Caligula's ring

11:00 AM

The nearly 2,000-year-old sapphire ring is a wonderful piece of jewelry, but its history makes it all the more fascinating. It's thought to have belonged to Caligula, the notoriously tyrannical ancient Roman emperor. Caligula ruled from 37 CE, but his reign was cut short after four years when he was assassinated by Praetorian Guards—the security force that was meant to protect the emperor.

Women on a ring appears to be a portrait of Caligula's fourth—and last—wife, Caesonia. Roman historian Suetonius described her as “a woman of reckless extravagance and wantonness” and even claimed that she gave birth to their daughter on their wedding day. Caligula and Caesonia had a passionate affair and its said that he even occasionally showed her off, naked, to friends. With such a fiery relationship, it's no wonder that the emperor would want her portrait on his ring. Alas, their love wouldn't last, with Caesonia—and her daughter—being murdered just hours after Caligula was killed. The ring was in the famed intaglio gemstone collection assembled by George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough, in the second half of the 18th century. Before that, it was part of a smaller but also renown group of engraved gems collected by Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, in the first half of the 17th century. Via marriage and descent, Lord Arundel’s gemstone collection was added to the extremely fine pieces the Duke of Marlborough had bought from dealers and private owners on the continent.

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4 komentarze

  1. Beautiful. I wish we could know what the size of this ring is? It's a woman who is modeling it.

  2. I think it belonged to Caesonia because she was the one who was extravagant and she would use it to her seal, with her face printed on her official communications... it makes more sense, since it's not a very comfortable ring to wear and it is a women's size. Also because of that is that it is in such a good shape, not used very often.

  3. I saw this on FB earlier and wanted to know the rest of the story! This is great, Thomas Howard was one of the greatest collectors of his time, spending a lot of it in in Rome.

  4. True lords share their treasures with the world. The nouveaux riches pluck treasures from the world - for themselves.