Sculptural head of Julius Caesar depicting an idealized portrait

Roman. Cast of the original in the Capitoline Museum, Rome. Original, ca. 65-40 BCE.

Historical Context:

Caesar is remembered as one of history’s greatest generals and a key ruler of the Roman Empire. As a young man, he rose through the administrative ranks of the Roman republic, accumulating power until he was elected consul, the highest elected office of the Roman Republic, in 59 BCE. Over the next 15 years, he led Roman armies against enemies abroad, especially in Gaul, while fighting Pompey and others for political control at home. In 45 BCE he reached his ultimate success, being named dictator of Rome for life. However, his rule was short-lived. The next year a group led by his follower, Marcus Junius Brutus, stabbed him to death in the Senate. Caesar is thought to have been assassinated on March 15th, a date known in the Roman calendar as “the Ides of March”, His life and death were dramatized in the William Shakespeare play Julius Caesar, with Caesar’s famous death line: “Et tu, Brute? Then fall Caesar!”

Caesar had a famous romance with Egyptian ruler Cleopatra and fathered her son, Caesarion. One of his most trusted generals, Marc Antony, became a lover and ally of Cleopatra after Caesar’s death. Caesar’s adopted heir, Octavian, later defeated Antony and became the emperor Caesar Augustus.

Original Statue

Artist: Unknown
Culture: GreekHellenistic
Century: 1st century BCE
Current Location: ItalyRome
Museum: Capitoline Museum

  • ancient rome
  • caesar
  • sculpture