Roman Portraiture, Rome, Uncategorized

NEW: An unnoticed portrait of Hadrian’s first heir, L. Aelius Caesar, in Rome’s Casino Aurora?

Did I make a great discovery in the Ludovisi collection of Roman antiquities?

While in Rome at the beginning of November, Corey Brennan (Associate Professor of Classics at Rutgers University), who generously invited me to stay at the American Academy of Rome, brought me to the Casino of the Villa Ludovisi (also known as Villa Aurora) for a private tour of the property, established in the 16th century by Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte and later bought by Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi. I was very excited to hear about the great work Brennan had done in the Villa with the collaboration of Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi who resides there. I was also of course very excited to get to see the only Caravaggio ceiling ever painted.

Never would have I imagined that I was about to make the discovery (still to be confirmed by experts) of an unnoticed sculptural head of Hadrian’s intended successor Lucius Aelius Caesar. The bust had been universally identified as “Marcus Aurelius” since 1880 (or maybe even 1633). But immediately after entering the Villa, I noticed the bust and thought, “wow, it’s Aelius Caesar!” Then Brennan told me that the bust was supposed to be Marcus Aurelius, and I immediately replied “It’s not Marcus Aurelius”, “I think it’s Lucius Aelius Caesar”.

However, this discovery now requires much study from experts to secure the identification of this Boncompagni Ludovisi bust as that of Lucius Aelius Caesar.

Exciting times!

Archivio Digitale Boncompagni Ludovisi

The Sala Aurora of the Casino Aurora, with frescoes by Guercino and Agostino Tassi (1621). The bust in question is in the niche at far left. Photo: David Neal Brennan

By ADBL editor Corey Brennan with Carole Raddato

Picture this. On a bright November 2019 morning, ancient history enthusiast Carole Raddato made her first visit to Rome’s Casino Aurora, to meet with HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi. Raddato was on the lookout for new items to add to her ambitious Following Hadriantravel and photography project, as well as to see the Casino Aurora’s famed Caravaggio ceiling painting ‘Giove, Nettuno e Plutone‘.

No sooner had Raddato entered the vestibule of the Casino Aurora that she spotted, 10 meters away in an oval niche above the principal door of the main sala, a fine bust of a bearded Roman.

Lucius Aelius Caesar”, she immediately thought.

View original post 2,032 more words

Epigraphy, Hadrian, Phoenicia

The forest inscriptions of Hadrian in Mount Lebanon

Lebanon is famously known for the presence of a very special kind of tree, the legendary cedar tree (cedrus libani). It is emblazoned on the national flag and is, due to its long history, one of the most defining features of Lebanon's culture. The country is the most densely wooded in the Middle East, and… Continue reading The forest inscriptions of Hadrian in Mount Lebanon

Egypt, Epigraphy, Hadrian1900

4 August AD 119 – A letter from Hadrian conferring new rights to illegitimate children of soldiers is published in Alexandria (#Hadrian1900)

One thousand nine hundred years ago on this day, a copy of a letter written by Hadrian and addressed to Quintus Rammius Martialis, the prefect of Egypt (AD 117-19), was published in Alexandria. In his letter, Hadrian granted illegitimate children of soldiers conceived during their fathers' military service the right to inherit. The text was… Continue reading 4 August AD 119 – A letter from Hadrian conferring new rights to illegitimate children of soldiers is published in Alexandria (#Hadrian1900)

Campania, Epigraphy, Hadrian1900, Italy, Latium

AD 119 – Hadrian visits Campania to aid the towns by gifts and benefactions (#Hadrian1900)

After less than a year spent in Rome since his arrival in the capital as the new emperor, Hadrian made a journey into Campania, the southern region of Italy where Greek civilization had once flourished. A passage in the Historia Augusta gives a chronological order of the events and states that the journey came after… Continue reading AD 119 – Hadrian visits Campania to aid the towns by gifts and benefactions (#Hadrian1900)

Hadrian, Roman engineering, Roman Temples, Rome

Guest post: How Hadrian helped rebuild the Pantheon

Learn about how Hadrian created the Pantheon as we know it today from the ruins of previous temples built by Marcus Agrippa and Domitian. A guest post by Context Travel Tours. Hadrian - the great unifier of the Roman Empire, the admirer of Athens, the architect, the poet, the visionary. As one of Rome’s most… Continue reading Guest post: How Hadrian helped rebuild the Pantheon

Hadrian1900

Spring AD 119 – Aulus Platorius Nepos is appointed as suffect consul (#Hadrian1900)

In spring AD 119, Aulus Platorius Nepos, a close friend of Hadrian, was appointed as consul suffectus (suffect consul), the supreme magistracy in Rome, before being sent out as governor of Germania Inferior. Nepos is known from a dedicatory inscription at Aquileia (CIL V 877, Smallwood 229) where he had been appointed patronus (patron). The local… Continue reading Spring AD 119 – Aulus Platorius Nepos is appointed as suffect consul (#Hadrian1900)

Antinous, Exhibition

Exhibition: ‘Antinous: Boy made God’ at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK)

Antinous has attracted renewed fascination since the High Renaissance. In the early 1500s, several portraits of the 'boy-favourite' were known in Rome, and numerous works of art were modelled on him. A clear example of the appeal of Antinous from this time may be seen in Lorenzetto's statue of Jonah in the Chuch of Santa… Continue reading Exhibition: ‘Antinous: Boy made God’ at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK)

Hadrian, Roman Cooking

Felix dies natalis, Hadriane!

Happy 1943rd birthday, Hadrian! This year, I decided to cook Cato the Elder's recipe for Libum (sweet cheesecake) as Hadrian’s birthday cake. Libum (original recipe from LacusCurtius): Bray 2 pounds of cheese thoroughly in a mortar; when it is thoroughly macerated, add 1 pound of wheat flour, or, if you wish the cake to be… Continue reading Felix dies natalis, Hadriane!

Gladiator, Hadrian1900, Rome, SPQR

24 January AD 119 – Hadrian celebrates his 43rd birthday in Rome with gladiatorial games (#Hadrian1900)

One thousand nine hundred years ago, Hadrian celebrated his 43rd birthday in Rome, the first he spent in the capital as emperor. To mark the occasion, the emperor put on a gladiatorial show which lasted for six successive days. As reported by Dio Cassius and the Historia Augusta, many wild animals were slaughtered, including one… Continue reading 24 January AD 119 – Hadrian celebrates his 43rd birthday in Rome with gladiatorial games (#Hadrian1900)

Epigraphy, Hadrian1900, Rome, SPQR

January AD 119 – Hadrian inaugurates the new year in Rome (#Hadrian1900)

One thousand nine hundred years ago, Hadrian celebrated the new year (year 872 Ab urbe condita) in Rome as consul for the third time (COS III) and appointed Publius Dasumius Rusticus as ordinary consul. Rusticus is known only from his consulship and the reason why he received this prestigious honour is not known. It may… Continue reading January AD 119 – Hadrian inaugurates the new year in Rome (#Hadrian1900)