Germania, Germania Inferior, Germany, Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, Museum, Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Roman Portraiture, Trajan

The Nerva-Antonines in Cologne

Built in 1974 over the remains of a Roman villa, the Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne houses an extensive collection of Roman artefacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (named after Agrippina the Younger, born in Cologne), the capital of the Imperial Province of Germania Inferior. The museum houses the largest collection of Roman glasses in the world, including the Cologne cage cup and the miniature portrait of Emperor Augustus in turquoise glass. It is also home to the world-famous Dionysus mosaic and the Sepulcher of Poblicius.

Reconstructed plan of the Roman city of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (Cologne) in the 3rd/4th century AD.

In addition to the everyday life artefacts of Roman Cologne, the Romano-Germanic Museum exhibits numerous portraits of members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (including Augustus and his wife Livia Drusilla) and the Nerva-Antonine dynasty.

The Nerva-Antonines are well-represented as it was in Cologne that Trajan accessed to the imperial throne. The then governor of Germania Inferior received the message just a few days after Nerva’s death in February AD 98. The messenger was none other than his cousin and successor Hadrian, who at the time was stationed as a military tribune at Moguntiacum (Mainz) in Germania Superior. Hadrian’s first visit to Colonia Agrippinensium as emperor was in the late spring of AD 122 on his way to Britannia. During his time in the capital, Hadrian probably stayed with his close friend, Aulus Platorius Nepos, the then governor of the province. More than a decade later, between AD 134 and 138, Hadrian’s tour of the German provinces was commemorated on the imperial coinage (see here).

  • Nerva (ruled 96 – 98)
Portrait of the Emperor Nerva.
  • Trajan (ruled 98 – 117)
Portrait bust of Trajan.
  • Hadrian (ruled 117 – 138)
Marble head of Hadrian.
  • Antoninus Pius (ruled 138 – 161)
Bronze head of the Emperor Antoninus Pius.
  •  Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161 – 180)
Statue of a Roman citizen of the 2nd quarter of the 2nd century AD, a portrait of the young Marcus Aurelius was added by a neo-classical sculptor sometime before 1818.
Head of Marcus Aurelius, 140-145 AD.
  • Lucius Verus (ruled 161 – 169)
Head of Lucius Verus.
  • Commodus (ruled 177 – 192)
Head of Commodus, 170-180 AD.

Many more portraits of members of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

Related posts:

The Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne.
Hadrian and Trajan.

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