The column in Place Vendôme and the fleeting form of ancient Rome in the writings of Cyprian Norwid

  • Magdalena Kowalska Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń
Keywords: column, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, ancient Rome, Paris, triumph, power


The article discusses the image of a triumphal column in Norwid’s poems “Vendôme,” “Odpowiedź do Włoch (Fraszka),” and Szczesna. The inspiration to enquire about its function and symbolic power comes from Hegel’s lectures on aesthetics and the following passage from Epimenides: “The many columns […] many stray columns sought an edifice…” In Norwid’s thought, eternal glory is not meant for those who stand atop a triumphal column since such monuments can easily turn into dust, as confirmed by the fate of other monuments such as those of ancient leaders and Napoleon, but for the one who comes close to the “Pre-Eternal” upon physical death. The “power” is thus a value irrevocably tied to the triumphal column but has to rise to another dimension, other than that of physical power. This article recalls the idea of Paris as the “new Rome,” which was revived in the nineteenth century.

Author Biography

Magdalena Kowalska, Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń

Magdalena Kowalska holds a PhD in literary studies and is the author of books Prowansja w pismach polskich romantyków (2015) and Litanic Verse III: Francia (2018). She works at the Institute of Literary Studies at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń


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