1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Engaged Column
ENGAGED COLUMN, in architecture, a form of column, sometimes defined as semi or three-quarter detached according to its projection; the term implies that the column is partly attached to a pier or wall. It is rarely found in Greek work, and then only in exceptional cases, but it exists in profusion in Roman architecture. In the temples it is attached to the cella walls, repeating the columns of the peristyle, and in the theatres and amphitheatres, where they subdivided the arched openings: in all these cases engaged columns are utilized as a decorative feature, and as a rule the same proportions are maintained as if they had been isolated columns. In Romanesque work the classic proportions are no longer adhered to; the engaged column, attached to the piers, has always a special function to perform, either to support subsidiary arches, or, raised to the vault, to carry its transverse or diagonal ribs. The same constructional object is followed in the earlier Gothic styles, in which they become merged into the mouldings. Being virtually always ready made, so far as their design is concerned, they were much affected by the Italian revivalists.