In a stunning discovery, a newly found statue in Rome appears to depict a slain Roman emperor dressed as Hercules. The statue, found near the Via Appia in Parco Scott, Rome, may offer insight to the viewpoint of a Roman emperor who embraced traditional Greco-Roman gods at a time when Christianity was spreading throughout the empire.
Emperor Decius: Dressed as Hercules
The statue is believed to depict Emperor Decius, who reigned between A.D. 249 and 251 before he and his son were killed by the Goths during the Battle of Abritus in A.D. 251. It shows a figure wearing the skin of the Nemean lion, a beast killed by Hercules as part of 12 labors he had to carry out. The face of the statue, however, is not that of Hercules. Archaeologists compared it to surviving images of Emperor Decius and found that it resembles him.
The Significance of Decius’ Choice
Given Decius’ emphasis on Rome’s traditional religious beliefs, his choice to be depicted as Hercules makes sense. At this time Christianity was becoming increasingly popular in the Roman Empire, but historical records indicate that Decius wanted to emphasize the worship of traditional Greco-Roman gods.
The Discovery of the Statue
The statue had probably been placed in the trench sometime in the past 100 years, the team said in the statement. Several scholars who were not involved in the research agree that the face resembles Decius. The discovery of the statue shows that despite all the archaeological discoveries made in Rome, there is much more that remains to be found.
The Implications of the Statue
The statue may provide insight into the viewpoint of a Roman emperor who embraced traditional Greco-Roman gods at a time when Christianity was spreading throughout the empire. It also serves as a reminder that so much is still hidden underneath the surface of Rome, and that there are still many discoveries to be made.