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Classicizing Cincinnati

Cincinnatus

This work in progress was inspired by similar, more ambitious, projects such as “Classicizing Philadelphia” (Bryn Mawr) and “Classicizing Chicago” (Urbana-Champaign) and by an exhibition in the Lobby of the Blegen Library building at the University of Cincinnati in 2018, a joint effort of the Cincinnati Art Museum and the University of Cincinnati.

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus (c. 520-430 BCE)

Cincinnati was named after Cincinnatus, the Roman leader legendary for his civic virtue and humility. He was a politician who retired to become a farmer. However, during an armed conflict between the patricians and the plebeians he was called to leave his plow and assume control of the Roman republic in 460 BCE. Cincinnatus and his patrician army were victorious upon which Cincinnatus relinquished his power.  The name also honors the Society of the Cincinnati, a society of military officers founded in the 18th century. Cincinnatus represented the moral virtues of farmers and war veterans, a large segment of the population of the mid-western frontier city. 


Pigasus sculpture

Lucius “Lucky” Quinctius Pigasus

Cincinnati’s "Flying Pig", Lucius “Lucky” Quinctius Pigasus in Roman gladiator suit by Eric Reed Creiner. A nickname for Cincinnati is Porkopolis, a reference to the many slaughtered pigs giving Cincinnati the dubious distinction of having been the "pork capital of the world."


Fleischmann Mausoleum

BUILDINGS AND MONUMENTS

The Fleischmann Mausoleum

The mausoleum contains the remains of Charles Fleischmann, the founder of the Fleischmann Yeast Company, and his son Julius Fleischmann, former mayor of Cincinnati as well as of other members of the family. It was built as a Greek temple in the Doric style.

William Salway, the superintendent of the Spring Grove Cemetery, designed this miniaturized, peristyled Doric Temple, reminiscent of the Parthenon, for the Fleischmann family in 1913. Salway, who was trained as an engineer and landscape gardener in England, had taken the job of superintendent in 1883 following the death of former superintendent, Adolph Strauch. Strauch came to Spring Grove in 1854 and established the “Landscape Lawn Plan” of cemetery design, and made Spring Grove one of the most attractively landscaped cemeteries in the country, a distinction that remains to this day.

In designing the Fleischmann mausoleum, Salway combined neoclassical architecture with naturalism. W.H. Harrison, president of the Harrison Granite Company in New York, erected the mausoleum using 5,000 cubic feet of Barre, Vermont, granite. The walls are 18 inches thick. Recessed into one of them is a stained glass window depicting the Three Fates.


Earnshaw Monument

The Joseph Earnshaw Monument

The grave of Joseph Earnshaw, the landscape designer at Spring Grove, has a neoclassical marker. The Joseph Earnshaw Grecian Corinthian-style monument was based on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.  The Lysicrates monument was the first building to have Corinthian columns on its exterior.  The building was built by Lysicrates, a wealthy patron of musical performances at the Theater of Dionysus.

Born in England, Earnshaw immigrated with his family to Cincinnati, Ohio, some time before 1845, where he practiced civil engineering, sharing an office with his brother Henry (also a civil engineer) in 1857, and serving as the city surveyor in 1858. Earnshaw had also begun to build his reputation as a cemetery planner at Cincinnati’s Spring Grove Cemetery, where he assisted landscape gardener Adolph Strauch. Throughout the nineteenth century, Earnshaw continued his work at the Spring Grove Cemetery, where, according to his wishes, he is buried.


Lawler Sphinx

The Lawler Sphinx

Erected in 1850 as a memorial on the grave of Matthew Lawler (d. 1831) and Ann Lawler (d. 1835), it imitates Egyptian examples with a sphinx (a human head on a lion body) as a guardian of the grave.

When the blue onyx-colored sphinx was installed at the Spring Grove Cemetery in 1850, it caused quite a stir.  The “pagan” iconography of the Egyptian sphinx ruffled the Christian sensibilities of the Victorians; yet, there were those who praised the monument as a break in the monotony of the usual gravestone shapes of neoclassical columns, mourning figures, flowered-adorned markers, obelisks, and Gothic pinnacles. Subsequently, the sphinx motif became quite popular at American cemeteries in the 19th century.

