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Aurelius Column

Евсеенков А.С., Мосиков М.Ф., Абрамков А.О.

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The Column of Marcus Aurelius (Latin: Columna Centenaria Divorum Marci et Faustinae, Ital. The Colonna di Marco Aurelio is a Doric column located in Rome's Piazza Colonna, named after it. Piazza Colonna). Built between 176 and 192 to commemorate the Marcomanian War of Marcus Aurelius, it was based on Trajan's column.

The height of the column is 29.6 m, its pedestal is 10 m. The total height of the monument was 41.95 m, but 3 meters of its base after the restoration of 1589 were below the surface of the earth. According to various sources, the shaft of the column consists of 27 or 28 blocks of Karar marble with a diameter of 3.7 meters. Like Trajan's column, it is hollow, inside there is a spiral staircase with 190-200 steps leading to the top, where in ancient times a sculpture of Marcus Aurelius was installed. The stairwell is illuminated through small slits.

The relief of the column of Marcus Aurelius differs markedly from the relief of Trajan's column by its greater expressiveness. The play of light and shadow is much more pronounced on it, since the stone carving is deeper, the heads of figures are slightly enlarged to more accurately convey facial expressions. At the same time, there is a decrease in the level of elaboration of details of weapons and clothing.

The base was decorated with reliefs lost during the restoration carried out by Domenico Fontana in 1589, when on top, instead of the original depicting the Roman emperor, a bronze statue of St. Paul was placed. A spiral staircase runs through the interior, receiving light from small crevices.

Along the surface of the Column, in a continuous frieze covering the entire shaft, the narrative of the two military campaigns of Marcus Aurelius against the Germans (172-173) and against the Sarmatians (174-175) is conducted separately from the personification of the winged Victory, writing the triumph of the Roman Empire on an oval shield.

The oldest and most famous series of photographic reproductions of the marble frieze dates back to 1896 and was published in the volume Die Marcus-Säule auf Piazza Colonna in Rome, edited by Eugen Petersen, Alfred von Domaszewski and Guglielmo Calderini. In this edition, a division of the frieze into individual scenes (from I to CXVI) was established, which was subsequently adopted in all industry studies.

The following photos were taken in 1988 by Roman photographer Pasquale Rizzi on behalf of the Rome Archaeological Survey and show the state of preservation of the Column at that time.

The images fully reproduce the frieze covering the shaft in 21 turns, from bottom to top and to the left. The beginning of the turns is located on the axis of the slots corresponding to the original door of the base. Four window axes divide each reel into quadrants. Each quadrant is represented in 4 photos, each turn in 16 photos. The photos show overlap by 1/3 or 1/2 of the figure; the sequence is slower in accordance with failures and new projects.

Next to each series of images is also reproduced a description of scenes from the text by Tom C. Caprino, A. M. Colini, J. Gatti, M. Pallottino, P. Romanelli, the Column of Marcus Aurelius, illustrated by the municipality. Rome (Studies and materials from the Museum of the Roman Empire, 5, published in Rome, for Bretschneider's Erma types, 1955

Photos of the reliefs are divided into two sections: the first relates to the campaign of 172-173 AD, the second-to the German-Sarmatian war of 174-175 AD. In an additional section, a description of Marcus Aurelius ' Germanic Wars, written by Dio Cassius (Roman History, LXXI, summary of Xiphylinus), published by Filippo Coarelli in La Colonna di Marco Aurelio, Rome, ed. Colombo, 2008.

Column of Marcus Aurelius - the Marcomanian War

First level of the column

Scene 1: Houses, stockade and guardhouse along the Danube

Four houses line the banks of the Danube, on the outer side of a palisade that may have covered the port of Carnunto. The first, second and fourth have a Roman structure: two are built of stone, a square structure of the isodomic type and covered with gable tile roofs.

Being outside the palisade, the second, third and fourth houses, in turn, are surrounded by defensive fences made up for Roman-type houses from pointed poles, very similar to lime trees .. The slightly open door of the fence of the second house has a hammer in the form of a lion's head. On the other hand, the structure of the third and its enclosure is different. It is of the native type, covered, it seems, with layers of reeds even in the gable roof, and with a quadrangular plan; the enclosure consists of poles separated from each other, connected by horizontal lintels, and the windows are similar to those of Roman-type houses, and the arched door is of the local type, usually in houses of this type depicted on the column. Behind the houses are piles of logs, reeds, and hay gathered around a central pole used for remote signaling, and three guardhouses with Roman sentries facing the river next to them, armed with a spear in their right hand, leaning on the ground. , and to the left of the shield. The security rooms are protected by palisades equipped with an observation deck, and from the window of one of them protrudes a pole, which Petersen considers a lantern.

Scene 2. River connection to Carnunto

On the banks of the Danube is the village of Carnunto, the emperor's headquarters. Barrels and perhaps crates are piled up on the embankment of the small river port; three full boats are parked near the shore, and in two of them, the first and third, two Roman soldiers unload or load barrels. The palisade surrounds the settlement here, which surprises with its beautiful construction: a building with a colonnade with columns and pillars, houses built in the form of a square and in which numerous windows open, a two-story building. A tree stands in front of one of them, and cypresses adorn the courtyard of another, perhaps not a private house, but a sanctuary.

Scene 3. The Romans cross the Danube.

In the cave, from the waves of the river rises the personification of the Danube, the bearded one, from which only the upper part is visible, visible from the back, but obviously imagined lying down, according to the iconographic scheme common to the river. deities; a god with a benevolent expression and outstretched right hand invites the Roman army to cross the river.

