Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

We continue to share some photos and info from our recent trip to Italy. Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome, was the citadel of the earliest Romans. The Campdoglio Piazza, created by Michelangelo in 1536-1546, encompasses Capitoline Hill.

At the center of the piazza is an equestrian (depicting horseback riding) statue of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, (r. AD 161-180).

Emperor Marcus Aurelius at Campdoglio Piazza in Rome. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius at Campdoglio Piazza in Rome. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Wikipedia has this info:

The statue was erected in 175 CE. Its original location is debated: the Roman Forum and Piazza Colonna (where the Column of Marcus Aurelius stands) have been proposed.

Although there were many equestrian imperial statues, they rarely survived because it was practice to melt down bronze statues for reuse as coin or new sculptures in the late empire. Statues were also destroyed because medieval Christians thought that they were pagan idols. The statue of Marcus Aurelius was not melted down because in the Middle Ages it was incorrectly thought to portray the first Christian Emperor Constantine. Indeed, it is the only fully surviving bronze statue of a pre-Christian Roman emperor.

In the medieval era it was one of the few Roman statues to remain on public view. In the 8th century it stood in the Lateran Palace in Rome, from where it was relocated in 1538 to the Piazza del Campidoglio (Capitoline Hill) during Michelangelo’s redesign of the Hill. Though he disagreed with its central positioning, he designed a special pedestal for it. The original is on display in the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, while a replica has replaced it in the square.

Click on image for larger view.

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