Column of Aelia Eudoxia

The Column of Aelia Eudoxia was a monumental structure erected near Hagia Sophia. It was erected by consul Simplicius in 403 in honor of Aelia Eudoxia, the wife of Emperor Arcadius, who was Augusta from 400 to 404. The shaft was made of porphyry and was crowned with a massive silver statue of the empress. It seems that it was located on the northeast side of the Augustaion, outside the Senate House. By dedicating a statue near the Augustaion (which was named after Constantine’s mother, the Augusta Helena), it was linking the Theodosian dynasty to Constantine.

The statue was involved in the imperial controversy with the bishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom, who preached against the empress after the statue was erected. This led to his exile, and as he departed Constantinople, a riot broke out, during which Hagia Sophia was burned down.

While neither the statue nor the column survived, its marble base was discovered in the mid 19th century. It is an Attic column base, set on top of a socle with moldings on the top and bottom and was made from a single block of white marble. It has a Greek inscription and a Latin inscription on opposite sides. The Greek inscription is explicit that the base once supported a porphyry column with a silver statue of the empress, with is also confirmed by written sources. The surviving socle and base are almost certainly only one part of the original pedestal of the column. 

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Latin Inscription
D(ominae) n(ostrae) Ael(iae) Eudoxiae, semper Augustae, / v(ir) c(larissimus) Simplicius, praef(ectus) urbi, dedicavit.
'To our mistress Aelia Eudoxia, for ever Augusta. Simplicius, of clarissimus rank, prefect of the city, dedicated [this].'

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Greek Inscription
[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]. 
'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.'

“ln this year [405/6] the empress Eudoxia had a silver statue made of herself and set it up in a place called Pittakia near St Eirene. The City Prefect, being a Manichaean and a supporter of paganism, organized noisy choirs and dancing in front of the statue and raised a commotion, which distressed John [St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople] since it did not allow him to celebrate the holy liturgy in peace. For it frequently interrupted the psalmsinging. The holy John inveighed verbally against the prefect, who roused Eudoxia against John, saying that the latter was annoyed by the honour given to her statue. So once again there was hatred and anger against John. He then delivered a sermon that began, 'Once again Herodias is frenzied'. At this the empress's hostility towards him reached its peak and, once again, came deposition and banishment. The people set fire to the church and many risked danger on John's behalf. John was driven from the city and banished to Koukousos, from where he was transferred to Pityous. When he was at Komana in the approaches of Armenia, he died in the Lord.”

From The Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor 

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Sources

Column Base for statue of Eudoxia (Last Statues of Antiquity) 

Augustaion (Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World)

The Processions of John Chrysostom and the Contested Spaces of Constantinople by Andrade

The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor translated by Cyril Mango and Roger Scott

Resources 

Columns and Monuments of Constantinople Album (Byzantine Legacy Flickr)

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Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016