The crossing takes place on a stable bridge, as indicated by two arches rising at the end, supported by nine boats and a parapet. The rear of the column, which runs in three rows, consists of legionnaires with lorica segmentata on their tunic, some also with pterigs and helmets topped with plumes, oval shields, a spear and sword hanging on the right side. cingulum . In the center is the emperor (whose face is badly damaged), dressed in armor and a vest, holding a spear in his lowered left hand. Next to him are two officers, one of whom may be a Pompeian, the son-in-law of Marcus Aurelius, and the other, unrecognizable, without armor, but with a spear in his right hand.

The Emperor's horse, harnessed and richly saddled, is led by one of the three bodyguards who follow him. One of them wears a lorica hamata (knitted cuirass), and the other, who also wears a valley shield, a lorica scaly cuirass; the third has no armor visible because it is covered by a horse. All three of them have helmets with a hanging ring, they wear something like sagumai and are armed with spears. The march is opened by other legionnaires, two cornichins with a knitted cuirass and wild hide on their heads, a guardsman with a knitted cuirass, breeches and sagum, who leads the horse under the reins, and a standard bearer, also with a knitted cuirass and clothes covered with wild leather.

The Danube was first crossed by the Romans in 172 to advance on enemy soil. According to Domaszewski, the transition of the Romans took place in Carnunto (today Petronell), according to Gnirs, instead of Bratislava (formerly Presburgo).

Second level of the column

Scene 4: Marcus Aurelius ' Address to the Army

On a rocky rise, between the four characters of the retinue, stands the emperor with a spear and a vest, but without armor. On either side of the podium are two signifera with scaly lorics and a wild hide on their heads, and a curved rod bearer, possibly a lictor without ligaments; below, legionnaires (left) and imperial bodyguards (right) are facing the emperor, who is delivering an adlocutio preceding the start of hostilities.

Scene 5. Roman march to a stable camp

The stage is badly damaged. Horsemen and infantrymen with flags and insignia move forward, accompanied by two riders in vestments, one of which could be Marcus Aurelius, in front of a fort or stable built in a square shape. This fort hints to Zwicker that even before the great offensive began, the Romans built this fortification to protect an important road along the Morava River (the ancient Marus, a tributary of the Danube).

Scene 6: The Sacrifice

Here, too, the image was badly damaged, and many details were restored by Petersen for comparison with similar scenes in Trajan's column. It seems to depict the lustratio exercitus, that is, the sacrifice that precedes the outbreak of war. In the stable or castle from the previous scene, near which he stands guard, a figure wearing a toga appears to identify himself with Marcus Aurelius, surrounded by his retinue. The animals of his ovetaurilia , a bull, a ram and a wild boar led by Camilli , were also identified , and finally the officials, victims, and wind musicians seen through the door.

Scene 7. The Romans, having reached an abandoned German settlement, destroy it.

After the door of scene 6, Petersen recognized the footprints of a Roman reclining on the ground with his head disappearing in the background against the wall, against which a shield is leaning and a horse next to it. Zwicker does not accept Petersen's interpretation that he is a fugitive or a messenger, a messenger that would cause a sortie of knights, infantry, legionnaires, and bodyguards rushing to the right, while upstairs some observers watch the scene. The tracks of the transport wagon were also identified by Petersen. Ahead is the emperor with his spear lowered to the left, who, along with two retinues, watches the entry of soldiers into the abandoned village and its destruction. Houses are set on fire with torches; at the edge, two legionnaires, one of whom has laid down a shield, also seem to be working on the destruction with a pickaxe. Next to them grazes a horse, obviously a Roman knight, because it is harnessed, and the seeds are depicted, clearly hinting that it has a summer effect. Four houses in the village have a round plan, and the fifth – square. They are built of logs connected at intervals by a tangle of ropes. After while the fifth one will appear square. After lustratio (scene 6), the army crossed the border of the empire.

Scene 8. German horsemen in the presence of the Emperor

On a rocky ascent, in front of the large tent of the Roman camp, the wall of which is depicted below, Marcus Aurelius in armor, waistcoat and spear on the left, surrounded by three officers, receives two Germans on horseback without saddle and bit, led by a standard-bearer in knitted armor and other warriors, apparently vexillatio. With the two barbarians on horseback, Zwicker, along with Petersen and the others, does not believe they are prisoners, but rather deserters begging for protection. At the same time, the assumption falls that they are facing the same fate that threatens the barbarian above at the hand of a Roman officer holding a sword against him, a fate from which he tries to escape by crying out to heaven. Two other barbarians have been executed and are already dead on the ground; because of the difference in clothing, one of the Germans should be considered high-ranking, and the other, like the one who is about to be slaughtered, should be considered of a lower status. Barbarians have smooth heads and beards that completely cover their cheeks. Two sentries near the tent - restoration.

Scene 9. The Emperor reads an order to the troops

Between Pompey and another character, the emperor reads from a scroll a proclamation to the troops, bodyguards, and legionaries gathered below, from the top of a rocky rise. The standard and significators frame the scene.

Scene 10. The Germans defend the river crossing

At the confluence of the river, at the fork of which there is a beech tree, under a large oak tree, stand four Germans of inferior condition, who, armed with slings and stones, look menacingly and hostilely at Markus. Aurelius, who on the opposite bank has emerged from a fortified Roman castle and is speaking to them. Next to the emperor is a fully armed retinue character, and behind him are legionnaires and bodyguards protecting him with their shields. Marcus Aurelius does not wear armor, but holds a spear in his left hand.

Soldiers watch from the top of the castle. The castle is further proof, according to Zwicker, that the Romans were preparing an offensive even beyond the Danube. For the Domashevskis, these barbarians and representatives of the next Quadi scene, the event takes place on the southern border of the territory of this people, that is, where the Taya (Die) flows into the Morava. On the other hand, for Gnirs, this is the confluence of the Iglava and Svartsava (Svratka), which meet in the north of the Taya, into which they flow.

