The faces of Theodosius and his sons

A series of tweets by the Classical Association of Northern Ireland drew my attention to a curiosity about Theodosius the Great, and his two sons Arcadius and Honorius.

Let’s look first at the disk of Theodosius:

Commemorative disk of Theodosius I from Badajoz
Commemorative disk of Theodosius I from Badajoz

Note how long the face of Theodosius is.  He was only 48 when he died.  Next, a statue of Arcadius, who came to the throne aged 18.

Bust of Arcadius. Istanbul?
Bust of Arcadius. Istanbul?

Again note the very long face.  And finally Honorius, who was only 8 when he came to the throne.

Consular diptych of Probus (406 AD) showing the emperor Honorius.

He, by contrast, has a square face – and the first image shows it too.  Chubby, even.

It’s interesting how these figures, who are little more than names to most of us, acquire personality once we can see their portraits.