After his victory at Milvian Bridge, Constantine ordered a huge seated statue of himself to be placed in the basilica which Maxentius, his opponent, had been building in Rome. Fragments of the acrolithic statue (one in which only the head and extremities are made of stone) include the head, which apparently was reworked from one of Hadrian, and a portion of the arm, which, says Eusebius (Life of Constantine, I.40), held a spear in the figure of a cross to signify his victory.

The statue, its eyes raised to heaven, signifies the closeness of the emperor to God, its colossal size, the transcendental majesty of the emperor. The figure also is without a beard, unlike Julian, the last pagan emperor, or Hadrian, the philosopher and admirer of Greek culture.