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All the Emperor's Men (Hardback)

Roman Soldiers and Barbarians on Trajan's Column

Ancient History > Rome & the Roman Provinces > Roman Archaeology

By J C Coulston
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Pages: 496
Illustrations: approx 200 illus and plans
ISBN: 9781842173008
Published: 31st December 2024
Casemate UK Academic


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Trajan's Column, set up in the heart of Rome, was completed in 113 CE to commemorate the emperor Trajan's wars across the Danube. Its reliefs provide a uniquely detailed picture of the army at war in perfect harmony with Trajan who in his own lifetime and forever after was accounted 'The Best of Emperors'. The sculptures are a panegyric to military achievement of the troops and to leadership by their emperor, but, much more than this, they have exerted an enormous influence on modern perceptions of Roman art, architecture, warfare, politics, religion, ethnography and geography.

The author's research answers questions which have been asked about Trajan's Column since the first studies of the 16th century. How were the reliefs planned and executed? Can they be used as a reliable historical source for Trajan's reign? How accurate is their depiction of the Roman army at war? What does the Column reveal about the political balance between emperor and army, and about Rome's attitude to the 'barbarian'?

The Column's pedestal reliefs depicted more than 600 captured barbarian trophies, and its 200m helical frieze represents 2600 human figures engaged in frontier warfare. Never before has this vast mass of material been studied in detail, in its entirety, using modern methods of recording, comparison and analysis. The author was granted unprecedented access by the Rome authorities to scaffolding erected around the Column for conservation studies, allowing detailed photographic evidence to be collected as well as the chance to study the whole monument at close hand. This book will be of interest to researchers and students of Roman imperial history, art, and the city of Rome.

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