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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The "Valens" bust in the Capitoline Museum, Rome

Saw this bust said to be of the eastern emperor Valens in the Capitoline Museum, Rome, on the Wikipedia page for Valens.


The odd thing is that it depicts a young man, a boy even.
The bust is also said to depict the 5th century western emperor, Honorius.
Yet the bust does not wear a Diadem, as a typical 4th and 5th century Roman emperor would be depicted.

The features still have that "vacant Tetrarchic gaze" to it, though clearly it is of the "neo-Classical" style brought in by Constantine I, which saw imagery that harked back to the golden era of the empire, such as the Julio-Claudians and Antonines.
In fact, the bust looks similar to the colossal bust of Constantine I in the Capitoline Museum.
This bust is actually re-cut from its original, made for the Emperor, Maxentius.


I wonder if this "Valens/Honorius" bust actually depicts Constantine's first born son, Crispus.
He was made Caesar on the 1st of March 317 AD.
He had a pivotal role in the Battle of the Hellespont, which saw the defeat of the eastern emperor, Licinius I, and paved the way for the foundation of Constantinople.
Tragically, Crispus' greatness brought the evil eye of envy and he was framed, and later executed by order of his father!

The features of the bust resemble most this tragic man, victim of his father's envy, Crispus.

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