In Which Lincoln is…Caesar?

Along with togas and a Greek-influenced alphabet, the Romans inherited the faces from the Etruscans. A bundle of rods bound around an ax, the faces was the physical symbol of the Imperium: The absolute authority to give commands and enforce them, to scourge and execute the disobediant.


Personal note: I’ve always thought that the Lincoln memorial was creepy, to say the least. All ‘Temple of Zeus’ and whatnot.
In any event, look closely at the arms of Lincoln’s throne:


Each bears the faces. What’s going on here? What were the architect and artist trying to say about Mr. Lincoln and his war?

Interestingly, the faces on the Lincoln memorial do not show an ax. I don’t know if this was an oversight, or intentional. If intentional, was the goal of the artist aesthetic (from a design point of view, the axes would admitedly look awkward and unpleasantly barbaric). Or was the omission an editorial comment? Lincoln bore the Imperium. Enforced it with the scourge, certainly. But not to the extreme of tyranical execution.

An ironic thought, given that our civil war resulted in well over half a million casualties.


2 comments on “In Which Lincoln is…Caesar?

  1. Andrew Jacobs says:

    Um, nice discovery. I am surprised at this and am curious as to how you uncovered this bit of trivia.
    By the by, Mr. Carnahan, how is teaching on the east side?

  2. went and visited the memorial a month or two ago and, while looking at it, I was reminded of this fasces thing again (noticed it initially when my family took a trip to D.C. in highschool). I’ve tried to find some comment of the artist’s on this aspect of the sculpture, but so far no dice. May have just been a general “classical” looking touch, with no intended significance whatsoever. just thought it was weird.

    teaching is going swell. hard work, good work. love the area, though we miss old moscow. gimme a jingle some time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s