Third level of the column

Scene 11. Divine Lightning

The castle from the previous scene is attacked by an enemy siege engine, which, struck by lightning, collapses on the already partially fallen barbarians. Marcus Aurelius witnesses a scene involving Praetorians and legionaries. The castle has a closed door surrounded by columns. It depicts an event that has come down to us in 172: the emperor, finding himself in a difficult and uncertain situation, prays to the gods. The gods intervene in his favor, striking and destroying siege engines with lightning. The prayer process itself is not depicted in the bas-relief.

In the second part of the scene, two legionnaires stand on the bank of a river with rocky banks (one high above the emperor, the other on the lower right, bent down). Perhaps they are metators and measure the terrain. The extreme legionnaire on the right seems to be trying to trick the barbarians who are deployed to the other side to protect the passage and is spying on them.

Scene 12: Romans and barbarians fight for territory

The stage is badly damaged. From left to right, we see first two Romans engaged in peaceful pursuits, then two others attacking and surrounded by horsemen. Above, an archer with a bent bow had already released an arrow that was about to hit the shield-wielding barbarian who had fallen to one knee. The other is already down in front of him. At the bottom, a barbarian pushes the bull forward toward two other barbarians. An enemy rider runs to protect the beast, and a legionnaire moves forward to meet him.

It is unlikely that the Romans could have depicted an episode on a column celebrating their victory, in which in reality they were defeated. Why, then, did not the artist also depict the killing of animals by the Germans? The strange presence of these two animals remains unclear. Perhaps it is best to stick to Petersen's hypothesis of iubati bisontes, although it also raises many questions. In any case, this scene is far from proving chronologically incorrect about the historical sequence of events on the column, so convincingly refuted by Zwicker.

In the second part of the scene, two legionnaires stand on the bank of a river with rocky banks (one high above the emperor, the other on the lower right, bent down). Perhaps they are metators and measure the terrain. The extreme legionnaire on the right seems to be trying to trick the barbarians who are deployed to the other side to protect the passage and is spying on them.

Scene 13. The emperor offers sacrifices for the successful passage of the army across the river

Near a river with rocky banks, Marcus Aurelius, wearing a toga with a covered head, offers sacrifices on a tripod brazier for the success of the campaign. Meanwhile, six legionnaires cross the river in two boats. At the same time, a barbarian horseman spies on them, sending another to inform his men of the Roman landing. Since the terrain is damaged, it is not possible to clearly recognize the animals, but most often they are considered lions. Some historians associate this scene with the episode described by Luciano (Alexander s. Pseudomantis, 48): the priest Alexander of Abonofei during the war in Germany demanded to sacrifice two lions in order to achieve victory and peace. But the wild beasts that crossed the river were killed by the barbarians, and soon after the Romans suffered a great defeat. By dating the event to 166 or 169, Dobiás, along with other historians, was forced to admit that the sequence of scenes on the column is not chronologically correct. And, consequently, many episodes will be presented without regard to the order in the sequence of events.

Zwikker, who supports the opposite thesis, that is, the chronological order of the scenes, considers Dobias ' hypothesis to have no sufficient grounds, since it is far from certain that this particular historical episode is depicted. As arguments, he cites that it is far from a fact that lions are depicted here and that in general animal sacrifices are a fairly common practice of priests. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the Romans depicted an episode related to their defeat. Also, the column does not depict the actual killing of animals, which makes Zwicker's theory the most likely.

Scene 14: Marcus Aurelius watches a cavalry march through a mountainous area

The scene is extremely poorly preserved. Seated atop a podium flanked by three bodyguards and surrounded by legionnaires, the Emperor watches the Roman cavalry march through the mountains. The right part of the bas-relief has undergone modern restorations and alterations.

Scene 15. Continuation of the mountain march and battle

Praetorians and legionnaires are coming out of the mountains. In the upper part, the eastern archers are auxillaries (sagitarii) attack from both sides barbarians armed with spears and shields. One of the barbarians, probably a messenger, is riding to the left. Below is a picture of the emperor, his horse being held by a Praetorian guard.

Scene 16. The Miracle of Rain

After leaving the camp (indicated by a tent), the army stopped. At the bottom, you can see the legionnaires together with the legate. At the top are three bulls, one of which is dead; next to them is a legionnaire addressing the sky (possibly calling for rain, which is visible further away). A legionnaire sings a horse near a mule-drawn ballista cart. Nearby, another legionnaire is quenching his thirst, and a third is sheltering from the torrential rain with a scutum.

The scene is a "rain miracle" that later Christian culture attributed to the intervention of the prayers of Christian legionaries. Rain brings salvation to thirsty Romans and destruction to barbarians. This event is described by Dio Cassius (VII acclamatio imperatoria), that is, the most likely date is 174. But there are also alternative opinions on the issue of dating-171 and 172 years. Alternative sources include Jerome in the Chronicles of Eusebius and Prosperi Tironis. If we stick to the version of identifying the scene with the chronicle of Eusebius, then Pertinax is depicted on the scene as the commander of the Roman army.

Fourth level of the column

Scene 17: Marcus Aurelius receives the Germans

On a rocky hill, among his retinue, the emperor receives the German leader, who bows to kiss his right hand. Below, a group of Germans had gathered, including women and children. Perhaps they want to transfer them as hostages. Women are dressed in a long tunic without sleeves, belted at the top, over which they put on a cape with long sleeves, some of the heads are covered with cloth. The children are dressed in the same costumes as their parents. At the top are two Roman vexillarii.

