Designed in the neo-Renaissance style by Camillo Pistrucci, the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme was built between 1883 and 1887.Until 1960, the building was a college for Jesuit fathers, and the Italian State took over ownership, in 1981. At this point, the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme transformed from a college to the headquarters of the National Roman Museum. On four floors the museum houses its extensive collection of artwork and artifacts from both of the ancient Greek and Roman cultures. On the ground, first and second floors, visitors can view ancient art. The basement stores the numismatic and goldsmith sections.
Sleeping HermaphroditeFirst found in a domus at the Opera House, the Roman replica of the Greek statue Sleeping Hermaphrodite was sculpted in the Antonine age. Originally created in the 2nd centruy B.C.E, the Sleeping Hermaphrodite tells the ancient mythological tale of the nymph Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite. In the myth, Salmacis falls in love with Hermaphroditus and asks the Gods to join their bodies.
The Sleeping Hermaphrodite captures the viewers’ attentions because it poses the game of shifting perspective. At first, Hermaphroditus appears to be a beautiful young woman with sensual curves. These curves are exposed as his feet pull his cloak away from his body. However, from a different view, Hermaphroditus exposes his true gender.
General of TivoliThe sanctuary of Hercules in Tivoli was once home to the statue of the General of Tivoli. Believed to be created in the 1st century B.C.E, the General of Tivoli is a portrait statue of a man eager to show off his military merits. Wrapped around his hips and supported by the left arm, the subject’s semi-nude body is only slightly covered by a cloak with fringed edges. The missing right hand was once believed to hold a spear, a presentation that would mark the subject as a hero. His face is matured by deep wrinkles and marked by a firm expression, alluding to his true rank, believed to be a commander.
Sarcophagus of PortonaccioDepicting the recurring theme of the Roman defeat of the barbarians, Sarcophagus of Portonaccio was found in 1931 in via delle Cave di Pietralata. The front on the sarcophagus shows several layers of the Roman cavalry’s overwhelming charge against the Germans. On the sides, pairs of prisoners stand together with painful expressions on their faces. The frieze on the cover, celebrates the deceased and his wife. The sarcophagus is believed to belong to Aulus Iulius Pompulius. The war general of Marcus Aurelius, who took part in the German-sarmatic campaigns, during the 1st-century A.D.
Mosaic by Baccano with charioteersBetween 1869 and 1970, a large Roman villa located on Via Cassia in the Cesano area was excavated, and mosaics like this mosaic by Baccano with charioteers were discovered. Originally, the mosaic comes from a room on the second floor of the house. Composed of four pavement squares made of polychrome tesserae, this mosaic depicts charioteers holding their horses by the reins. Each charioteer is dressed in colored tunic that represents their respective faction: white, blue, red and green. From an inscription in the mosaic, historians know that this piece of art once belonged to the Septimii imperial family.
Wounded NiobidThe Greek original originated from the 4th-centruy B.C.E, the Wounded Niobid was once attached to a pediment decoration that was brought to Rome, during the Augustan age. The statue is based off of ancient mythology and tells the tale of the punishment inflicted on Niobe. Niobe is known for boasting about her fertility and comparing herself to Latona, the mother of Apollo and Artemis. Her bragging brought her great peril, as she was condemned to see all 14 of her children perish. Niobid is one of these children, and this sculpture depicts the moment, before her death. It is a still moment in time, as she collapses to the ground. She looks up to the sky, while fruitlessly trying to pull the arrow from her back.
DiscobolusOriginally sculpted out of bronze by Myron in 455 B.C.E, Discobolus is a marble, Roman replica of Greek art that was found on the Esquiline, in the Lamiani horti area. Discobolus immortalizes an athlete preparing to throw the discus. His torso is turned backwards, as he poses himself to sprint. The inflexibility of his pose coexists with the severe style of the time: a motionless expression, a rigid anatomy and a two-dimensional conception that is intended solely for a frontal view.
Editorial credit: Anna Pakutina / Shutterstock.com
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Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome
Largo di Villa Peretti, 2, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
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