Posted by Gio on 2.16.18 in Ancient Rome
One of the most iconic monuments of all time was erected by emperor Trajan; it is now better known as “Trajan’s Column”. As columns go, it defines the very essence of defying gravity, transforming its purpose into a historical artifact, a vehicle of political propaganda, a pedestal for a statue and much more (not to mention housing for pigeons).
Many readers will know of it and for sure we can hardly do it justice with just a few lines. Nevertheless, I can’t help myself but to jot a few thoughts down because of the realisation that it made history for a number of reasons of which the below are just a tiny few. As I write I realise that perhaps there’s more to it than I at first thought…
Trajan’s column made history because:
- It was a monument which commemorated Emperor Trajan’s victory over the Dacian’s: including the region spreading across Romania, Moldovia, Hungary, and Poland. Impressive, but that’s almost an excuse for its existence.
- The column’s spiral architecture was inspired by the construction of a scroll narrating a story. Cool. And for those who say Roman art was a copy-cat trick please note, it was a truly Roman invention. An eclectic transformation of a column into a quintessential architectural artifact.
- True to it’s literary inspiration it was located in the centre of Trajan’s library, built in the Roman forum, it’s story being (roughly) legible both as a spiral as well as vertically from a single vantage point.
- For some reason, it reminds me of Erik Verlinde’s theories of gravity being a resulting phenomenon of the entropy (information) associated with the position of material bodies… hmmm. That’s the beauty of classical architecture for you!
- It was of such a size that you could walk up the inside.
- The sculpted lettering on the column’s pedestal is widely regarded by lovers and professionals of Font and Type as the true representation of ancient Roman lettering. A version of this was made into ‘Trajan’ typeface at the beginning of the 20th century, surprise surprise.
So there we have it:
A column which surpassed the very meaning of column, located in a library, used a typeface which defined fonts for the next 2000 years and was structured to deliver a (commemorative) message irrespective of your position in space and time. Wow. A veritable time machine.