Column of Marcus Aurelius
The Column of Marcus Aurelius is a Roman victory column in Piazza Colonna.
Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome between 161 and 180. Although he is often called the "philosopher on the throne" or the "philosopher-emperor", he was also one of the greatest warriors of the Roman empire, and might be called "a philosopher in arms" - with more justification that Alexander the Great, who did in fact receive this title. The column of Marcus Aurelius commemorates his northern war, which is probably the largest Roman war since the civil wars.
In the winter of 168/169, Marcus Aurelius attacked the tribes across the northern frontier of the empire: the Marcomanni and Quadi in Czechia and Sarmatiansin Hungary. The invasion had become necessary when these tribes had invaded Italy, and even reached the Adriatic Sea near Aquileia. This was a very grave crisis.
After initial setbacks, the enemies appeared to be defeated in 175, but after a brief peace, the war was continued, and Marcus died at the front, in Vindobona (modern Vienna). His son Commodus signed the final peace treaty when victory was really achieved, and erected this column as a monument to his father. It was nicknamed Centenaria, 'the hundredfooter', because it was 100 Roman feet or 29.60 meters high.
On the top of the column was a statue of Marcus Aurelius; today, the apostle Paul stands there.
Among those who are also represented on the relief of the column of Marcus Aurelius, are his son Commodus, who erected the monument, and Pertinax, Marcus Aurelius' best general, and, ironically, the man who succeeded Commodus. Unlike the Column of Trajan, which is decorated in low relief, the Column of Trajan is in high relief, which adds to the monument's realism. We can see all the disasters of the war.