This over-lifesizemonumental portrait bust shows a man bearing the clear signs of old age: a furrowed brow, a receding hairline, creases across the top of the nose, crow’s -feet around the eyes, sunken, and slightly wrinkled cheeks, deep lines running from the sides of the nose to the corners of the mouth, and a sinewy neck. The wrinkles on the left side of the neck are the result of the way the head is turned to that side. The face is long, narrow, and angular with a high forehead; high, prominent cheekbones; and a strongly projecting chin. A long, and straight nose, a thin-lipped mouth, and a slight Adam’s apple contribute to the impression of leanness. The hair is combed forward from the whorl at the back of the head, but the hairs – layered in short, flat, curved locks – are not moulded separately from the head; but rather, they are scratched into it, giving a sparse effect and lending the head, in turn, a gaunt appearance. The man depicted is probably Julius Caesar, identifiable from portraits on coins issued during the last months of his dictatorship. This portrait of Caesar belongs to a series of portrait heads from the time of the late Republic, which, like this image of the dictator, are very often perceived today as being markedly individualistic and true to life. However, none of the heads of these late republicans, however, reflect individual features, but instead display standardiszed representations of characteristics and values which were demanded of a statesman of the time. The marks of age emphasisze the authority (auctoritas) of the portrait subject; the thin-lipped, closed mouth and the glance from beneath a contracted brows indicate gravity and austerity (gravitas, severitas); energy and vigour are apparent in the turn of the head. As a statesman and as one of the leaders of the Republic (persona principis), Caesar, too, embodies the values of his time and presents himself as a vir fortis et gravis: aware of the solemnity of his situation and of the high dignity of his office, rigorous, and steadfast. The lean, ascetic features signal the sobriety and capacity for self-denial of the successful general. Here, however, Caesar does not appears, not in the military attire of the general, but as a statesman of the Republic: as civis romanus, in tunic and toga. When and where the "green Caesar" originated is disputed. The head is of the finest sculptural quality. The frequently noted "classicistic tranquillity" of the features may perhaps be an effect of the use of a different material from the usual marble.


  • Title: The Green Caesar
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: -100
  • Location: Rome
  • Physical Dimensions: h41 cm
  • Type: Statuette
  • Medium: Greywacke from Wadi Hammamat (in the Eastern Desert of Egypt)
  • Inv.-No.: Sk 342
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-814319
  • External link: Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Verlag Philipp von Zabern / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Dagmar Grassinger || Photo: © b p k - || Photo Agency / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Johannes Laurentius
  • Collection: Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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