Sunday, December 18, 2016

GOTHS COLUMN

Gülhane Park, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'51.0"N 28°59'07.0"E /41.014167, 28.985278

Goths Column / Gulhane Park - Fatih photo goth_column102.jpg

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The Goths Column is found at the entrance to the Gülhane Park from Sarayburnu. and is thought to have been built in the 4th century. It was erected after a military victory over the Goths. It is the oldest monument in the city that has survived intact from the Roman period.

One of the most beautiful monuments of Constantinople is this granite monolith. It can be found immediately north of the famous Topkapı Palace, overlooking the Bosphorus. According to the inscription, it was erected to commemorate how the Romans had defeated the Goths. The Byzantine author Nicephorus Gregoras says that on top of the column stood a statue of the legendary founder of Byzantium, king Byzas.

The column is 15 meters high and rests on a three-step pedestal. The column is carved from a single piece of stone. The Corinthian capital is decorated with a coat of arms depicting eagles. It is almost hidden by the tall trees surrounding it.

The name of the 18.5 metre high free-standing Proconnesian marble pillar which is surmounted with a Corinthian capital derives from a Latin inscription at its base, commemorating a Roman victory over the invading Goths: FORTUNAE REDUCI OB DEVICTUS GOTHOS (To Fortuna, who returns by reason of victory over the Goths), which has been shown to have replaced an earlier Latin inscription. The dating and original dedication of the column are uncertain.

Most likely, the column was erected to honor the victories of either Claudius II Gothicus (r. 268-270) or Constantine the Great (r. 306-337), both of whom are noted for achieving victories over the Goths. According to Byzantine historian Nicephorus Gregoras (c. 1295-1360), the column was once surmounted by a statue to Byzas the Megarian, the semi-legendary founder of Byzantium.

Other sources mention a statue of the goddess Tyche, now lost. At any rate, it represents the oldest monument of the Roman era, possibly preceding the foundation of Constantinople, still extant in the city.

During the 3rd century for the first time the Roman limes (fortified border) on the Danube River was crossed by nomadic tribes and the Goths laid siege to Byzantium. A column was erected to celebrate the decisive victory of Emperor Claudius II (268-270) against the Goths at Naissus (today's Nis in Serbia).

In 272 Constantius Chlorus, the military commander of Naissus had a child by an innkeeper's daughter: He was to become Emperor Constantine and to play a major role in the future of Byzantium (some believe the column celebrated Constantine's victories).

It is not entirely clear for which commander this column was erected. Several generals defeated the tribes north of the Danube that the Romans, using archaisms that went back to Herodotus of Halicarnassus, called Scythians, Getae, or Goths, no matter how the tribes called themselves. One of the most famous Roman victories was achieved by the Emperor Claudius II Gothicus, who defeated the Herulians in 269.

It is certainly possible that this event was commemorated with the Column of the Goths. Another candidate is Constantine the Great, who overcame the Sarmatians in 315, 322, 328-329, and 332, and is known for his building activities in Constantinople.

On balance, however, Claudius II appears to be the more likely candidate, because Constantine would not have permitted a statue of the founder of the city that he had refounded, and - moreover - is not known to have erected monuments in this part of the city, the ancient Acropolis.

Although it is not entirely clear how Christian Constantine was, it is reasonably clear that he sympathized with this monotheism, and did not pay much attention to the pagan temples, of which there were many on the Acropolis.

In fact, this pagan part of the city was left abandoned for centuries, until the Ottomans decided to build the Topkapı palace on this unused grounds. Although this does not prove that the column was erected for Claudius, it suggests that it was not done for Constantine.

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