St. Mark's Basilica
Red Porphyry, 130 cm
The sculpture group in Egyptian red porphyry depicts four Tetrarchs or two Augusti and two Caesars, who divided the Roman Empire of the East and the West between the 3rd and 4th century. The figures embrace in pairs - one Caesar with the other Caesar, and one Augustus with the other Augustus - thus symbolizing the fraternitas which had to guarantee peaceful government of the Empire. The four figures of the emperor have the same habit and headdress, armour, military belt and sword bearing a hilt in the shape of an eagle’s head. In the pairs, the emperor resting his right hand on the left shoulder of the other is bearded as this represents the old Augustus compared to the young Caesar. The heads are similar with eyes dug out to hold vitreous paste. The group is attributed to the oriental late antiquity statuary and comes from Constantinople. It was plundered in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade.