We all know how awesome comic books are. I myself have always been a fan! I written and illustrated my own short graphic memoir and read many over the years. From the classic Archie comics I read as a kid to the more modern graphic novels like Fun Home by Alison Bechdel that speaks to modern culture (and becomes a Broadway musical and wins 5 Tony Awards!!) Ancient Rome was apparently just as fond as we are and have been. Or at least one would think so when facing the hundred-foot high cylinder called the Trajan’s Column in the Forum of Trajan.
This column has stories like comic books carved in a continuous spiral up the entire column. The scenes are all from the Dacian Wars on the Danube frontier in 101-2 and 105-6 c.e. There are over 2,600 figures throughout the whole piece and a variety of military scenes. Everything from motivational speeches to offering sacrifices to the gods. In all it is a magical, incredible feat.
Two more crazy things about the column. Much of the Form Traiani, Trahan’s Forum, was destroyed in Christian times. Many of the sculptures were burned or pillaged. So the fact that this column was untouched, undamaged, and unharmed is rather incredible. Another cool fact is since the column is so high the artists tried to compensate the perspective bu making the figures bigger at the top. So as they get farther away from the viewer on the ground they still seems about the same size. The figures grow from 0.6 meters to 0.9 meters at the top. Pretty neat! I believe we might get to go here on our journey! How exciting!
I like what Hughes writes about viewing this whole thing. He says, ” For anyone with good binoculars, a sustaining interest in Roman Military history, and a crick-proof neck, this is a mesmerizing document, if “document” is the right word for something so big, stony and solid.” (Hughes 113)
This just might be me! I love it!
Book chapter 3: Hughes, Robert. Rome : A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History. 1st Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage, 2012. Print.