Wednesday, August 3, 2011

UPDATED -- I want answers (It's Alexander the Great; see comments)

A follow up to my original post asking for help identifying this guy:

Unidentified bust in Rome's Aurelian wall on the Via Campagna caddycorner from the Hotel Victoria Roma.
The possibilities that I put forth were, since he is in the Aurelian Wall, like, the Emperor Aurelian (duh!), along with Alexander the Great, the Eastern Roman general Belisarius, and the Renaissance artist Raphael.

Let's revisit this, since I've uploaded from my camera a better picture of the bust:

Another view of that same bust.  Note that immediately under this bust it smells strongly of pee.

Now, let's look at the candidates:

Roman Emperor Lucius Domitius Aurelianus (aka "Aurelian")

Alexander III of Macedon (aka "Alexander the Great," "Alex," "Al," "Big Al" and, behind his back "Hephaestion's Boy Toy."
Eastern Roman General Flavius Belisarius
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (aka "Raphael," "Rafael," "Raffy")
It could also be a combination of the above, such as Aurelian as Alexander the Great, since all things Greek were big in 3rd and 4th Century Rome.

The weirdest entry, admittedly, is Raphael.  I saw his bust at the Pantheon, where his tomb is located and took several pictures for comparison, but it was so dark in there that none of them came out.  I tracked this one down on Wikipedia.

So, who is this guy?

UPDATE: It's Alexander the Great.  See the comments.  Apparently the bust was not part of the original wall, but was put up by the Ludovisi in the 17th Century as part of their famous villa gardens.  The villa is mostly gone, replaced by the area around the Via Veneto, but the bust is still there.


  1. Very few remains of Villa Ludovisi can still be seen along Aurelian's wall: opposite via Marche, an oval niche encloses a huge marble bust, said to represent the famous Byzantine general Belisarius, who lived in the 6th century (but probably featuring the Greek king Alexander the Great), while opposite via Abbruzzi a small public fountain bears the Latin inscription Fons Ludovisia ("Ludovisi Fountain").

  2. I think you nailed it. I Googled Villa Ludovisi and found this site ( that claims the bust is of Alexander the Great. It certainly looks like him. Didn't make sens to me why the Romans would put a bust of him on the Aurelian Wall, but according to the site I just referenced, the Romans didn't put it there; the Ludovisi did. Perhaps I should have noticed thatthe bust and its alcove wasn't a part of the original wall, but as you can see from the pics on the site, the bust and the wall have been very heavily restored. The restorations are still in progress, judging bythe construction materials and the condition of Alexander's robe. And that it smells like pee.

    Don't know why the Ludovisi would put a bust of Alexander the Great in the Aurelian Wall, though.

    The Via Veneto is indeed a beautiful area. Wasn't convenient for someone like me who was more interested in seeing the Roman Forum instead of the Borghese gallery. but otherwise I can't complain. Il Foro Romano and il Colosseo are still well within walking distance. Hotel Victoria Roma was excellent. Frienddly, helpful staff who (like most Romans) seemed to very much appreciated my attempts at speaking Italian.

    Note to Americans: when you visit a fireign country, try to learn at least a little bit of the language. It's more respectful and, unless they're French, the locals will appreciate it.