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Bill Thayer

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Section 7
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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Section 9

Scenes of the spiral band running up the shaft

p116 VIII. Additional fortified station.

Beyond a small river or stream across which this fortification is astride is seen another fort, or another portion of the same. They are joined by a bridge of timber. The bridge consists of two strong latticed girders, the lower member of which sustains stout planks that form the road itself. The girders are supported by piers composed of piles with struts on either side, driven at intervals into the bed of the river, the planks are carefully shown in a perspective projection. The distance between these fortifications is not large. A soldier is seen carrying a large beam to be driven as a pile into the river to complete the bridge. Another hammers a chisel into the top of one of the piers, to prepare it to be morticed into the top rail. A heavy beam is carried up to this second fortification by two soldiers. It has two walls or enclosures, the lower wall partly finished in the same way as the last described. In front of this is a soldier half hidden in the ground digging the outer fosse, and a figure is giving him directions and preparing to receive from him a basket of sand and gravel. A gateway is left in this lower wall. Three shields square on the ends are standing with helmets on lances stuck in the ground belonging to the working parties, and three sentries, their shields resting on the ground and lances gripped in their right hands (but not given) keep guard. Beside them is the bearskin head-piece of a standard bearer. Above the low wall is seen Trajan and his two generals inspecting and giving directions. There are trees within the walls, and the tents or papiliones can be distinguished as well.

A third enclosure is fortified by a separate wall of hewn stone. It is circular. Soldiers are at work on all sides of  p117 it. One carries a heavy stone on a frame consisting of a pair of staves, one over each shoulder, united into a hod on the shoulders. He lodges the stone with his back against the wall in the hands of one of the masons. Another is sitting and receives a squared stone, which is lifted up to him. Two papiliones are already pitched within this enclosure. A beam is being carried to the top of the back wall; a soldier is using the adze, and between these can be distinguished the helmet of one of the men, upright on a spear head.

Above these three enclosures is an arx or donjon, to which there is a bridge leading from the circular fort, probably crossing an arm of the stream already mentioned. A rocky path from the outside leads also to this building. It has three towers which project in a semicircle from the circuit of the walls. A door is also finished, but it is not yet guarded. Several wooden galleries can be distinguished over the parapets of the tower and the platform above the gates.

Another bridge connects the round fortification with the open country, from which it is separated by a stream, the same that probably runs between the upper citadel and this position. Over the bridge three spies, exploratores, careful men selected for the purpose, are sent forward by the emperor to reconnoitre the enemy. They wear linen cuirasses only, so as to have as little as possible to hamper the activity of their movements, and are armed with the short pilum, which can be made out by the vigorous action of their hands; they have oval shields. They are runners. A soldier on the far side of the fosse dips a kettle or handled pot into the river to draw water.

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Page updated: 27 Nov 01