Column of Phocas Rome

The Column of Phocas (Colonna di Foca) is a monument in the Roman Forum in Rome. It is the last monument placed in the Forum before the entire area fell into disrepair.

Column of Phocas Rome


Zuil van Phocas, Rome
Zuil van Phocas

The Column of Phocas was erected in 608. It is 13.5 meters high and is one of the few columns in the Forum never to have fallen down. It was placed here by the Byzantine exarch (a kind of viceroy) Smaragdo.

Until the year 1816, people did not know what the column had served for or what its significance was. It was thanks to the English Lady Elizabeth Foster that the pedestal, with its elaborate inscription, was unearthed.

Thus it was learned that it was the last monument erected in the Forum and that it was dedicated to the Byzantine Emperor Phocas, who had just visited Rome at the time.

It is likely that the column was placed there out of gratitude, since Phocas had just given the Pantheon to the pope.

The inscription on the pedestal is in high praise of the Emperor, but does not mention that he came to power by murdering his predecessor Maurizio along with his five children.

The column itself is much older and probably stood in the Temple of Vesta in the 2nd century.

The original inscription was removed, to be replaced by the text in honor of Phocas, along with a gilded statue of the good man, which, however, was also soon removed.

Phocas himself was to later die a violent death. Heracleios deposed him and subsequently had his head cut off.

Practical Information

The entrance to the Roman Forum is at Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6. The Colosseum, the Palatine and the Roman Forum can be visited with a three-in-one ticket.

Column of Phocas, Forum Romanum, Rome