SPQR - Senatus Populusque Romanus (The Senate and People of Rome)

Portraits and Dates of the Emperors of Rome

Roman Wall Painting (MMA)

First Style (ca. 200–60 B.C.) was largely an exploration of simulating marble of various colors and types on painted plaster. Artists of the Late Republican period (second to first century B.C.) drew upon examples of early Hellenistic (late fourth to third century B.C.) painting and architecture in order to simulate masonry.

Second Style in Roman wall painting emerged in the early first century B.C., during which time fresco artists imitated architectural forms purely by pictorial means. In place of stucco architectural details, they used flat plaster on which projection and recession were suggested entirely by shading and perspective; as the style progressed, forms grew more complex. The Villa P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale is an exceptional example of the fully mature Second Style.

Third Style (ca. 20 B.C.– 20 A.D.), which coincided with Augustus' reign, rejected illusion in favor of surface ornamentation. Wall paintings from this period typically comprise a single monochrome background—such as red, black, or white—with elaborate architectural and vegetal details. Small figural and landscape scenes appear in the center of the wall as a part of, not the dominant element in, the overall decorative scheme. The finest known achievements of the early Third Style are the frescoes from the Imperial villa at Boscotrecase.

Fourth Style in Roman wall painting (ca. 20–79) is generally less disciplined than its predecessor. It revives large-scale narrative painting and panoramic vistas, while retaining the architectural details of the Third Style. In the Julio-Claudian phase (ca. 20–54), a textilelike quality dominates and tendrils seem to connect all the elements on the wall. The colors warm up once again, and they are used to advantage in the depiction of scenes drawn from mythology. [Source: MMA - above]

The Year One

The Roman Republic (509 BCE - 27 BCE)

List of Rulers: Roman Empire

The Roman Empire (27 BCE –393 CE)

Augustan Rule

The Julio-Claudian Dynasty (27 BCE –68 CE)

Roman Egypt

The Flavian Dynasty

Polychromy (many colors) of Roman Marble Sculpture

Roman Glass

Roman Copies of Greek Statues

Roman Portrait Sculpture: Republican through Constantinian

Byzantium (ca. 330–1453)

The Age of Justinian I (527–565)


Roman Eagle - a bird of power, king of the sky, and the animal most sacred to Jupiter (Zeus).

Republican Portrait, 1st century BCE.


Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis (95 BC–46 BCE), The great-grandson of Cato the Elder, Cato the Younger was a strict stoic, who saw it as his goal to preserve the Republic and the mores of his Roman ancestors.

During the Catlinarian conspiracy, he supported Cicero and was instrumental in having the conspirators executed. He and Cicero were also the chief opponents of the first triumvirate (an alliance between Pompey, Crassus and Julius Caesar). To dispose of Cato, the three men dispatched him to the island of Cyprus. When he returned, he continued to be a thorn in their side.

During he civil war, Cato held an army for the Republic in Sicily. He eventually departed to join Pompey's side, but when he learned of his death, Cato headed to Africa. Seeing that his cause was hopeless, he committed suicide in 46 BCE. [Historiae Romanorum]

Boscoreale: Frescoes, (Second Style Roman wall painting), c. 40-30 BCE.

The villa at Boscoreale is a variant of the so-called villa rustica, a country house of which only a small part functioned as a farmhouse (pars rustica). The majority of the villa served as a residence for the owner, a member of that class of wealthy Roman citizens who owned more properties of this kind and used them as country houses. The painted decoration of the villa at Boscoreale, which was executed sometime around 40–30 B.C., attests to the original owner as a rich man with exquisite taste. The fact that the mid-first-century B.C. decoration was not replaced by another, more contemporary, decoration in the first century A.D. is a clear indication that there was already an awareness of the quality of the frescoes in antiquity. [MMA]

Boscoreale: Frescoes from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor, Cubiculum, 40-30 BCE.

Detail of above.

Detail of above.

Landscape with Perseus and Andromeda: From the "Mythological Room" of the Imperial Villa at Boscotrecase (Third Style), last decade of 1st century BCE.

Landscape with Polyphemus and Galatea: From the "Mythological Room" of the Imperial Villa at Boscotrecase, last decade of 1st century BCE.