BENEATH THIS STONE

ARE INTERRED THE REMAINS

MATT’W LAWLER Esq.

OF PHILADELPHIA

BORN JANUARY 1ST 1755

DIED JULY 14TH 1831

MRS ANN LAWLER

HIS CONSORT

BORN JUNE 5TH 1761

DIED MARCH 25TH 1835

THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED TO THEIR MEMORY

BY THEIR SON DAVIS B. LAWLER IN JUNE 1850


Groff Pyramid

The Groff Pyramid

This Pyramid (1957) marks the grave of the Groff family, including Dr. William Groff and his daughter Florence, who both were archaeologists and the father also a physician. Florence arranged for her father's body to be brought back from Greece and her mother's from Egypt to be buried under a pyramid. Although the original plan for a pyramid of 425 square feet was not carried out, a small pyramid was erected and the Greek and Latin inscriptions on it exhibit the familial links to the ancient world.

In 1952, at White Plains, New York, a compromise with the relatives was reached contesting the will which authorized the Public Administrator to spend $10,000 of Ms. Groff’s $40,000 estate for the pyramid and to bring the rest of the family members’ bodies back to Spring Grove. The pyramid was finally erected in 1957 at a cost of $7,000 by Beck and Beck Inc. of Barre, Vermont, for Goodall Monument Works, Inc. The names on the pyramid are in English, Greek, and Egyptian. The pyramid is about ¼ of the originally planned size.

FLORENCE GROFF
BORN CINCINNATI, OHIO
DIED MARCH 21, 1948
HASTINGS ON HUDSON, N. Y.

WILLIAM N. GROFF
BORN MAY 4, 1857, CINCINNATI, OHIO
DIED DEC. 4, 1901, ATHENS, GREECE
ASIATIC SOC. — EGYPTIAN INSTITUTE

WILLIAM T. GROFF, M. D.
BORN DEC. 19, 1843, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
DIED JULY 9, 1900, ATHENS, GREECE

SARAH E. TALBOT GROFF
BORN CINCINNATI, OHIO
DIED MAR. 24, 1900, GHIZEH, EGYPT


Kroger Obelisk

The Kroger Obelisk

Bernard Kroger along with several other prominent Cincinnatians such as William Procter and James Gamble, erected obelisks on family plots at Spring Grove. These obelisks imitated Egyptian examples that commemorated particular events and people by the entrances to temples.


McCooks Monument

The McCooks Monument

It was inspired by a celebratory display of the wealthy choregos Lysicrates, erected in Athens in the 4th century BCE after a triumphant theatrical performance he sponsored. The shape is commonly imitated also in other monuments at Spring Grove such as the Earnshaw Monument and the monument of the Fighting McCooks, an Ohio family active in military life.

The Fighting McCooks were members of a family of Ohioans who reached prominence as officers in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Two brothers, Daniel and John McCook, and thirteen of their sons were in the army, making the family one of the most prolific in American military history. Six of the McCooks reached the rank of brigadier general or higher. Several family members were killed in action or died from their wounds. Following the war, several others reached high political offices, including governorships and diplomatic posts.


Love Pergola, Mt Storm

The Temple of Love in Mt. Storm Park

The pergola on the estate of Robert Bonner Bowler on Mt. Storm echoes several round temples in the Greek and Roman worlds, in the form of a Greek tholos, such as the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli, Italy, and the choragic monument to Lysicrates in Athens.

Mr. Strauch designed the "Temple of Love" in 1845 (see close-up below). The white columns of this Corinthian style pergola, which can be seen on the east lawn, was once the cover for a reservoir that supplied water to Mr. Bowler's seventeen greenhouses, gardens, orchards, and a waterfall and swan lake on which seven black swans swam.

