Marble roman head of “Apollo Karneios”, 1st century B.C.-1st century A.D.

This head a portrait of the divine, that is, the representation of a real personage as if he were a deity. It is a young male face with hair combed into a frontal band that ends in ram's horns wrapped around the ears. In this case the character is Alexander the Great who is idealized as Apollo Karneios, an archaic Doric god, protector of the flocks. Unlike Zeus-Ammon, Apollo Karneios is represented by a not very bright figure and was assimilated by the Cyrenians. His oracular shrine was located in the oasis of Siwa, known in the Hellenistic world; it was the third largest shrine dedicated to Apollo after Delphi and Didino. The figure of Apollo Karneios is closely linked to that of Alexander, since after consulting the oracle of Delphi, which predicted that he would be invincible, that of Didinus, he corroborated his powers by making the water of the dry spring of the sanctuary flow, and Alexander went to Siwa to have his divine birth confirmed and proclaimed himself son of Zeus-Ammon before his conquest of the Persian Empire in the year 331 B.C. This is the first depiction of Alexander the Great as Apollo claiming sonship with Zeus; others will follow, as in Apollo Helios or Kosmokrator.


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