Scene 18: The battle around the German house

The scene is poorly preserved and has been restored, and therefore there are problems with its interpretation. According to one version, in the center is a German house of a square type, built of tree trunks connected by intertwined ropes. Perhaps this is the chief's house. A battle is going on all around: on the left-top, a barbarian being chased by a Roman runs to the left, where another Roman is moving forward, leading the horse under which the defeated opponent lies; another fallen barbarian stands behind the running horse. To the right of the house, a barbarian with a shield and sword collides with a Roman horseman, while another, sitting under an oak tree, is attacked by three Romans.

Scene 19. Flight of the German leader

Two horsemen and several legionnaires launch an attack, facing three barbarians armed with shields and spears. Behind them are other fallen barbarians who died for the sake of the hasty flight of their leader, who rides on a horse. Above, legionnaires and vexillarii are looking towards the fugitive.

Above them, in front of the tent, is Marcus Aurelius with a spear, but without armor. Next to him stands his retinue. They watch an ox cart being driven by a Roman. There is a female prisoner, possibly the daughter of a German leader.

Scene 20. Destruction of the village

Praetorians and horsemen are sent from the camp to a poorly defended barbarian village to destroy it.

Scene 21: Prisoners are led to the Emperor

Marcus Aurelius stands in front of two very rich horsemen. One of them, probably Pertinax, was wearing a brawn, helmet, and spear. A high-ranking German is led to them with his hands tied in front and a woman, his wife, dressed in a long dress, followed by at least two legionnaires. At the top, auxiliaries accompany two captured bulls.

Fifth level of the column

Scene 22: Marcus Aurelius talks with the Germans

The emperor in armor and his retinue converse with the Germans, who are on the opposite bank of the river with stony banks. The Germans clearly have a different social status.

Scene 23: The Romans and their allied Germans fight against hostile barbarian tribes

In this scene, we see the aftermath of the diplomatic negotiations from the previous scene between Marcus Aurelius and the Germans. Romans and Germans fight shoulder to shoulder against a common enemy, which they attack from both sides. Some hostile barbarians have fallen to the ground with their horses, some of them are still riding.

Scene 24: The Romans fight off an attack from behind

A new tribe of barbarians with conical caps attacks the Romans from behind as they march in the opposite direction. Elite barbarians are mounted on horses and partially armed with shields and spears.

Scene 25. Barbarians with conical headdresses are led captive to Marcus Aurelius.

Two barbarians from the previous scene lead prisoners with their hands tied behind their backs to the emperor in armor and a spear, next to which is a member of his retinue. Meanwhile, the march, interrupted by the barbarian attack, continues. The legionnaires walk alongside the mule cart.

Scene 26: Marcus Aurelius consults with his entourage

The emperor with the scroll on his left stands between three members of his retinue and three warriors, two of whom hold the reins of their horses. Above, a mule cart loaded with weapons is moving in the opposite direction to the usual one, from right to left.

Sixth level of the column

Scene 27: Marcus Aurelius and his retinue go on the march

The emperor, clad in musculature, rides up the hill with a fully armed officer at his side, possibly Pertinax, and is followed by Praetorians on horseback. Other Praetorians on foot kill Germans in battle.

Scene 28. The Romans cross the river, overcoming the enemy's defenses

Roman auxiliaries cross the river in two boats. Also below you can see a lot of riders running to attack at a gallop.

Scene 29. Ferry across the river

At the top of the stage is a Roman fortified camp. Two sentries stand guard at the closed door. Petersen suggests that the emperor makes a sacrifice in front of the castle, but serious problems due to the poorly preserved bas-relief and restoration make this hypothesis difficult to prove. In front of the castle, legionaries, auxillaries and Praetorians cross the river on a pontoon bridge. One of the warriors is leading a horse. The vanguard had already begun their battle with the enemy. Above, a barbarian is seen holding a round shield and sword, while a Roman stabs him in the back with a spear. Below, the rider is put to flight by a Roman, and under his horse lies a barbarian. The Praetorian strikes a defenseless enemy sitting on the ground. Zwicker believes that the scene depicts the battle of the Danube in a territory under constant Roman influence.

Scene 30: Marcus Aurelius makes sacrifices and the army crosses the river on a pontoon bridge

The following shows an army of Praetorians and legionaries marching across a pontoon bridge similar to the one depicted in scene 29. Next to him stands an old man dressed in a chiton and a himatium, who is most likely one of the philosophical friends of Marcus Aurelius.

Scene 31: Marcus Aurelius and two German leaders conclude a treaty.

The action takes place in a Roman camp, the wall of which can be traced schematically on the right side. There are two tents below, with guards standing in front of them. The emperor is depicted on top, followed by two members of his retinue. Two German nobles are standing in front of them. Barbarians are more likely to swear an oath of loyalty to the emperor.

Scene 32. Start and end of the march

The Praetorians and legionaries go on the march and stop by the emperor, who is standing next to two members of his retinue.

Scene 33. March to the river with the Emperor at the head

In this scene, legionnaires and Praetorians, some leading their horses, march rapidly toward the river. They are led by Marcus Aurelius and his retinue.

Seventh level of the column

Scene 34: Roman legionnaires cross the river in a boat

Only the first part of the scene is original, the rest is a modern restoration: in it, two boats occupied by legionnaires are visible on the river. At the top of the stage, three legionnaires in marriages are standing ready to attack. At the bottom of the stage are three legionnaires with various lorikami: segmentata, squamata , and hamata. The restored part of the scene shows another boat and a battle with barbarian horsemen.

Scene 35. The Roman Army on the march

The legionnaires, led by the emperor with a scroll in their hand and accompanied by their retinue, go from right to left. Behind Marcus Aurelius is a two-man chariot drawn by mules. Below him, a legionnaire kills a barbarian. This stage also underwent minor restorations: the upper part of the emperor and his retinue and almost the entire legionnaire below (original only legs).

