Portrait herm-bust of a poet or philosopher

Imperial Period
2nd century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 123.


Height (as restored): 49 cm (19 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble probably from the Greek island of Paros

Not On View


The Ancient World



Restorations comprise the herm-bust with half of the neck, the lower part of the nose, a piece of the fillet on the right side, and part of the hair above it. The lobe on the right ear is missing. Portions of the surface of the face and beard have been cleaned.
The head was probably set on a herm-bust, as now restored. The elderly man of intellect has a broad, full face, small eyes, and slightly parted lips. A deep furrow separates the upper and lower half of the forehead, and there are lines in the brow between the eyes and at their outer corners. The hair is confined by a thick, round fillet. The locks of hair and beard have been worked mechanically, with the help of a drill.
The fillet indicates the man was probably a philosopher or poet, but his actual identity remains unknown to modern scholars of Greek iconography.

Scientific Analysis:
Marble has been scientifically tested with X-Ray Diffraction and determined to be Calcitic.
Harvard Lab No. HI100: Isotope ratios - delta13C +4.87 / delta18O -3.14, Attribution - Probably Paros 1, Justification - Coarse-grained marble from Italy.


By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: It is said to be from Herculaneum and comes from the Fondi Palace at Naples. Bought in Rome.); 1899: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 32,500.00 (this is the total price for MFA 99.338-99.542)

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund