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APSE—APTERA

There is one important distinction to be drawn between the Byzantine and the Latin apses; they are both semicircular internally, but externally the former are nearly always polygonal. It follows, therefore, that in those churches in Italy where the apse is polygonal externally, it is a sign of direct Byzantine influence. This is found in St Mark’s, Venice; Sta Fosca, Torcello; Murano; nearly all the churches at Ravenna; and in the Crusaders’ churches throughout Syria.

1911 Britannica - Apse.png
Apse of the White Monastery.

In the Coptic church in Egypt we find other characteristics; in the churches of the Red and White Monasteries, attributed to St Helena, an unusual depth is given to the apse, in the walls of which niches are sunk; in the church of St John at Antinoë there are no fewer than seven. Similar niches are found in the apses of St Mark’s, Venice, built in A.D. 828, it is said in imitation of St Mark’s in Alexandria, to receive the relics of St Mark brought over from there.

In a large number of the apses in the Coptic churches the seats round the apse with the bishop’s throne in the centre are still preserved; of these the best examples are at Abu Sargah, Al ‛Adra and Abu-s-Sifain. Unfortunately there are no remains of the fittings in the tribunes of the ancient Roman basilicas, but those in St Peter’s at Rome, which were probably copied from them, are recorded in drawings, there being two or three rows of stone seats with the papal throne in the centre. It is possible also that some may still exist in the other early Christian basilicas at Rome, but there have been so many changes that it is not possible to trace them. In the cathedral of Parenzo in Istria (A.D. 532–535), the hemicycle of marble seats for the clergy with the episcopal chair in the centre still exists. A similar arrangement is found in the apse of the church of the 6th century attached to the church of St Helena in the island of Paros, where there are eight steep grades of semicircular stone seats with the bishop’s chair in the centre. The aspect of the interior of this apse has in consequence very much the appearance of a Roman theatre. A third example, better known, exists at Torcello, with six concentric seats rising one above the other, and in the centre the episcopal chair with a flight of thirteen steps down in front of it.

In the basilica at Bethlehem, the east end of which was reconstructed probably in the 5th century, apses of similar dimensions to the eastern apse were built at the north and south end of the transept. The same disposition is found in the Coptic churches of the Red and White Monasteries just referred to, in the church of St Elias at Salonica (c. 1012), the cathedral of Echmiadzin in Armenia, at Vatopedi, Mt. Athos, and some other Byzantine churches. An early example in France exists in the church of Germigny-des-Prés on the Loire (806; rebuilt 1868), where the three apses are horseshoe on plan, and the same is found in the church at Oberzell in the island of Reichenau, Lake of Constance, except that the eastern apse there is square. Small examples also are found at Querqueville and at St Wandrille near Caudebec, both in Normandy, but the finest development takes place in the church of St Maria im Capitol at Cologne, where the aisles are carried round both the northern and southern apses. The same feature exists in the cathedral of Tournai in Belgium and the churches at Cambrai, Soissons and Valenciennes (the last destroyed at the Revolution) in France, and also in the cathedrals of Como and of Pisa in Italy. Without aisles, there are examples in the churches of the Apostles and of St Martin at Cologne; St Quirinus at Neuss; at Roermond; St Cross, Breslau; the cathedral of Bonn; and, at a later date, in the Marienkirche at Trier; S. Elizabeth at Marburg; the church of Sta Maria-del-Fiore at Florence; and the cathedral of Parma.

In consequence of a change made in the orientation of apses in the 6th or 7th century, others were subsequently added at the west end of existing churches, and this is considered to have been the case at Canterbury; but in the German churches sometimes apses were built from the first at both ends, such as are shown on the manuscript plan of St Gall, of the 9th century. Western apses exist at Gernrode; Drübeck; Huyseburg; the Obermünster of Regensburg; St Godehard in Hildesheim; the cathedrals of Worms and Trier; the Abbey church of Laach; the Minster at Bonn; and in St Pietro-in-Grado near Pisa.

The triapsal churches, to which we have referred, are those in which the side apses form the termination of the side aisles; but where there are transepts, the aisles are sometimes not continued beyond them, and the expansion of the transept to north and south gives more ample space for apses; of these there are many examples, as in the Abbey church of Laach in Germany; at Romsey; Christchurch, Hants; Gloucester, Ely, Norwich and Canterbury cathedrals, in England; and at St Georges de Boscherville in France; sometimes there being space for two apses on each side.

In the beginning of the 13th century in France, the apses became radiating chapels outside the choir aisle, henceforth known as the chevet. These radiating chapels would seem to have been suggested in Norwich and Canterbury cathedrals, but the feature is essentially a French one and in England is found only in Westminster Abbey, into which it was introduced by Henry III., to whom the chevets of Amiens, Beauvais and Reims were probably well known.  (R. P. S.) 

APSE and APSIDES, in mechanics, either of the two points of an orbit which are nearest to and farthest from the centre of motion. They are called the lower or nearer, and the higher or more distant apsides respectively. The “line of apsides” is that which joins them, forming the major axis of the orbit.

APSINES of Gadara, a Greek rhetorician, who flourished during the 3rd century A.D. After studying at Smyrna, he taught at Athens, and gained such a reputation that he was raised to the consulship by the emperor Maximinus (235–238). He was the friend of Philostratus, the author of the Lives of the Sophists, who speaks of his wonderful memory and accuracy. Two rhetorical treatises by him are extant: Τέχνη ῥητορική, a handbook of rhetoric greatly interpolated, a considerable portion being taken from the Rhetoric of Longinus; and a smaller work, Περὶ ἐσχηματισμένων προβλημάτων, on Propositions maintained figuratively.

Editions by Bake, 1849; Spengel-Hammer in Rhetores Graeci, ii. (1894): see also Hammer, De Apsine Rhetore (1876); Volkmann, Rhetorik der Griechen und Römer (1885).

APT, a town of south-eastern France, in the department of Vaucluse, on the left bank of the Coulon, 41 m. E. of Avignon by rail. Pop. (1906) 4990. The town was formerly surrounded by massive ancient walls, but these have now been for the most part replaced by boulevards; many of its streets are narrow and irregular. The chief object of interest is the church of Sainte-Anne (once the cathedral), the building of which was begun about the year 1056 on the site of a much older edifice, but not completed until the latter half of the 17th century. Many Roman remains have been found in and near the town. A fine bridge, the Pont Julien, spanning the Coulon below the town, dates from the 2nd or 3rd century. A tribunal of first instance and a communal college are the chief public institutions. The chief manufactures are silk, confectionery and earthenware; and there is besides a considerable trade in fruit, grain and cattle. Apt was at one time the chief town of the Vulgientes, a Gallic tribe; it was destroyed by the Romans about 125 B.C. and restored by Julius Caesar, who conferred upon it the title Apta Julia; it was much injured by the Lombards and the Saracens, but its fortifications were rebuilt by the counts of Provence. The bishopric, founded in the 3rd century, was suppressed in 1790.

APTERA (Greek for “wingless”), a term in zoological classification applied by Linnaeus to various groups of wingless arthropods, including some of the insects, the centipedes, the millipedes, the Arachnida (scorpions, spiders, &c.) and the Crustacea. In