Scene 36: The Roman Army on the march

The bas-relief is badly damaged. Legionaries, Praetorians, and a saddled horse march from left to right.

Scene 37: Marcus Aurelius watches the army resume its march

On the podium in front of the tents of the camp, the emperor, next to his retinue, watches the continuation of the march. One of the riders leads his horse, and two Vexillarii walk beside him.

Scene 38: Stopping the march

Praetorians and a donkey cart full of weapons are moving towards the emperor with an entourage. Next to it are two vexillarii.

Scene 39. The Emperor reaches the camp and the Roman army repels the barbarian attack

Marcus Aurelius appears at the beginning of this scene in a pose very similar to the previous one, only instead of a scroll, he holds his cloak in his left hand. He stands in front of the tent, followed by members of his entourage and a legionnaire. A donkey cart loaded with weapons is also seen entering the camp.

In the second part of the scene, a squad of Sagittarii, auxillarii and legionaries marches to repel the barbarian assault. One of them was hit in the chest by a Roman arrow.

Eighth level of the column

Scene 40. Barbarians begging the Emperor's favor

The whole scene has been completely reconstructed due to heavy damage. It is a battle in front of the city gates. In the preserved original part, we see barbarians begging for mercy with outstretched hands facing Marcus Aurelius. The Emperor most likely should have been depicted sitting, rather than standing, as he was depicted in the modern restoration.

Scene 41. The conquest of the German leader

The Emperor and his retinue stand facing the barbarian. The barbarian chieftain is richly dressed, as are his attendants. He holds his right hand on his chest and bows his head in submission. Praetorians with spears can be seen below.

Scene 42a. Roman camp ceremony

This scene is also badly damaged. On a hill, four seated Romans watch the action below. In the middle, the emperor in musculature and chiton touches a man with his right hand.

Scene 42 b. Arrival of the Ambassadors

This stage has also been partially restored. The Emperor hosts the Senate embassy. There is also a version that this is a court scene in which the accused asks for help from Marcus Aurelius, who ordered a pardon. In this version, the person standing is the prosecutor, and the four people sitting at the top will make up the emperor's council. According to the main version with the acceptance of ambassadors, the three Romans are supposed to be Roman envoys from Marcus Aurelius to the Senate to report on his negotiations with the barbarians.

Scene 43: The Romans attack a Germanic settlement

In front of two round barbarian houses with domed roofs, Roman soldiers on horseback and on foot attack German nobles. One German defends himself with a sword and shield. Nearby, a woman runs away from the house, but the rider is about to hit her with a spear. On the left, a young man at a tree runs away, also being chased by a rider.

Scene 44: The Romans on the March

Legionnaires, Praetorians, and horsemen march rapidly to the right.

Ninth level of the column

Scene 45. The emperor consults with his retinue about the German surrender

Marcus Aurelius stands in the midst of his retinue, holding a scroll at arm's length. There is an active discussion of the current situation. Around the Emperor's council stand the Praetorians.

Scene 46: The destruction of the village

Six Praetorians set fire to two square houses. Nearby are oxen. Further to the right, a barbarian with a long beard on his knees begs for mercy from a legionnaire.

Scene 47: The Runaway Barbarians

This scene can be considered a single whole with the previous one. Two plumed horsemen run forward. This part of the stage has also been heavily restored.

Scene 48: Chasing the Barbarians

On the ascent, Marcus Aurelius and two members of his retinue witness the fire and destruction of the thicket, in which the barbarians killed by Roman legionaries and horsemen took refuge in pursuit of the swamp.

Scene 49A. The Emperor receives the embassy

Marcus Aurelius stands on a podium in front of a large square building where two people are present. Then the Praetorians and one German. The Emperor receives an embassy of unarmed and high-ranking barbarians. Three of them have Phrygian caps. Bending down, they extend their cloaked hands to ask for mercy or to pay their respects.

Scene 49 b. March of the Barbarians accompanied by the Romans

Three Germans on foot with shields and three on horseback are accompanied by the Roman army, which comes out of the fortified camp. Only Roman soldiers are stationed in the camp, which means that the territory is under the control of the Roman Empire.

Scene 50. Victorious sortie of the Roman garrison

From another castle like the previous one, in the same wooded area, the Praetorians and auxiliaries go in the opposite direction. Also here, in the fortified camp, there are Roman soldiers with shields and spears. At the top are two escaped barbarians. The Romans attacked and destroyed the Germans, armed with round and hexagonal shields. Some of them are already lying on the ground, some are still trying to defend themselves.

Tenth level of the column

Scene 51: The Emperor's conversation with the German leader

Marcus Aurelius and his retinue, surrounded by Praetorians, receive the German leader.

Scene 52. Battle

Roman legionnaires and horsemen victoriously attack the barbarians, who seem to Petersen to be Sarmatians, and Zwicker to be Germans (the preservation of the bas-relief is poor).

Scene 53. Conquering the Barbarians

The terrain was badly damaged. At the top is a picture of Marcus Aurelius. Next to him are two members of his entourage and three standard bearers. Bottom left are two Praetorians. In the center, barbarians kneel under the emperor.

Scene 54. Storming the German fortification

Roman legionnaires, forming a tortoise (testudo), storm the fortification, built of wooden planks tied with ropes. The besieged throw torches, wheels, swords, stones and a container of liquid from above. Roman legionnaires and horsemen attack. It is possible that the barbarians who were attacked are the Marcomanni, conquered in 172 AD.

Scene 55." Adlocutio " by Marcus Aurelius to the troops

In Rome, the Latin word adlocutio means the address of a general, usually an emperor, to his large army and legions, and the general form of Roman greeting of an army to their leader. After the victorious conclusion of the operations of the two years ' War (172-173), the emperor addresses adlocuzio to his troops with all regalia and types of banners. Marcus Aurelius holds an open scroll in his hands, and two members of his retinue stand next to him. At the foot of the podium are two lictors.


