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  • Writer's pictureWill von Behr, MA

A Brief History of the Column of Marcus Aurelius

What is the Column of Marcus Aurelius?

The Column of Marcus Aurelius is a 2nd-century victory column in Rome that’s decorated with a beautiful spiral relief of military campaigns.

the Column of Marcus Aurelius

Column of Marcus Aurelius History

Towering over the Piazza Colonna (which takes its name from this soaring monument) is an elaborate victory column erected in the latter part of the 2nd century AD. It was dedicated to Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ successful military campaigns against two Germanic tribes and the Sarmatians of eastern Europe.

Inspired by Trajan’s Column, the 30-metre monument depicts scenes (in high relief) from the emperor’s victorious expeditions. In one famous episode, the Roman soldiers are represented as being saved by a terrible storm, an event which 4th-century Christians regarded as a divine miracle brought about by the soldiers’ prayers.

the Column of Marcus Aurelius reliefs

The column was originally crowned with statues of Marcus Aurelius and his wife Faustina, however during a 16th-century restoration they were replaced with a bronze figure of Saint Paul, which still overlooks the square to this day.

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