Although the first Greek architects were employed in Rome as early as 493 B.C., the architecture of the Republic was practically Etruscan until nearly 100 B.C. Its monuments, consisting mainly of city walls, tombs, and temples, are all marked by a general uncouthness of detail, denoting a lack of artistic refinement, but they display considerable constructive skill. In the Etruscan walls we meet with both polygonal and regularly coursed masonry; in both kinds the true arch appears as the almost universal form for gates and openings. A famous example is the Augustan Gate at Perugia, a late work rebuilt about 40 B.C., but thoroughly Etruscan in style. At Volaterrae ( Volterra) is another arched gate, and in Perugia fragments of still another appear built into the modern walls.
The Etruscans built both structural and excavated tombs; they consisted in general of a single chamber with a slightly arched or gabled roof, supported in the larger tombs on heavy square piers. The interiors were covered with pictures; externally there was little ornament except about the gable and doorway. The latter had a stepped or moulded frame with curious crossettes or ears projecting laterally at the top. The gable recalled the wooden roofs of Etruscan temples, but was coarse in detail, especially in its mouldings. Sepulchral monuments of other types are also met with, such as cippi or memorial pillars, sometimes in groups of five on a single pedestal (tomb at Albano).
Among the temples of Etruscan style that of Jupiter Capitolinus on the Capitol at Rome, destroyed by fire in 80 B.C., was the chief. Three narrow chambers side by side formed a cella nearly square in plan, preceded by a hexastyle porch of huge Doric, or rather Tuscan, columns arranged in three aisles, widely spaced and carrying ponderous wooden architraves. The roof was of wood; the cymatium and ornaments, as well as the statues in the pediment, were of terra-cotta, painted and gilded. The details in general showed acquaintance with Greek models, which appeared in debased and awkward imitations of triglyphs, cornices, antefixæ, etc.
The victories of Marcellus at Syracuse, 212 B.C., Fabius Maximus at Tarentum ( 209 B.C.), Flaminius ( 196 B.C.), Mummius ( 146 B.C.), Sulla ( 86 B.C.), and others in the various Greek provinces, steadily increased the vogue of Greek architecture and the number of Greek artists in Rome. The temples of the last two centuries B.C., and some of earlier date, though still Etruscan in plan, were in many cases strongly Greek in the character of their details. A few have remained to our time in tolerable preservation. The temple of Fortuna Virilis (really of Fors Fortuna ), of the second century B.C., is a tetrastyle prostyle pseudoperipteral temple with a high podium or base, a typical Etruscan cella, and a deep porch, now walled up, but thoroughly
Greek in the elegant details of its Ionic order. Two circular temples, both called erroneously Temples of Vesta, one at Rome near the Cloaca Maxima, the other at Tivoli, belong among the monuments of Greek style. The first was probably dedicated to Hercules, the second probably to the Sibyls; the latter being much the better preserved of the two. Both were surrounded by peristyles of eighteen Corinthian columns, and probably covered by conical roofs with gilded bronze tiles. The Corinthian order appears here complete with its modillion cornice, but the crispness of the detail and the fineness of the execution are Greek and not Roman. These temples date from about 72 B.C., though the one at Rome was probably rebuilt in the first century A.D.