Temple at Mount Storm Park

PNC Tower

The PNC Tower

The top of the tower built in 1913 (as the Union Central Life Insurance Building) was designed by Cass Gilbert to imitate the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, a 4th century BCE burial monument in Western Turkey considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

When construction of the Cass Gilbert designed building was completed in 1913, the Union Central Tower was the fifth tallest building in the world and the second tallest building (tallest office building) outside of New York City. The building opened on May 1 with final construction costs of approximately $3 million. It remained the tallest building in Cincinnati until 1930, when construction on the Carew Tower was completed. 


Image of the Taft Museum

The Taft Museum of Art

There are not many buildings in Cincinnati still standing from before or during the years of the Greek Revolution (1821-1829). The Taft Museum of Art on Pike Street, built in 1820, is one of the very few. It was the home of Charles P. and Anna Taft. The Greek Revolution inspired interest in ancient Greek architecture. The so called Greek Revival style flourished in Cincinnati after the Revolution, 1835-1860.


Church of Annunciation

The Church of the Annunciation

Boston architect Edward T.P. Graham designed this Church on 3547 Clifton Avenue from a drawing he made while visiting the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens. It was completed in August 1930. 


Fifth Avenue Arch of Triumph

Fifth Street Triumphal Arch

5th and Vine. A Roman triumphal arch was constructed for the returning soldiers of World War I. It was erected on the south side of Fifth Street across from the Post Office. The soldiers passed under the arch which was inscribed with the phrase "honor for duty nobly done".


Sinton Rostrum

The Sinton Rostrum

In the 1870s the merchant David Sinton proposed to fund the construction of a Roman style forum known as the Sinton Forum at present-day Government Square. The Forum would have included an open space for assemblies with a balcony for orators and a huge statue of Cincinnatus. Maybe regrettably, the proposal faced resistance and was abandoned.


Albee Theater

The Albee Theater

13 E. Fifth Street. At the Duke Energy Convention Center, formerly the Dr. Albert B. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center. "The most magnificent theater in the world". The five-story main lobby had lavish white Vermont marble walls, two grand marble staircases, six etched-border mirrors and a two-story stained-glass window. The three-story grand lobby was lit by nine brass and crystal chandeliers. The ceilings were decorated with lavish rococo plasterwork accented in gold. The five-story, 4,000-seat auditorium had a proscenium arch, Corinthian columns and red drapery.

Besides being one of the largest moving picture houses in the world, it had a full stage for live entertainment and hosted such stars as Fred Astaire, Jack Benny, and Jackie Gleason.

A group "Save the Albee" was formed in the early 1970s to try to save the theater from being demolished. The head of that group, Frances Vitali, operated a laundry in Corryville with her husband. In 1972, a Dallas group announced plans to buy the property at Fifth and Vine and build a 50-story office building and shopping arcade. Vitali and others pulled together and rebuffed the threat. But City Hall, city planners and developers were determined to rebuild the area around Fountain Square into a Central Business District. Vitali made a final appeal. She proposed a "Theater on the Square" concept open all year for the opera, ballet, touring shows, school graduations and youth programs to no avail. The Albee was demolished in March, 1977, except for its classicizing marble façade. 


Hamilton County Courthouse

Hamilton County Courthouse

1000 Main Street. It was built in 1915 thanks to William Howard Taft. Features include those from a Greek temple such as the cella and Ionic columns. There have been five court houses that have suffered various fates. The third was destroyed by a fire in 1884. Dubbed "the College of Murders" because of the many murderers receiving virtually no jail time, which resulted in ca. 2,000 Cincinnatians eventually rioting in frustration.  


Ensemble Theater

The Ensemble Theater (1988-2003)

1127 Vine Street. With classicizing faux-marble façade.


Second District Police Station

Second District Police Station (1910)

In Greek Revival Style it featured two colossal Ionic columns and classical decorative motifs such as menader patterns, dentils, and egg-and-dart moldings.  


