Caligula: The first living Princeps to be Shown Radiate?

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Caligula: The first living Princeps to be Shown Radiate?

Postby Joe Geranio on Tue May 16, 2006 7:19 am

The Typology and Iconography of Caligula: Subjectivity: Caligula First Living Princeps To Be Shown Radiate?
See All Photos of Coins Above.

By Joe B. Geranio

The portraiture of the Julio-Claudians is not

an easy subject to examine. The essential goals

of any such modern iconographic portrait study

are, first, to assemble all known portraits of a

given personage; second, to determine the

appearance and style of each of the presumed

lost prototypes on which all of the known

surviving replicas are based; third, to attempt to

date the creation of the lost prototype and

surviving replicas and other portrait versions;

and fourth to try to determine the reason(s) for

the creation of each type.1 The main work to date

that has been carried out is Boschung’s work, Die

Bildnisse des Caligula.2 First a little history of

the series inaugurated by the German

Archaeological Institute. The Romische

Herrscherbild project is an ambitious project to

collect and publish in a series of volumes

(currently 12) 3 entrusted to different scholars all

the surviving portraits of Roman emperors and

their families. Progress had been unusually slow

and the Romische Herrscherbild project is closer

to completion then it was thirteen to fifteen years

ago. For instance the comprehensive Die

Bildnisse des Augustus, brought together by

Boschung, who brought this magnum opus to

completion within a Remarkably short time. The

portraits of the Julio- Claudian emperors4

Present special problems because so

many of the Julio-Claudians look alike-in their

official likenesses, that is, perhaps not in life.

Hairstyles really are fundamental to establishing

imperial typologies. In some ways, emperors

(princeps) wore hairstyles as these were badges

of identity which helped distinguish them from

other princeps and members from the imperial

family. The same is true for imperial women and

even a few private individuals. So “curl

counting” as some graduate students call it, is a

useful tool because of the model of portrait

production and dissemination. The way most

scholars think this worked is that the princeps

and maybe some artistic advisors sat down with a

sculptor and they came up with an official

prototype of how they wanted the princeps to

look (hairstyle physiognomy etc.). That prototype

was then made available and “copied” thus

giving us the surviving replicas which form a

“type”. All replicas then generally share similar

characteristics of hairstyle and physiognomy,

although there can be a great deal of variation,

based on all sorts of factors such as material,

context, artists or patron’ wishes, and

geography , to name a few. A “variant” is usually

something that is different enough from the

“type” to establish it as a variant. If you have two

portraits that are pretty close to one another, then

you call it a type or subtype. The problem is with

the gray area portraits, and I cannot think of a

more gray area than pre-principate portraits of

Caligula.5 The problem is that identifying the

childhood portraits of Germanicus and his sons

Nero Iulius, Drusus Iulius, and Caligula is

extremely difficult because of the great similarity

of hairstyles and family resemblance of these

closely related males. Unless an inscription is

found with the portrait, problems will continue.

The only sure childhood portraits of Caligula

seem to be those on the Grand Cameo (pl. 35.6)

and the Louvre cameo (pl. 35.7). I still think it is

possible that the Walter's Head that was

published by John Pollini could be a pre-

principate image, although not avery good

provincial work and well under life size.

Boschung, of course, dismisses it because the

hairstyle doesn't conform. It could be mushed

because of the provincial nature of the work. The

facial features (the elongated face and wide, high

forehead) do resemble him. But if not, Caligula this

would be a case of Zeitgesicht.# We cannot

forget that, too, we only have a very small fraction

of the portraits that were produced in antiquity.

Ergo, if we only have two close portraits that are

extant, how many lost works might there be

behind these two extant portraits. Although there

may be only two representatives of a type today,

in 50 years there may be quite a number of new

works of that same type , given the plethara of

new finds and scholarship that come up every

year. For example, Since Boschung has

published his book on the portraits of Augustus,

there have been a number of new portraits of

Augustus which have surfaced.(show RAG,Pollini

article) Of the nearly 250 portraits of Augustus

that have come down to us, there may have been

more than 50,000! set up throughout the empire.

Portrait typology in the case of pre-principate

Caligulan portraiture is very subjective

business. Type I is the Herkalion type and type II

is the Copenhagen type. The Haupttypus

(i.e.type I) of Caligula was undoubted created

when he came to power in 37; it first and foremost

reflected Tiberius’ hairstyle and indirectly that of

his father, who in reality was imitating

Tiberius as the next in line to succeed Tiberius. I

argue that Tiberius’ last portrait type is the

Chiaramonti type (a rejuvenated type), not as

Boschung argued the Copenhagen (cat. 624).

