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Septimius Severus

"Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of his maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author of the decline of the Roman empire."

Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (I.5)

Born in Libya and speaking fluent Punic (the language of Hannibal), his Latin retaining an African accent (Historia Augusta, IX.9; his sister could scarcely speak Latin at all, XV.7), Severus nevertheless sought to legitimate his rule by associating himself with Marcus Aurelius, the death of whose own son Commodus had thrown the succession into turmoil. "Styling himself the son of Marcus" (Dio, LXXVI.7) and renaming his young son Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla), Severus effectively adopted himself as an Antonine. One even sees the same curly hair and long beard.

This portrait bust is the more familiar one of Septimius Severus and is in the Hall of Emperors (Palazzo Nuovo, Capitoline Museums, Rome). The mantle is of green alabaster.