St. Peters-in-Chains Cathedral, Cincinnati

St. Peter-in-Chains Cathedral

8th and Plum. Archbishop John B. Purcell (1800-1883) who headed the Cincinnati diocese for five decades, wanted the cathedral to be designed in the "Grecian style of architecture." The architect was Henry Walter, the principal architect of the Ohio state capitol building in Columbus.  It begins as a temple modeled after the Parthenon but with Corinthian columns in the hexastyle portico. The capitals have the usual acanthus leaves but topped by tall and narrow leaves modeled after the Roman Tower of the Winds in Athens. The interior has been referred to as "debased Art Deco" and "a bouillabaisse of Roman and Greek motifs." When it was built in 1845, it was only the second cathedral in the country.


Plum Street Temple

Plum Street Temple

It was designed by James Keyes Wilson in 1866 using a combination of Byzantine, Gothic and Islamic styles. It was originally known as the Isaac M. Wise Temple in honor of its first rabbi, the founder of Reform Judaism and of Hebrew Union College. 


Palace at League Park

Palace of the Fans at League Park (1884-1901)
Findlay Street and Western Ave. It had a peripatetic Doric collonade and a Greek temple facade. 


Hickenlooper House

Hickenlooper House (1871)
838 Dayton Street. Featuring egg-and-dart, triglyphs, reliefs, and akanthus decorations.  


The Bazaar in Cincinnati

The Bazaar or "Trollope's Folly"

This fascinating building was erected by Seneca Palmer in 1828-29 at the bequest of British author Frances Trollope. It blended many architectural styles -- Greek, Moorish, Egyptian and Gothic. It housed a coffee house, ice cream parlor, exhibition galleries, and a ballroom. Regrettably, it was torn down in 1881. Frances Trollope was a British philhellene who lived in Cincinnati for two years and whose support for the Greek cause brought her into contact with another British philhellene, Jeremy Bentham, with whom she corresponded. Ms. Trollope left Cincinnati disappointed. The diary of her travels in America, published as the Domestic Manners of the Americans, did not please Cincinnatians.   


Burnet House

Burnet House (1850-1926)

Burnet House was a luxury hotel at 3rd and Vine designed by Isaiah Rogers. The sixth story landmark was furnished with columns and arches and was originally topped by a 42 foot dome.


George Hatch House

George Hatch House

Located on 830 Dayton Street and with fluted Corinthian columns, it is considered one of the best examples of what has been labeled Greek Revival Style. The architect was Isaiah Rogers.


Friendships Park

Theodore M. Berry International Friendships Park

One section of the Theodore M. Berry International Friendships Park recalls ancient Near Eastern architecture such as lotus-like capitals and pillars surmounted by animals in Persepolis in ancient Persia (see close-up below).

Persian motifs in Friendships Park

The She-Wolf Sculpture in Eden Park

The Lupa in Eden Park

A bronze cast of the famous Capitoline Wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome (see close-up below). It was a gift to Cincinnati from the City of Rome, its sister city, under fascist leader Benito Mussolini.

The statue was given to commemorate Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the city's namesake and remembered for his civic duty and governance. Mussolini saw himself as the present-day Cincinnatus in his vision of "New Rome." As such, the dictator wanted to spread goodwill to places around the globe with Italian ties. Similar gestures were made to sister cities in New York and Georgia as well although Cincinnati may have been especially suited because of its seven hills and "Roman" name.

The bronze model was tendered to the Cincinnati chapter of the order Sons of Italy in 1931 and dedicated in 1932. The inscription reads Anno X, i.e., Mussolini's tenth year in power.

The She-Wolf sculpture in Eden Park

Villa in Cincinnati

A villa with arched portico and spolia

Classicizing elements are found throughout the greater Cincinnati area.


Sculpture of Poseidon

Sea God Poseidon/Neptune


Grave marker

Base of a column

It shows a mourner by a grave marker (or a Vestal Virgin tending the fire?) and Priapus or ithyphallic herm. The nudity of the mourner (or Vestal?) would not be something you would have seen in classical antiquity.


The God Zeus

A Greek god (Zeus or Poseidon?)


tondo with Faustina?

