PILLAR (from the Italian pil;ere. or French o•) a kind of irregular column, round and insulate ; but de% i .ting from the proportions of a just column.
Pillars are always either too massive or too slender for regular architecture. In effect, pillars are not restrained to any rules ; their parts and proportions are arbitrary. Such, for instance, are the pillars which support Gothic vaults, and other buildings, &c.
.A square pillar is a massive work, called also pier, or piedroit, serving to support arches, &c.
A butting-pillar is a hutment, or body of masonry, raised to prop, or sustain, the thrust of a vault, arch, or other work.
It seems not impossible for stone to be east into the shape of pillars. We find mention made in the Philosophical Transactions (No. 481, p. 328, in note.) of two pillars of stone at Fontevraud, in France, each about 60 feet Iii rh. all of one solid piece, which are said to have been run. Pillars of stone were anciently erected as sepulchral monuments, near the highways ; and also in memory of some victory. We find traces of this custom in Cornwall and Wales, where these pillars are often found, and called weiniyeeir, a stone for play, perhaps in memory of funeral games ; and some times Ilech, that is, tabula sa.rea.
Pompey's pillar is a famous monument of antiquity, con structed of red granite, and situated on a rock, about a mile without the walls of Alexandria, in Egypt. By the mensu ration of Edward Wortley Montagu, Esq., the capital of the pillar, which is Corinthian, with palm-leaves, and not indented. is 9 feet 7 inches high ; the shaft 66 feet 11 inch ; the base 5 feet 91 inches ; the pedestals 10 feet inches ; the height from the ground 92 feet : thomrh Dr. by the shadow, determined the whole height to be 114 feet ; and its diameter 9 feet and an inch. It is perfectly well polished, and only a little shivered on the eastern side. Nothing can equal the majesty of this monument : seen from a distance, it overtops the town, and serves as a signal for vessels. Approaching it near, it produces, says Savary, an astonishment mixed with awe. One can never be tired with admiring the beauty of the capital, the length of the shaft, nor the extraordinary simplicity of the pedestal. This pro digious mass stands, as on a pivot, on a reversed obelisk ; and was erected, as many have supposed, either by Pompey, or to his honour. But as no mention is made of it by Strabo, Diodorus Sluing, or any other ancient writers, Mr. Montagu concludes that it was not known before the time of Vespasian, and that it was erected to his honour. In proof of this opinion, he found within the circumference of the pillar a medal of Vespasian, in fine order.
Savary, on the authority of Abulfeda, who calls it " the pillar of Severus," ascribes it to this emperor ; alleging. that
he visited Egypt, gave a senate to Alexandria, and de-erved well of its inhabitants. Accordingly, it is said that this column was a mark of their gratitude. The Greek inscrip tion, half efiliced, which is visible on the we-t side when the sun shines upon it, was legible, without doubt, in the time of Abu'lfeda, and preserved the name of Severus. Nor is this the only monument erected to him by the gratitude of the Alexandrians. In the midst of the ruins of Antinne, built by Adrian, is seen a magnificent pillar, the on which is still remaining, dedicated to Alexander Severus.
Denon has given a drawing of this pillar, with the marked dimensions of its various parts : he makes its whole height a fraction more than 9• feet ; and the height of the shaft, which is of a single piece, 63 feet I inch. It acquired, as this author says, the name of Pompey's pillar in the 15th century. A monument, as he supposes, had been raised by Pompey at Alexandria, hut it had disappeared, and was thought to be recovered in this pillar or column; which has since been converted into a trophy erected to the memory of Septimius Severus. It is, however, placed on the ruins of the ancient city ; and in the time of Septimius Severus, the city of the Ptolemys was not in a ruinous state. To support this column by a solid foundation, an obelisk has been sunk in the earth, on which is placed a very clumsy pedestal, having a fine shaft. and surmounted by a Corinthian capital of bad workmanship. if the shaft of this column, continues Devon, separating it from the pedestal and the capital, once belonged to an ancient edifice, it is an evidence of its mag nificence, and of the skill with which it was executed. It ought, therefore, to he s:rid, that what is called Pompey's pillar is a tine column, and not a fine monument ; and that a column is not a monument. The earth about the foundation of this pillar having been cleared away by time, two frag ments of an obelisk, of white marble, the only monument of that substance seen by Devon in Egypt, have been added to the original base, to render it more solid. After having observed that the column, entitled Pompey's pillar, is very chaste both in style and execution; that the pedestal and capital are nut tlirmed of the same granite as the shaft ; that their workmanship is heavy, and appears to be merely a rough draft ; and that the foundations, made up of fragments, indicate a modern construction ; it may be concluded, says our author, that this monument is not antique; and that it might have been erected either in the time of the Greek emperors, or of the caliphs: since, if the capital and pedestal are well enough wrought to belong to the former of these periods, they are not so perfect but that art may have reached so fir in the latter.