Showing posts with label Germanicus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germanicus. Show all posts

August 29, 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013 - ,,, 1 comment

John Pollini on "The Bronze Statue of Germanicus from Ameria (Amelia)"

Professor Pollini lectures on Germanicus
John Pollini, Professor of Classical Art & Archaeology at the University of Southern California, delivered a talk, “The Bronze Statue of Germanicus from Ameria (Amelia)”, at the Museo Archeologico di Amelia for the Rome Society of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Here's a link to the summary of the talk (posted on Academia.edu) with this introduction:
The statue of Germanicus with its travertine base was discovered in 1963 outside the Porta Romana of the town along the ancient via Amerina. That the statue was found smashed into a number of fragments indicates that it did not fall accidentally from its base but was attacked, quite likely by Christians in the Late Antique period. The statue had probably been set up originally in an imperial shrine in connection with the ludi iuvenum (games of the local pre- or para-military youth organization known as the luventus) that would have taken place in the campus of America outside the city walls. 
Because it is a work of high quality, the statue was undoubtedly produced in a workshop in Rome and then transported to Ameria, where it was set up.
In his lecture, Professor Pollini describes the figures, pointing to the symbols of legal command and that of a supreme military commander and ‘a military tunic and high-laced boots, the calcei patricii, symbolic of patrician status. This is Professor Pollini’s description of the cuirass decoration:
The muscle breastplate is decorated with a plethora of appliqué figures symbolizing various aspects of victory. The central figures depict the ambush of the Trojan youth Troilos, son of King Priam, by the Greek hero Achilles. Represented above and rising out of a series of stylized sea waves is the winged sea monster Scylla hurling a rock in her upraised right hand. Flanking either side of the central scene of Troilos and Achilles and located just under the cuirass’s arm-openings are winged Victories. On the back of the cuirass is represented an incense-burner (thymiaterion), on either side of which are posed two Spartan female dancers (Lacaenae Saltantes), who celebrate a victory dance with baskets (kalathiskoi) on their heads. Circling the bottom of the cuirass are two rows of lambrequins (pteryges), that is, decorated leather straps. The upper row of straps features apotropaic motifs (symbols used to ward off evil), consisting of alternating heads of lions and bearded satyrs; the lower row, stylized victory palmettes.
And his interpretation of the program of the cuirass:
All the figurative and decorative elements represented on the cuirass have reference to military victory. The sea monster Scylla, who also serves an apotropaic function, may refer to victorious battles fought in the context of the sea or rivers. Since Roman commanders enjoyed emulating great Greek military personalities of the past, the representation of the legendary hero Achilles in the central composition would have been a suitable model, even though he slays here one of Rome’s ancestors, the Trojan prince Troilos. Although this might seem an odd subject to celebrate on the cuirass of a Roman commander, it should be remembered that without the fall of Troy there would be no Rome; and it was one of the prophecies that Troy would not fall if Troilos reached the age of 20 (Plaut. Bacch. 951-954; Mythographi Vaticani. I. 210). Therefore, this was all part of the divine plan! Achilles, moreover, was a model for great Roman leaders in Latin literature. In his famous messianic Eclogue (4.35-36), Vergil foretells the birth of a child (most likely the future Augustus), who as savior of Rome would bring peace to the world after military victories on land and sea. In the context of the wars that preceded the advent of this new Golden Age of peace, Vergil likened the great future Roman leader to Achilles: Erunt etiam altera bella atque iterum ad Troiam magnus mittetur Achilles (“There will also be other wars and a great Achilles will be sent again to Troy”). Therefore, the Achillean imagery on the cuirass has a dual meaning. The figural program of the statue’s cuirass referencing victory would also have been suitable for an original portrait statue of Caligula. Despite his aborted invasion of Britain in 39, Caligula celebrated a triumph in Rome for a sea victory over the sea-god Oceanus (Suetonius, Vita Tib. 46-47; Cassius Dio 59.27.1-4). This statue with cuirass heralding military victory could also have conveniently served to honor Germanicus, who won battles against the Germans on the Rhine and Weser and along the coast of the North Sea, for which he was awarded a triumph, as already noted. A transformation from an image of Caligula to one of Germanicus would have taken place after Caligula’s death in 41 A.D., at which time Claudius (10 B.C. - 54 A.D.), the uncle of Caligula and the brother of Germanicus, became emperor.
Also attending Professor Pollini's lecture in Amelia was Guilia Rocco, the Italian scholar and author of La Statua Bronze con Rittratto di Germanico (Roma 2008, Bardi Editore Commerciale) in which she proposes that the thorax was made around the first century BC in a Greek workshop in Pergamene for Mithradates VI, King of Pontus.

