Emperor Trajan

Emperor TrajanEmperor Trajan

Trajan, who ruled from 98 to 117 A.D., was one of the most successful emperors of the Roman Empire. He is well-known because of the ‘Trajan's Column', depicting episodes from his war against the Dacians. The statue of Trajan, which is more than life-size, is one of the most famous statues in the NMA's collection.

The statue

This marble emperor's statue was found in Utica (Bou-Chatter) in Tunisia, in the 19th century. It represents the emperor as a general, wearing a cuirass with a general's cloak (paludamentum) over it. It is an exact portrait of the emperor as a level-headed, business like man. The arms, originally attached to the statue by means of dowels, are missing. The statue is supported by the trunk of a palm tree, the symbol of victory.

Symbols of power

All decorations on the statue, which have been worked out in relief, are emblems of the emperor's power: griffins in the centre of the breastplate, the head of Medusa, who could turn people into stone by just looking at them, a stylized thunderbolt symbolizing the supreme god Jupiter, and figures telling the mythological story of the founding of Rome. The war god Mars is accompanied by his twin sons Romulus and Remus and their wolf foster-mother. Eventually, Romulus was to become the name-giver of Rome.

Object: Sculpture
Dating from: 100-125
Material: Marble 
Size: 246 x 79 x 89 cm
Origin: Tunesia, Bou-Chater
Collection: Classical antiquity
Code: H II BB 1