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The Column of Marcus AureliusThe Genesis and Meaning of a Roman Imperial Monument$
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Martin Beckmann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834619

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877777_beckmann

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Viewing the Column

Viewing the Column

Chapter:
(p.187) Chapter Nine Viewing the Column
Source:
The Column of Marcus Aurelius
Author(s):

Martin Beckmann

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807877777_beckmann.13

This chapter has a different focus and asks a more problematic question: What did the column mean? For the modern viewer, the main message of the column at first seems to be contained in the frieze: a vast expanse of detailed images, inviting equally detailed interpretation. However, the frieze is a frustrating artwork, full of contradictions. It appears to tell a story, yet very few of its scenes are historical. The frieze is detailed, but many of the details are wrong. It was on prominent display yet shows many signs that great care was not lavished on it by its carvers. The frieze is apparently intended to give the impression that it chronicles Marcus's campaigns yet contains substantial elements copied directly from Trajan's Column. Also, it is never mentioned in any of our ancient sources.

Keywords:   problematic question, modern viewer, frieze, detailed images, detailed interpretation, Marcus's campaigns, Trajan's Column

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