Boschung’s Nebentypus I, which is somewhat

related to be sure to the Haupttypus, can in my

opinion be considered a second type, his type

II. It specifically recalls one of his father

Germanicus’ types, as represented in the head

from Tarragona (see Boschung’s Gens Aug.

cat.), more than the Bezier’sportraitofGermanicus

that Boschung mentions. This hairstyle is very

different than any of Tiberius’s several types.

Boschung can’t explain what necessitated the

creation of his Nebentypus I, which he takes is

represented in six replicas and all created in his

principate. These are, in my opinion, close

enough to one another to be considered a

separate type, his type II. A number of these type

II portraits (unlike most of the Haupttypus

replicas) show him with corona civica, which

Boschung associates with the title of Pater

Patriae that he accepts (unlike Tiberius) at the

outset of his principate. Boschung’s speculated

Nebentypus II seems to be s spin off of

Boschung’s Nebentypus I, with an Augustus look

about it (esp. Metro Mus. NY, Boschung pl.37). I

suspect this was a special issue, sort of like

Roman special medallion issues. I would think

that his type II (known in six replicas) were

created in 40 after his “triumphal” return from the

northern frontier, for which he received an

ovatio—the real triumph was to come after he

conquered Britain (had he not been

assassinated). He had made incursions into

Germany like his father Germanicus (hence the

name, which actually goes back to Tiberius’

brother Drusus I) may explain why the lock

configuration resembled that of his father

Germanicus, and not Tiberius. In this way, he

could underscore the likening himself to

Germanicus rather than Tiberius (after all

Tiberius’ hairdo was already used in typeI).

Although he would have worn a myrtle

crown for the actual ovation (that is if he followed

tradition), the wearing of the corona civica in his

portraits in the round would have underscored

his saving the lives of citizens alla Augustus.

Interestingly, no portraits in the round of any

princeps or male member of the family are shown

wearing a myrtle crown. It is also my personal

belief that Caligula was the first “Living Princeps

to be shown Radiate? B.E. Levy in her article “

Caligula’s Radiate Crown interpreted this with the

Consensv dupondius through the scruffy tide off

hair. You can see where the “T” in “ET” has been raised.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2. Another example of the Consensv dupondius with radiate attribution.

Fig. 3 PHRYGIA, Aezanis. Gaius (Caligula). 37-41 AD. Æ 20mm (5.20 gm). Lollios Klassikos and Lollios Roufos, magistrates. Radiate head right / Zeus standing left, holding eagle and sceptre. RPC I 3085; SNG Copenhagen 80.

Fig. 3

IONIA, Smyrna. Gaius (Caligula). AD 37-41. Æ 14mm (2.14 g, 12h). Radiate head right; star behind / Crab. Klose XXVII B (V7/R15); RPC I 2474; SNG Copenhagen 1347; BMC Ionia 279

1. See in general J. Pollini, Book Review, Dietrich Boschung, Die

Bildnisse des Augustus, Das romische Herrscherbild, pt. 1, vol. 2.

2. See D. Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Caligula. Deutsches


Archaologisches Institut, Das romische Herrscherbild 1,4 Berlin:

Gebr. Mann Verlag, 1989. 138pp, 52 pls. ISBN 3-7861-1524-9.


3. I 7: D. Boschung, Die Bildnisse des Caligula (1989)

II 1: G. Daltrop - U. Hausmann - M. Wegner, Die Flavier. Vespasian,

Titus,Domitian, Nerva, Julia, Titi, Domitilla, Domitia (1966)

II 2: W. H. Groß, Bildnisse Trajans (1940)II 3: M. Wegner, Hadrian, Plotina, Marciana,

Matidia, Sabina (1956) II 4: M. Wegner, Die Herrscherbildnisse in antoninischer Zeit (1940)

III 1: H. B. Wiggers - M. Wegner, Caracalla, Geta, Plautilla, Macrinus bis Balbinus

(1971)III 2: R. Delbrueck, Die Münzbildnisse von Maximinus bis Carinus (1940)

4. See Joe Geranio, "Portraits of Caligula: The Seated Figure? - Society of Ancient Numismatics, Vol. XX, (1997)

Princeton University Library Cabinet- Used with Permission- Note “T” in ET” slightly raised. With traces of radiate crown on Consensv Dupondius. I have come across 5 specimens with traces of radiate attribution.

Caligula Seated on CONSENSV dupondius. Traces of Radiate Crown above head. (Photo courtesy Princeton Library)

Caligula seated on reverse. close up of radiate attribution? Note how "T" has been raised to make room for Radiate Crown? (photo Courtesy Princeton Library)

Obverse of CONSENSV dupondius with Augustus and Caligula seated on reverse. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Library)

Close up or radiate crown? on consensv dupondius. (Princeton Library)

Photo Courtesy Bern Historical Museum, Invoice 80.569 Photo Daniel Shmutz

Joe Geranio
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2005 2:22 am

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