December 15, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012 - ,, No comments

Getting to know Amelia (Terni) "Borghi d'Italia (Tv2000)

Here's a video, "Amelia (Terni) - Borghi d'Italia (Tv2000)" which shows the town's ancient walls, the archaeological museum, the medieval traditions, and features local residents, including the bronze statue of Germanicus.

Highlights include the double organ so designed that a priest and a cloistered nun could play the keyboards at the same time; the monsignor of the duomo dedicated to Saints Fermina and Olympiades; and the theatre of Amelia.  Of course, a story about this ancient town wouldn't be complete without a few shots of some of the retired men hanging outside the Porto Romano.  

October 17, 2011

The Collecting History of Stolen Art: Amelia’s Bronze Germanicus

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

One of my reasons for writing about art crime is the history behind the objects stolen; artifacts in galleries and museums that physically tie us to the past. The collecting history of an object brings a historical context and a relevancy, a narrative from which we can differentiate some objects from the other hundreds or thousands on display. In this series on The Collecting History of Stolen Art, all of these objects can be found on display or in the collections of art or archaeological institutions. We can start with the bronze statue of Germanicus found in Amelia, the home of ARCA’s International Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection Studies program.

Amelia’s bronze Germanicus is the combination of different parts, according to scholar Giulia Rocco, author of La Statua Bronzea con Rittratto di Germanico da Ameria (Umbria) (Roma 2008, Bardi Editore Commerciale). Rocco’s book is a detailed examination of the restoration of the bronze statue found outside the historical center of Amelia in 1964 while workers were excavating a mill.

In the English translation of her abstract, Rocco writes:
The thorax belongs to the Hellenistic Age, around the beginning of the first century BC and can be attributed to a Greek, perhaps Pergamene workshop…. The statue, which the cuirassed torso belonged to could represent Mithradates VI, king of Pontus, because of the myth on the chest of the breastplate, which Achilles killing Troilus, perhaps an allegory of the wished destruction of the Romans as descendants from the Troians. It could be one of the numerous objects brought to Rome as booty in the age of the Mithridatic wars.
Adrienne Mayor, an independent scholar, published a new biography of Mithradates under the title, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadlinest Enemy (Princeton, 2011).

Mithradates the Great, of Greco-Macedonian-Persian descent and culture, objected to the Roman presence and subsequent onerous taxation policies in Asia Minor and Anatolia (now present day Turkey). In 88 BC, Mithradates organized the slaughter of 80,000 to 150,000 Romans and Italians living in the region. Then he established his headquarters in Pergamon, the kingdom bequeathed to the Romans in 133 BC and delivered a speech decrying his unification of the region against the Romans. Shortly thereafter, in the Theatre of Dionysus in Pergamon, he oversaw the execution of his Roman nemesis Aquillius, by melting gold and pouring it into the general’s mouth in front of an audience of 10,000 people.

It is probably at this time that the workshop in Pergamon made the cuirass that is now part of the Germanicus statue in Amelia. A cuirass is a piece of armor consisting of a breastplate and backplate fastened together.

Sulla, a ruthless Roman patrician commander dispatched to avenge Mithradates massacre of Romans and to recover Greece, according to Mayor in The Poison King, looted art from Greece to Asian Minor. It is possible that after the First Mithradatic War that he obtained the thorax that is now part of Amelia’s bronze Germanicas.

Rocco continues in her abstract:
It was subsequently transformed as an image of a Roman general speaking to his troops, probably one of the imperatores who fought against the king of Pontus. The provenance of the cuirassed bust and the chronology of the added parts, so as the fact that it has been found in Ameria, suggests that the bronze was transformed into a statue probably representing L. Cornelius Sulla, in whose honour monuments were erected in several municipia. 
Many years later, wishing to commemorate Germanicus, the monument was reused as iconic statue of the young prince, with a new head. This probably happened in the age of Caligula.
Germanicus was the father of the Roman Emperor Caligula.

