The column of Antonius Pius once decorated the Field of Mars in ancient Rome. The object, like the Trajan’s column or the Marcus Aurelius’ column, was a monument to the deified emperor. However, only the base of the column has survived to our times, which we can admire in the Vatican Museums.
The column was created after the death of Antoninus Pius in 161 BC, commissioned by the co-managers of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. It was about 15 meters high and 2 meters in diameter. It was on a preserved base, and its peak was decorated with a monument to Emperor Antoninus Pius. The column was made of a single block of red granite, which was imported from Egypt (as in the case of other columns). The stone was carved in 106 CE.
The process of destroying the building was gradual and ended in the 18th century when the rest of the column shaft collapsed. Fearful of the preserved base, it was decided to move it to the Vatican Museums and underwent renovation.
The preserved base of the column has beautiful stone decorations. The bas-reliefs show the apotheosis of Antoninus and his wife Faustine, who are lifted up in the heavens by the god of time Aion (sometimes considered a genius) and the funeral procession of legionaries (decursus equitum).
Samuel Ball Platner, A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome, London 1929.
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