Mural of Cleopatra and Caesarion as Venus and Cupid

Illustration

Arienne King
by Unknown Artist
published on 14 March 2018

This mid-1st Century BCE mural portrays a statue of Venus and the infant Cupid in the Temple of Venus Genitrix, Rome. The statue has been identified as the infamous gilded statue of Cleopatra VII as Venus that Julius Caesar unveiled during the temple's dedication in 46 BCE.

The depiction of Caesarion, Cleopatra’s son by Caesar, would have been controversial following Cleopatra's defeat by Octavian at the Battle of Actium in 31 BCE. Although Octavian spared Cleopatra's statues, Caesarion remained a delicate subject, which explains why the owner hid the mural behind a brick wall.

(The House of Marcus Fabius Rufius, Pompeii)

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