Humanities and Arts

The Leontocephaline from the Villa Albani: Material Documentation for Religious Entanglement

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In this article, I place the Leontocephaline from the Villa Albani on the axis of time of the Mithraic Saturn/Kronos prototype. Entangled in that prototype are astrology, concepts of death, and time perceptions. As a symbolic choice, its style reflects politico-religious and cultural colonial appropriation by Rome’s elite of the Severan period and demonstrates a syncretistic complexity adapted to Roman esthetic values. By surveying these issues and identifying the iconographic changes the statue has undergone, I reveal the elements of that colonial appropriation. The movement of the serpents and the astrological reliefs on the body depict Western philosophical concepts of the movement of the soul between the constellations after death and the unbounded (circular) nature of Aionic time entangled with Eastern concepts of the procession of time and Leontocephalic divinities.