This fresco from the Imperial villa at Boscotrecase combines two separate events in the life of the monstrous Cyclops, Polyphemus. In the foreground, he sits on a rocky outcrop tending his goats. The Cyclops holds his panpipes in his right hand as he gazes at the beautiful sea nymph Galatea, with whom he is hopelessly in love. In the upper right part of the fresco, Polyphemus is depicted hurling a boulder at Odysseus and his companions, who have just blinded the Cyclops. Odysseus' ship is seen sailing away at the far right. The fresco's blue-green background unifies the differing episodes from the myth of Polyphemus, and must have lent a sense of coolness to the room. [MMA]

Gaius (given name) Julius (clan name) Caesar (family name), 100-44 BCE. The name Caesar became the title for ruler. In German it's translated as Kaiser, and in Russian it's Czar.

During the last three centuries of the Republic, Rome became a metropolis and the capital city of a vast expanse of territory acquired piecemeal through conquest and diplomacy. Administered territories (provinciae) outside Italy included: Sicily, Sardinia, Spain, Africa, Macedonia, Achaea, Asia, Cilicia, Gaul, Cyrene, Bithynia, Crete, Pontus, Syria, and Cyprus. The strains of governing an ever-expanding empire involving a major military commitment, and the widening gulf between those citizens who profited from Rome's new wealth and those who were impoverished, generated social breakdown, political turmoil, and the eventual collapse of the Republic. Rome experienced a long and bloody series of civil wars, political crises, and civil disturbances that culminated with the dictatorship of Julius Caesar and his assassination on March 15, 44 B.C. After Caesar's death, the task of reforming the Roman state and restoring peace and stability fell to his grandnephew, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, only eighteen years old, who purged all opposition to his complete control of the Roman empire and was granted the honorific title of Augustus in 27 B.C. [MMA]

Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, aka: Augustus Caesar, 63 BCE - 14 CE.

Ara Pacis, dedicated 9 CE.

Detail of above - interior.

Detail of above.

Detail of above - Imperial Procession.

Detail of above - Tellus.

Detail of above - Sacrifice of Aeneas.

Detail of above - Personification of Rome.


Portrait statue of a boy, Late 1st century BCE–early 1st century CE.

The privilege of establishing a public portrait in Republican Rome was based primarily on social status acquired through political and military achievement. Hence, there were few, if any, representations of children. It was not until the advent of Augustus' new Golden Age that significant, imperial portraits of children began to be produced to underscore the dynastic aspirations, as well as the fecundity, of the Julio-Claudian family. [MMA]

Caligula aka: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, 12-41 CE.

Caligula (Latin for Little Boots).

Caligula ruled from 37-41 CE. He was assassinated by his own guards.


Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, aka: Claudius, 10-54 CE. Ruled from 41-54 CE. Here depicted as the god Jupiter.

Valeria Messalina, 17/20-48 CE.

Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, aka: Nero, 37-68 CE, ruled from 54-68 CE.

Nero with his mother Aggrippina (Caligula's younger sister).

Aggrippina and Nero.

Ancient graffiti of Nero.

Funerary altar from 90-95 CE.

The Colosseum or Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, construction started between 70 and 72 CE and was completed in 80 CE.

Coliseum - seated 50,000 people, was used for gladiatorial contests, hunting "shows", and even the re-enactment of sea battles. It remained in use for nearly 500 years with the last recorded games being held there as late as the 6th century — well after the traditional date of the fall of Rome in 476 CE.

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, aka: Marcus Aurelius, 121-180 CE, reigned 161-180 CE.

Marcus Aurelius.

Caracalla, 186-217 CE, ruled from 211-217 CE. He secured his throne by murdering his brother Geta.

Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, aka: Constantine, 280-337 CE, ruled from 306-337 CE. First Christian emperor. Notice the veristic quality of portraiture has now given way to idealism again, as we move into the Christian era.

The Terarchs - Rule of Four. Instituted by Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293 and lasted until c. 313 CE. Notice the figure (and individual) is sublimated again, as we move into the Christian era.

Alternate view of above.

Alternate view of above.

More links:

Byzantium (ca. 330–1453)

Italian Peninsula, 1–500 CE

Italian Peninsula, 500–1000 CE

Italian Peninsula, 1000–1400 CE