Between the trophies and weapons, the goddess Victoria is depicted, personifying the Roman triumph. It clearly separates the two years of the war of 172-173 from the 174-175 depicted in the subsequent scenes.

The eleventh level of the column

Scene 56: Marcus Aurelius receives the barbarians

The Emperor stands on the podium between two members of his retinue and the standard bearers. Below and above, Praetorians holding the reins of harnessed horses. Marcus Aurelius looks at the three barbarians with bowed heads.

Scene 57. Destruction of the barbarians

Roman legionnaires and horsemen once again fight barbarians who protect their families and their livestock. One of the riders shoots a bow.

Scene 58: The Germans surrender their weapons

This stage has been partially restored. At the top is Marcus Aurelius and his retinue, and at the bottom are the Germans.

Scene 59. The Germans are led to the river to force it

Unarmed high-ranking Germans are led by two horsemen armed with spears to the river to be ferried to the other side in three boats. Two German escorts hold the reins of their horses. On the other side of the river (most likely the Danube), two other Germans are waiting for them, armed with spears and shields, offering them to pass with them, holding out their right hand.

Scene 60. The Barbarians in the presence of Marcus Aurelius

The Emperor stands on the podium, accompanied by a member of his retinue, surrounded by Germans armed with spears. In front of him are two barbarians of higher status. Petersen believes that they are blaming those who will be executed in the next scene.

Scene 61: Beheading of rebellious barbarians.

At the top left is a group of women in sad but humble poses. Below, the Praetorians, one of them with a banner, are advancing to the place of execution, surrounded by horsemen and legionaries. Two Germans are about to be beheaded. Two more are already lying on the ground with their severed heads next to them.

These scenes are often linked to events in 174. Part of the barbarians, led by the new king Ariogais, who succeeded King Furtius, rebelled against the Romans and sabotaged the peace of 172. They also brought many additional tribes and allies to their side in the fight against the Romans. These scenes illustrate defiance, followed by disarming (scene 58), transportation (scene 59), and beheading at the hands of their compatriots who remained loyal to Rome. These events are also presented in chronological order in their place on the column.

The twelfth level of the column

Scene 62. Barbarians before the Emperor's war council

There are three people sitting on the benches, most likely including Marcus Aurelius (center) and Pompey (to his right). The supposed Marcus Aurelius holds a scroll in his left hand. Two barbarians with long beards, crooked noses, and raised cheekbones reach out to this gathering to beg for mercy. Around the podium are Germans armed with spears.

Scene 63: The battle between the Romans and the Germans

Roman horsemen and legionnaires attack from both sides of the Germans. One Roman horseman on the left moves in the opposite direction to deliver the message. Below, two legionnaires threaten the kneeling barbarian. One German is about to be killed by a Roman, and another is fleeing.

Scene 64: Capture of German nobles and cattle

Then there is a hollow restored scene in which some Romans are leading cattle in a wooded area, possibly captured from the barbarians from the previous scene. Two notable German prisoners are led in front. Another barbarian is killed by a Roman and the last barbarian hides behind a tree.

Scene 65. Roman horsemen arrive

A group of Roman horsemen gallops through the forest, armed with spears and shields.

Scene 66: The Emperor is presented with severed heads and a German prisoner.

At the top, Marcus Aurelius is sitting on a folding chair, addressed by a man standing next to him. One of the Praetorians pulls the hair of a high-ranking German. Two more praetorians are carrying the severed heads of barbarians.

Scene 67: The Legionnaires ' March

The legionnaires, armed with a spear and shield, are marching rapidly. Ahead of them is Vexillarius with a banner.

The thirteenth level of the column

Scene 68: Killing the recumbent barbarians

The Praetorians and Auxillaries knocked the barbarians down and finished them off with spears. Two are about to be impaled, a third is already dead, and the fourth is being prepared for execution.

Scene 69. Barbarian emigration

A group of barbarians is advancing from right to left. Several unarmed men, women, and children accompanied by Praetorians. They are followed by cattle. One of the Praetorians holds one of the children in his arms, who pulls away and holds out his hand to the mother, looking at him. The illustrated episode can only be a forced and undesirable relocation to another country with all their property of a barbarian people. Barbarians are most likely a type of Celts who were punished by the Romans for their hostile behavior in 173 by moving to Pannonia. Most likely, this scene with emigration dates back to 174.

Scene 70. Battle in the presence of Marcus Aurelius

In the lower part of the bas-relief there are small restorations. There is a battle between Praetorians and barbarians. A Roman, climbing over a fallen opponent, is about to stab the already wounded barbarian with his spear. Another Roman is about to plunge a sword into the neck of a kneeling enemy. On the right, with his horse and a member of his retinue, is the emperor.

Scene 71: The destruction of a barbarian village

After a section of the partially restored bas-relief relief with the capture of the barbarians, we see a large barbarian square house built of poles, which the Roman sets on fire with a torch.

Scene 72. Chasing down runaway barbarians

Roman cavalry chasing German barbarians. One of the Germans fell from his horse, and several other barbarians begged for mercy.

Scene 73: Capture of women and livestock

At the top, the Praetorian plunges his sword into the enemy's chest. Another, standing behind the fallen man, puts two barbarian horsemen armed with spears to flight. The lower part of the stage is a modern restoration. The Romans are trying to steal cattle, goats and sheep. Above, you can see the Praetorians, with a group of women behind them.

Scene 74: Praetorian parade before the Emperor

Marcus Aurelius on horseback, as well as his retinue, watches the procession of the Praetorians. Some of them are dressed in sagum, holding a spear with their left and the reins of a horse with their right. It can be seen that one of them is probably an officer.