The next post in this series will discuss more objects stolen by Sulla, including the krater on display in the archaeological museum in Amelia while Germanicus was displayed in Rome this year.

October 7, 2011

An online review of Christie’s sale of "Antiquities" in London on October 6

by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

This week my attention was drawn to Christie’s sale of “Antiquities” on October 6 when a friend told me that she had seen ‘Germanicus’ at the preview in South Kensington, London. Since I am writing an art crime mystery about the fictional theft of a bronze Germanicus from Amelia, Umbria, Italy, I was curious about which ‘Germancius’ was for sale.

Christie’s online catalogue describes “A Roman Marble Portrait Head of Germanicus”, dated circa 10-19 AD, as:
His head inclined to the right, with strong features, prominent chin and aquiline nose, his narrow lips bowed, his hair spiraling from the crown and falling onto his forehead in thick pincered waves. 12¾ in. (32.4 cm.) high
Under “Provenance” the information is provided as follows:
Marie Ghiringelli collection, Monte Carlo, 1920s-1950s; thence by descent to Mr. G. Huguenin, Switzerland, 1955.
I did a simple Google search for “Marie Ghiringelli, Monte Carolo” and found an “Antonio” who had been involved with opera and “G. Huguenin, Switzerland” appeared to possibly be a gallery of sorts in Switzerland. I am not an expert in this kind of thing and I emailed Christie’s for more information but you can imagine that on the eve of a big auction that they were really busy.

The price for Germanicus, estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 British pounds was out of my budget, but if I had been a prospective buyer, I would look for information that this object was in compliance with the 1970 Convention. Information that it had been in two collections, as long as this information was true, would have given me as a buyer some comfort. I certainly wouldn’t want to spend 300,000 British pounds just to find out I’d supported a network promoting organized crime. You might say, why buy it then? Well, I have spent years studying Germanicus and this object would just be too tempting for me. However, one of the questions that would remain unanswered is, where did this object come from? Did it sit in Nero’s seaside villa in Anzio (Nero was Germanicus’ grandson) or did it belong to Caligula (Germanicus’ son and the ill-fated emperor?)

This is the information that Christie’s did provide to prospective buyers:
Germanicus Julius Caesar, (15 B.C.-A.D. 19) was the son of Drusus Major and Antonia Minor and the brother of Claudius, who later became emperor. Tiberius (reigned A.D. 14-37) was his uncle and adoptive father. Germanicus' military career was distinguished; he commanded the eight Roman legions on the Rhine frontier, recovering two of the legionary standards lost after a military disaster in the Teutoberg forest (A.D. 9). He became immensely popular among the people of Rome, who celebrated his military victories. The Roman biographer Suetonius in hisLife of Caligula, III, describes Germanicus' "... unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men's regard and inspiring their affection." Following his untimely death through illness at Antioch at the age of thirty-four, he was elevated to god-like status. 
This portrait was probably set up high and near a wall or in a niche because of the low relief carving of the locks of hair at the back of the head. Based on the fringe over the forehead and physiognomy, the present portrait is likely to belong to a group of portraits known as the Beziers type which originate with a head from Beziers, now in Toulouse. Cf. F. Johansen, Roman Portraits I, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 1994, pp. 126-7, no. 51. For the typology, cf. H. Jucker, Die Prinzen auf dem Augustus-relief in Ravenna. Mélanges d'histoire ancienne et d'archéologie offerts à Paul Collart, Lausanne, 1976, p. 254, no. 91.
The ‘collecting history’ of this piece is minimal and the actual information of where this object came from is not mentioned – all we are told is that it ‘was probably set up high and near a wall or in a niche because of the low relief carving … likely to belong to a group of portraits known as the Béziers type which originate with a head from Béziers, now in Toulouse.”

What and where is Béziers? It’s an ancient town in the southeast of France in Languedoc (I stayed there in Vergeze for two weeks in 2006), a former Roman town known as Baeterrae. The Romans apparently, according to Wikipedia my go-to-classical history guide, colonized it in 36/35 BC. I was not able to find information about the heads of Béziers that are now in Toulouse (another city I’ve stayed in). But my guess from exploring this information is that they are first century Roman marbles that were displayed in a small town in the southeast of France. However, just visiting those areas years ago didn’t give me any additional information – I mostly remember vineyards and a great science museum.

