Base for lost porphyry column, once supporting silver statue of Eudoxia, empress and wife of Arcadius. Constantinople, 'Pittakia'. 403

Latin inscription in two lines, and Greek inscription in four lines:

D(ominae) n(ostrae) Ael(iae) Eudoxiae, semper Augustae, / v(ir) c(larissimus) Simplicius, praef(ectus) urbi, dedicavit.

[Κίον[α] πορφυρέην καὶ ἀργυρέην βασίλειαν / [δ]έ[ρ]κεο, ἔνθα πόληι θεμιστεύουσιν ἄνακτες. / [τοὔ]νομα δ’, εἰ ποθέεις, Εὐδό[ξ]ια. τίς δ’ ἀνέθηκεν; / [Σι]μπλίκιος, μεγάλων ὑπάτων γόνος, ἐσθλὸς ὕπαρχο[ς].

'To our mistress Aelia Eudoxia, for ever Augusta. Simplicius, of clarissimus rank, prefect of the city, dedicated [this].'

'See the porphyry column and the silver empress, in the place where the emperors give rule to the city! Of what name is she, you might ask? Eudoxia. Who set her up? Simplicius, offspring of mighty consuls, the noble prefect.'

We reproduce the Greek inscription as given by the Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum no. 8614. We have not been able to consult Sevcenko's discussion of the inscription (Sevcenko 1979).

DESCRIPTION (from Stichel 1982, Jordan-Ruwe 1995, and the published image)
Attic column base, set on top of a socle with mouldings top and bottom, all worked from one block of white marble: H 79.5, W 145 cm. The lower diameter of the column base is 1.11 m, which suggests a height of c. 8.5 m for the shaft that once sat on top of it (Jordan-Ruwe 1995, 163). The epigraphic field is on the socle between the two mouldings; the Greek inscription is on the opposite face to the Latin one. The surviving socle and base are almost certainly only one part of the original pedestal of the column.

The Greek inscription is explicit that our base once supported a porphyry column with a silver statue of the empress, and written sources too record a silver statue of Eudoxia, set on a porphyry column, which must be the same statue (Stichel 1982; Jordan-Ruwe 1995, 227-8). Two late sources, Photius (9th century) and Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopulos (late 13th/ early 14th century) call the statue 'andrias' (ἀνδριάς, 'statue on foot); Nikephoros moreover records that it wore a chlamys.

The textual sources that refer to the column and statue are not precise about its location. According to Sozomen VIII, 20, it was set up in front of the senate house on the Augusteion; Theophanes 79 says it was in a locality called ‘Pittakia’, close to St Eirene; Socrates 18, 1 says that it was 'not too close and not too far from' St Sophia, and separated from that church by a broad street.

The Augusteion is located immediately south of St Sophia by modern scholarship, with one of the two senate houses of Constantinople on its short, eastern side. The Pittakia were an aristocratic residential area north of the senate house and east of St Sophia and St Eirene (for maps see Bauer 1996, 146 figs. 48 & 49, and 155 figs. 51 & 52). In the same quarter there was an open court with a column and statue of Leo I (LSA-2462).

The inscription was found in 1847 during work for the building of the Ottoman university in the vicinity of Hagia Eirene (Mango 1951, 63), 3 m below modern street level on a paved surface (Jordan-Ruwe 1995, 163); this is north of the presumed location of the Augusteion, in the area of the ancient ‘Pittakia’. The 19th-century excavation documentation is not clear about whether the base was found in situ, but Mango 1959, 60 very reasonably suggests that it ‘must have been very close to its original location’, which he takes as evidence against the monument's location on the Augusteion. However, the question of whether Eudoxia’s statue was set up on the Augusteion or in the residential area called Pittakia remains under discussion (the article by Speck 1969 was not accessible to us).

The base was brought to the courtyard of Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya Müzesi) where it remains today (Müller-Wiener 1977, 52).

The honorand, Eudoxia, wife of the emperor Arcadius, was Augusta 400-4 (PLRE II, 410 Aelia Eudoxia 1).

The awarder, Simplicius, was prefect of Constantinople in 403 (PLRE II, 1014 Simplicius 4). The inscriptions are securely dated to his year in office.

When the column was dedicated in 403, the noise disturbed the patriarch of the city John Chrysostomus; the argument between him and the empress resulted in the banishment of the patriarch (van Ommeslaeghe 1979).

Ulrich Gehn

Main Reference

Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum; , IV 8614

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; , III, 736

Stichel, R. H. W., Die römische Kaiserstatue am Ende der Antike, Roma 1982, p. 96 no. 91

Discussion References

Jordan-Ruwe, M., Das Säulenmonument. Zur Geschichte der erhöhten Aufstellung antiker Porträtstatuen (Asia Minor Studien Band 19), Bonn 1995, pp. 162-4

Mango, C., The Brazen House, København 1959,

Mango, C., The Byzantine Inscriptions of Constantinople: A Bibliographical Survey, American Journal of Archaeology 55, 1951, 52-66,

Martindale, J. R., The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. II A.D. 395-527, Cambridge 1980,

Müller-Wiener, W., Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls, Tübingen 1977,

Sevcenko, I., Inscription in honor of Empress Eudoxia, Annuals of the Ukrainian Academy 12, 1969/72, 207-8, 207-8

Speck, P., Eudoxia-Säule und Pittakia, Hellenika. Philologikon, historikon kai laographikon periodikon Syngramma, 22, 430-75, 1969,

van Ommeslaeghe, F., J. Chrysostom en conflit avec l'impératrice Eudoxie, Analecta Bollandiana 97, 1979, 131-59,