The fourteenth level of the column

Scene 75. The Emperor offers sacrifices on the altar

Marcus Aurelius, with a scroll in his left hand, pours the contents of the patera onto the altar flames. Most likely, he is conducting a ceremony. The Emperor is accompanied by two members of his retinue. The Praetorians are standing in front of the altar, their left arms outstretched, talking. In the background is a vexillarium with a banner.

Scene 76: The Romans sally out with their emperor

On the left is Marcus Aurelius (face badly damaged) in armor with a spear, accompanied by two members of his retinue. Nearby, Praetorians and legionaries rush into battle. The upper part of the stage with the heads of soldiers and the entire part of the bas-relief on the right with the battle is a modern restoration.

Scene 77. A small battle and capture of German leaders.

After a modern restoration, we see a battle in which three German leaders are captured. They are led away with their hands tied behind their backs by the Praetorians. To protect their leaders, several barbarians of lower social status sacrifice themselves.

Scene 78. The Roman army's entry into a major military campaign

A large army of armed Romans implies a large military campaign directed against the Sarmatians. The rearguard consists of eastern mounted auxiliaries. Two horsemen carry a vexilla. Ahead of them are the barbarians in the service of Rome. The legionnaires are in the vanguard of the army. The march continues over a bridge with arches. On the bridge, you can see the Praetorians with two banners and the emperor in armor, accompanied by Pompey (?), both with spears pointed down.

The fifteenth level of the column

Scene 79: A battle between the Romans and barbarians on the other side of the bridge.

The scene is closely related to the previous one. The march turns into a battle. At the top, a barbarian falls from a horse without reins, whose mane he tries to grab to keep from falling. A Roman grabs the other by the hair and thrusts his sword through the collarbone.

Below, a Roman horseman chases a barbarian. Dead barbarians lie under their horses. Further, the bas-relief is a modern restoration and depicts the killing of barbarians and the captivity of women and children.

Scene 80: Marcus Aurelius talks with his entourage outside the castrum.

Before the castrum, the emperor speaks with two members of his retinue. One Praetorian guard stands at the entrance, and two large tents can be seen above the camp wall.

Scene 81. Crossing the river by boat

Praetorians and legionaries leave the camp and head for the river to cross in boats.

Scene 82. Construction of the camp

The following shows legionnaires who have already landed. One of them is about to put down his shield and spear to begin the work already begun by the other legionnaires who are busy building the camp. One legionnaire carries a tree trunk, another a boulder, two more place a block, etc.

The sixteenth level of the column

Scene 83. "Adlocuzio" of the Emperor.

In ancient Rome, the Latin word Adlocutio means the traditional greeting of the commander-in-chief (usually the emperor) to his large army and legions.

Standing on a raised platform with his retinue (Pompey and Pertinax), the emperor conducts the adlocutio in full view of his soldiers. Perhaps part of the army consists of German auxiliaries. On the right, there are also three people dressed in barbaric clothing. The upper part of their torso has undergone a modern restoration.

Scene 84. The army crosses the river on a bridge

The first two legionnaires represent a modern restoration. Some of the soldiers are led by the reins of their horses. Among the warriors, one is different in equipment, perhaps he is the commander.

Scene 85. Transportation of female prisoners

The Romans take captive barbarian women with children. The main part of the warriors goes from left to right. One of the women with the baby looks to the right, trying to run away, but one of the legionnaires grabs her by the shoulders. Some barbarians, including women and children, resist capture, and some, on the contrary, calmly accept their fate.

Scene 86: Marcus Aurelius makes a speech

From the gate of the camp, Praetorians come out in cloaks, without armor, but in helmets, some of them with swords. The Emperor and his entourage stand on the left side of the podium, and three vexillarii can be seen behind. Marcus Aurelius and the character to his left make a speaker with his right hand. Perhaps this is a repetition of adlocutio. Also, one of the versions says that the Emperor receives joyful news from legionnaires who have returned from a campaign.

Scene 87: Marcus Aurelius and his retinue return from a campaign

In the middle, the emperor is depicted between two members of his retinue. One of the emperor's entourage seems to make a gesture of denial and objects to Marcus Aurelius. What causes rejection is unknown. Nearby are dismounted horsemen.

Scene 88: German nobles are taken prisoner

At the top of the hill stands a round building with a domed roof, similar in shape to barbarian huts. A group of Romans with captured barbarian nobles is advancing from it. Two Romans hold a rope that binds their hands behind the backs of two Germans. Another Roman pushes forward two young men, also with their hands tied behind them. According to Domashevsky, the most notable captive may have been the chieftain Ariogais, who escaped after defeating the Quadi (Dion Cassius, LXXI, 14) and took refuge with the Bastarnae. A bounty was placed on his head and he could be captured alive.

Scene 89: Roman horsemen crush the Germans by the river

On the river flowing below, the Romans threw a small bridge over which Roman horsemen with shields and spears ride. The left bank is defended by barbarians. This fight probably precedes the capture of the leader from the previous scene.

Scene 90. Arrival of Marcus Aurelius with his retinue and troops

The Emperor and his retinue arrive on horseback, followed by a group of Praetorians. Part of Marcus Aurelius and some Praetorians below is a modern restoration. At the bridge on the left is a Praetorian guard with a spear and shield.

Scene 91: Escorting German leaders

Fully armed mounted praetorians accompany two German leaders on horseback as they are led to the emperor's presence. Perhaps they had come to offer their help and report on the enemy's plans.

The seventeenth level of the column

Scene 92: Roman horsemen put the enemy to flight

Roman horsemen launch a massive attack to put the fleeing barbarians to flight and pursue them. During the pursuit, many barbarians are killed with spears, and some are already mortally wounded.

