This page is about the architectural term. See also: eye.
The Oculus (top) in the dome of the Pantheon, Rome

An Oculus, circular window, or rain-hole is a feature of Classical architecture since the 16th century. They are often denoted by their French name, oeil de boeuf, or "bull's-eye". Such circular or oval windows express the presence of a mezzanine on a building's façade without competing for attention with the major fenestration. Circular windows set in dormers have been a feature of French Classical architecture since the beginning of the seventeenth century. For structural reasons, they are also found as the portholes of ships.

Oculus (plural oculi) is the Latin word for eye,[1] and the word remains in use in certain contexts, as the name of the round opening in the top of the dome of the Pantheon in Rome,[2] and in reference to other round windows, openings, and skylights.

The Oculus in the Pantheon has always been open to the weather, allowing rain to enter and fall to the floor, where it is carried away through drains. In the picture, right, sunlight streams through the opening and strikes the lower part of the dome. The bright opening and the surrounding smooth concrete above the coffering resembles an eye, giving the opening its name.

In archaeology, oculus is the name given to a motif found in western European prehistoric art. It consists of a pair of circular or spiral marks, often interpreted as eyes, and appears on pottery, statues and megaliths. The oculus motif may represent the watchful gaze of a god or goddess and was especially common during the Neolithic period.


  1. ^ While oculus is not in common use in English, words derived from it such as ocular (relating to the eye) are, primarily in medical and optical fields. Also, the terms Oculus Dexter (right eye), Oculus Sinister (left eye), and Oculus Uterque (both eyes) are used in medicine, usually abbreviated OD, OS, and OU, respectively.
  2. ^ Since the revival of dome construction beginning in the Italian Renaissance, open oculi have been replaced by light-transmitting cupolas.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • OCULUS — Petite baie sans fermeture, de forme circulaire, ovale ou polygonale, pratiquée dans un mur, un toit ou située au sommet d’une coupole (par exemple, au Panthéon à Rome). L’œil de bœuf est une lucarne dont la fenêtre est circulaire ou ovale.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • oculus — óculus s. n. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar ortografic  ÓCULUS s.n. (arhit.) Fereastră rotundă de mici dimensiuni, caracteristică unor biserici romanice sau de epocă gotică timpurie. [< fr. oculus, cf. lat. oculus – ochi].… …   Dicționar Român

  • Oculus — (lat. Auge) bezeichnet in der Medizin das Auge in der Architektur ein Ochsenauge (Architektur) (rundes dekoratives Fenster), gelegentlich auch ein Opaion (runde Öffnung am höchsten Punkt einer Kuppel), in der Optischen Industrie die Oculus… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • oculus — m. oftalm. Voz latina de ojo. Medical Dictionary. 2011 …   Diccionario médico

  • oculus — an eye, pl. oculi, 1857, from L. oculus eye (see EYE (Cf. eye) (n.)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Oculus — Oc u*lus, n.; pl. {Oculi}. [L., an eye.] 1. An eye. [1913 Webster] 2. (Arch.) A round window, usually a small one. [1913 Webster] 3. (Bot.) A leaf bud. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ocŭlus — (lat.), 1) Auge; O. caesius, grüner Staar; O. duplex, eine Binde bei Augenkrankheiten, wodurch beide Augen zugleich verbunden werden, im Gegensatz zu O. simplex, wodurch nur ein Auge verbunden wird; O. elephantinus, so v.w. Buphthalmia; O.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Ocŭlus — (lat.), das Auge …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • oculus — (izg. ȍkulus) m DEFINICIJA arhit. okrugao prozor; osobito čest u razdoblju baroka ETIMOLOGIJA lat.: oko …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Oculus — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Oculus (homonymie). Sur les autres projets Wikimedia : « Oculus », sur le Wiktionnaire (dictionnaire universel) Un oculus[1] est une ouverture pratiquée sur un comble de voûte. On en …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”