My favorite Roman busts are the ones that emphasize the individuality of the subject, not the idealized ones. So, while visiting Rome and Vienna, I photographed a few exceptionally high-quality busts. “These are realistic enough”, I thought, “that surely they can be put to good use.”
Then I remembered that a while ago I had cited a study that lent credence to our gut feelings about strangers based on their faces. Now I am going to ask you, dear readers, to give your first impressions of the likely personalities of the following Romans. I photographed them in the Vatican Museum and in the Vien Museum in Vienna. They are numbered for your convenience:
For me, the underlying personality theme in the above portraits is pride/confidence/arrogance. I am currently reading John Derbyshire’s book “We Are Doomed” and I came across this quote from Kenneth Clark, from his book “Civilization“:
Civilization requires a modicum of material prosperity – enough to provide a little leisure. But, far more, it requires confidence – confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws, and confidence in one’s own mental powers… So if one asks why the civilisation of Greece and Rome collapsed, the real answer is that it was exhausted.
I would add that the classical Romans were convinced of their own superiority over other peoples. Over time they came to doubt this superiority and as their arrogance was compromised, so too was their civilization.
Click here for more Roman busts.