Did this marble head of Germanicus sell at Christie’s on Thursday?

Christie’s has a magnificent website that provides ‘Auction Results’ on the items sold. The sale in South Kensington of ‘antiquities’ totaled 3,491,862 British pounds. Christie’s provides a list of the sales price for each item.  In looking through the 251 items offered for sale, 20% of the items did not sell. When I sorted the lots by “estimate (high to low)”, I found that two highly valued items that did not sell.

An Attic red-figured pointed neck-Emphora”, attributed to Skyriskos, circa 475-450, valued at 250,000 to 350,000 British pounds, was not sold according to Christie’s online auction results. The “provenance” on this item was from a private German collection and acquired in Switzerland in the 1960s. It was labeled “Beazley Archive no: 30676”. This information shows ownership prior to 1970, the agreed upon date by UNESCO members desiring to create an international treaty to stop the looting of archaeological sites and the sale of stolen antiquities. That information might provide me with some comfort that it had not been recently dug up.

The second most expensive object in the auction, my Germanicus marbel head, did not sell.


Neither did the 3rd century BC “Greek Parcel Gilt Silver Phiale” estimated at 100,000 to 150,000 British pounds.  Its “Provenance” is identified as from a private London collection in the 1980s; a private collection in Switzerland; and acquired by the current owner on the ‘Swiss art market’ in 1993. 

Are buyers also sensitive to objects that appear not to be in compliance with the 1970 Convention? If items are not selling, will Christie’s auction house provide more detailed information about the ownership or collecting history of these objects in order to facilitate a sale? Are they already thinking that they should do more to reassure their clients that the objects are not looted? After all, a company such as Christie’s which is providing all this information on the Internet for everyone – museum officials, archaeologists, academics and law enforcement to see – and enabling buyers worldwide to purchase the objects online – would be unlikely to engage in selling stolen property, eh?

What did sell at Christie’s London auction of ‘Antiquities'

The most expensive item that did sell at Christie’s London October 6 auction was “A Roman Bronze Portrait Head of a Man”, circa second quarter of the 3rd century AD, for 457,250 British pounds (US$705,080). The stated “Provenance” of this object is from a private collection in Germany in the 1980 and acquired by the current owner in 2001. This information might not satisfy a buyer’s question as to whether or not this item had been smuggled out of Italy or possibly even Bubon in southwestern Turkey.   The “Lot Notes” on this item, which sold for almost $1 million, does not indicate where this object came from, only that it was from the period of the Soldier Emperors (235-284 AD).

A Greek Marble Head of Young Girl” sold for 313,250 British pounds or US$483,032. The “Provenance” states that it was owned by "P. Vérité in Paris in the 1920s" and passed on to "C. Vérité of France". As a buyer, I might feel more comfortable purchasing this antiquity and less concerned that someone would claim that it had been found in the ground in the last four decades.

Looking at the auction results from the Kensington sale at Christie’s, approximately 55 or about 20% of the items didn’t sell. Although the auction results state the “price realized”, the buyers are not named and these items will not be able to be publicly tracked. If you contact Christie’s, you will likely be told that the information of the purchasers is private. Of course, would every Porsche owner want his or her name publicized when a vehicle is purchased? But this gets into the whole debate of who owns cultural property. Where did these objects come from and how did they get to the auction house in London? Where will they be going now? These artifacts are the collective memory of human history; each item commemorates an aspect of being human and provides historical perspective, possibly understanding of current society.

For all UNESCO’s efforts to stop the trafficking of looted antiquities, what are the auction houses doing to reassure buyers that the items were legally obtained? These objects are so beautiful that if I had the money to purchase them, I would like to feel comfortable with the investment. Or will the purchase of antiquities go the way of fur coats?


