When I feel under the weather, and I can’t face anything heavy, I tend to resort to reading old favourites. Often these include the old Loeb’s of Juvenal and Martial. This week, attacked by a heavy cold, it has been Martial.
I was reading book 3, epigram 19. This describes a place of “a hundred columns”, where there were statues of wild beasts in bronze. The Loeb footnote says this was called the Hecastylon. It seems to have been a portico. The epigram describes how a boy thrust his hand into the mouth of a bronze bear, only to disturb a nesting viper, be bitten, and die.
A Google search on Hecastylon revealed almost nothing. The only reference was to a map, which gave a location and said that some of the building is still standing, and placed it next to the Largo Argentina, where the emperors handed out donatives. A Google books search identified it as a portico.
And that was it.
We are so very used to finding material online, that it comes as rather a shock to find almost none. Perhaps the building had some other name, or spelling; but even so, it is surprising.
UPDATE: Apparently it should be “Hecatostylon”!