A tondo with Empress Faustina (2nd c. CE) like hairdo?  


Fountain with Nymphs

Fountain with obelisk and nereids?


Author Lytle

ARTISTS AND WRITERS

Writers such as William Haynes Lytle drew from ancient literature to praise modern heroism and virtue. Other Cincinnatians studied ancient sculpture for inspiration such as Hiram Powers, Tom Tsuchiya, and John Leon. Robert Duncanson and Bruce Erikson were also inspired by Greek and Roman antiquities. 

William Haynes Lytle (1826-1863)

In September 1863, shortly before his death, William Haynes Lytle was presented with a jeweled golden cross in honor of him achieving the rank of Brigadier General. The back of the cross is inscribed with the Greek phrase έν τούτῳ νίκα – "conquer under this sign" -- a direct reference to emperor Constatine's vision of the cross in 312 CE. One of Lytle’s most famous poems, Antony and Cleopatra (1853), describes the dying moments of the Roman general Mark Antony in the embrace of the Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra during the Roman civil war. Lytle saw a parallel to the imminent American civil war.

"Antony and Cleopatra" by William Haynes Lytle

I am Dying, Egypt, dying,
Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,
And the dark Plutonian shadows
Gather on the evening blast;
Let thine arms, O Queen, enfold me,
Hush thy sobs and bow thine ear;
Listen to the great heart-secrets,
Thou, and thou alone, must hear.

Though my scarr'd and veteran legions
Bear their eagles high no more, 
And my wreck'd and scatter'd galleys
Strew dark Actium's fatal shore,
Though no glittering guards surround me,
Prompt to do their master's will,
I must perish like a Roman,
Die the great Triumvir still.

Let not Caesar's servile minions
Mock the lion thus laid low;
'Twas no foeman's arm that fell'd him,
'Twas his own that struck the blow;
His who, pillow'd on thy bosom,
Turn'd aside from glory's ray,
His who, drunk with thy caresses,
Madly threw a world away.

Should the base plebeian rabble
Dare assail my name at Rome,
Where my noble spouse, Octavia,
Weeps within her widow'd home,
Seek her; say the gods bear witness -
Altars, augurs, circling wings -
That her blood, with mine commingled,

Yet shall mount the throne of kings.

As for thee, star-eyed Egyptian,
Glorious sorceress of the Nile,
Light the path to Stygian horrors
With the splendors of thy smile.
Give the Caesar crowns and arches,
Let his brow the laurel twine;
I can scorn the Senate's triumphs,
Triumphing in love like thine.

I am dying, Egypt, dying;
Hark! the insulting foeman's cry.
They are coming! quick, my falchion,
Let me front them ere I die.
Ah! no more amid the battle
Shall my heart exulting swell;
Isis and Osiris guard thee!
Cleopatra, Rome, farewell!


Rockwood pottery

Rockwood Pottery Company

The Rockwood Pottery Company drew from ancient culture to create decorative and functional objects such as bookends in the form of sphinxes. Founded in 1880 Rockwood was the first female-owned manufacturing company in the United States. It was founded by Maria Longworth Nichols in 1880. She designed much of the ceramics herself but also hired a master potter from Germany and an expert in Japanese ware. The company, initially on Eastern Ave. and from 1892 on top of Mt. Adams, was famous for its finishes, golden tints, and glazes applied in successive firings. 


Artist Duncanson

Robert S. Duncanson (1821-1872)

Robert S. Duncanson (1821-1872) was an African-American painter from Cincinnati and the first artist to use Roman landscapes as an expression of African-American cultural identity in pre-Civil War America.  See for example the Temple of Sibyl at Tivoli (below), an ancient theme but the landscape is also reminiscent of the Ohio River Valley.

Sybil

"Temple of Sibyl at Tivoli" by Robert S. Duncanson


Hiram Powers

Hiram Powers (1805-1873)

Hiram Powers’ sculpture the "Greek Slave" recalls Greek and Roman statues of Venus and the Greek past in face of its contemporary (19th c.) conflict with Turkey. The statue gained fame for its controversial nudity and political message that resonated with American abolitionists. 