Christie’s does have another way of communicating with prospective buyers about the auction through an easily accessible e-catalogue. The pages are beautifully displayed and contain much of the same information as the website.  Page 41 introduces the “Property from the Collection of the Late Gabrielle Keiller (1908-1995).  Her third husband, archaeologist Alexander Keiller and ‘sole heir to a Dundee marmalade firm’, opened a museum in Avebury and contributed to ‘one of the most important prehistoric archaeological collections in Britain’ (English Heritage).  Mrs. Keiller collected modern art and bequeathed her 20th century collection to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.  According to the catalogue, Gabrielle Keiller purchased three Cycladic works up for sale at the auction in 1981 from B. C. Holland Inc. in Chicago in 1981.  However, there is no information as to when B. C. Holland came into possession of the objects.

On page 43 of the catalogue is an object, Lot #61 titled “An East Greek Bronze Griffin Protome” whose “Provenance” is described as being “with Robin Symes London; with Royal-Athena Galleries, New York, 1988; and the Morven Collection of Ancient Art.  I don’t know what that means.  When did Robin Symes have this 6th century BC object? Sometimes “East Greek” means the land known as “Asia Minor” which is now the Republic of Turkey.  I just finished reading a few articles from Turkish journalist Özgen Acar which describes the smuggling ring of antiquities where Robin Symes intersects.  Symes is a former antiquities dealer who went to prison for in 2005 and whose activities are documented in Peter Watson and Cecilia Todeschini’s 2006 The Medici Conspiracy, the Illicit Journey of Looted Antiquities from Italy’s Tomb Raiders to the World’s Greatest Museums.”  I am willing to believe that Christie’s auction house would not trade in illegal antiquities but I don’t know what I am to understand from this information as it is stated here.

Christie’s does have a paragraph on page 170 at the back of the brochure, which I presume is fairly standard:

(c) Attribution etc Any statements made by Christie’s about any lot, whether orally or in writing, concerning attribution to, for example, an artist, school, or country of origin, or history or provenance, or any date or period, are expressions of our opinion or belief.  Our opinions and beliefs have been formed honestly and in accordance with the standard of care reasonably to be expected of an auction house of Christie’s standing, due regard having been had to the estimated value of the item and the nature of the auction in which it is included.  It must be clearly understood, however, that due to the nature of the auction process, we are unable to carry out exhaustive research of the kind undertaken by professional historians and scholars, and also that, as research develops and scholarship and expertise evolve, opinions on these matters may change.  We therefore recommend that, particularly in the case of any item of significant value, you seek advice on such matters from your own professional advisers.” 
Christie’s catalog also states that it is an agent and that all transactions are between the seller and the buyer, yet the names of sellers are not identified in most cases.  Who is really putting these items up for sale?


While many items require a major investment, other objects are for sale for thousands of US dollars or British pounds. It seems that even though I could conveniently see this auction and view real-time results on my iPhone or iPod Touch (as touted by Christie's), I’ll need a lot more than money before I feel comfortable purchasing an object of antiquity at auction.

August 8, 2011

Monday, August 08, 2011 - ,, No comments

Amelia's Bronze Germanicus Travels to Rome for Portrait Exhibit at Capitoline Museum; Curators Reveal New Information about the First Century Bronze Statue

Capitoline Museums, Rome, Italy
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

In mid-July, I traveled to Amelia for an art crime conference and to visit the archaeological museum to see the bronze statue of Germanicus. However, Germanicus, found outside the gates of Amelia in 1963, was not in town. Germanicus had been disassembled and boxed, then shipped to Rome for a six-month exhibit at the Musei Capitolini at the Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michalangelo (1475-1564) and commissioned by Alessandro Farnese (Pope Paul III from 1534 to 1549) to impress Charles V (1500-1558), the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.

Palazzo Farnese
In Rome, I mistakenly walked to Campo di Fiori looking for the Musei Capitolini as directed by Google Maps. If it hadn't been so hot and humid, I would have recalled that I was looking for some very large steps to climb up to the museum and that it was behind not Piazza Navona but the Victor Emmanuelle II's monument. Instead I found Palazzo Farnese, now the French Embassy, around Campo di Fiori before following directions from an Italian couple to walk further and further down the road.

