Drusilla sacerdos o diva nella Colonia Augusta Himereorum Thermitanorum?

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Among the sculptures of the Museo Civico of TerminiImerese that were published by Nicola Bonacasa in 1960, a female portraithead of a Julio-Claudian princess is remarkable for its excellent workmanship.The paper deals with the problem of the identification of the subject,variously referred to as Agrippina I, Agrippina II, Messalina or Drusilla, accordingto the interpretation of the portrait series “Glyptothek of Munich316- Caere” to which the head belongs. The comparanda, some iconographicdetails giving a certain aura of sanctity to the subject, and the verystrong physiognomical resemblance with the likenesses of Caligula confirmthe hypothesis that the woman portrayed in the head from Thermae was thebeloved sister of the emperor, Drusilla. The princess was honored perhapsas sacerdos divi Augusti (if really she had for a while a such religious role, afterthe death of Antonia II) or more probably as diva Drusilla, after her untimelydeath in 38 A.D. As a matter of fact, the evaluation of the context from whichthe head comes, vaguely referred to by 17th-19th scholars and travellers as“the House of Sthenius” (a famous citizen of Thermae quoted by Cicero), allowsto reconstruct an Imperial Cult building, in which the statue of Drusillawas dedicated: it was an edifice lavishly decorated with marbles, located underthe cathedral of Termini in the southern part of the ancient forum, fromwhich also a base of a statue of the divus Commodus comes. The intriguinghypothesis could be made that a colossal foot bearing a sumptuous “paradeboot”, of unknown findspot, belongs indeed to a lost statue of the divus Augustusthat was worshiped in the same context.
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)209-225
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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