Greek Slave sculpture

Hiram Powers’ "The Greek Slave"

This sculpture may have been inspired by the story of Garyphallia/Garafilia, a little Greek girl of 7 who was taken prisoner by the Ottomans during the Greek War of Independence after they killed her parents and siblings. She eventually ended up being purchased at a bazaar at age 10 by American Joseph Langston who liberated her and took her to Boston to live with his cousins.  She was sent to school where she was a bright, sweet and obedient girl until she passed away at age 13 of tuberculosis. After the brutal treatment she had received while a slave and her long journey from the island of Psara to Turkish Smyrna (Izmir) without food or much clothing and the long trip to America, her little body was worn out.  Powers depicted the Greek Slave, Garyphallia, in the image of Venus de Milo, 1844.


Mural in Cincinnati by Richard Haas

"Homage to Cincinnatus" by Richard Haas.

One of the most beautiful murals in downtown Cincinnati is this one at the corner of Plum and Vine streets. The artist is Richard Haas. It was completed in 1983 and restored in 2015. The remarkable trompe-l'œil mural (see close-up below) is a celebration of the city and an homage to the Roman general Cincinnatus, but also to the city of Rome with a collage reminiscent of the interior of the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the round temple of Vesta with the eternal flame, the Tarpeian Rock inside one of the three arches below the statue of Cincinnatus with his plough, above a fountain and a grotto with an oculus flanked by water spouting Neptunes, recalling the Fontana del Mascherone and the Trevi Fountain, the stairs and the reddish gold stone of the Renaissance and Mannerist Villa Caprarola, north-east of Rome, and the Spanish Steps. The tripartite serliana (named after Italian architect Sebastiano Serlio) construction consists of a central opening with a semicircular arch over it, springing from two entablatures each supported by two (Corinthian) columns or pilasters flanking narrower flat-topped openings on either side. As typical of Renaissance, Mannerist, and Neoclassical styles, classicizing architectural elements such as garlands, egg-and-dart, medallions, dentils, rosettes, miniature obelisks and pyramids abound. The artist himself has said that he was inspired by lithographic prints of Italian artist and classical archaeologist Giambattista Piranesi (1720-1778). 

Homage to Cincinnatus, mural by Haas

Vulcano-Dreams-Leon

"Vulcano Dream" by John Leon

John Leon is a Cincinnati-based sculptor who works in a variety of media, including stone and wood. He has been influenced by ancient Greek sculpture and has traveled to Greece on several occasions. Leon’s work Vulcano Dream (2002), for example, recalls the draped female figures from the east pediment of the Parthenon. 

Tom Tsuchiya, also known as Norikazu (born August 3, 1972), is a Cincinnati artist and an alumnus of the UC Classics Department.

In September 2012, Tsuchiya completed his Lux Mundi, a 15.8 meter (52 feet) tall statue of Jesus for Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio. 


Jesus by Tom Tsuchiya

"Lux Mundi" by Tom Tsuchiya

Statue by Tom Tsuchiya

This earlier statue of Jesus by Tsuchiya was destroyed by lightning in June, 2010

Atlas carrying the World

"Atlas Recycled" by Tom Tsuchiya.

In the lobby outside of the UC Classics Department and Library. The Titan Atlas carrying Earth on his shoulders.


McMicken Hall

University of Cincinnati

McMicken Hall, the home of the College of Arts & Sciences

It was built in 1949 succeeding another Hall built in 1894 and named after Charles McMicken (1782-1858), a wealthy industrialist who gave a million dollars to the City of Cincinnati to found a university in 1870, named the University of Cincinnati in 1875 (the date used by UC to commemorate its founding, however, is that of Cincinnati College from 1819). The college, too, used to be named after Charles McMicken who had envisioned an institution of higher learning for white students only. 

