I recently visited the impressive Hall of Emperors section in the Capitoline museum in Rome. I had assumed that it would display busts of all the emperors of Rome, but in reality it was obvious that a number of them were missing.

Discounting emperors who reigned for less than a year, do busts or statues exist for all the Roman emperors? I'm particularly interested in seeing examples of Aurelian (whose busts I've seen so far look suspiciously similar to busts of his successor Probus) and Majorian.

  • Do full statues count, or just busts? Also, how strict is the "less than a year"?
    – Luke_0
    Jul 6, 2013 at 22:30
  • Full statues or bust. Essentially an artwork with recognizable facial features, i.e. something more than a roman coin. "Less than a year" means just that.
    – Karlth
    Jul 6, 2013 at 23:22

2 Answers 2


After going through every Roman Emperor, I found only six who served over a year and did not have a bust or statue in known existence. Here is the list:

My basic methodology for finding this list was

  1. Open every emperor Wiki page who served over one year and hope Chrome doesn't crash

  2. Close every tab with a bust or statue of the emperor present

  3. Google the remaining twenty or so

  4. Advanced search the remaining dozen-ish

And I arrived at these six here.

This is hardly a doctoral thesis, so if anyone finds a bust or statue of one of these men, just remove him from the list and leave a comment explaining where you found the statue/bust.


I checked on this a while back myself. Aurelian is easily the most significant emperor for whom we do not have a confirmed bust which, like you, I was really disappointed to learn. When you consider he was around for a half a decade, "Restored the World", initiated a great many building projects, and even involved himself in religious matters, it's strange that no bust or statue remains. For now, though, we'll simply have to make due with the portraits we find on his coins.

Otherwise, we have busts even for the majority of emperors whose reign lasted mere months. It's really not until the last string of puppet emperors in the west that a lack of busts becomes the norm rather than the exception... For some, especially Glycerius/Olybrius etc, even their coins are incredibly rare, and as the quality of coins had seriously declined by this point we really have little to no sense of what these late emperors looked like. There may be written descriptions of some of their appearances, but I cannot recall having come across any and, given the sources for that stretch, it's exceedingly unlikely that they'd be very accurate.

  • 1
    Good answer; a great answer would include citations to permit us to learn more.
    – MCW
    Oct 5, 2015 at 12:39

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