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Bill Thayer

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Scene 61
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 63

Scenes of the spiral band running up the shaft

 p151  LXII. Second Dacian war, A.D. 104

This first bas-relief represents the departure of the emperor with his officers and troops in a convoy of armed vessels from the Roman head-quarters on the Save. In the extreme right of the composition is a palace. It is an oblong building, roofed, and with a peristile in antis of engaged columns round the walls. The columns are at irregular distances giving room for windows, closed, with gratings between. On the end façade between two pairs of columns is a square recess containing a statue of a female deity. The central building is surrounded by a colonnade roofed over and closed on the outer side by a wall, in which are windows. Another building with four columns in the front, a long roofed building without windows are also seen, and a number of arched porches surround the port. In the foreground is a mole, on the end of which is a triumphal arch. It has one arch only, and on the top are erected three statues. The centre figure has one foot raised on a pedestal, and holds a club in his left hand, Hercules or Mars. The two standing figures right and left hold up each the arm that is nearest the central figure. This arch also has something of the character of those erected by Trajan at Ancona and Beneventum.

The emperor is standing in the stern of an armed vessel rowed by two ranks of rowers. There are gangways along her sides, and a similar passage carried on wooden brackets round the stern. There is an arched cabin aft, carefully covered in with planks, which are kept in place by narrow external ribs. A large piece of timber, cut into broad flat labels on the inner end, curved forward  p152 from the top of her stern post over the cabin, while a carved piece curves back over the stern post like the neck of a swan. From the carved end hangs a lantern which is round, with conical cover, and a straight bar fastened to the sides for a handle. From the centre of this it is hung. Men on the quay are holding out flaming torches showing us that the lantern is hung there to indicate which is the imperial vessel, and that it is night. The emperor is in civil dress. He is standing and his left hand shows by its action that he is giving his orders to the commanders of the vessels forming the convoy.

draco standard is hoisted in the emperor's galley. The cutwater of the galley projects on the level of the water. Her bow is built up inside into a forecastle, the outside of which is panelled in horizontal divisions, in which are carving. Three small panels contain dolphins and architectural ornaments in relief, and hippocamps are also carved on a larger scale in relief on the bows at her water line.

A galley behind that of Trajan has bands of carved ornaments round the bows, and a series of arches round her forecastle. Part of a foremast is shown in this galley, and a lateen sail reefed up to a yard, which swings across the front of the mast. Two ends of rope for hoisting the sail aloft are coiled round the end of mast shown. Another, nearest the spectator, has a carved forecastle front. The cutwater projects like the snout of a swordfish, and an eye is carved upon it. The commander stands to listen to the emperor, and the action of his left hand seems to command his oarsmen to stop, or row easy while the orders of Trajan are given. In the stern of this galley, which is without the curved stern timber, are three standards, with wreaths, wreathed busts, and small shields surmounting the tops. Besides these a draco is hoisted over the stern, the pole appearing just above the stern post of the vessel. Ahead of these liburnian galleys are seen the noses of dolphins and other fish among the waters.

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Page updated: 3 Aug 20