Athens – The Mouseion Hill and the Monument of Philopappus

The highest, 147 m., and farthest east of the group of hills on the south-west side of the city, the Mouseion, was so called by the Ancient Greeks after the legendary priest, seer and minstrel Museaus, a contemporary of Orpheus and Eumolpus, whose tomb, according to Pausanias, could be seen there. An earlier tradition associates this hill with the Muses; as the “Hill of the Muses”.

Situated opposite the Acropolis, it is commonly known nowadays as the Hill of Philopappus from the monument erected on its summit by the Athenians early in the second century AD in honor of Gaius Julius Antiochus Philopappus, a philhellene Syrian prince, citizen of Athens, Roman consul and praetor. This monument, which was in fact a mausoleum, was about 12 m. in height by 10 m. in breadth, and was built of Pentelic marble on a poros platform. It was destroyed in the seventeenth century and only two-thirds of the north-east facade remain today.

This facade is ornamented with a frieze sculptured in relief showing the prince, preceded by lictors, in his chariot, on his inauguration as Roman consul in AD 100. Above the frieze are three niches separated by Corinthian pilasters. In the central niche is a statue of Prince Philopappus as an Athenian citizen; that on the left contains a statue of his grandfather Antiochus IV, the last king of Commagene in North Syria, while the right-hand niche held a statue (now missing) of the Macedonian founder of the dynasty, Seleucus I Nikator.

The fusion of the two cultures, Greek and Roman, was symbolized by the inscriptions on the outer pilasters; that on the left summarizing his public career was in Latin; that on the right setting forth his princely titles was in Greek.