The next time you admire the magnificent gilded bronze equestrian statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-80), one of the glories of the Musei Capitolini, see if you can spot the 'owl'.
The prominent tuft of hair between the horse's ears was long thought to resemble such a creature! According to an ancient legend, one day the owl will sing and fly away, thus signalling the end of the world. At that point, horse and rider will once again be resplendently golden (over the centuries much of the gilt has disappeared).
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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