Who are these people and why are they staring at me??

Last week when SESAH was meeting in the War Memorial auditorium, a lady asked me if I knew who the faces were that formed the capitals of the four columns in front. I had to admit that in fact I had never really looked very hard at the faces and hadn’t realized they were different from each other. A small lapse in my usually keen observational powers, but an embarrassing one.

Yesterday, feeling that the perfect sunshiny fall weather needed me in it, I went over to look more closely at them and I’m still mystified about who they are. Do they represent the major empires or eras of ancient history: Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, and Roman? Are they ideal figures representing ideas? Who out there knows more about this kind of representational sculpture than I do? Maybe there’s some document describing the War Memorial building that I’m not familiar with that someone out there can track down? Have at it, ya’ll!

These pictures were taken from far left to far right:

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Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Jackson

4 replies

  1. My ancient world/mythology knowledge (which is probably above average, although I do not claim “expert” status in the field) tells me that these most likely are not ancient world depictions of empires or war/peace deities.

    I would actually lean towards a more modern view of empires or ideologies. The third one reminds me of the Statue of Liberty in a way (the radiant crown design on the headpiece), while the second reminds me of the Queen of England. In this line of thinking, however, I do not know what 1 & 4 might be – unless they are “War” and “Peace” (the first looks like it’s ready for battle while the fourth looks like it’s headpiece is a dove). The ideas would loosely work together & make sense for a memorial post World War I (“The Great War” as it was known at the time).

    Of course, now I’ll think the figures are watching me whenever I walk by.

  2. They are watching you, whether you think they are or not, just remember that.

    I see the Statue of Liberty, but I don’t see the Queen of England. Besides wasn’t it a King of England when this building was constructed? But I do think you’re right that these are concepts or virtues instead of historical eras (although the first one still seems Egyptian to me). Must do some more research on this–surely someone wrote it down at the time?

  3. I learned something I probably should have known before as I watched the PBS special tonight about the American cemeteries around the world for fallen soldiers from WWI and WWII. The phrase inscribed on the War Memorial Building’s auditorium proscenium “Time Shall Not Dim the Glory of Their Deeds” is by Gen. John J. Pershing and is therefore closely tied to WWI, which of course, was “the war” being memorialized when this building was built.

  4. I don’t know either but I’d guess that the faces (and associated headgear which is symbolic) represent idealogy such as valor, liberty, bravery, and freedom.

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