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Bill Thayer

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Scene 25
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 27


 p129  XXVI. The emperor Trajan crosses the Tisia, Tibiscus (?) and prepares for action.

Having collected sufficient material for his proposed operations, Trajan passes over or down the river, not by a bridge of boats as heretofore, but in various armed vessels, and this spot is probably at some distance from the Roman station last described. Two liburnians convey Trajan, his personal attendant, officers, and others to the fortified place from which he proposes to begin active operations. They are both rowed by two ranks of men and two banks of oars. The sides and stern have projecting gangways guarded by a bulwark of open rails and posts connected by crossed diagonal braces, as in the armed vessel first described. The vessel in the front conveys the emperor, who sits in the stern, protected by the covered awning already described. The bows of both vessels curve forward, like the breast of a swan, and are brought to an edge under water for the purpose of ramming in action. The sterns of the vessels curve gracefully forward, and the rope used for mooring or anchoring hangs round the cutwater, and is brought inboard round the bows. The vessel conveying Trajan has a carved panel on her bow, on which Telamon or Portumnus can be distinguished in a small sculptured bas-relief, with a steering paddle in hand, and  p130 a cupid on the tail of a marine monster behind. This minute piece of relief, indistinguishable from the distance of a very few feet, is carefully and elegantly sculptured.

There are square panels or divisions in the raised bulwark at the bows of this vessel, holes or ports that could be opened at will with the purpose of annoying an enemy with missiles. These galleys in all their lines are gracefully designed and sit majestically on the water. The stern posts curve inwards and are ornamented as the first described. There is a steerer to the nearest vessel, and the steering paddle or rudder projects from the stern. In the further galley a man, a rector, is armed with a stick wherewith to keep the oarsmen to their work. The landing of Trajan is accompanied by numerous boats bringing arms and munitions as well as by his officers and troops as in the last composition.

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Page updated: 27 Nov 01