Bust of Germanicus
Green basanite.
Ca. 14—20 CE.
Height 47 cm.
Inv. No. 1872,0605.1.London, British Museum

Bust of Germanicus.

Green basanite.
Ca. 14—20 CE.
Height 47 cm.
Inv. No. 1872,0605.1.

London, British Museum.

Basalt is commonly found in Egypt and it is quite likely that this bust was made there.
Gift of the Reverend Greville J. Chester, 1870.
Green basanite bust of Germanicus Caesar in military dress. The nose has been mutilated, probably in late antiquity by Christians who cut a cross in the forehead. There are further areas of damage on the chest and around the nose.

Basalt bust of Germanicus

This bust shows the Roman general Germanicus (15 BC — AD 19) in military dress. Germanicus was the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius (reigned AD 14—37), the second emperor of Rome. He commanded the eight Roman legions on the Rhine frontier, apparently with some distinction, recovering two of the legionary standards lost after a military disaster in the Teutoberg forest (AD 9). However, it was mainly among the Roman people, rather than the army, that he commanded most affection. The Roman biographer Suetonius in his Life of Caligula III describes Germanicus’ “...unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men’s regard and inspiring their affection”. After his untimely death through illness at Antioch in AD 19 he was elevated to god-like status.

The polished surface of the stone is extremely smooth and glass-like, but this emphasizes the areas of damage on the chest and around the nose. While the latter may have been accidentally damaged, intentional mutilation is visible on the forehead, where a cross has been carved between the brows. Such mutilation, done largely by Christians in late antiquity, often took the form of crosses or random gouges on the brow, eyes or lips of statues. Religious fanatics thought that such marks were the only means of keeping at bay the demons which they believed to haunt the statues.

A. H. Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum, vol. 2 (London, British Museum, 1900), p. 152, plate 15.
C. Scarre, Chronicle of the Roman emperors (London, Thames & Hudson, 1997), pp. 30—31.
S. Walker, Roman art (London, 1991), p.31, fig. 33.
(cc) 2019. Photo, text: The British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
Keywords: απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt of a man male maschile uomo männliches mann masculin un homme porträtbüste roman romana römisches romain αυτοκρατορικό imperial imperiale kaiserliches impérial ιουλιο-κλαυδιανή δυναστεία iulio-claudia iulii-claudii julii-claudii the julio-claudian dynasty dinastia giulio-claudia julisch-claudische dynastie famille julio-claudienne julio-claudiens γερμανικός germanicus caesar re138 germanico γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό romano romani römisch römische römischen römischer romaine romains romaines προτομή bust busto büste buste armour armor armatura rüstung armure πανοπλία shoulder-strap straps shoulder guard guards shoulderguard shoulderguards achselklappe achselklappen green basanite verde grüner basanit verte basalt basalto basalte inv no 1872 0605 1