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"Swan Head At Bow Or Stern Of Roman Transport Ships?" Topic

8 Posts

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888 hits since 23 Jan 2018
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Comments or corrections?

Cacique Caribe Inactive Member23 Jan 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

I would have thought the head would be at the front of the ship, and not the back. Doesn't having it at the stern make it look as if the ship is sailing backwards?



GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Jan 2018 10:54 a.m. PST

The rudders are a pretty strong clue that it is at the stern.

Many ancient vessels had ornaments at the stern, sometimes as well as at the prow.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2018 11:43 a.m. PST

Sometimes it can be, depends. Bow ornamentation was generally reserved for something representing the ship's name or a deity, an influence on the sea and navigation (eg: eyes…). The stern was naturally finished by having the keel rise and curve, anointed with the protector of the ship (the "tutela"). Swans have always been seen by sailors as a good omen, good swimmers, never overcome by the waves etc. Swans are also symbols of Apollo and Venus (among other things, she was the Goddess of prosperity…)

This is an interesting article:


nnascati Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2018 3:46 p.m. PST

I'm pretty sure that Argus put the figrehead of Hera at the stern of the Argo.

Sobieski Inactive Member23 Jan 2018 4:01 p.m. PST

Is Harryhausen the most reputable source material?

Personal logo The Beast Rampant Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2018 5:48 p.m. PST

Very interesting, Mr.J. – thank you.

Cacique Caribe Inactive Member23 Jan 2018 6:53 p.m. PST

So then the swan faces back, in the opposite direction to where the ship is going?


williamb24 Jan 2018 1:56 p.m. PST

Apparently so. common feature on Roman merchant ships.

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