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Scene 15
This webpage reproduces a section of
A Description of the Trajan Column
by John Hungerford Pollen

printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode,
printers to Queen Victoria
London, 1874

Text and engravings are in the public domain.
Any color photographs are © William P. Thayer 1997-


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Scene 17

SCENES OF THE SPIRAL BAND RUNNING UP THE SHAFT

p121 XVI. General advance of the Roman army

The reconnoitring party does not return, but the enemy is known to be close at hand, and an advance is ordered of the whole Roman army. It is still a thickly wooded country, and a working party is employed in clearing a road for the legions. Three men are employed removing the trees with all haste. Two use axes (which are not sculptured), and a third is pulling the head of the tree to hasten its fall. A soldier has already cut one down, and secures the log for future use, while the stump of the tree is shown. Further in advance is seen a part of the rear guard of the army. With the body are the standards of one of the legions. An aquilifer carries an eagle between two standards of manipuli. Both the bearers of these standards carry them resting against the left shoulder and with their right hand seem to prop or push them upright, as if to push through overhanging boughs and other impediments. All three wear cloaks clasped in front, linen cuirasses, bearskin head-pieces, but neither shields nor arms. The aquilifer has nothing on his head. A man is seen in profile in advance of the standards, apparently watching what goes forward in the front. The shield of one of the workmen is lying on the ground, not propped in the usual way, showing the pressure under which the legions are hurried to the front. All the legionaries forming this body wear the square sided shield.

Further on, with the main body of the Roman army, are distinguished five standards of manipuli. These men are drawn up waiting for orders. Two standards have hands on their tops, two have eagles surrounded by wreaths, and one has among the ornaments near the base the gate or front of a town. These differences enabled the men of different subdivisions of the legion to find their places in the ranks during the movement or confusion of general actions. The title of each legion is under or round the imperial bust, where these are seen, but that is not the case with every one of these standards in the legion.


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Page updated: 27 Nov 01