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Marble portrait of Tiberius


Height: 48.000 cm

GR 1812.6-15.2 (Sculpture 1880)

Room 70: Roman Empire

    Marble portrait of Tiberius

    Roman, about AD 4-14
    From Italy

    A flattering portrait of the 46 year old heir to the imperial throne

    The head, set into a modern bust, shows the image of the future emperor Tiberius (reigned AD 14-37). It was commissioned in AD 4 to mark his adoption as the successor of the emperor Augustus, his step-father. At the time Tiberius would have been forty-six years old, but is shown in the portrait as much younger.

    The intrigues of Livia, Tiberius' mother, were probably a major factor in his rise to power, combined with the terrible health and unfortunate accidents which befell all the other potential heirs of Augustus. Tiberius was a successful general in campaigns against Persia and along the Danube and Rhine, but lacked Augustus' natural rapport with the Senate, making his period as emperor politically turbulent. His reliance upon the ambitious and brutal Sejanus, the head of the Praetorian guard (the imperial bodyguards) caused particular concern, as did the emperor's supposed sexual excesses at the Villa Iovis on the island of Capri.

    S. Walker, Greek and Roman portraits (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

    S. Walker, Roman art (London, 1991)


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