated to Hera.
The Basilica is usually considered the least attractive of the three temples being rather too broad and squat as it has lost its entablature. It is however one of the most interesting.
This view of the side shows an excellent example of what is called entasis, that is making the columns cigar shaped, curving in at the top and leaning in slightly at the bottom. This is something very common in the earliest classical Greek temples as the Greeks believed that it was an important optical illusion as it made the columns appear vertical. In later times the Greeks decided that this optical illusion did not really exist and therefore later columns are straighter sided.. Entasis therefore is generally considered to be a mark of early date. The Basilica has pronounced entasis and is therefore usually dated to the sixth century around 550 BC.
The plan of the temple shows . When they came to build the cella, the main room at the heart of the temple, they decided to put a row of columns down the middle This meant that the cella had to be wider than usual and that therefore the whole temple had to be wider than usual, which is why it always appears too wide.
View of interior of the temple showing the two columns at the centre of the cella which still survive. Next time I must try to get inside the temple to photograph the columns properly.
And here is a photo of me standing outside the temple with camera at the ready. But I always carry two cameras and this photo was taken by a kind Italian gentleman with my other camera. The temple of Neptune is in the distance.
On to the Temple of Neptune