Trajan’s column in Rome Italy




Trajan’s column in Rome Italy


The following texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.


All the information in our site are given for nonprofit educational purposes

The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.



Trajan’s column in Rome Italy


Basics               - Trajan was Emperor between 98-117 AD
- the column stands in the Forum of Trajan along with a large courtyard, a triumphal arch, a great hall (Basilica), two libraries, a market, an equestrian statue and then a temple to the deified Emperor built after his death. 
- the column depicts his two (101-102 AD and 105-106 AD) victorious campaigns in Dacia (modern day Romania).  Dacia was rich in gold and silver and the building programmes of Trajan and Hadrian were funded by these campaigns.
- the column was dedicated in 113 AD and after Trajan’s death it became his tomb when the Senate decided to place his ashes in the base. 
- the column is made of marble from the Greek island of Paros and is 100 Roman feet (29.77m) high.   
- the narrative is told by a spiral relief which is 200m long and is in 23 bands with a rope-like ground-line encircling the column. 
- the low-relief carving was done after the 18 hollow drums were placed which explains why the joins of the drums are not visible. 
- there are narrow slits in the column to let light into the interior stairway.
- originally a statue of the Emperor stood on top but this was lost in the Middle Ages.

Problems            - the frieze band increases in height from 91cm at the bottom to 1.2m near the top. 
and how             - the figures also increase in height as the frieze moves up the column from 60 to 80cm. 
they overcame  - the column was placed between two library buildings which made viewing easier for the spectators. 
them                   - colour and metal decoration was used on the column to make viewing easier too.
- no consistent perspective used as the priority was to show all the action and the figures, as a result we see: - horizontal and birds-eye views (many points of view) in the same scene,
- figures meant to be in the background placed above rather than behind,
- same depth of relief used for foreground and background figures,
- a lack of scale as some figures bigger than buildings.

Decoration        - 2500-ish figures placed into 150 scenes.
- the story is told through in the same way: the army sets out, fortifies its camp, listens to addresses from the Emperor, engages in battles, and gains victories.
- depicts not just warfare but everyday life in a military camp e.g.: building camp walls, crossing rivers.
- there are repeated themes e.g.: Trajan addressing his troops, sacrificing, receiving embassies , crossing rivers, building camps, fighting Dacians,
- the enemy is shown in different ways e.g.: Dacian women torturing Roman soldiers, Dacian heads shown to the Emperor,  and as brave foes.
- it shows various landscapes but human figures still remain dominant over nature.
- buildings and walls help to break up the narrative of the story into meaningful bits. 

The scenes are continuous with no frames or gaps to break up the narrative.  The only exception is the Victory writing on a shield which separates the two Dacian campaigns.  She is shown turning to the front with her face side on and she writes on a shield supported by a pillar beside her.

Single military figures, or a tree represents a forest, can represent a whole units = symbolism of abbreviation. 

Some scenes combine the real and the allegorical e.g.: the Daunbe river watching the army march across the river.

Scenes move from dramatic (Decebalus’ suicide) to the mundane (building a camp wall).

Depth is created by overlapping and by the buildings in the background being smaller. 

Human groups are packed tightly together and the only individual to stand out in these groups is Trajan himself.

Propaganda      - Trajan’s virtus (bravery and endurance) are expressed in the relief
present              - Trajan’s pietas (respect of the gods) is shown in the scenes of the Emperor offering sacrifice.
in the                 - Trajan’s clementia (mercy and authority) is shown when he receives the barbarian embassies.
column               - the column shows the might of Trajan’s (and the Roman) army defeating the barbarians.

Portrayal           - as the Emperor and therefore the most significant he appears often and is shown larger than the
of Trajan           other figures.
- he stands in front of others.
- he stands on a higher level.
- he is the centre of attention.
- he appears frequently and is part of the action.
- Trajan’s identifiable by  - his gestures,
- the gazes of his men.                                                         


Source :

Web site link:

Google key word : Trajan’s column in Rome Italy file type : doc

Author : not indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Trajan’s column in Rome Italy


If you want to quickly find the pages about a particular topic as Trajan’s column in Rome Italy use the following search engine:



Trajan’s column in Rome Italy


Please visit our home page Terms of service and privacy page




Trajan’s column in Rome Italy