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Constantinople (İstanbul): Column of Marcian


The Column of Marcian. Photo Jona Lendering.
The Column of Marcian
The Column of Marcian in Constantinople was erected in 455, to honor a ruler who had been in charge of the Byzantine Empire for five years, had condemned Nestorianism at the Fourth Ecumenical Council(451; Chalcedon), and had repelled attacks on Syria and Egypt. The monument is locally known as Kız Tası, "the girls' column", because a Nike is shown on the pedestal. In the neighborhood was another column that might have had the same surname: the Column of Venus, which played a role in a magical ritual to establish whether a girl was a virgin.

The column itself, about ten meters tall, is made of grey granite that was imported from Syene in Egypt. (A satellite photo can be seen here.) The marble capital is decorated with eagles and will have served as base for a statue of the emperor. The square pedestal, which stands on three steps, is decorated with slabs of marble. On the western, southern, and eastern sides, you can see a christogram (), a damaged symbol (a fish?), and a Greek cross, all surrounded by laurel wreaths. They may represent the victory of the emperor's Christianity over alternative interpretations. On the northern face of the pedestal, one can see a globe, carried by two genii.
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Pedestal of the Column of Marcian. Photo Jona Lendering. Pedestal of the Column of Marcian. Photo Jona Lendering. Inscription on the Pedestal of the Column of Marcian. Photo Jona Lendering.
Capital of the Column of Marcian. Photo Jona Lendering.
Capital
The inscription, in bronze letters, was above the representation of the globe and the genii; the bronze has been removed, but we can still read the elegiac verses, which are known as CIL 3.738).

PRINCIPIS  HANC  STATVAM  MARCIANI
CERNE  TORVMQVE
PRAEFECTVS  VOVIT  QVOD  TATIANVS
OPVS  (more...)

Observe this statue of the Emperor Marcian and its column,
a work devoted by the prefect Tatianus.
Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2008
Revision: 28 August 2008
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