Also, in heraldry, a beast usually represented like a hind, but with cloven hooves and spangled with stars. As with all imaginary monsters, it is a bit hard to decide what their proper (natural) colour is, but pantheons proper are usually depicted purpure (purple).

Pantheons are used as supporters by the Marquess of Winchester, though they are sometimes more prosaically described as hinds semé of estoiles, that is, hinds spangled with stars. They have also been granted as supporters to the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority.

I'm afraid I can't tell what connexion the name has with the more familiar sense of 'pantheon'. My guess is none, and it's an alteration of 'panther'.

Temple dedicated to all the gods of Rome. Located in the Centro Storico of Rome, Italy, the Pantheon is one of the most beautiful buildings ever, anywhere.

The original Pantheon was built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa, one of Augustus Caesar's close friends and political allies. At that time, it was probably an ordinary temple (octostyle prostyle dipteral Corinthian, if you want it in technical terms). The marble columns and the inscription on the front dates from that time.


That temple burned down, was reconstructed, burned down again, and was rebuilt in its present form in 126 AD. There is persuasive evidence that the emperor Hadrian designed it.

Hadrian re-used Agrippa's porch2. Behind it, he added a barrel-shaped cella topped by a dome 44 meters in diameter, with an unglazed 9 meter oculus in the center. The dome's apex is also 44 meters from the ground, so that if it were extended into a sphere, the structure would be resting on the floor. Until Brunelleschi built the one in the Florence Cathedral in 1420-36, the Pantheon was the largest dome in the world.

Engineering a dome of that size at that time was a complex task. The main consideration was weight reduction, since unreinforced concrete can only bear a certain amount of load. The mix of concrete changes toward the top, with the heavier stone aggregate gradually replaced by pumice. To lighten the structure further, the outside of the dome is stepped, so that the roof is thinner at the top than at the bottom. On the inside, there are five rows of coffers, further reducing the weight of the ceiling.

The dome rests on a barrel-shaped structure, which uses three layers of brick arches to transfer the weight to eight massive piers. (This form is allegedly based on the structure of a pumpkin.)

Because of its distinctive architecture, the Pantheon fared better than most Roman temples when the Empire became Christian. It was transformed into the Church of Santa Maria ad Martyres, and is still used for Catholic worship today. Even so, many of the decorative features, such as the bronze roof tiles and marble facings, were stripped from it over the centuries.

The remaining interior decorations emphasize the difference between a traditional rectangular temple and the round dome. The marble floor uses a motif of circles within squares, while the coffers in the roof make a pattern of squares in a circular field. There are eight alcoves around the room, alternating between the trapezoidal and the semi-circular. Decorational niches on the load-bearing pillars are topped with either right triangular or semi-circular architraves. All of these contrasts underline how different this building is than all other temples in Rome.

Looking at it today, it's hard to appreciate the impact of the dome in ancient times. When the Pantheon was built, the street level in Rome was some 7 meters lower than it is today3. The temple had to be approached by a set of stairs. With that street level, anyone approaching the temple would have their view of the dome blocked by the building's porch. Furthermore, the streets around the Pantheon were so narrow and built-up that there was no angle of approach where the dome was visible. The unitiated wouldn't know about it until they stepped inside the building.

The impact must have been staggering.

Still is.

  1. "Made by Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucus, in his third consulship" This allows the Agrippan building to be dated precisely, since we know the dates of all his consulships.
  2. Some archaeologists think that he rotated it 90 degrees in the reconstruction, and that Agrippa's temple faced north
  3. Street levels in ancient cities such as Rome tended to rise over the years from the accumulation of dirt and debris. The idea that street level will be the same from century to century has only come in since we've started paving all our streets.

A “new style” RPG from game designer Robin Laws, produced by Hogshead Publishing. Pantheon is a diceless, collaborative, storytelling game with little structure but tight genre specification. Players are given some number of tokens, ordered in a circle, and read the beginning of a scenario. Each player, in turn, adds a sentence, the subject of which must be their character and may reference anything else in the scenario. Should another player be on the receiving end of a sentence that effects her/his character, s/he may bid her/his tokens to rewrite that sentence. After the scenario is over, a scoring chart is consulted, and points are awarded for acts that were “in genre”. Depending upon the scenario, being the first character to die can be worth lots of points.

The game works well when all of the players are familiar with the genre upon which the scenario is based. This can be circumvented by allowing all of the players to consult the scoring chart before the game, but that can lead to a very different game, as each player attempts to do the right thing while cooperating with or preventing others from doing the same.

That said, I have a couple of reservations. There are only six scenarios provided with scoring charts. Also, careful record keeping, even of seemingly unimportant acts, is essential, and leads to the players furiously scribbling everything down.

However, I find this eat-poop-you-cat-RPG rather interesting. First of all, it ditches the whole stats and dice thing. While the action is circumscribed within a genre, it encourages roleplaying. A careful gamemaster can integrate the premise of Pantheon into other genre RPGs to get players into the correct mood, without having to call for silly accents or bad voice dubbing.

"Aux Grands Hommes La Patrie Reconnaissante"

Very ill, Louis XV, King of France decided in 1744 that if he survived the illness, he would restore the Sainte-Geneviève abbey which was at the time a ruin at the top of the Sainte-Geneviève hill in Paris. He healed, and kept his word : The Panthéon was born. The Architect chosen by the King was Germain Soufflot, the brother of the Marchioness of Pompadour, the king's favorite.

Soufflot built the Panthéon in about 30 years : Started in 1758, the building was finished in 1789. He replaced the abbey by a monument in the greco-roman style, about 360 feet long and 272 feet high. It looks like a greek cross from above and has a dome on top of it. The whole lies on a crypt where the former monks of Sainte-Geneviève were buried.

In 1791, the Constituant Assembly closes the church and decided to turn it into a huge crypt bearing all the men who dedicated their lives to french liberty. The first great men to be transferred are Mirabeau, Voltaire and Rousseau. Carved on the pediment, one can read : "Aux grands hommes la patrie reconnaissante" (To great men, the thankful country)

During the nineteenth century, the Panthéon was given back and taken right away from the catholic Church as many times as the Power changed hands. Given by Napoléon, taken back by the Monarchy of July and given once again by Napoléon III during the second Empire. It is only in 1885 during the funeral of Victor Hugo, that the monument was definitively dedicated as a laïc temple to great men.

Nowadays, there are 71 men buried there among which :

NB : Since 1997, right under the dome, oscillates a huge Foucault's Pendulum to commemorate the famous experiment conducted by Léon Foucault to prove the Earth's rotation.

Pan*the"on (?), n. [L. pantheon, pantheum, Gr. (sc. ), fr. of all gods; , , all + a god: cf. F. panth'eon. See Pan-, and Theism.]


A temple dedicated to all the gods; especially, the building so called at Rome.


The collective gods of a people, or a work treating of them; as, a divinity of the Greek pantheon.


© Webster 1913.

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