The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius is an ancient Roman bronze statue of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (reign: 161-180 AD), dating back to the 2nd century AD. It is located in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy, and is considered one of the most important surviving examples of Roman equestrian sculpture.
Dating back to around 175 AD, the statue is almost 4 meters tall and depicts Marcus Aurelius on horseback, dressed in military attire, with his right hand raised as if in a gesture of command. The facial expression of the philosopher-emperor is somewhat exhausted, perhaps due to all the stress he faced from his numerous battles.
The statue was likely originally placed in the Forum of Trajan in Rome, and it is believed to be the only surviving bronze statue of a Roman Emperor from antiquity.
Did you know?
- The name of the statue is Equus Marci Aurelii and Statua equestre di Marco Aurelio in Latin and Italian, respectively.
- The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius is the sole Roman equestrian statue that has managed to survive until the present day. It owes its survival to a mistaken identification during the Middle Ages when it was thought to be a representation of the Christian Emperor Constantine the Great (reign: 306-337 AD). This mistaken identity is perhaps what saved the statue from the widespread destruction of pagan artworks that began around the late 4th century AD.
- The original 2nd-century AD statue now resides in the Palazzo dei Conservatori at the Musei Capitolini (the Capitoline Museums) in Rome.