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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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Epilogue The Columns of Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, & Arcadius

Epilogue The Columns of Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, & Arcadius

(p.207) Epilogue The Columns of Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, & Arcadius
The Column of Marcus Aurelius

Martin Beckmann

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how the Romans saw things differently than we do today. When looking at the Column of Marcus Aurelius, the modern observer usually thinks first about the remarkable helical frieze, wonders what events it might record, and then wishes that he could see them better. The Roman first thought of a snail. He looked at the column and was captivated not by the spiraling frieze on the exterior but by the dark, winding passage inside, a hidden passage leading up within the monument to a lofty balcony atop its capital. Our priorities were not necessarily those of the Romans. Evidence of the Romans' priorities is unfortunately often hard to come by—but it is there, if one looks closely enough, in the details of the Column of Marcus Aurelius itself. The approach followed in the chapters of this book has been to attempt to reconstruct the Romans' priorities by examining the process by which the Column of Marcus Aurelius was created.

Keywords:   Romans, Marcus Aurelius, modern observer, helical frieze, snail, hidden passage

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