Column of Antoninus Pius
Photo by Sosnovskiy
The Column of Antoninus Pius was erected to commemorate Antoninus and his wife Faustina by his adoptive sons and heirs, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus after the emperor’s death in 161. It stood in the Campus Martius near the Column of Marcus Aurelius and the commemorative altars of the Antonines.
The column is shown on coins surmounted by a Corinthian capital and a statue, presumably of bronze, and a balustrade. The monolithic 14.75 m shaft was made of Aswan granite. A fire in the eighteenth century severely damaged the shaft and its undamaged parts were used to repair the Montecitorio Obelisk (originally the Obelisk of Horologium Augusti). An inscription on the slab indicates it was quarried in 106, probably for one of Trajan’s great projects but never used.
When it was excavated in 1703, around six meters of the column projected above ground. The excavations exposed a richly sculpted pedestal made of a single block of Italian marble (28 meters³), now located at the Vatican Museums. The inscription on the base records that Antoninus Augustus [Marcus Aurelius] and Verus Augustus dedicated the column to the Divine Antoninus Pius (their adoptive father).
The central relief, opposite the dedicatory inscription, shows the Apotheosis of Antoninus and Faustina. They are borne aloft on the wings of a genius figure, sometimes identified as Aion, and flanked by eagles. At the lower corners are the goddess Roma, who lifts her hand in salutation, and a personification of the Campus Martius, a genius reclining on the ground and holding the Obelisk of Horologium Augusti. The reliefs on the sides, intended to be identical, show the decursio equitum performed at the funeral before the pyre was lit. Riders of several sorts, including senators, move in a ring around a group of foot soldiers representing the praetorian guard.
Photos by Sani
Depiction of Column from Coin of Antoninus Pius Struck under Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, c. 161 AD
Photos by Sailko
A New Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome by L. Richardson, Jr.
Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide by Amanda Claridge
The Column of Antoninus Pius by Lise Vogel