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“Palazzo della Cancelleria Reliefs” II – Frieze A | by Egisto Sani
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“Palazzo della Cancelleria Reliefs” II – Frieze A

The two reliefs, frieze A) and frieze B), found beneath the “Palazzo della Cancelleria” were part of the decoration of a public monument which can be dated to the reign of Domitian (81-96 AD).

The events described in the frieze A) happen a few years later than those described in the frieze B).

Relief A) shows or the departure, “profectio”, of the emperor Domitian for a military campaign, or his “reditus” from the Sarmatian campaign in A.D. 93. The face of Domitian was re-worked to represent his successor Nerva, after his memory was condemned to oblivion, “damnatio memoriae” following his violent death.

Relief B) shows the arrival, “adventus”, of the Emperor Vespasian in Rome, being greeted by a person wearing a toga, who is probably his son, Domitian.


Frieze A, list of characters, from left:

1 - Victory of whom only the left wing and part of the shoulder are extant;

2 - lictor, to be inferred from the axe-head visible against the right shoulder of character nr. 3, and from the surviving top of the fasce ;

3 - lictor;

4 - Mars ;

5 - Minerva ;

6 - figure in tunic and paludamentum, Emperor Domitian reworked as Nerva’s portrait;

7, 8 - two lictors;

9 - Dea Roma or, perhaps less probably, Virtus;

10 - soldier;

11 - Genius Senatus;

12 - another soldier;

13 - Genius Publicus ;

14,17 - four more military.


Source: H. Last, “On the Flavian Reliefs from Palazzo della Canceloleria” - The Journal of Roman Studies


Roman marble relief

Domitian reign, 81 – 96 AD

From Palazzo della Cancelleria, Rome

Vatican City State, Vatican Museums, Museo Gregoriano Profano


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Taken on February 6, 2014