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© J.-F. Peiré
© J.-F. Peiré
This portrait represents Maximian Herculius. His striking features portray his power: the head which becomes narrow at the top, small eyes with a piercing look under heavy eyelids, protruding cheek bones, hollow cheeks, a strong lower jaw, and a very thick neck.
This physique is close to that of his heroic protector Hercules.

The four heads in a round form an atypical group in relation to the other portraits discovered in Chiragan. Regarding numerous stylistic details they could be close to the series of the Labors of Hercules. In addition to the emperor Maximian Herculius, it could include other members of his family: his wife, his son and daughter, also considered his stepdaughter.

At the end of the third century, the Emperor is attacked on all sides. To best defend him, the emperor Diocletian puts a new government in place headed by four people, the Tetrarchy. Two emperors, the Augustuses, each aided by a co-emperor, the Cesars, divide the Empire’s territories.
Thus in 293, Diocletian reigns over the East with one of his relatives, Galerius. Maximian and Constantanius Chlorius are in charge of the West. Diocletian places himself under the protection of Jupiter and Maximian under the protection of Hercules whose qualities seem to be similar to his. Between 293, the year of his son Maxentius’s marriage with Valeria, Galerius’s daughter, and 296, at the end of the campaigns in Spain and North Africa, this portrait would have been created.

Marble head of the emperor Maximian Herculius (286-305) discovered on the site of the Roman villa of Chiragan (Martre-Tolosane, Haute-Garonne).
Very end of the third century or very beginning of the fourth century.
Inv. Ra 34b.
Lu 1128 fois

Tolosa's gold age | Chiragan | Necropolis