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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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Form & Function

Form & Function

(p.55) Chapter Three Form & Function
The Column of Marcus Aurelius

Martin Beckmann

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the Roman tradition of erecting monumental columns topped by statues, which dates back to the fourth century bc. Just how great a debt the Romans owed to the Greeks for this tradition is debatable, but it seems that even the Greeks themselves did not begin placing portrait statues atop columns before the fourth century bc. The earliest such monument in Rome appears to have been a column and statue erected to Gaius Maenius, consul in 338 bc, for his victory over the Latins. In the third century bc, there was an important development: the first rostral columns, columnae rostratae, a type of columnar monument particularly intended to honor the victor in a naval battle. The name comes from the bronze rams—rostra—of captured enemy ships that were fixed to the column; the first seems to have been erected in honor of Gaius Diulius in 260 bc

Keywords:   Roman tradition, monumental columns, Greeks, portrait statues, Gaius Maenius

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