The hecastylon in Rome

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”!

2 Responses to “The hecastylon in Rome”


  1. Maureen

    It’s on the big marble map! 3 fragments worth. Here’s one.

    http://formaurbis.stanford.edu/fragment.php?slab=110&record=1

  2. Roger Pearse

    So it is!

    NB: for those unaccustomed to that site, the first time you click on that link, you’ll get an index rather than the item you want. Just close the window, click again, and this time it will work.

    How they achieve that undesirable effect I have no idea.