For some reason, one of my most popular post here was this one showing some busts of Roman emperors from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. I was at the Harvard Art Museums the other day, and guess what? More busts!
Here’s the Emperor Tiberius:
He’s not looking all that great, if you ask me. The accompanying description says the bust was probably sculpted when he was in his early sixties. Read Tom Holland’s book Dynasty for an interesting discussion of this tortured soul.
Here is Lucius Verus, who ruled for a while in the second century AD with his adoptive brother Marcus Aurelius.
Note the beard, which became fashionable for emperors starting with Hadrian earlier in the century.
Finally, here’s a full statue (well, almost full) of the Emperor Trajan:
The description in the Harvard catalog suggests that he was probably holding a spear in his left hand.
Trajan was one of the best of the Roman emperors. Wikipedia says:
As an emperor, Trajan’s reputation has endured – he is one of the few rulers whose reputation has survived nineteen centuries. Every new emperor after him was honored by the Senate with the wish felicior Augusto, melior Traiano (that he be “luckier than Augustus and better than Trajan”). Among medieval Christian theologians, Trajan was considered a virtuous pagan. In the Renaissance, Machiavelli, speaking on the advantages of adoptive succession over heredity, mentioned the five successive good emperors “from Nerva to Marcus” – a trope out of which the 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon popularized the notion of the Five Good Emperors, of whom Trajan was the second.
Once you’ve finished reading Dynasty, you should read the wonderful SPQR by Mary Beard, for a fuller view of a thousand years of ancient Rome.