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In the centre of the Piazza del Quirinale stands the “Fountain of the Dioscuri”: Castor and Pollux. But who are they? And why are they represented in this fountain? Do you want to know more about the beautiful Fountain of the Dioscuri? Do you want to know the story of Castor and Pollux, the patrons of athletes and sailors?
Come to Rome and ask us to take you on one of our walking Tours. We’ll stop by the Quirinale and show you the marvellous Fountain of the Dioscuri. We’ll share the legend of Castor and Pollux.
The Fountain of the Dioscuri
The Italian President of the Republic, crosses piazza del Quirinale daily and therefore has the opportunity to admire the Fountain of the Dioscuri every, since the piazza separates his residence from Via XXIV Maggio. The Fountain of the Dioscuri is composed by an Egyptian obelisk and two mighty statues at its left and right. The statures are dedicated to Castor and Pollux; the so-called Dioscuri. But who were these two figures venerated as protectors of the city and considered the patrons of athletes and sailors?
Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri. Who are they?
Castor and Pollux were twin brothers. According to legend, they were born of the god Zeus and Leda, wife of Tyndarus, king of Sparta. They are also known as the Dioscuri, a word which means “the sons of Zeus”.
There are many stories and legends around these two brothers. They were identical twins, they were immortal, and the legend has it, that they were very close although they had different passions. Castor was a true warrior while Pollux was a sportsman and practised boxing.
The death of Castor
The legend says that in one of the many fights they were engaged in, Castor was killed. His brother Pollux felt so much pain that he was willing to give up his immortality in order to be able to see his brother one more time.
Zeus, their father, decided to partially help him. He could not bring Castor back from the dead, but he decided to grant them a possibility. He allowed the twin brothers to alternate between the worlds of the living and the dead, with one taking turns on earth and the other in the realm of darkness.
Castor and Pollux were always considered positive gods to be invoked when one needed help, in times of danger and in battle. In light of their great closeness, the love they had for each other and their passions, they are widely considered as patrons to athletes and sailors.
They were both worshipped by the Romans as protectors of the city, as well as in Greece: where they used to dedicate festivals in their honour.