Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-x5gtn Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-28T00:11:45.064Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false


Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2016

Dunstan Lowe*
University of Kent, UK


Monumental weathervanes have been overlooked as a tiny but important genre of ancient bronze sculpture. This is the first collective study of all three definite examples: the so-called ‘triton’ on the Tower of the Winds in Athens, a copy of this somewhere in Rome and the winged female ‘Anemodoulion’ on the Bronze Tetrapylon in Constantinople. I propose to identify the intended subjects of these sculptures as the weather-deities Aiolos and Iris, thereby restoring a part of each monument's original meaning that was unknown to the authors of our ancient written accounts. I also suggest that monumental weathervanes were first invented in Hellenistic Alexandria, which may explain why the Tower of the Winds shared the octagonal design of the Pharos, and why the Anemodoulion was mounted upon a bronze pyramidion.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s) 2016. Published by Cambridge University Press 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Works cited

Adler, F. (1901) Der Pharos von Alexandria, Berlin.Google Scholar
Alexakis, A. G. (ed. and comm.) and Wessel, S. (tr.) (2011) The Greek Life of St. Leo, Bishop of Catania (BHG 981b), Brussels.Google Scholar
Alföldy, G. (2011) ‘The Horologium of Augustus and its model at Alexandria’, JRA 24, 96–8.Google Scholar
Anderson, W. B. (2011) ‘Leo III and the Anemodoulion’, BZ 104, 4154.Google Scholar
Behrens-Abouseif, D. (2006) ‘The Islamic history of the lighthouse of Alexandria’, Muqarnas 23, 114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
de Angelis, F. (2014) ‘Sublime histories, exceptional viewers: Trajan's Column and its visibility’, in Elsner, J. and Meyer, M. (eds.), Art and rhetoric in Roman culture, Cambridge, 89114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Benton, S. (1965) ‘Blue-beard’, Studi in onore di Luisa Banti, Rome, 47–9.Google Scholar
Berger, A. (1988) Untersuchungen zu den Patria Konstantinupoleos, Bonn.Google Scholar
Berger, A. (1997) ‘Das chalkun tetrapylon und Parastaseis Kapitel 57’, BZ 90, 712.Google Scholar
Bernand, E. (1996) ‘Les veilleurs du Phare’, ZPE 113, 8590.Google Scholar
Berryman, S. (2003) ‘Ancient automata and mechanical explanation’, Phronesis 48, 344–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bing, P. (1998) ‘Between literature and the monuments’, in Forsten, E. (ed.), Genre in Hellenistic Poetry, Groningen, 2143.Google Scholar
Bitsakis, Y. et al. (2010) The Antikythera mechanism within the astronomy and technology of its time, Athens.Google Scholar
Bruneau, P. (1961) ‘Isis Pelagia à Délos’, BCH 85 (1961) 435–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bruneau, P. (1963) ‘Isis Pelagia à Délos (Complements)’, BCH 87, 301–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bussels, S. (2012) The animated image: Roman theory on naturalism, vividness and divine power, Leiden.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Callisen, S. A. (1939) ‘The iconography of the cock on the column’, Art Bulletin 21, 160–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cameron, A. and Herrin, J. (eds. and trs.) (1984) Constantinople in the early eighth century: the Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai, Leiden.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Castiglione, L. (1970) ‘Isis Pharia: remarque sur la statue de Budapest’, Bulletin au Musée Hongrois des Beaux-Arts 34–5, 3755.Google Scholar
Castriota, D. (1995) The Ara Pacis Augustae and the imagery of abundance in later Greek and early Roman imperial art, Princeton.Google Scholar
Contadini, A. (2010) ‘Translocation and transformation: some Middle Eastern objects in Europe’, in Saurma-Jeltsch, L. E. and Eisenbeiss, A. (eds.), The power of things and the flow of cultural transformation, Berlin, 4265.Google Scholar
Curran, B. A. et al. (2009) Obelisk: a history, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
Cutler, A. (1968) ‘The De signis of Nicetas Choniates: a reappraisal’, AJA 72, 113–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dagron, G. (1984) Constantinople imaginaire, Paris.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dainton, C. (1957) Clock jacks and bee boles: a dictionary of country sights, London.Google Scholar
