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BUST OF PHILIP THE ARAB. PHILIP – HIS LIFE . Philip rose to power as the praetorian prefect in Gordian III’s army and fought against the Persians in Mesopotamia. Philip became emperor after Gordian’s death in 244 AD:

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philip his life
  • Philip rose to power as the praetorian prefect in Gordian III’s army and fought against the Persians in Mesopotamia.
  • Philip became emperor after Gordian’s death in 244 AD:
      • Philip’s role in the death of Gordian is unclear; many believe Philip was involved.
      • Philip’s first job as emperor was to sue for a humiliating peace with the victorious Persian king.
  • During Philip’s reign:
      • it was a period of great political, economic, religious, military unrest in the empire.
      • he also had problems throughout his reign with Goths and internal rivals for the emperorship.
      • the senate and the army were vying with each other to see that their favourite candidates got the Emperorship.
  • Eventually he and his son were killed in the Battle of Verona in 249 AD by his own men who preferred Decius as emperor.
There are many differing opinions on Philip.
  • M. Wheeler says - shifty and opportunistic in character.

- assassinated the previous emperor, ruled for 5 years, only to be assassinated himself.

  • J. Campbell says - Philip was a mutineer who usurped power. - he became emperor with the help of the army during an unstable time.
  • R. Hannah says - a man with no noble background.

- his anxious expression reveals his care of the empire in a disturbed time.

This deep bust is dated to 244-49 AD.
  • His head is tilted up and turned to the right.
  • His eyes look upwards as if for divine inspiration.
  • His hair is close-cropped.
  • He has a neatly trimmed moustache.
  • Philip wears a “trabeated” toga with a broad flat band across his chest.
EYES - pupil of the eye is hollowed out.- iris is incised.

LIPS- pressed shut…in disapproval? - full mouth.


- like a raised cap.

- beard and moustache is created by short sharp incisions.

- chiseled,

NOT drilled.

the bust is veristic in style
The bust is VERISTIC in style.

What is veristic again…?

“warts and all”

  • furrows of concentration on the forehead.
  • overhang brows,
  • he looks worried,
  • deep lines from his nose to his lips,
  • The marble itself is not polished and therefore not baroque, sensual or flashy.
there is an awareness from the artist s of philip s syrian arab features and his origins
There is an awareness from the artist’s of Philip’s Syrian (Arab) features and his origins
  • big nose,
  • high cheekbones,
  • solid jaw-line.
why does he look like that
  • The sculptor has captured an expression of anxiety on Philip’s face as if he seems to be weighed down by the cares of the emperor.
  • Viewer is not confronted with a look of command, instead he looks away from us with a look of anxiety.
  • Interesting that Philip would have been satisfied with this image – a worried of a man who doesn’t seem to be in control.
  • His worn face does however show:
        • strength of character,
        • dignity,
        • determination and concern.