A Carara Marble Head of Roman Emperor Otho with a Polychrome Veneered Marble Body

Italy.   Late 17th Early 18th Century

Height 21” (53.5 cm) width 18” (46cm)

Looking to sinister, the Carrara head with veneered polychrome shoulders and breast of various stones including Spanish Brocatello, Languedoc Rouge, Grey Lez Breccia, Sable black, Breche d’Aste and Giallo Antico. The marble is veneered onto a grey volcanic rock compound with a Grey Lez Breccia socle.

Marcus Otho Caesar Augustus AD 32-69

Emperor for three months from January 15th to April 16th  69


Born into a noble Etruscan family, he was introduced to Nero with whom he became firm friends until they fell out over Nero’s mistress and later wife, Poppaea Sabina. Accordingly, he was banished to the Roman province of Lusitania which he successfully ruled as Governor for 10 years between 58 and 68. He then joined a rebellion led by Galba against Nero who committed suicide later that year. Soon after, Otho in turn had the Praetorian guard assassinate Galba at the beginning of 69 and Otho was proclaimed Emperor on January 15th. Together with the Praetorian Guard he too hastily raised an army to put down the rebellion of Vitellus, commander of the Roman army in Germany. Suffering extensive casualties when confronting Vitellus’s army at the battle of Bedriacum, Otho committed an honourable suicide, stating that it was better that one man died rather than thousands if he had continued the civil war against Vitellus.  “It is far more just to perish one for all, rather than many for one”.

Subsequently, Otho’s chosen method of the ending the civil war engendered much respect from Romans during the following decades and inspired Martial to write the following poem:

‘Although the goddess of civil warfare was still in doubt.

 And soft Otto had perhaps still a chance of winning,

 He renounced fighting that would have cost much blood,

 And with sure hand pierced right through his breast.

 By all means let Cato in his life be greater than Caesar himself;

 In his death was he greater than Otho?



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