Davis, D. L. (2009) ‘Commercial navigation in the Greek and Roman world’, PhD thesis, University of Texas at Austin.Google Scholar
Dawkins, R. M. (1924) ‘Ancient statues in mediaeval Constantinople’, Folklore 35, 209–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Diels, H. A. (ed., tr. and comm.) (1917) Über die von Prokop beschriebene Kunstuhr von Gaza, Berlin.Google Scholar
Dilke, O. A. W. (1987) ‘Itineraries and geographical maps in the early and late Roman empires’, in Harley, J. B. and Woodward, D. (eds.), The history of cartography. Volume i: Cartography in prehistoric, ancient and medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, Chicago, 234–57.Google Scholar
El-Abbadi, M. (2004) ‘The island of Pharos in myth and history’, in Harris, W. V. and Ruffini, G. (eds.), Ancient Alexandria between Egypt and Greece, Leiden and Boston, 259–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
El-Fakharani, F. (1974) ‘The “lighthouse” of Abusir in Egypt’, HSCP 78, 257–72.Google Scholar
Fragaki, H. (2012) ‘Clocks and dials with automata: the mosaic of Qasr el-Lebya’, in Koetsier, T. and Ceccarelli, M. (eds.), Explorations in the history of machines and mechanisms, Dordrecht, 229–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
von Freeden, J. (1983) OIKIA KYRRESTOU: Studien zum sogenannten Turm der Winde in Athen, Rome.Google Scholar
Freeth, T. (2008) The Antikythera mechanism: decoding an ancient Greek mystery, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Furley, W. D. (2009) ‘A note on Posidippus’ Pharos epigram (no. 115 Austin–Bastianini)’, ZPE 170, 2930.Google Scholar
Furtwängler, A. (1905) ‘Die Gibelgruppen des alten Hekatompedon auf der Akropolis zu Athen’, Sitzungsberichte, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften (München), Philosophisch-historische Klasse, 433–58.Google Scholar
Garani, M. (2009) ‘Going with the wind: visualizing volcanic eruptions in the Pseudo-Vergilian Aetna ’, BICS 52, 103–21.Google Scholar
Gibbs, S. L. (1976) Greek and Roman sundials, New Haven.Google Scholar
Goodchild, F. (1961) ‘Helios on the Pharos’, AntJ 41, 218–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gutzwiller, K. J. (2002) ‘Art's echo: the tradition of Hellenistic ecphrastic epigram’, in Harder, M. A., Regtuit, R. F. and Wakker, G. C. (eds.), Hellenistic epigrams, Leuven, 85112.Google Scholar
Handler, S. (1971) ‘Architecture on the Roman coins of Alexandria’, AJA 75, 5774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haselberger, L. (ed.) (2014) The Horologium of Augustus: debate and context, JRA Supplementary Series 99, Portsmouth, RI.Google Scholar
Hersey, G. L. (2009) Falling in love with statues: artificial humans from Pygmalion to the present, Chicago and London.Google Scholar
Hill, D. (1984) A history of engineering in classical and medieval times, Beckenham, 183222.Google Scholar
James, L. (tr. and comm.) and Vassis, I. (ed.) (2012) Constantine of Rhodes, On Constantinople and the Church of the Holy Apostles, Farnham, Surrey and Burlington, VT.Google Scholar
Kaltsas, N. et al. (eds.) and Fowler, M. A. (tr.) (2012) The Antikythera shipwreck: the ship, the treasures, the mechanism, Athens.Google Scholar
Kienast, H. J. (1997) ‘The Tower of the Winds in Athens: Hellenistic or Roman?’, in Hoff, M. C. and Rotroff, S. I. (eds.), The Romanization of Athens, Oxford, 5366.Google Scholar
Kienast, H. J. (2005) ‘La Torre dei Venti di Atene’, in Lo Sardo, E. (ed.), Eureka! Il genio deglio antichi, Naples, 245–51.Google Scholar
Kienast, H. J. (2014) Der Turm der Winde in Athen, Wiesbaden.Google Scholar
Lawrence, A. W. (1996) Greek architecture, 5th edn, rev. Tomlinson, R., New Haven, CT.Google Scholar
Lazos, C. D. (2007) Hē optikē stēn archaia Hellada, Athens, 131–63.Google Scholar
Le Strange, G. (1900) Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliphate, Oxford.Google Scholar
Lehoux, D. (2007) Astronomy, weather, and calendars in the ancient world: parapegmata and related texts in classical and Near-Eastern societies, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Littlewood, A. R. (1968) ‘The symbolism of the apple in Greek and Roman literature’, HSCP 72, 147–81.Google Scholar
