Inv. No. S-1088. Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth Photo by Ilya Shurygin
Inv. No. S-1088.
Corinth, Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth
(Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Αρχαίας Κορίνθου)
Among the portraits from the Julian Basilica the best in quality is a veiled head of difficult identification (S 1088; Pl. 93a). Published by Johnson as Nero son of Germanicus (died A.D. 31), this identification has been highly debated and most recently upheld by comparison with a head from Ephesus which resembles it in iconography though not in style. In the Corinth head the unusual rendering of the covering deserves special attention: the cloth does not lie flat over the hair, but, leaving the ears quite visible, it rises in three distinct layers, each clearly separated from the other and from the head itself, the topmost describing a mannered omega fold on axis. This niche-like arrangement is known from “provincial” togati of alleged Claudian date and is expedient for the separate insertion of a portrait head; but in the Corinthians culpture this is certainly not the case. The flamboyant effect recalls the wind-blown mantles of celestial divinities and may be a hint of heroization. Coupled with the over-life-sized statue in Jupiter guise, this sequence of imperial sculptures suggests a gallery of divinized personages, all erected after their deaths in Neronian or Domitianic times, if not later, presumably as propaganda for the supreme office.