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University of Northern Iowa

Pompey's Pillar
Source: The North-American Review and Miscellaneous Journal, Vol. 3, No. 8 (Jul., 1816), pp.
192-194
Published by: University of Northern Iowa
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25121187
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192
Pompey's
FOR

THE

Pillar.

NORTH-AMERICAN

to

give

were more

15th century

learned of the

The

JOURNAL.

Pillar.

Pompey's

observers,

[July*

names

to all

the

remains

of

ready

than

antiquity.

have been handed down from age to


denominations
age, and their propriety has remained unquestioned,
though
the appellation was often bestowed upon very slight pre
It is known that
in favour of its correctness.
sumptions

These

Cassar
that

a Monument

raised
after

the

lapse

over

of more

the

than

c?

remains

two

centuries,

Pompey,
the

and
Empe

rour Adrian on a visit to Egypt,


ordered it to be repaired
at his own expense.
at the
This monument was supposed,
in an immense Pillar, which
above period, to be discovered
was found to stand within the limits of the ancient city of
bears his name.
and it accordingly
Some
Alexandria;
it as a trophy of Septimius
Severus.
however considered
But it stands upon the ruins of the ancient City ; and in the
the City of the Ptolemies was not in ruins.
time of Severus,
From

this

and

other

facts

by modern

ascertained

travellers,

has been
it is seen upon what grounds the name of Pompey
to it. And as nothing is to be learned of it from
attached
the Greek or Roman classicks, and nothing is reported from
the Arabs,

it is upon

the

accounts

of modern

that our opinion of it must be formed.


a member of the French
Citizen Norry,
ed

it in company

with

several

other

French

travellers

alone

It is described
by
Institute, who visit
Scavans,

as evi

dently compounded of ancient fragments which, separately


its four parts, base, pedestal, column, and capi
constituting
tal, differ xery much from each other in their material and
It is situated on a gentle eminence, and
style of execution.
a base formed of a square fragment of an
on
Egyptian
placed
obelisk, which must have been brought to the place, as the
inscribed on it are reversed.
On
characters
hieroglyphick
this base rests a bad pedestal, which
supports a beautiful
that exposed
shaft highly polished on every side, excepting
to the sands of the desert, and consisting of an entire piece
is
of Thebaick
granite, sixty three fleet in length. This
coarser work
surmounted by a Corinthian capital of much
some precise
of time, in the
to indicate
period
grace and felicity"
that the moment,
assure
the Ouse
I can only
manner:
following
&c. &e.
to hear of the intended County
when that I came/or
meeting,"
ctiliar

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1816.]

193

Pillar.

Pompey's

of its form.
manship, and remarkable for the massiveness
the order on the whole be considered Corinthian*
Although
the Grecian pro
from the capital, it does not still exhibit
Those
of the shaft approach the Ionick.
This
portions.
was

once

doubtless

cence

and

elegance

of
part
of whose

an

the magnifi
edifice,
the
of its ex
purity

ancient

structure,

have been made


ecution still attests.
Sufficient discoveries
by partial removals of the soil round this column, to justify
a belief, that
deeper researches might lay open the founda
tions and atrium of the portico, to which this column belong
ed.

From

the

circumstances

wrhich

have

been

mentioned,

the period of its construction may be referred with equal


to that of the Califs, or that of the Greek Em
probability
perours, since, if the pedestal and capital are executed with
sufficient elegance to belong to the latter era, they are not
so perfect, but that they may have been the
of
production
the first. A party of English
sailors, near 80 years since,
carried a rope over the capital by means of a kite, and then
ascended and drank punch
there.
Citizen Norry availed
himself of this expedient,
but without giving credit in his
to the English
it, to ob
Memoirs,
ingenuity which suggested
tain

its

accurately

several

admeasurements.

He

estimated

the total height of the monument at 88 French feet, 6 inches,


and found that in consequence
of the instability of its faun*
Of its
dation, it had an inclination of about eight inches.
particular dimensions, he made
- - - 5 f. 6 3-10 in.
The height of the base
- lOf.
Do.
pedestal
- - 9 f. 10 6-10 in,
Do.
capital
Dianu of lower part of column - 8 f. 4 in*

him

reason

-.7f.

Upper

found a depression

He

to

suppose

8-10

in.*

of the capital of 2 inches, which


there

had

been

once

projection

gave
on

the top, for supporting the figure of the hero in whose honour;
it was elevated.
Ed. Wortely
(in a Me
Montagu declares
moir in Phil. Trans, vol. 57) that he found a coin within the
circumference

of

the

shaft,

which

was

one

of

Vespasian's,

on which the
affirms that the pedestal
pillar, with ita
base, rests, is hollow, and that he entered it. He speaks too
of a mutilated inscription, containing remains of Greek word*
or letters, on the base of the
It is much to be regret
pillar.
ted that this inscription
It wouli
is no longer legible.

He

Vol.

*A

French

III.

No.

foot

8.

is to an English

foot,4 as 16 to 15.

25

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104On

tell us something

undoubtedly
if it were

raised

of
its

about

the

of its resting
was

the

when

the

excavations
the

name

Dr.

White

about

shews

were

that
curious

very

on a block of granite

discovered.

and inform us

of its history,

of

Pom

the Roman Emperour.


on this celebrated
monu
dissertation
in a quarto volume of Dr. White, Ara
Oxford, a copy of which
University,
It contains the substance
Atheneum.
of the learned for the last hundred
a
and three or four plates, exhibiting
and

column,

foundation,

[July,

to commemorate

either

pey, or the glory of


learned
[A very
ment, may be found
biek professor
in the
work is in the Boston
of all the speculations
years on the subject,
view

Arts.

the Fine

almost

made

circumstance

five feet square,


conclusively^

that this monument was erected by Ptolemy Philadelphus,


or Temple
in the Serapeum,
of Serapi*,. and that it was
of his family.]
first
in
honour
of
the
probably

FOR

THE

NORTH-AMERICAtf

On

the Fine

JOURNAL,

Arts.

There
are, perhaps, few subjects more grateful to our na
tional pride, than the progress the fine arts have made un
der the genius and industry of our countrymen.
There
is a
in the reflection, that we have done
welcomeness
something
in this elevated department of the mind.
We
feel that we
shall live in the works of art we have accomplished,
we shall
five in the sentiment wrhich for ages has consecrated
the
the ancient painting in close com
canvass, which
places
pany with the most elevated and venerable mental labours ;
which associates
the most recent with the most remote age,
to bear us along in
and which promises
perpetual remem
brance.
feel a pride in these reflections, because
We
they
assure us, we shall not be forgotten : we feel, that when time
shall have confirmed the decisions of nature, our age
may
constitute

a venerable

antiquity.

It is grateful to know, that m the brightest


periods of the
mind in earlier times, the fine arts most
vigorously flourished.
some men were giving language to
While
thought, and words
to nature, by one species of signs ; others were
occupied
to the marble, or
with giving character
perpetuating
passing
then in use.
it
events^ by the species of painting
Now,
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