Columna Maenia

Richardson, L. jr

A column erected in 338 B.C. in honor of C. Maenius, victor over the Latins in the naval battle of Antium (Pliny, HN 34.20). It stood west of the Curia Hostilia, because the accensus consulum announced the final hour of the day when from the Curia he saw the sun pass the Columna Maenia moving toward the Carcer (Pliny, HN 7.212: a Columna Meania ad Carcerem inclinato). This indicates that the column was located near the northeast end of the Arch of Septimius Severus. The column was used in the time of Cicero for public posting of the names of delinquent debtors by their creditors (Cicero, Div. Caec. 50, Sest. 18 and Schol. Bob. ad loc [Stangl 128]).

A second explanation of the column was that when Cato was purchasing land for the Basilica Porcia Maenius, whose house Cato needed to complete the parcel, stipulated that one column should be salvaged from his house to provide a vantage point from which he and his descendants could watch the games given in the forum, and that on the column he constructed a wooden platform. Such a column would have had to be some distance from the house in question in order to provide a good spectator's vantage point, and houses of such size as would include a column suitable for supporting such a platform would have been extremely rare at so early a date. Other improbabilities involved are also apparent. We can therefore reject this tradition as an invention (cf. [Ascon.,] Div. Caec. 50 [Stangl 128]; Porphyrion ad Hor. Sat. 1.3.21). But it probably means that there was no inscription on the column and no statue crowning it from a relatively early date. Because the column was still standing in the fourth century (Symmachus, Epist. 5.54.3, the story was probably made up after the destruction of the Basilica Porcia and after its location was forgotten.

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