Ways of depicting emperors and persons in power to suggest their power and political stance. This sculpture is larger than life, and the scale and proportions are a bit off – as far as scale of horse to himself. He wears a beard – in fashion and shows his succession to Hadrian, who chose him to be the successor. Hadrian begins to wear a beard because of fashion and to relate to the Hellenistic styles of Greece. His band is outstretched – he is granting mercy to a captive barbarian.
Other kinds of messages – he was a megalomaniac, believes he is like Hercules.
His corkscrew curls identify him – he was adopted by Marcus Aurelius, he seizes the thrown because his brother was the last to reign on the thrown. He wanted to gain legitimacy.
He is represented as divine – heroic nudity. Being depicted as a god. This is only okay in the Eastern part of the empire. This would not have been okay in the Western empire.
Almost formulaic hair – her style was to wear a wig. Normally, she would be depicted as having small hairs sticking out of her head – shown to depict that she was in fashion.
Painted in a typical Egyptian technique called encaustic – melting wax and mixing it with pigment. Shows signs of age – intentional, age gives him gravity and authority. Also depicts two sons – one was killed by the other and erased from all depictions.
The empire has started to decline – a period of chaos. Between 230 and 280 there were 16 different emperors, averaging about 4 years age. In 238 there were five emperors. There is a lack of stability in the rulers. There are no more long reigns – there is more pressure from outside of the borders, and they want what the Romans have. The Roman army is constantly engaged in battles on the frontier – especially on the Northern frontier, fighting these groups called barbarians. Each new emperor is just a general fighting. The Military emperors – they are those who have risen through the ranks – some are even from poor families and end up becoming emperor for a year or two, then are killed. Some never get to Rome as an emperor – or ever in their entire lives. Treboniaus is depicted as muscular – being emphasized, showing that this is why he should be respected, sense of domination. Also, the proportion of the head to the rest of the body. Probably because he did not have time to pose for a sculpture.
This is a bronze sculpture. The hair, shows that he does not have time for pampering. The intensity of the expression – deeply furrowed brow. Much more in the veristic tradition. Could have been a decline in the quality of the sculptures – due to little time to model by the emperors.
The resolution that came at the end of this chaotic period came when one of the soldier emperors – Diocletian, who comes to power in 283. He decides to make an effort to create a system of succession that will bring stability. In his tenth year he comes up with the tetrarchy – the rule of four. This meant that he would divide the empire in half and each half would have it’s own co ruler – senior and junior. The senior would hold the title Augustus, and the junior would be called Caesar. Diocletian made himself the August in the east, and chose one of his allies, named Maximian to be the Augustus in the West. This sculpture was found in Constantinople – showing two pairs of men in this striking purple stone called porphyry. Purple to symbolize royalty, it was extremely hard, could be polished. Sends the message that they are unified together as ruling. Each has small distinctions, and each has their right arm around the other, making a circle of clasping together. Shows that they are friends, but they are holding their swords at the ready in their left hand. Shows their preparedness to fight jointly. They are wearing armor, and all have pillbox hats.
There is nothing to distinguish them facially – the idea is that the Augustus will retire, the Caesar will take over, and chose their new Caesar.
At the Vatican, a similar type of sculpture – one shows the two Augusti and the two Caesar. One pair is beaded, one is clean shaved. Here they are holding orbs to symbolize their rule to the world.
In 305, Diocletian retires (the first time this ever happens) and forces Maximian to retire as well. Then the Caesar will make over. Maximian’s son Maxentius believes that by hirarchy should be the new Augustus, even though he is not the Caesar. Constantius, Maximian’s Caesar – his son, Constantine, believes that he should be in power as well. A civil war breaks out, Maxentius takes over Italy, and is claimed by the people of Rome to the emperor. He begins to create buildings. Called a basilica, even though it is much more like a bath complex. Uses brick faced concrete and groin vaults.
Structure is similar to a frigidarium – but it was used for political purposes. It had two other names – the Basilica Nova (the new Basilica) and the Basilica of Constantine. Which shows that Constantine eventually defeats Maxentius and takes over Rome.
There are huge windows at the back to let in enormous amounts of light.
Shows the nave – open space with the apse in the back and side aisles. Constantine created an enormous sculpture of himself placed in one apse, and he himself would sit in the apse to the right. Sends a political message.
The sculpture was in marble and the clothing was in drapery. He is depicted in judgment. His hand gesture shows that he is making a judgment.
Recreation of the statue from the pieces that we have. Partially nude. The scale of the human in relation to the sculpture – meant to put in perspective a person’s insignificance. A system of domination. People were meant to come and throw themselves and prostrate themselves. The style is abstractive and lacking in detail. He is like a god.
His mouth is slightly open – pronouncing the judgment.
30 roman political art and greek expressions of identity
ARTH 2402 Classical Art and Archaeology
Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue, Rome, 164-166 CE
Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue Rome 164-166 CE