Apollodorus of Damascus

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, bust from 130/140 AD in the Glyptothek
BuildingsTrajan's Forum, Temple of Trajan


Apollodorus was Trajan's favored architect and engineer. He designed and oversaw the construction of the Forum, Markets, and Temple, and Column of Trajan (the first monument of its kind) within the city of Rome. He is widely credited with the design of the Pantheon and in AD 106 he completed the stadium of Domitian. Outside the capitol, Apollodorus built bridge across the Danube and the Tagus in Spain (the Alconétar Bridge) and designed the triumphal arches of Trajan at Benevento and Ancona.[6] He is the author of Siege Engines (Πολιορκητικά), dedicated to an unnamed emperor, likely Trajan.[6]

Cassius Dio reports the Apollodorus offended Hadrian by dismissing and ridiculing the emperor's forays into architecture, which led to his banishment and death (although doubts have been raised concerning the veracity of Dio's claim).[8]

In literature

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 also


  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. Chisholm 1911.
  7. 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
  8. R. T. Ridley (1989), "The Fate of an Architect, Apollodoros of Damascus", Athenaeum. 67: 551-65.


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