Portrait of the emperor Galerius from an over life-sized statue.
He is shown beardless with the short hair favoured at the time. The hair is well combed from the crown of the head downward and to the front, framing a broad forehead and the temples and leaving the ears exposed. He wears a stephane (wreath) of oak leaves with the shield-shaped medallion above his forehead (corona civica) usually worn by the Roman emperors, particularly in late Roman times. It is tied at the back of the head with a wide ribbon, the ends of which hang down behind. The face is wide with fleshy, somewhat flabby cheeks and a double chin, indicating a man fairly advanced in age. The rendering of the mouth, with lips closed and drawn down at the corners, suggests fatigue.
The eyes, as seen from the cavities, were inset semi-precious stone, with fine lashes. They are framed by regular, curved eyebrows with fine hairs shown in relief. There are some similarities to two other known portraits showing the emperor at an earlier age. One is from the little arch of Galerius in the Museum of Thessalonike (inv. no. 2466), erected by the city of Thessalonike between 299-303 A.G. in memory of the emperor’s victory over the Persians (A.C. 298). The second is in the Museum of Copenhagen (no. 770) and shows the emperor at an older age. It should be dated to A.G. 305, when he took the title of Augustus.
The Canellopoulos Museum portrait shows the emperor probably near the end of his life and, according to G. Dontas’ study, it should be dated in 310 A.C. Despite its closed and removed expression, with its frontal pose the severity of the absolute monarch confronts the viewer.
A. Choremi Spetsieri