Scene 93: The Emperor marches with legionaries, Praetorians, and carts

The legionaries are accompanied by two ox carts loaded with shields and spears. Next to the front chariot rides Marcus Aurelius himself, accompanied by Roman horsemen.

Scene 94: Construction of the camp

Having arrived from the march depicted in the previous scene, the legionnaires begin to build a camp. The main wall of the camp has already been erected. One legionnaire carries a log on his shoulders, and the other has already laid down his own. Another legionnaire behind the wall holds a large hammer in his raised right hand, and with his left hand leans the chisel against the wall to work on the already installed block. In general, all the legionnaires are busy with construction work. On the right, a group of Praetorians arrives on the hill, who may have returned from patrolling the area.

Scene 95. Cavalry on the march

A rearguard arrives at the camp indicated by a tent on horseback. Two soldiers dismounted from their horses. The riders are armed with spears and shields.

Scene 96." Adlocutio " of the Emperor in the camp

The emperor stands on the podium with a spear, accompanied by two members of his retinue. Marcus Aurelius delivers a speech to his army.

Scene 97: Killing and capturing barbarians

The scene shows hand-to-hand combat: a Praetorian and two legionaries kill or put to flight five barbarian horsemen. A barbarian thrown from his horse is about to be killed by a Roman spear. Three Praetorians take captive women, some of whom beg for mercy, and some try to escape.

The eighteenth level of the column

Scene 98: The Emperor talks with his retinue and the destruction of the village by the Praetorians

Scene 99. Victorious assault of Roman cavalry and legionaries

Cavalry and infantry attack the barbarians with spears. Among them, a tubucene with a wild-furred head can be seen on the left. Standing behind two grazing cows.

Scene 100." Adlocutio " by Marcus Aurelius to the Praetorians

On the podium, the Emperor and his entourage address the Praetorians gathered below with vexillaries.

Scene 101: The Emperor's conversation with his advisers in the camp and the arrival of the messenger

Scene 102. Destruction of the village and capture of the barbarians

The Praetorians set fire to three barbarian houses and captured three high-ranking barbarians, who surrendered without resistance. One of the barbarians has a large ornate shield. On the left, a woman with bare shoulders and right breasts runs away, pushing her little daughter forward.

Scene 103: Marcus Aurelius marches with his army

The legionnaires march in an agmen quadratum, with Marcus Aurelius and Pompey in the center. A mule cart is also visible. The rearguard consists of Praetorian horsemen.

The nineteenth level of the column

Scene 104: Barbarians captured

The scene shows a large round barbarian house, from which a Praetorian guard leads five imprisoned women with children. The women below behave differently. Some behave humbly, some resist capture.

Scene 105. Flight of the barbarians

Two high-ranking barbarians run on horseback to the right, but they are pursued by the Romans. Some of the barbarians are about to be killed, some are preparing to beg for mercy.

Scene 106. Arrival of Marcus Aurelius

The Emperor and members of his entourage on horseback look at the previous scene. There are Praetorians with vexillaries nearby.

Scene 107: A barbarian brings a message to Marcus Aurelius.

The Emperor, with his retinue and praetorians, receives a high-ranking barbarian accompanied by Roman horsemen.

Scene 108: The army marching across the bridge led by Marcus Aurelius

Praetorians in squamata and segmentata march across the bridge. Also visible is the cavalry that has already crossed the bridge. Marcus Aurelius is seen among the army.

Scene 109. Defeat of the barbarians besieging the Roman garrison

The march from the previous scene flowed smoothly into the battle. The horsemen launch an assault, bringing death to the barbarians. On the other side, they are attacked by legionnaires who have come out of the fortified camp on the right. The barbarians are almost all lying on the ground, dead or wounded. Two escape on horseback. Only one still fights, swinging his sword and defending himself with a shield from the rider. The upper left part of the stage is a modern restoration. The next scene, with the Praetorians leading cattle to the fortress, suggests that this is a siege of the Roman garrison, which is assisted by cavalry reinforcements led by the emperor himself.

The twentieth level of the column

Scene 110. Five Praetorians bring a herd of goats, sheep, and sheep to the garrison.

Scene 111: The Army on the March

Marcus Aurelius with a spear stands in the rear of a long column of marching legionaries. Next to him, you can see his retinue, among which you can identify Pertinax. Nearby you can see Vexillarii, Praetorians and legionaries. Three Praetorians lead the horses by the reins.

Scene 112. Conquering the Barbarians

Here we also see Marcus Aurelius and his retinue, with two legionaries standing behind them holding their horses. Nearby, a noble barbarian bows to show his submission. One of the members of the retinue has undergone a modern restoration. Another barbarian nobleman is above, holding the horse's reins with a spear. Around them, a group of barbarians are watching them.

Scene 113: The Romans by the stream

Since the scene is largely a modern restoration, it is difficult to describe the original idea of ancient authors. One of the versions is that the Romans take a short break at the stream.

Scene 114: The conquest of the Barbarians

After a large, modernly restored plot, we see the Praetorians and legionnaires who were supposed to guard Marcus Aurelius. High-ranking barbarians go to them to submit for the safety of their lives.

Twenty-first level of the column

Scene 115. Barbarian emigration

The scene depicts a mass exodus of barbarians accompanied by Roman soldiers across a bridge. There are many barbarians, both male and female. Everyone humbly moves forward. The scene represents the passage of barbarians into Roman territory.

Scene 116: Capture of runaway barbarians and cattle

The Praetorians disembark from the boat to capture the barbarian men and women who have taken refuge in the swampy area to avoid capture and enslavement. But in the end, the Romans catch them and take them away with the cattle.