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Of Rome’s three significant commemorative columns, that ofAntoninus Pius is probably the least appreciated. Why? Likethe shaft of Trajan prior to it and also the column of Marcus Aurelius after it, it had abase, shaft, capital, and gilded bronze statue the the emperor whom itcommemorated. Yet unlike those othercolumns the did no commemorate a military conquest; nor was it decorated with asensational spiral relief or undoubtedly carving of any type of kind (and the shaft is largelylost in any type of case).

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Yet it did share v those various other columns vital function:it served as an imperial tomb. If theColumn that Trajan to be a dig in the strictly sense, real estate in its basic thecremated continues to be of the emperor and also his mam Plotina in golden urns, the Columnof Antoninus Pius, like the later on Column of Marcus Aurelius, to be a cenotaph locatednear the spot wherein the emperor had actually been cremated, his Ustrinum (funeral pyre). The model (in the Museo della Civiltà Romana) picturedabove mirrors where in the Campus Martius that was located with respect come the Pantheon(E).The shaft itself (A) was placed north of thethe Ustrinum the Antoninus (B). To the east was the Ustrinum that Marcus Aurelius (C), whose column waslocated south (D).
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The obelisk was made of red granite imported from Egypt andit was monolithic, i.e., shame from a solitary piece the stone. In ~ 48’ high it had actually less than fifty percent the lengthof the pillar of Trajan, written of north of Luna marble. A mason’s engraving on the making it through lowerend of the obelisk tells us that the stone had been quarried in advertisement 106 for use inthe Forum the Trajan. Modern-day coins,such together the denarius presented to the right, help us come imagine the entirety monument. It appears to have had actually a Corinthian capital,and its base was surrounding by a grating.
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All that continues to be is the marble pedestal. Its engraving records the the pillar was erectedby Marcus Aurelius and also Lucius Verus in storage of their adoptive father: “To theDivine Antoninus Augustus Pius his sons (Marcus Aurelius) Antoninus Augustusand (Lucius) Verus Augustus (dedicate this monument).” Antoninus Pius died in 161 and it is likelythat this monument was commissioned at that time. Faustina had died some 20 years earlier, in AD140.
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The other three sides of the pedestal room covered withreliefs. Shown over is the front, which faced the Ustrinum. Itrepresents the apotheosis the Antoninus and also Faustina. The imperial couple is being conveyed heavenwardby a male figure that is youthful and practically entirely nude. Most striking around him space his wings, i m sorry span virtually the field’s entire width. Hovering over the wing on either next areeagles whose spread wings iterate those the the central figure. In the lower left corner a seminude number reclines,holding an tower meant to recall the surrounding meridian shaft of Augustus: he is definitely thepersonification that the Campus Martius, the ar of Mars, god of war. In the lower right edge is Roma, thepersonification the Rome. Leaning top top ashield emblazoned with the babes Romulus and also Remus gift suckled by theshe-wolf, she put on a helmet, with one chest bared, choose an Amazon, and also withthe armor the the dominated stacked up at she feet: the focus here is clearlyon war—even more so 보다 in the other corner. The is not that Antoninus to be a belligerent emperor; indeed, his was themost peaceful reign of the Principate! Rather,the martial numbers here was standing for not Antoninus’ reign in details but themarch that Roman background in general. Andthey space bidding farewell to the divine pair.
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But who is that central figure? The features leave the question open: heholds a globe encircled by the zodiac and entwined through a snake. The is regularly said to be a genius-figure (a geniusis an change ego or a guardian spirit), yet if therefore he is the only one through wingsin all of Roman art. Is he Aeternitas, thepersonification the eternity that we uncover on the coinage of Faustina? but Aeternitas is a feminine noun, so wewould suppose a female personification. Various other proposals:Ascensus,Consecratio,Aion, the Mithraic god the time. Lise Vogel, who specialized an entiremonograph to the monument, arguesfor Aureum Saeculum, golden e personified. She relates the step to an previously one of Hadrianic or an extremely earlyAntonine day that reflects the apotheosis the Sabina.
In this relief Sabina soars to sky astride Aeternitas,who tote the torch through which she has just lit the pyre (ustrinum)below. The ustrinum is representeddoubly through the flaming structure itself and also by that personification in the formof a youth. On the right, her husbandHadrian bids her farewell. Comparisonwith the Sabina relief go indeed present that the Antoninus and Faustina reliefis traditional, also if the does no really help us to recognize that enigmatic centralfigure.

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Finally, let us rotate to the various other two sides of thepedestal that the tower of Antoninus Pius. Castle are the same representations of the army parade or decursio that took location at the moment ofthe consecratio or cremation ceremony. Inthe middle, top top a central ground line, we watch ten was standing praetorians, two ofwhom, encountering each other at the center, space signiferi, hold militarystandards, if two an ext are officers and the the other six space ordinarysoldiers. All roughly the soldiers arehorsemen galloping in a counterclockwise one movement. Ten are equites, that whom five bear thevexillum (banner). 6 wear tunic, toga,and calcei (boots). One (bottom center)stands out, isolated and wearing the pallium (cloak). Vogel suggests that the six are the seviriAugustales (priests in charge of the imperial cult) and that the isolatedcentral number is an augustus: Marcus Aurelius ~ above the one side, Lucius Verus onthe other: that explains why there space two decursio scenes.
The reliefs ~ above the base of the pillar of AntoninusPius depict 2 moments in the ceremony of consecratio (enrollment of theemperor amongst the gods, i.e., deification or apotheosis). One is the cavalry procession (decursio) that preceded the bright of the pyre--in this case, there were twodecursiones, every led by one of the deceasedemperor’s embraced sons, who would rule jointly till Verus’ fatality in ad 169. This double parade to be a demonstrate of theirpietas. The other minute was the main event, the apotheosis that the royal couple. Keep in mind the eagles flanking the emperor and his wife on the relief. Herodian (4.2) claims that ~ the bright ofthe ustrinum or funeral pyre “from the highest possible story (of the pyre) … one eagleis released … and soars up right into the skies with the flames, acquisition the spirit of theemperor from planet to heaven … Afterthat that is worshiped with the rest of the gods.”
This sestertius, dated to 161, to be issued on the occasionof the consecratio the is the subject of the obelisk base. Note that the pyre had 4 tiers: Herodiansays that each tier was made that wood and also filled through brushwood but alsodecorated with gold-embroidered drapery, ivory carvings, and paintings. Thebody was placed in the 2nd tier. Thedecursio was complied with by a chariot display, through those in the chariots wearingthe ancestral masks (imagines). Climate thepyre to be lit…