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Bust of Commodus as Hercules
180-193 AD
cm 133

The bust is one of the most famous masterpieces of Roman portraiture and depicts the emperor in the guise of Hercules, whose attributes he has been given: the lion's skin over his head, the club in this right hand, and the golden apples of Hesperides in his left hand as a reminder of the Greek hero's feats. The incredibily well-preserved bust is placed on a complex allegorical composition: two kneeling Amazons (only one is well-preserved) besige a globe decorated with the signs of the zodiac hold aloft a cornucopia, which is entwined with a pelta, the Amazons' characteristic shield. The celebratory intent that, through a wealth of symbols, imposes the divine cult of the emperor, is further underlined by the two marine Tritons flanking the central figure to express his apotheosis. The group was recovered in an underground room of the Horti Lamiani complex, where it had probably been hidden.

Provenance: Rome, Esquiline - Horti Lamiani (1874)
Inventory: inv. MC1120

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