This portrait of a young woman is an outstanding work in the Hermitage collection. It has long been known as a portrait of a Syrian woman because of the semitic facial features. The work of a Greek sculptor, it was probably part of a funerary statue. Intimate, without any sense of majesty, the elegant head crowned with its high hairstyle leans slightly to one side. The large eyes indicate that she is deep in her own thoughts, and there is a slight smile on her lips. This Syrian woman is full of amazing charm, her mood dominated by melancholy with a hint of scepticism, a not uncommon mixture in Roman portraits of the late 2nd century AD, when mystical oriental cults were widespread, and Christianity was also gaining strength. Amongst the philosophical tendencies, Stoicism, which called upon people to bravely bear the lot apportioned to them, was particularly popular. Perhaps this contemporary of the Stoicist Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180) shared his philosophical views.The State Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg. Photo by Vladimir Terebenin.