Archaeological Museum of Bologna

Museo Civico Archeologico
Via dell'Archiginnasio 2 - 40124 Bologna

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Collections / Sections / The Epigraphic Collection

Statue of Nero

The statue depicts a figure garbed for a triumphal procession, as he is wearing a short tunic, an anatomical cuirass decorated with marine figures and the Gorgon’s head, and a loose cloak over his left shoulder. Although the limbs are missing, we can nevertheless reconstruct the position of the entire figure, who was depicted standing with his left arm raised and gripping his lance. The head was intentionally removed as the chisel's marks on the base of the neck indicate.

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The refinement of the sculpture, the big proportions (it was about 2,50 metres) and the attitude, suggest an official type of sculpture. The monument was erected by the people of Bononia as a sign of gratitude to Nero, as the emperor financed the reconstruction of the city following the fire of AD 53. The head was intentionally removed in antiquity as part of the practice of damnatio memoriae, the destruction of images of illustrious figures who were posthumously deemed enemies of the state, in order to remove them from the remembrance.

The sculpture, discovered in 1513 in the area where the city theatre was unearthed in 1982, was an ornament on this building and may have been placed at the top of the cavea.

Provenance: Bologna, via de' Carbonesi
Datation: Mid-1st century AD
Material: Marble, probably Greek Pentelic
Dimensions: Height: 117 cm
Inventory #: 19020

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