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Bill Thayer

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 p366  Collecting all the individual obeliscus entries on pp366‑371 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Obeliscus Antinoi: the obelisk now standing on the Pincian hill, which was brought to Rome by Hadrian. The hieroglyphics were probably cut in Rome, and state that the obelisk was erected on the site where Antinous was buried, just outside the limits of the city (Mitt. 1896, 113‑121; BC 1891, 277‑279; 1897, 208‑215 = Ob. Eg. 132‑139; Erman in Preuss. Abh. 1917, Abh. 4.10‑17), but it is uncertain whether this means that the body of Antinous was actually brought to Rome or not. The fragments of this obelisk were set up in 1570 in the vigna Saccoccia outside porta Maggiore at a point marked by an inscription recording the fact, which was fixed to one of the piers of the aqua Claudia, about 360 metres east of the Aurelian wall. This was made one of the piers of the acqua Felice in 1585. The original site of the obelisk was probably not far from this point (Mitt. 1896, 122‑130; HJ 251; LS III.165).​a In 1633 it was removed by the Barberini to their palace, and afterwards presented to Clement XIV (1769‑1777). It lay in the Giardino della Pigna in the Vatican until 1822, when Pius VII erected it on the Pincian. The obelisk is about 9 metres high, and may have stood at the entrance to the tomb or cenotaph of Antinous, perhaps with another of the same size (NS 1922, 137 — where the old identification with the horti Variani or spei Veteris is still retained: T X.386).

 p367  Obeliscus Augusti: see separate page.

Obeliscus Augusti in Circo Maximo: see separate page.

Obeliscus Capitolinus: the obelisk that stood in front of the church of Ara Coeli on the Capitol (BC 1888, pls. VIII, ix); Heemskerck, I.11, 61; II.12, 16, 72, 92; cf. Hülsen's text) until some time between 1555 and 1561, when it fell. It was given in 1582 by the city authorities to Ciriaco Mattei, who set it up in the Mattei gardens, where the upper part still stands on a modern base (Mitt. 1891, 4, 27, 31, 45; Rodocanachi, Capitole 143, and literature cited​1). It was erected by Rameses II at Heliopolis, and is covered with hieroglyphics (BC 1896, 270‑272 = Ob. Eg. 101‑103). It was probably brought to Rome in the first century, and may have been set up on the Capitoline in connection with the shrine of Isis (see Isis Capitolina), which stood there at that time (Jord. II.183).


[image ALT: A stone needle about 6 stories tall, surmounted by a small metal cross, and accompanied at the base by two sculptural groups, each one of a man with a horse. It is one of the two obelisks formerly in front of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, now on the Quirinal.]

The Quirinal obelisk, which in Roman times was set up in front of the Mausoleum of Augustus. (And, if you like, read Pope Pius VII's 1818 inscription.)

Obeliscus Constantii: see separate page.

Obeliscus Domitiani: see Obelisci Isei Campensis (4).

Obeliscus Hortorum Sallustianorum: see separate page.

Obeliscus Insulanus: see Insula Tiberina.

Obelisci Isei Campensis: see separate page.

Obelisci Mausolei Augusti: two obelisks that stood in front of the mausoleum of Augustus in the campus Martius (Amm. Marcell. XVII.4.16; Not. Brev.). As they are not mentioned by Pliny (NH XXXVI.69‑73) nor by Strabo in his description of the mausoleum (V.3.8), they probably were not brought from Egypt before the time of Domitian. One of these obelisks, which are a little over 14 metres high, was excavated before 1527 behind the church of S. Rocco​2 and set up behind S. Maria Maggiore in 1587; the other was found at the same time, but was not excavated till a little before 1550 (compare Fulvio, Antiquitates Urbis lxxiv., with Aldrovandi, Statue di Roma 314; cf. LS II.15), and was not moved until 1782, when Pius VI placed it in the Piazza del Quirinale (LS IV.152; BC 1914, 382). They are without hieroglyphics (BC 1897, 223‑225 = Ob. Eg. 147‑149).

 p371  Obeliscus Vaticanus: * see separate page.

The Authors' Notes:

1 Cf. also BC 1882, 112; Cons. 171; LS III.83; Boissard I.46.

2 See JRS 1919, 189.

Thayer's Note:

a According to this webpage at Obelischi di Roma, already in Antiquity the obelisk had been moved to the spina of the 3c Amphitheatrum Castrense. I don't know what the source of this statement is, nor whether it is true.

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Page updated: 29 Dec 20