Rome is celebrating one of its most famous political and military leaders, Julius Caesar (100-44 BC).
A sweeping exhibition which opened in the Chiostro del Bramante on Tuesday commemorates the life, times and achievements of Ancient Rome's best known figure.
The first ever exhibit to focus solely on Caesar, it showcases 180 items of archaeological, artistic and cultural interest, from ancient times until the 20th century.
The historic aspects of Caesar's rule dominate the show, with extensive information on the political and cultural atmosphere of the time, his military campaigns, his literary works, his ascent to power and his brutal murder.
But the exhibit also looks at how the myth of Caesar has developed in the centuries since his death in 44 BC.
It considers the cult that sprang up in the immediate years after he died, as well as the legends about him that survived the Dark Ages and attracted fresh attention during the Renaissance.
By the 18th and 19th centuries, the figure of Caesar was enjoying a fresh wave of popularity and fans included Napoleon Bonaparte, who was fascinated by the achievements of his military forerunner.
The exhibit begins with artefacts from Caesar's time, including a magnificent silver goblet discovered by Napoleon III.
A sculpture of Venus Genetrix, on loan from the Louvre, recalls Caesar's claim to be descended from the Trojan prince Aeneas, son of the goddess Venus-Aphrodite. There are several busts of Caesar - although only confirmed portraits of the dictator will be on display - including those from museums in Berlin and the Vatican.
Curator Giovanni Gentili has stressed that uncertain portraits, such as a bust recently discovered in Arles, will not be included.
Portraits of key figures in the cast of Caesar's life are also on show, with busts of Pompey on loan from Venice, Crassus from the Louvre, Mark Anthony and Cicero from Rome, and Cleopatra from museums in the Vatican, Turin and Berlin.
Other archaeological treasures include jewellery, manuscripts, mosaics and paintings from a variety of sources, including the villa in Herculaneum that once belonged to Caesar's father-in-law, Calpurnius Piso.
Among the quirkier items is a globe that, legend has it, once held Caesar's ashes. For centuries, the globe perched on top of the Egyptian obelisk in St Peter's Square, which has been standing since Roman times. Another unusual feature of the exhibit is a vast complex of models reconstructing the Rome of Caesar's times. The exhibition moves on to explore the development of the Caesar myth in later centuries, with paintings by masters such as Rubens, Guercino, Pietro da Cortona and Guido Reni. Massive canvases of Caesar by Giambattista Tiepolo, sold to the Russian tzar in 1800, have also returned to Italy for the first time in 200 years.
The final section looks at the depiction of Caesar in the world of cinema, from early silent black and white movies to the 1963 blockbuster Cleopatra, which was filmed at Rome's Cinecitta studios.
The exhibit opens in the Chiostro del Bramante runs until April 5, 2009.
... no photos at the website, alas ...