By the time I'd walked up the cordonata, Michelangelo's staircase wide enough for riders and their horses in the day, and turned right into the first building, the Palazzo Nuovo, a security guard stopped me. The ticket box was closed and although the museum would be open another 50 minutes, I could not go in without a ticket. I begged, he pointed to the surveillance camera above us, and I stepped back out onto the Piazza. After asking two people -- one woman had lost her husband who had their tickets and she couldn't go into the building to find him -- I obtained a used ticket and returned to the building's entrance. The security guard said that I couldn't go in because I had not purchased the ticket. But I begged, saying he'd only told me that I had to have a ticket. He finally sought advice from another staff member, a woman who seemed to have more authority with her walkie-talkie, and I was let into the building.

"Germanicus, Germanicus, Germanicus," I called softly walking through hallways and passed many portraits and monuments. It had been a long day, it was 44 degrees Celcius outside, and obviously the heat had gotten to me. "Germanicus, I can't find you!"

Germanicus amongst other Roman portraits, Capitoline Museums
In the very last room, at the far end of the floor, Germanicus stood in the rear. The rope usually around him at the archaeological museum in Amelia was gone and visitors could walk directly up to his base. He was marvelously old and delicate as up close it was obvious that he was depending upon a steel and wood structure to remain upright.

Then there was a display sign that read:
“The bronze statue found at Amelia, in Umbria, was not made as a portrait of Germanicus. The original head was eventually replaced with that of the young Germancius, whom his uncle Tiberius had designated as his heir, but who died in 19 AD. What probably happened is that the person (Perhaps Germanicus’s son Caligula) who had originally been honored with this statue was later condemned to damnatio memoriae [by the Senate], the removal of his public images to erase all memory of him, and that the costly statue was then reused to honor another member of the dynasty. 
“The ornamentation is very complex. On the upper part of the breastplate is the menacing image of the monstrous Scylla. On the lower part is a scene from Homer: Achilles ambushing the young Trojan prince Troilus. The scene is completed by the two Victories who converge from the sides toward the Greek hero, bringing him arms as a reward for his feat. The decoration extends to the back of the armor, where we see a religious scene in which two women dance in front of a candelabrum, symbol of the eternity of the imperial power. The pteryges, metal plates protecting the groin, are formed in the first row by lions’ heads and adorned in the second by heads of satyrs alternating with heads of gorgons. As a whole, the decorative plan was meant to epitomize control of the seas (Scylla) and to compare the honored man to Achilles, the most valiant of all the Achaean heroes.”
The bronze statue of Germanicus was dated 25-50 AD. It made sense that it had not been commissioned at the time of his death in 19 AD as his uncle, the second Roman emperor Tiberius, did not even attend the placement of his ashes into the Mausoleum of Augustus. So this statue could have been made for his son Caligula and when the Senate voted to erase the assassinated emperor's image from history, it was the head of Germanicus that replaced the original.

Surprised that only the head had been made for Germanicus, I retreated back to Piazza Navona, stopping to purchase a few DVDs of my favorite Italian television series about Salvo Montalbano in Sicily; ate a dinner of friend zucchini blossoms and artichokes at the always-welcoming family restaurant of Ristorante Archimede San Eustachio (Piazza dei Caprettari, 63); and fought my way to the counter at the cafe of Sant 'Eustachio for not one, but two cappucini.

Germanicus will be on display in Rome through September 25 at the Capitoline Museum.

February 12, 2011

Amelia, Umbria: Bronze Germanicus Home in Museo Archeologico di Amelia

By Catherine Schofield Sezgin

Of the most important and complete bronze statues of the first century A.D. ever found in Italy resides in Amelia.

In 1963, outside the walls of Amelia’s historic center, a group of workers digging a mill found the broken remains of a first century bronze statue. Over the town’s objections, the fragments were transferred to Perugia, restored, and then decades later returned to Amelia to an archaeological museum built to display the bronze of Germanicus Julius Caesar.

Francesca Rossi, an Amelian and daughter of Luciano Rossi of Punto Di Vino, a local wine bistro, recalled seeing the restored head of Germanicus on display in the old town hall when she was a little girl. “I fell in love with him,” she said. “I told my mother I wanted to marry him.”

The charisma of the bronze head likely belonged to a statue created to commemorate the early death of one of the Roman Empire’s most beloved commanders. Germanicus, adopted younger son of Julius Augustus, would have followed his brother Tiberius as Roman emperor if he had not been poisoned in Antioch.

