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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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The Frieze As History

The Frieze As History

(p.128) Chapter Seven The Frieze As History
The Column of Marcus Aurelius

Martin Beckmann

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter illustrates how the meager and frequently unreliable sources for the history of the reign of Marcus Aurelius make it almost impossible to reconstruct any more than a superficial account of the main events of his reign. The main literary sources for the period are two: Cassius Dio, a senator and historian who lived in the time of Septimius Severus; and the Historia Augusta, a collection of imperial biographies written in the fourth century. The Historia Augusta is notoriously unreliable, a situation made worse by the fact that its biographical focus means that historical events are normally mentioned out of order. Dio, who should be an outstanding source for this period, has suffered in transmission: his text is only preserved in fragments cobbled together into an abbreviated history in the eleventh century by a Byzantine monk named Xiphilinus.

Keywords:   Marcus Aurelius, literary sources, Cassius Dio, Septimius Severus, Historia Augusta, Byzantine monk, Xiphilinus

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