Dupondius Trajan - Column
TRAJAN. Æ Dupondius. Rome, 112-115 AD
Obv. IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC P M TR P COS VI PP Radiated and draped bust right
Rev. SPQR OPTIMO PRINCIPI SC Trajan's Column: column with spirals and dots set on podium decorated with eagles, surmounted by statue of Trajan standing left, holding patera in extended right hand, scepter in left.
RIC 603 corr.; Cohen 563 (5 F)
'the Senate and Roman people to the best prince'
Trajan's Column was the crowning glory of Trajan's Forum, built with the spoils of the Dacian Wars, and the last and greatest of the Imperial Fora. Covered by a continuous frieze of the war's events, the column was capped with a gilded heroic statue of the emperor, while an inscription on the base recounted the feat of engineering in the Forum's construction. After Trajan's death, the column became the repository of his ashes.[CNG]
Of all of the truly monumental buildings and commemorative structures the emperor Trajan built, only one, the Columna Traiani, has survived in a reasonable state of completeness. Indeed, it appears almost identical in person as it does on coins, except that the statue of Trajan that originally surmounted it was replaced in 1588 with a statue of St. Paul. When completed, the column occupied a prominent place between two libraries, the Basilica Ulpia and the Temple of Trajan and Plotina. The column was massive: it was over 12 feet in diameter at its base, and rose to a height of nearly 130 feet. Its core was comprised of 34 blocks of Carrara white marble that were made hollow so as to accommodate a circular staircase of 185 steps. The most remarkable feature of the column, however, was its ornamentation, for the friezes on its exterior are some of the most inspiring works of art ever produced. Monumental in scope and execution, they record Trajan's two Dacian campaigns, from 101-3 and 104-6. All told, there are more than 2,500 individually sculpted figures distributed throughout more than 150 scenes. The emperor himself is represented no less than fifty times - not a surprise considering his penchant for commemorative architecture and his pride in having added Dacia to the provinces of the empire.[NAC]