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Bill Thayer

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Scene 28
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.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Scene 30

Scenes of the spiral band running up the shaft

 p133  XXIX. General action

A battle in which the Roman army is engaged in all its force. The Roman cavalry is engaged all along the back ground of the composition hand to hand with Dacians on foot. The Romans have their shields hung or fixed to the pommels of their saddles and fight with the lance. On one is a design of two large anthemia and a central boss. A Dacian shield in the middle line has a similar ornament with two stars. In the back line the Romans seem to have penetrated right through the Dacian ranks, but the latter have advanced close on the Roman reserves, and a body of them on the right of the composition fights desperately with both the light and heavy legionary troops, some of whom, as well as a German auxiliary, turn back to save this part of the field. The centre is held by Dacians fighting resolutely. Two Roman foot soldiers, one heavily armed, have penetrated the Dacian lines along with the cavalry. One of them, with his shield held under his left arm, holds the right hand of a Dacian, who is wounded and sitting on the ground, while with his left hand he grasps this man's beard, giving him quarter as to a prisoner. Dead and wounded Dacians are seen in the foreground. On the shield of one are four dolphins.

Behind the field of this conflict the emperor is standing. He holds a baton or roll, and is without arms. A soldier thrusts forward into his presence a Dacian whom he has taken prisoner and bound. On high ground above this scene are two carrobalistae. Each carriage is in the form  p134 of a small single horse cart with two wheels. Three soldiers are engaged in discharging missiles from those engines. Two stoop down as if to bring the eye into position to take aim. The engines are not seen in profile, as their carriages are but fronting the spectator, so that the minor details of their construction cannot be distinctly made out. This is the first action during the war in which the Roman commander has recourse to artillery of this kind and the numbers and valour of the enemy make it evident that the employment of these resources of military science is necessary. A tree closes the scene of the action.

[image ALT: A woodcut of a detail of a stone sculpture, showing what appears to be a very small cart, no larger than a wheelbarrow, with an oversized eight-spoked wheel. It is being pulled to our right by a horse, only the two back legs and tail of which are seen in the woodcut. Two men, whose arms only are seen, appear to be steadying on the bed of the cart some kind of arched wooden model, about the size of a computer keyboard. The sculptural detail is from Trajan's Column in Rome and apparently depicts a carrobalista, explained in the text of this webpage.]

Fig. 42

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Page updated: 3 Aug 20