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Full description for Hellenistic Royal Portraits

  • The visual image of the ruler, particularly in sculpture, played an important role in expressing the character of the new, distinctive style of monarchy brought to Greece and the East by Alexander and the Hellenistic kings. Royal portraits survive on coins and in sculpture, and we read about them in inscriptions and literature - evidence that is here combined to give an historical interpretation of the royal image from Alexander to Kleopatra. Part I looks at the historical setting of royal portrait statues, which functioned as an important medium of exchange between the king and the Greek cities. They gave a visual presentation of royal ideology and expressed the basis of the king's power in a personal godlike charisma. Part II collects together and analyses the major surviving portraits, grouped broadly by time and place, and Part III sets them in the wider political context of the period. The dated coin portraits are used to show broad changes in the royal image and how it responded to the major political challenges from Parthia to the East and Rome to the West.