Tag Archives: Memento Mori

Pair of Roman Busts, Castel Sant’Angelo

These two pieces are quite moody, and that somber undertone of them inspired me. From their weathered appearance to the various forms of damage they’ve taken over the centuries, they act as a kind of memento mori to remind us that even art in marble will eventually die.

I’ve joked to friends that this one is proof that there were zombies in ancient Rome – but in fact the damage to the face is probably caused by relatively contemporary rivals seeking to damage the visage of a now-dead adversary, or inadvertent blows from overzealous Renaissance-era treasure hunters or clumsy builders trying to clear debris in preparation for fortifying the former Imperial tomb.

Roman Bust
Roman Bust

This one has suffered different indignities – while his visage remains relatively intact, at some point his head was separated from his shoulders, and later re-attached.

Bearded Bust
Bearded Bust

Just for the record, to the best of my knowledge there were no zombies running around ancient Rome.