Monday, June 22, 2009

The Honorific Columns

Ancient cities were a sea of columns but not all columns were created equal. The kings of the columnar world were the honorific columns for emperors and gods. Antioch had several famous examples of this form. 

Russell Sturgis in "A dictionary of architecture and building biographical historical, and descriptive" published in 1901 ranks three of Antioch's columns as worthy of mention. The first was one of Theban granite surmounted by a statue of Tiberius, in the centre of the Forum of Antioch, in gratitude for the magnificent public structures of this emperor (especially the double columnar street colonnades). Lassus speculates that the round plaza on the Colonnaded Street that he excavated under the Al Nejjar Mosque was the site of this statue rather in the Forum.
Sturgis also mentions another one of porphyry at Antioch, erected under Caligula as a talisman against earthquakes. It may be this that is referred to in the Vatican's Arab text in its regaling of the various superstitions of the city. 
The final column of note was one of immense size with a statue of Valentinian erected to him by his brother Valens. This almost certainly was at the Forum of Valens. 

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