Open main menu

Apollodorus of Damascus (Greek: Ἀπολλόδωρος ὁ Δαμασκηνός) was a Syrian-Greek[1][2] engineer, architect, designer and sculptor from Damascus, Roman Syria, who flourished during the 2nd century AD.[3][4][5]

Apollodorus of Damascus
Apollodorus of Damascus, Greek Architect and Engineer. Pic 01.jpg
Apollodorus of Damascus, bust from 130/140 AD in the Glyptothek
BuildingsTrajan's Forum, Temple of Trajan



Apollodorus was a favourite of Trajan, for whom he constructed Trajan's Bridge over the Danube,[6] for the 105–106 campaign in Dacia.

He also designed Trajan's Forum, the Temple of Trajan, and Trajan's Column within the city of Rome, beside several smaller projects. Apollodorus also designed the triumphal arches of Trajan at Beneventum and others at Ancona.[6] 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 of Domitian 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.[7] He also wrote a treatise on Siege Engines (Πολιορκητικά), addressed to an unnamed emperor, likely Trajan.[6]

The monumental Danube Bridge of Apollodorus. Apollodorus himself stands in the foreground behind the sacrificing emperor.[8]

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, while others have doubts.[9]

In literatureEdit

Apollodorus of Damascus plays an important role in the later part of the historical novel Empire by Steven Saylor. The (fictional) protagonist Marcus Pinarius, a talented young sculptor and architect, becomes Apollodorus' protege, accompanies him during the war in Dacia and on various building projects in Rome, and later marries Apollodorus' daughter. After Apollodorus' banishment, Pinarius takes his place as the favorite architect of Hadrian. While all that is fictional, the book follows the known facts of Apollodorus' life (and accepts the account of his death at Hadrian's hands).

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Apollodorus of Damascus". Britannica. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  2. ^ Clarke, M.L. (1963). "The architects of Greece and Rome". Architectural History. 6: 9-22. doi:10.2307/1568280.
  3. ^ George Sarton (1936), "The Unity and Diversity of the Mediterranean World", Osiris. 2: 406-463 [430]
  4. ^ 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...
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  7. ^ Dio Cassius LXIX. 4
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ R. T. Ridley (1989), "The Fate of an Architect, Apollodoros of Damascus", Athenaeum. 67: 551-65.


External linksEdit