Marble portrait of the co-emperor Lucius Verus, AD 161–169
This fragmentary head comes from an over-life-sized portrait bust or statue of Lucius Verus, co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius (r. A.D. 161–180). At the beginning of his reign, Verus was sent to the East to direct military operations against the Parthians, and although the war was concluded successfully in A.D. 166, his returning troops brought back the plague, which ravaged the Empire for several years thereafter. He is compared unfavorably with Marcus Aurelius by the ancient sources, but the portrait shown here has a leonine majesty that gives little indication of his reputation as an idle and dissolute ruler. It is typical of Antonine style in its use of luxuriant drillwork in the hair and engraved eyes to dramatize the basically naturalistic image.