A Tourist in Rome - Column of Phocas
|Location::||In the Roman Forum|
|Time::||about 10 minutes, from Via dei Fori Imperiali|
|Hours::||Viewable at any time from Via dei Fori Imperiali|
Standing on a brick base surrounded by steps, the Column of Phocas rises to a height of over 40 feet. It was the last monument to have been erected in the Forum Square and has remained standing for 14 centuries. According to the inscription carved on the plinth (4th photo below), it was dedicated in honor of Phocas, the centurion elected emperor of Byzantium in 602 AD after having his predecessor Maurice and his five sons killed. Phocas presented Pope Boniface IV with the Pantheon in 608 AD, which was transformed into the church of St. Mary and the Martyrs one year later. Phocas himself was stripped of his skin, beheaded, dismembered, had his private parts cut off, and was dragged and burned two years after this column was erected, for raping the wife of Photius. The fluted marble column and Corinthian capital of the Column of Phocas were recycled from other monuments; the high base they now stand upon was originally used to support a statue of Diocletian. The earlier inscription was chiseled away and replaced with that to Phocas. But the section of the inscription bearing the name of Phocas was chiseled off when his inscriptions were erased throughout the empire after his disgrace. His name would have been placed at the missing diamond-shaped hole in the 4th image below, right after the word "Domino". A gilded bronze statue of Phocas once stood on top of the column, perhaps only briefly. Nearby, along the southern edge of the Forum Square, are five more honorary columns which probably looked similar to the Column of Phocas, although no dedications for those five columns remain.