Married Couple Represented as Ares and Aphrodite

Inv. Scu 652

This statue group depicts the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his wife Faustina the Younger costumed as the Greek deities Ares (god of war) and Aphrodite (goddess of love).

Scholars believe the statues were modeled after two famous sculptures, the Borghese Ares and the Aphrodite of Capua.

The design of the male figure follows that of the model very closely: the god/emperor is depicted nude, with the exception of the chlamys or cloak that is draped over the top of his chest.

He stands in a contrapposto pose, with his right leg advanced in front and his weight resting on the left leg. In his right hand he carries a long lance and on his head he wears a helmet with a high crest.

The female figure is shown reaching towards Ares with long arms, as if to embrace him.

She resembles the Capuan Aphrodite with the exception of her clothing; the goddess is traditionally shown nude, but here she wears a thin chiton and himation (mantle) that cling to her upper torso and envelops her lower body in a mass of pleated fabric.

It is possible that this work was commissioned upon the occasion of the marriage of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Younger in the year 145 A.D.

The work comes from the necropolis of Isola Sacra, at Ostia.