Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday 7 February 2024

Recreating the statue of Constantine the Great in Rome

In my recent post The Imperial Cult under Constantine I considered the reconstruction that had been made of the marble and bronze composite statue the Colossus of Constantine that once was at the centre of the civic-religious cult in Rome of the Emperor and his family.

The Daily Telegraph has now reported on the unveiling of a full-size reproduction of the original complete statue which has been created and installed near the Capitoline on the Campidoglio. Another copy of the statue is planned for Binchester in the north-east of England. Maybe the Angel of the North is going to get his wings clipped?

The element of what today we might recycling to create the superhuman image of the Emperor by altering an already damaged monumental figure of Jupiter reveals something more of Constantine’s complex relationship with the pagan gods and with Rome’s hitherto official religion. It also reveals something of Constantine’s personal idea of self and of his function as Emperor. Being termed ‘Equal of the Apostles’ seems almost restrained when he had taken over not just the iconography but the very image of the head of the Olympian pantheon - whilst re-cutting the marble head of Jove as his own.

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