On September 22, 1894, at the founding ceremony of the original building, a number of documents were put into the building's cornerstone such as a copy of McMicken’s will, the first and most recent UC catalog, annual reports, the mayor’s last annual message, the manual of the city, a copy of the Enquirer, a copy of that day’s program, a pamphlet “embodying the instructions to the architects of the building,” a copy of the Student’s Annual, a copy of The Cincinnatian (the UC yearbook), a copy of the McMicken Review (the student paper in the late 19th century), and the manuscript of Hunt’s oration: “Charles McMicken, Founder of the University of Cincinnati.”  The Hall was foremost the home of Bearcat Basketball. Sports and the Bearcats are still a focus of UC.

The classicizing main entrance to today's Hall is flanked by two lions referred to as "Mick and Mack," a play on McMicken's name, replicas from Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence, Italy, and from the original 1894 building, and four Ionic columns in relief, and a tympanon with acanthus leaves and dentils, which were added features in 1949. 


Picture of the Blegen Library

The Blegen Library building

Built in 1930, it once housed the University of Cincinnati's Main Library. Today it houses the John Miller Burnam Classics Library, the Albino Gorno Memorial (Music) Library, and the Archives and Rare Books Library. It was dedicated to UC archaeologist Carl Blegen in 1983. Its exterior is replete with classical motifs such as architectural relief sculptures in the northern corner, portraying Homer, Plato, Herodotus, Euclid, Pheidias and others and under the roof above the entrance is a relief of the She-Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus.  Above the entrance is a relief of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, surrounded by various symbols of knowledge such as the five-pointed star of human wisdom, the six-pointed star of divine wisdom, the key to knowledge, the dolphin and rose and a number of owls, the symbol of Minerva and of wisdom as well as illustrations of oral history (prehistory) and the history of writing (history) -- pictograms, cuneiform, hieroglyphs. Inside the Reading Room of the Music Library are chandeliers with Greek and Latin phrases from philosopher Democritus and playwright Terence.  


Relief of Minerva above the entrance to Blegen

Relief of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva, and her owls. Above the entrance to the Blegen Library building (see close-up below). The bronze panels feature "oral tradition," a bard handing a lyre to his son who hands it to his children, etc., a Pyrenees man draws images (perhaps early "pictograms") on a cave wall, an Assyrian scribe writes cuneiform, an Egyptian scribe writes on papyrus, a Hindu scribe writes on a palm leaf book.   

Minerva and owls outside entrance to Blegen

The She wolf and Romulus and Remus below the roof of Blegen.

Below the roof on the parapet of the Blegen Library building there is a relief of the symbol of Rome, the She-Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. There is also a female figure representing civilization carrying the lamp of knowledge along with a scroll and the Hebrew word for light (וֹאר)  and an open book with the Latin word for light (lux) along with pyramids, Assyrian winged lions, and a medieval castle (see larger image below).


Exterior of Blegen, She-Wolf

Classicists of the University of Cincinnati

Many prominent alumni of the University of Cincinnati led and participated in excavations in and around the Mediterranean (Troy, Pylos, and other sites) such as Louise Taft Semple and her husband and UC Classics Professor William Semple, the generous benefactors of the UC Classics Department and Library, the great Carl Blegen, the discoverer of the Palace of Nestor, Margo Leaman Taft Tytus, and Marion Rawson who in spite of her being overshadowed by Blegen was indispensable to the archaeological work performed by them both. 


The Semples, benefactors

Anna Louise Taft Semple (1879-1961) and William T. Semple, Chair of the Classics Department at the University of Cincinnati (1921-1951)

Portrait in the John Miller Burnam Classics Library, University of Cincinnati.


Carl Blegen Portrait

Professor Carl W. Blegen (1887-1971)

Portrait in the Lobby of the Blegen Library building.


Marion Rawson

Marion Rawson (1899-1980)

Carl Blegen's right hand and a first rate archaeologist. Photo in the Lobby of the Blegen Library building.


Margo Tytus

Margo Leaman Taft Tytus (1913-2008)

The benefactor of the prestigious Tytus fellowship (the Margo Tytus Visiting Scholars Program).The Frick Collection, New York.