Monday, 15 April 2013

Marcomannic War project 2: Lucius Verus

Here is my Aventine Lucius Verus (130AD-169AD) figure which I finished today.  Having spent a lot of time in Antioch shortly before going to Germania with Marcus Aurelius, his co-emperor, we have given him a Syrian slavegirl to look after him.  

His armour and cloak are based on one of the costumes Richard Burton wore in the film Cleopatra (1963) which was designed by Guiseppe Peruzzi.

I took these pictures with the SLR which has made them look rather more squat than they are in real life.  Certainly the Warlord Games slave girl is quite willowy in real life.

Unlike the scholarly Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus was considered something of a dissolute character fond of dice, the company of actors and chariot racing.  He also had a mistress called Panthea from Smyrna (Izmir) whilst in Antioch.  Indeed, it has been suggested that he was sent to Antioch to lead the campaign against the Parthians purely to get him to back off on his debauched lifestyle and act like the emperor he was.  

It was suggested that he was also chosen for this military campaign because he was in better health than Marcus Aurelius.  Ironically, it was the robust Lucius Verus who died at the end of the first year of campaign against the Marcomanni in early 169AD.  It was said that it was as a result of food poisoning but could have been smallpox.   He didn't live long enough to see any major engagements but I think I might keep him around for a bit longer!

The Aventine figure does look like Lucius Verus who was famous for his fair hair whose appearance he enhanced by sprinkling powdered gold on it.  His mistress, Panthea, did however make him shave his beard off when in Antioch, much to the derision of the Syrians.

Praetorians next.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Romans everywhere!

Workbench today

I meant to sit down and have a good go at my Romans this weekend but for some reason I didn't feel like painting, despite the nice, bright weather.  Mostly, this is because when I have new figures it seems such a long journey before they are anything like ready that I give up before I start.  I knew that however much I did this weekend they would be nowhere close to being finished so, oddly I didn't start them until late this afternoon.

The other problem is, of course, that I had meant to start a unit of 2nd Century AD Romans but then with the arrival of my Legio II Augusta shield transfers for my Warlord plastic EIR figures I wanted to get them done and then this week I bought a box of Warlord's Caesarian plastics too.  So instead of twenty four figures to start work on I had over seventy.  Most off putting! 

In the end I did base the whole Praetorian Aventine Cohort and the rest of them should be ready for undercoating tomorrow.  I even started to paint four of them.  I only have four EIR's under way but am now working on a dozen of the Caesarian plastics.  Well, they are not all plastics as I ordered the metal command set direct from Warlord which arrived the next day, along with some LBMS shield transfers.  Taking a little longer to arrive was my second Aventine order of shield transfers for the Praetorians plus a command set and 16 auxiliary archers.  So I have no excuse to delay now.

One thing I did agonise over for a while was what colour to undercoat them. I usually use white undercoat but the Romans, of course, have quite a lot of metal on them which would suggest a black undercoat.  However, I don't really like black undercoat as I find it difficult to see what I am painting and given that I use enamels and not acrylics they don't cover so well over black.  As I am painting my Romans with white tunics I decided to stick to white undercoat.  This does mean that I will have to paint the metal parts with black which adds extra work.  Still, it's better than the three or four coats of white it takes to cover a black undercoat though.

Finally, I found a Copplestone sculpted Foundry Casarian centurion which I had painted a long time ago.  He needs tidying up (he was never properly finished -I had to rush him for the Fishbourne game) so will get him done in order to give me a nice acheivable target for this week.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Marcomannic War project 1: Marcus Aurelius

I've just finished my first Aventine figures of Marcus  Aurelius and a Praetorian centurion.  Aventine give the centurion a choice of heads, including one with the more usual transverse crest but I want all my Praetorians  with these crested helmets.  Aventine do a really good range of command figures for this period and I have just ordered the Praetorian command set and some more Praetorians for my first unit. I've also ordered some of the new archers which should keep me busy for a while.  These are really nice figures to paint but they are so big and heavy that I keep dropping them as they weigh more than I expect when I pick them up!  

Marcus Aurelius is, inconveniently, one of the few Roman emperors from the first 200 years AD about whom we know nothing of his hair colour.  Most of the other emperors have their hair colour mentioned somewhere.  I have given him black hair on the basis that his family originally came from Spain.  He was notably ascetic so I doubt whether he would have worn such an ostentatious purple cloak but he is the Emperor and probably needed to stand out on the battle field at least.  

A philosopher more than a warrior he was, nevertheless, fated to spend much of his reign campaigning against the Germans and is, of course, the emperor played by Richard Harris in Gladiator and by Alec Guinness in The Fall of the Roman Empire; both of which I need to re-watch to keep my interest going!

I originally had the centurion in a white tunic for which there is a fair bit of evidence for Praetorians but went for red in the end because he needed a bit more colour.  Red cloaks were quite likely for officers in the Roman army.

I'm not a great one for those mini diorama type command stands as I like my figures individually based but I will try to build a retinue for the Emperor.  Aventine make some nice Praetorians in cloaks so I may give him a few of those.  

Aventine's Lucius Verus

The set that includes Marcus Aurelius also includes his co-emperor and adoptive brother Lucius Verus.  Verus was a very different character from Marcus Aurelius.  He led the campaign against the Parthians shortly before the Marcomannic War but seemed to spend a lot of time partying with his "low born" mistress Panthea before marrying a teenage bride less than half his age.  He sounds much more my sort of chap.  More on him when he's painted.  The Aventine figure is quite a good likeness of him.