Column of Marcus Aurelius - Ancient Rome - Roman Art
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Column of Marcus Aurelius

Column of Marcus Aurelius
Column of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius' column was actually not built by Marcus Aurelius himself but by his son Commodus, about 180-190 AD. Commodus wanted to remind people in Rome about his father's victories in a war against the Marcomanni north of Rome (in modern Switzerland). It's a lot like Trajan's Column, but art styles had changed eighty years later, and this column has much deeper relief and more violence than Trajan's Column does. Also, Marcus Aurelius was not as successful in his war as Trajan had been, so there are more sad scenes on this column.

All around the column, there are pictures of the Roman soldiers fighting the war. In this picture you can see Roman soldiers crossing the river in boats.

Here you can see (on the bottom row) a pontoon bridge and soldiers and horses crossing the Danube river on it.

Here are some other scenes from Marcus Aurelius' column

Bibliography and further reading about the Column of Marcus Aurelius:

You Are in Ancient Rome, by Ivan Minnis (2004). For younger kids.

Ancient Rome: A Guide to the Glory of Imperial Rome, by Jonathan Stroud (2000). A day as a time-travelling tourist in ancient Rome, for kids.

Spend the Day in Ancient Rome : Projects and Activities that Bring the Past to Life, by Linda Honan (1998). Has an activity for making your own column out of a paper-towel roll.

Roman Art: Romulus to Constantine, by Nancy and Andrew Ramage (4th Edition 2004).The standard textbook.

Trajan's Column
More about Roman Art
Ancient Rome
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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