In the year 390 A.D. the emperor Theodosius the Great erected an Egyptian obelisk in the hippodrome of Constantinople. By so doing he placed a conventional symbol of ruler power in the focal point of imperial ceremonial. As a ritual and political centre, the hippodrome played an important part in the public life of the city: it was here the public took part in the same amusements and spectacles as the ruler; it was here the people hailed and acclaimed the emperor when he appeared in the imperial loge of the adjacent palace – and here the scorned him when he had fallen from grace. In short, the hippodrome connected the realm of the emperor with the realm of the people. “There was not a revolution to which its walls did not resound; not a national disgrace or triumph, heroic achievement or fiendish crime, which did not echo louder there than in palace or church”. […]


Prologue: State of Research
Chapt. I. The Obelisk as a Triumphal Monument
Chapt. 2. The Hierarchical Reliefs
Chapt. 3. The Narrative Reliefs
Chapt. 4. The Pictorial Programme
Chapt. 5. Workshops and Chronology
Chapt. 6. The Origin of the Sculptors
Chapt. 7. The Imperial Court
Chapt. 8. The Theodosian Dynastic Ideology 
Chapt. 9. Imperial Ceremonial
Chapt. 10. Imperial Symbolism


Sarah E. Bassett, American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 105, n. 4, p. 749, 10/10/2001

Michael Whitby, The Classical Review (New Series) Vol. 50 / Issue 02, p. 673, 03/10/2000