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Colonna Antonina

"It rose in an area characterized by monumental edifices dedicated to the members of the family of the Antonini as the temple of Hadrian, the temple of Matidia, two ustrinas, monumental places for the cremation of the body of the emperors and the column of granite of Antonino Pio"

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Not far from the temple of Hadrian, his son Commodus dedicated a temple to Markus Aurelius. To this complex belonged also the column of Markus Aurelius which stands today in the middle of Piazza Colonna.
Erected in 180 AD, year of the death of Markus Aurelius, in honour of the emperor. It was modelled on Trajan's column in the Forum of Trajan. The column stood on a high base, part of which is still underground, at its summit was the bronze statue of the emperor. The pillar - 30 meters high - consists of 28 drums of Carrara marble 3,70mt in diameter. As in Trajan's column, the spiral relieves, that entirely cover it, describe the military life of the emperor. Their details reveal 116 episodes separated in two parts by an allegorical figure of Victory among trophies, in the inferior part is represented the war against the Marcoman in the upper part against the Sarmatian tribes. The style of the relieves show a tendency to simplification compared to the Hellenistic tradition, the figures tend to detach from the background and anticipate the expressionistic style of the following centuries.
The figure of Markus Aurelius is almost always represented frontally in order to underline the majesty of the emperor. A 190-step interior spiral staircase illuminated by 56 little windows, leads to the summit, where the statue in bronze of St. Paul replaced that of Aurelius. In the Middle Ages the column belonged to the monastery of S.Silvestro in Capite that received alms from the pilgrims who wished to climb to the top.


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