Return to Severans

Commodus as Hercules

"Then he took off the dress of a Roman emperor and took to wearing a lion skin and carrying a club in his hand."

Herodian, History of the Empire (XIV.8)

This magnificent sculpture of Commodus as Hercules was discovered in 1874 in an underground chamber in the Horti Lamiani (the gardens of Lucius Aelius Lamia, which likely had become imperial property by the time of Tiberius). It was accompanied by two sea creatures in a composition symbolizing the apotheosis of the emperor. The statue of Lunense marble can be dated to the very end of the his life, sometime between AD 191 and 192.

Subjected to damnatio memoriae upon his death, which meant the destruction of all his images and citations, it might be that the bust was hidden deliberately and thereby preserved.

See also Esquiline Venus, both of which are in the Palazzo dei Conservatori (Rome). A denarius also depicts Commodus as Hercules.