Apollodorus of Damascus

Apollodorus of Damascus, bust from 130/140 AD in the Glyptothek
The monumental Danube Bridge of Apollodorus. Apollodorus himself stands in the foreground behind the sacrificing emperor.[1]

Apollodorus of Damascus (Greek: Ἀπολλόδωρος) was a Syrian-Greek engineer, architect, designer and sculptor from Damascus, Roman Syria, who flourished during the 2nd century AD.[2][3][4]


Apollodorus was a favourite of Trajan, for whom he constructed Trajan's Bridge over the Danube,[5] for the 105-106 campaign in Dacia.

He also designed the Forum Trajanum and Trajan's Column within the city of Rome, beside several smaller projects. Apollodorus also designed the triumphal arches of Trajan at Beneventum and Ancona.[5] He is widely credited as the architect of the third iteration of the Pantheon, and cited as the builder of the Alconétar Bridge in Spain. In 106 he also completed or restored the odeon begun in the Campus Martius under Domitian.

Trajan's Column, in the centre of the Forum, is celebrated as being the first triumphal monument of its kind. On the accession of Hadrian, whom he had offended by ridiculing his performances as architect and artist, Apollodorus was banished and, shortly afterwards, being charged with imaginary crimes, put to death.[6] He also wrote a treatise on Siege Engines (Πολιορκητικά), addressed to an unnamed emperor, likely Trajan.[5]

The story about Apollodorus' death demonstrates the persistent hostility felt towards Hadrian in senatorial circles long after his reign, for if Cassius Dio included it in his history, he must have believed it. Many since have taken Dio's anecdote at face value, but there is much in this story that does not add up and many scholars dismiss its historicity altogether.[7]

See also


  1. Giuliana Calcani, Maamoun Abdulkarim (2003), Apollodorus of Damascus and Trajan's Column: From Tradition to Project, L'Erma di Bretschneider, p. 55, ISBN 88-8265-233-5
  2. George Sarton (1936), "The Unity and Diversity of the Mediterranean World", Osiris 2: 406-463 [430]
  3. Giuliana Calcani, Maamoun Abdulkarim (2003), Apollodorus of Damascus and Trajan's Column: From Tradition to Project, L'Erma di Bretschneider, p. 11, ISBN 88-8265-233-5, ...focusing on the brilliant architect Apollodorus of Damascus. This famous Syrian personage represents...
  4. Hong-Sen Yan, Marco Ceccarelli (2009), International Symposium on History of Machines and Mechanisms: Proceedings of HMM 2008, Springer, p. 86, ISBN 1-4020-9484-1, He had Syrian origins coming from Damascus
  5. 1 2 3 Chisholm 1911.
  6. Dio Cassius LXIX. 4
  7. For instance: R. T. Ridley, "Apollodoros of Damascus" (1989).


External links

Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Apollodorus (of Damascus).
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