Statue of Septimius Severus
Ca. 193—200 CE.
Height 192 cm.
Inv. No. 1802,0710.2.London, British Museum

Statue of Septimius Severus.

Ca. 193—200 CE.
Height 192 cm.
Inv. No. 1802,0710.2.

London, British Museum.

Found in Alexandria, Egypt. Taken from the French at the Capitulation of Alexandria, 1801, and sent to the Museum by order of King George III, 1802.

Portrait in military dress.

Septimius Severus was the first Roman Emperor born in Africa. He ruled between AD 193 and 211. Although his family was of Phoenician rather than black African descent, ancient literary sources refer to the dark colour of his skin and relate that he kept his African accent into old age. He was an accomplished general who, having defeated his internal enemies in a series of civil wars, went on to victories at the furthest frontiers of the Empire, from Mesopotamia to Britain, where he died, at York (Eboracum) in AD 211.

He is shown with his characteristic forked beard and tight curled hair, and is wearing military dress. The statue is not carved fully in the round, but is flat and unfinished at the back, suggesting that it was part of an architectural design. It probably stood in a niche which decorated a public building or monument such as a bath building or a fountain-screen. Much of the statue’s detail would have been added in paint.

Severus’ two sons Caracalla and Geta were instructed by their father on his death-bed to ’pay the troops, get on with each other and ignore everyone else’. Within a year, however, Caracalla had murdered his brother and reigned alone, with all vestiges of Geta’s image and name removed from buildings, official inscriptions and dedications; a process known as ’Damnatio Memoriae’.

A. H. Smith, A catalogue of sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities in the British Museum, vol. 3 (London, British Museum, 1904), p. 175, no. 1944.
C. Scarre, Chronicle of the Roman emperors (London, Thames & Hudson, 1997), pp. 130—137.
C. Fluck (ed), G. Helmecke (ed), E. R. O’Connell (ed), Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs, London, BMP, 2015, p. 52, no. 43.
(cc) 2019. Photo, text: The British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).
Keywords: γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό roman romana romano romani römisch römische römisches römischen römischer romain romaine romains romaines αυτοκρατορικό imperial imperiale kaiserliches impérial ρωμαίος αυτοκράτορας σεπτίμιος σεβήρος imperator septimius severus emperor imperatore settimio severo kaiser empereur septime sévère ἄγαλμα άγαλμα statua statuae statue statues statui statuen statuons απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt of a man male maschile uomo männliches mann masculin un homme porträtstatue loricata lorica cuirassed cuirass armor armour corazzata armatura kürassierte rüstung cuirassée armure δυναστεία των σεβήρων domus severana severan dynasty dinastia dei severi severer sévères standing in piedi stehende pédestre marble marmo marmor marbre μάρμαρο πανοπλία pteruges pteryges ptуryges pterigi ptéryge πτέρυγες reef knot nodo piano kreuzknoten heraklesknoten herkulesknoten nœud plat military cloak mantello militare militärischer mantel manteau militaire στρατιωτικό μανδύα endromis endromidis endromides cothurnus topboot boot boots stivali endromide stiefel stiefeln bottes ἐνδρομίς paludamentum musculata anatomical muscular corazza anatomica muskelpanzer cuirasse musculaire musclée héroïque barba barbatum beard bearded barbuto bart bärtiger barbe barbu γενειάδα γενειοφόρος άνθρωπος balteus fringe leather flap flaps lederklappen klappen fimbria fimbriae frangia franse frange inv no 1802,0710.2 gr 1802.7-10.2~