A thirteen meter high replica of a colossal statue of Constantine has been unveiled in Rome. The reconstruction was created based on an analysis of marble fragments that were discovered, including two feet, two right hands, a knee, a bicep, and a large head. The statue, draped in a bronze cloak, is the largest of its kind for which remains have been found in Rome.
According to Claudio Parisi Presicce, curator in charge of Rome’s monuments, the statue provides an impression of what the emperor’s subjects might have felt when faced with such an imperial image. It is now displayed in the Capitoline Hill garden, overlooking the Roman forum. However, it is not the largest statue to have existed in Rome – that record is held by the 30 meter high Colossus representing Emperor Nero, erected near the Flavian amphitheater, which later gave its name to the Colosseum.
For centuries, archaeologists, historians and tourists could only use their imagination to visualize the statue of Constantine, based on the marble fragments on display in the Capitoline Museums. It was only in the late 19th century that it was identified as a representation of Constantine the Great, who moved the empire’s capital from Rome to Constantinople. The statue has been reconstructed using resin, based on the analysis of around ten fragments that have been preserved since 1486.
Extensive studies suggest that parts of the Constantine statue may have been repurposed from an older statue, possibly one representing Jupiter, as suggested by details on the chin. This statue may have been located in the most important temple at the top of the Capitol, the foundations of which are still visible today. Coins and medals from the period before Constantine depict a seated Jupiter in a similar pose to that adopted for the statue of Constantine.
The replica will remain on display until at least 2025, a jubilee year during which millions of Catholic pilgrims are expected to visit Rome. Its final location will be determined at a later date. The project was funded by the Prada Foundation, however, the exact amount has not been disclosed.