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About this product
- DescriptionThe Serpent Column, a bronze sculpture that has stood in Delphi and Constantiple, today Istanbul, is a Greek representation of the Near Eastern primordial combat myth: it is Typhon, a dragon defeated by Zeus, and also Python slain by Apollo. The column was created after the Battle of Plataia (479BC), where the sky was dominated by serpentine constellations and by the spiralling tails of the Milky Way. It was erected as a votive for Apollo and as a monument to the victory of the united Greek poleis over the Persians. It is as a victory monument that the column was transplanted to Constantiple and erected in the hippodrome. The column remained a monument to cosmic victory through centuries, but also took on other meanings. Through the Byzantine centuries these interpretation were fundamentally Christian, drawing upon serpentine imagery in Scripture, patristic and homiletic writings. When Byzantines saw the monument they reflected upon this multivalent serpentine symbolism, but also the fact that it was a bronze column. For these observers, it evoked the Temple's brazen pillars, Moses' brazen serpent, the serpentine tempter of Genesis (Satan), and the beast of Revelation. The column was inserted into Christian sacred history, symbolizing creation and the end times. The most enduring interpretation of the column, which is unrelated to religion, and therefore survived the Ottoman capture of the city, is as a talisman against snakes and snake-bites. It is this tale that was told by travellers to Constantiple throughout the Middle Ages, and it is this story that is told to tourists today who visit Istanbul. In this book, Paul Stephenson twists together multiple strands to relate the cultural biography of a unique monument.
- Author BiographyPaul Stephenson is Professor of History and Head, School of History and Heritage, University of Lincoln.
- Author(s)Paul Stephenson
- PublisherOxford University Press Inc
- Date of Publication18/08/2016
- SubjectAncient History
- Series TitleOnassis Series in Hellenic Culture
- Place of PublicationNew York
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintOxford University Press Inc
- Content Note92 halftones and 8 line drawings
- Weight670 g
- Width163 mm
- Height242 mm
- Spine21 mm
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