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Column of Marcus Aurelius

Column of Marcus Aurelius

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The Column of Marcus Aurelius, which is located in Rome in the Campus Martius [see City of Rome Map], tells the story of Marcus Aurelius' German and Sarmatian campaigns (A.D. 172-175) in spiral reliefs. Included are scenes of captives brought before the emperor. Suppliants have their arms covered in the presence of the emperor. There are also gruesome scenes of severed body parts. [See Bradley for verbal descriptions of such scenes.] Equites appear in coats of mail carrying pikes [Eadie].

While the relief style is a bit different (for instance, Trajan's is in lower relief) the column of Marcus Aurelius was modeled on Trajan's Column, especially in copying the spiral staircase that led spectators to the top of the column for a view of the Antonine funerary monuments in the Campus Martius. Trajan's remains were buried in the base of his monument, but Marcus Aurelius' ashes were put in Hadrian's mausoleum. Blocks as heavy as 77 tons had to be lifted more than 100 feet in the construction [Beckmann].

The Column of Marcus Aurelius is called the Centenaria because it was 100 feet (in Roman measurement) high or 29.62 m.


  • Lori-Ann Touchette , Roger Ling "Roman art, ancient" The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Ed. Hugh Brigstocke. Oxford University Press, 2001
  • "The 'Columnae Coc(h)lides' of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius"
    Martin Beckmann
    Phoenix (2002).
  • "On Captives under the Principate"
    Keith Bradley
    Phoenix (2004).
  • "The Development of Roman Mailed Cavalry"
    John W. Eadie
    The Journal of Roman Studies (1967).
  • "Magister Gregorius de Mirabilibus Urbis Romae: A New Description of Rome in the Twelfth Century"
    G. McN. Rushforth
    The Journal of Roman Studies(1919).
  • "The Dating of the Column of Marcus Aurelius"
    John Morris
    Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (1952).

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Also Known As: Aurelian Column; Latin: Columna Centenaria, Columna Divi Marci, Italian: Colonna di Marco Aurelio

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