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p1129 Thronus

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p1129 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

THRONUS, the Greek θρόνος, for which the proper Latin term is solium; a throne. This did not differ from a chair (καθέδρα) [Cathedra; Sella] except in being higher, larger, and in all respects more magnificent (Athen. V p192E). On account of its elevation it was always necessarily accompanied by a foot-stool (subsellium, ὑποπόδιον, Att. θράνιον, Ion. θρῆνυς, Hom. Il. XIV.240, Od. I.131, X.315). Besides a variety of ornaments, especially nails or studs of silver, bestowed upon the throne itself, it was often covered with beautiful and splendid drapery (Hom. Od. XX.150). [Tapes.] The accompanying woodcut shows two gilded thrones with cushions and drapery represented on paintings found at Resina (Ant. d' Erc. vol. I tav. 29). These were intended to be the thrones of Mars and Venus, which is expressed by the helmet on the one and the dove on the other.


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All the greater gods were sometimes represented as enthroned. This was in imitation of the practice adopted by mortals, and more particularly in Asia, as in the case of Xerxes (Philostr. Imag. II.31), and of the Parthians (Claud. in IV. Cons. Honor. 214). When the sitting statue of the god was colossal, the throne was of course great in proportion, and consequently presented a very eligible field for the display of sculpture and painting. As early as the sixth century before Christ, Bathycles of Magnesia thus decorated the throne of the Amyclaean Apollo (Dict. of Biog. art. Bathycles). The throne of the Olympian Zeus, the work of Pheidias, was constructed and ornamented in a similar manner (Dict. of Biog. art. Pheidias, vol. III p252). As a chair for common use was sometimes made to hold two persons (Hom. Il. III.424, Od. XVII.330) and a throne shared by two potentates (δίφρον, Duris, ap. Athen. I p17F), so two divinities were sometimes supposed to occupy the same throne (Paus. VIII.37 §2). Besides those belonging to the statues of the gods, the thrones of monarchs were sometimes deposited in the temples as Donaria (Paus. II.19 §4, V.12 §3).

The following woodcut, taken from a fictile vase in the Museo Borbonico at Naples, represents Juno seated on a splendid throne, which is elevated, like those already described, on a basement. She holds in her left hand a sceptre, and in her right the apple, which Mercury is about to convey to Paris with a view to the celebrated contest for beauty on Mount Ida. Mercury is distinguished by his Talaria, his Caduceus, and his petasus thrown behind his back and hanging by its string. On the right side of the throne is the representation of a tigress or panther.


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The elevated seat used by a schoolmaster was called his throne (Brunck, Anal. II.417).


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Page updated: 1 Apr 09