Liuzzi, D. (1996) La Rosa dei Venti nell'antichità greco-romana, Galatina.Google Scholar
Lowe, D. (forthcoming) ‘Suspending disbelief: magnetic levitation in antiquity and the Middle Ages’, Classical Antiquity 35.Google Scholar
Mango, C. (1963) ‘Antique statuary and the Byzantine beholder’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 17, 5575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mango, C. (1982) ‘The Life of St Andrew the Fool reconsidered’, Rivista di Studi Bizantini e Slavi 2, 297313.Google Scholar
McCartney, E. S. (1930) ‘Greek and Roman weather lore of winds’, Classical Weekly 24, 1129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meri, J. W. (ed. and tr.) (2004) A lonely wayfarer's guide to pilgrimage: Alî ibn Abî Bakr al-Harawî's Kitâb al-ishârât ilâ ma'rifat al-ziyârât, Princeton.Google Scholar
Neuser, K. (1982) Anemoi: Studien Zur Darstellung der Winden und Windgottheiten in der Antike, Rome.Google Scholar
Noble, J. V. and de Solla Price, D. J. (1968) ‘The water clock in the Tower of the Winds’, AJA 72, 345–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Obbink, D. (2005) ‘New old Posidippus and old new Posidippus: from occasion to edition in the epigrams’, in Gutzwiller, K. J. (ed.), The new Posidippus: a Hellenistic poetry book, Oxford, 97115.Google Scholar
Picard, C. (1952) ‘Sur quelques représentations nouvelles du phare d'Alexandrie et sur l'origine alexandrine des paysages portuaires’, Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 76, 6195.Google Scholar
Plommer, H. (1973) Vitruvius and later Roman building manuals, Cambridge.Google Scholar
Preger, T. (ed.) (1901–7) Scriptores originum Constantinopolitanarum, 2 vols., Leipzig.Google Scholar
Pugliara, M. (2003) Il mirabile e l'artificio: creature animate semoventi nel mito e nella tecnica degli antichi, Rome.Google Scholar
Rehm, A. (1916) Griechische Windrosen (Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: Philosophisch-historische Klasse 3), Munich.Google Scholar
Ridgway, B. S. (1990) Hellenistic sculpture i: The styles of ca. 331–200 BC, Madison, WI.Google Scholar
Rizzo, G. E. (1939) ‘Aurae velificantes’, Bullettino della Commissione Archeologia Communale di Roma 67, 141–68.Google Scholar
Robinson, H. S. (1949) ‘The Tower of the Winds and the Roman market-place’, AJA 47, 291305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rydén, L. (1978) ‘The date of the Life of Andreas Salos ’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 32, 127–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sauron, G. (2000) L'histoire végétalisée: ornement et politique à Rome, Paris.Google Scholar
Schaldach, K. (2006) Die antiken Sonnenuhren Griechenlands, Frankfurt am Main.Google Scholar
Schmidt, W. (ed. and tr.) (1899) Herons von Alexandria Druckwerke und Automatentheater = Pneumatica et automata, Leipzig.Google Scholar
Schnapp, A. (1994) ‘Are images animated? The psychology of statues in ancient Greece’, in Renfrew, C. and Zubrow, E. B. W. (eds.), The ancient mind: elements of cognitive archaeology, Cambridge, 40–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schröder, S. (2008) ‘Zu Posidipps Pharos-Gedicht und einigen Epigrammen auf dem Mailänder Papyrus’, ZPE 165, 40–8.Google Scholar
Simon, E. (1967) Ara Pacis Augustae, Greenwich, CT.Google Scholar
de Solla Price, D. J. (1964) ‘Automata and the origins of mechanism and mechanistic philosophy’, Technology and Culture 5, 923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spivey, N. J. (1995) ‘Bionic statues’, in Powell, A. (ed.), The Greek world, London, 442–59.Google Scholar
Squire, M. (2010) ‘Making Myron's cow moo? Ecphrastic epigram and the poetics of simulation’, AJP 131, 589634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Stuart, J. and Revett, N. (1762) The antiquities of Athens measured and delineated. Volume i, London.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Takács, S. A. (1995) ‘Alexandria in Rome’, HSCP 97, 263–76.Google Scholar
Taub, L. (2003) Ancient meteorology, London.Google Scholar
Thiersch, H. (1909) Pharos: Antike, Islam, und Occident, Leipzig.Google Scholar
Winter, E. (2013) Zeitzeichen: Zeitmessung und Zeitanzeige in Hellenismus und Kaiserzeit, Berlin.Google Scholar
Woods, J. G. and Symons, G. J. (eds. and trs.) (1894) Theophrastus of Eresus on winds and on weather signs, London.Google Scholar