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Mogontiacum (Mainz)

Reconstructed Jupiter Column from Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins. Mogontiacum: Roman city, capital of Germania Superior, important military base, modern Mainz.
History Photos

Jupiter Column

One of the best-known monuments of Mainz is this ten meter high column, dedicated to the supreme god Jupiter and once standing somewhere in the city. One must imagine a life-size statue standing on top of it (cf. this Jupiter column from Maastricht). The pillar was excavated in 1904-1905 near an ancient merchants' area, north of Mainz. It had been smashed to pieces (more than two thousand) in Antiquity, and it is not an implausible hypothesis that the vandals were Christians who wanted to show that Jupiter was a false god. Later, the fragments were carefully buried, indicating that there were still people living in Mainze who appreciated the monument., the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
Steinhalle, Landesmuseum. Photo Marco Prins.
The monument on the first photo is a copy from 1934, not far from the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum. The original monument is in the Landesmuseum. From left to right
  • the top, which consists of a Corinthian capital and a cube that served as base of a statue; they ate standing on two drums that belong to the round shaft;
  • three more parts of the round shaft, again decorated with all kinds of gods.
  • and the square pedestal, which consists of two parts, and is also decorated with deities. In the upper part, you can read the dedication (CIL 13.11806a); on the lower part, the main god, which faced the visitor, is Jupiter.

Inscription from the Steinhalle, Landesmuseum. Photo Marco Prins.
Iovi  Optimo  Maximo
SARIS  AVGusti  IMPeratoris
PROCVLO  LEGato  AVGvsti  PRo PRaetore
Qvinti  IVLI  AVETI ( more...)
To Jupiter, greatest and best,
for the health of Nero
Claudius Cae-
sar Augustus, imperator,
by the cannabae community.
Publius Sulpicius Scribonius
Proculus was governor.
Made and paid for by
Quintus Julius Priscus and
Quintus Julius Avetus

Relief from the Steinhalle, Landesmuseum. Photo Marco Prins.
The name of the emperor Nero proves that this inscription was made was made between 54 and 68; and that Nero was detested, is shown by the fact that someone made an effort to erase his name (damnatio memoriae, "condemnation of the memory"). The two Quinti Julii appear to have been some sort of decuriones, representatives of the civil settlement.

The five drums of the column and two cubes of the pedestal are decorated by representations of, all in all, twenty-eight deities. This is one of the divine twins Castor and Pollux.

Mainz column; the god Apollo. Landesmuseum, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
And this is Helius, who must have been identified to Mogon, the sun god after whom Mogontiacum may have been called. He is sitting in his chariot, drawn by four horses.

On top of the column was the statue of the supreme god Jupiter. Some fragments survive and prove that it was made of bronze that was covered with gold leaf. If the sun was shining, the monument must have been visible from far away, and must have greeted the visitors, who knew that the end of their trip was -litteraly- in sight.

At the foot of the column, the two sculptors have written their names: Samus and Severus, the sons of a man with a native name, Venicarus. 

History Photos
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2006
Revision: 24 Nov. 2008
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