Austrialian-born writer Stephen Dando-Collins claims in his book “Blood of the Caesars: How the Murder of Germanicus Led to the Fall of Rome” (John Wiley and Sons, 2008), that the death of Germanicus in A. D. 19 predated the fall of the Roman Empire. But Germanicus’ fame catapulted his son Caligula and his grandson Nero to the throne. It was his wife Agrippina the Elder, the granddaughter of Augustus, who used her husband’s good name and affection of the people of the Roman Empire to further her family’s political ambitions. Yet, it was Germanicus’ lack of political ambition, his unwillingness to use his popularity to unseat Tiberius, that may have motivated his wife and her reputed lover and one of Rome’s greatest philosophers, Seneca, to poison her husband, according to Dando-Collins’ book.

Ruthless women characterized Germanicus’ family. His paternal grandmother had been six months pregnant when she divorced her husband and married his political rival, the future Roman Emperor, bestowing upon her great wealth and ultimately the title of Roman deity. Women used marriage and motherhood as the only available political tools. Although his grandmother’s mother had been the daughter of a magistrate, her father was from two patrician families, Gens Julia and Gens Claudia, of Ancient Rome.

At the age of 14, Livia Drusilla married her cousin Tiberius Claudius Nero, an ally of Mark Antony and Julius Caesar. For years she lived in exile before a peace agreement between Antony and Octavian in 40 BC allowed her family to return to Rome. Apparently, Octavian, her husband’s rival, fell in love with the pregnant 20-year-old Livia, divorced his wife Scribonia the day after she gave birth to her daughter Julia, and then married Germanicus’ paternal grandmother. Three months later, Livia gave birth to Germanicus’ father, Drusus. She allowed her first husband to raise her sons until his death and then they went to live with their mother and her husband who was elevated to Augustus, first Roman Emperor.

Germanicus’ maternal grandmother was Augustus’ sister, Octavia, and his maternal grandfather was Augustus' rival Mark Antony. When Antony took up with Cleopatra, then committed suicide, one of the nine children he left behind was Germanicus’ mother, Antonia the Younger. Thus, Germanicus’ grandparents were the second wife of the first Roman Emperor, the sister of the first Roman Emperor, and two political rivals of the first Roman Emperor.

Germanicus’ wife, Agrippina the Elder, was the granddaughter of the First Roman Emperor through his daughter Julia who had been abandoned by her father Octavian when he married Germanicus’ maternal grandmother Livia. Agrippina’s father, of course, was Agrippa, a political ally of Julia’s father. After her father died, her mother married Tiberius Caesar, Germanicus’ uncle and the ruler to succeed Augustus.

Germanicus, adopted by Tiberius at the will of Augustus, was patiently waiting his turn when his wife, the direct descendant of Augustus, grew impatient and plotted to poison her husband at the age of 34 so as to undermine Tiberius and raise her son to the imperial throne.

When the pieces of a bronze statue were dug up outside the city walls along the “Via Ortana”, probably the ancient road that follows the route of the Via Amerina, likely on the grounds for the old campus for ancient games and gymnastic competitions. (Archaeological Museum of Amelia, website). The statue was erected in honor of Amelia and in memory of Germanicus, also known as Nero Claudius Drusus, born in 15 BC. Germanicus, the son of a famed and beloved commander who succeeded in the Germany territories and also died young, on his horse, also earned adulation of the Roman people.

The bronze fragments were reconstructed with the use of steel frame that was anchored to a wooden structure to support the basis for the bronze fragments.

The statue, more than two meters tall, is of a “Young Germanicus” triumphant as a victorious general, with armor and the arm resting on a spear, the head turned to the right, in the direction of the raised arm.

The artistic decoration of his armor shows the scene of the attack of Achilles in Troy, perhaps linking this memory with Germanicus’ military operations in the East.

The archaeological museum is located in the Boccarini Palazzo built between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. In 1410, it was the seat of the papal government whose jurisdiction included Amelia, Orvieto, and Terni.

http://www.umbriaearte.it/museo_archeologico_amelia.htm
Museo Archeologico di Amelia
Piazza Augusto Vera, 10 - Amelia (Tr)
Tel./fax+39.0744.978120