“What sort’s the man’s face, and what his coun-tenance?”
-Lucilius, Fragment 36
These disembodied heads come to us from different contexts, times, and locales but in their fragmented forms, they all beg the same question: what happened to their vanished bodies, or perhaps, as Lucillius’ asked, what was the person’s overall countenance?
The rich details ascribed to a face inspire the modern viewer to construct a narrative, perhaps in ways inappropriate to its original conception. The rendering of a wreath, a veil, or a comedic grimace begins to imply the absent context that an intact figure would supply, while at the same time denying specificity. Simultaneously divorced from and connected to their historical contexts, these fragments remind us of the ever-present lacunae in our knowledge of the ancient world, and inspire infinite possibilities of narrative and identity to be generated.
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This page references:
- Etruscan Terracotta Female Veiled Half Head, 3rd century BCE
- Hellenistic-Roman Terracotta Wreathed Male Head
- Terracotta Comic Male Head, 5th-4th century BCE
- Roman Terracotta Female Head with Diadem
- Classical Greek Marble Head of a Woman, 4th century BCE
- Terracotta Relief of a Woman
- Roman Female Head from Palmyrene Funerary Relief, 200-250 CE