The Satrap Mazaeus, 1829-1831
Marble. 21,0 x 16,0 cm
Inventory number: A844
Works, relating to this work: Thorvaldsen, Alexander the Great's Entry into Babylon (The Alexander Frieze), 1829-1831, Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen. Partly destroyed by fire 1884, now partly replacedEnlarge photo
The head is a fragment from Thorvaldsen’s Alexander the Great’s Triumphal Entry into Babylon (inv. no. A503). Heading the long row of Babylonians on the frieze, Mazæus is seen together with his sons (inv. no. A835-A839). They are going towards the Macedonian king, Alexander the Great (256-323 BC).
Mazæus had been a loyal provincial governor, a satrap, under King Darius III (c. 380-330BC) in the great Persian kingdom. However, when Alexander the Great invaded the country in 331BC and gained a victory over King Darius’s forces in battle at Gaugamela near Arbela in present-day Iraq, Mazæus changed sides. Soon after this, Alexander the Great reached Babylon. There, he reinstated Mazæus as his own provincial governor. However, Mazæus was one of the few who were allowed to retain their former positions.
The head of Mazæus and his sons was originally in the Christiansborg Palace that burned down in 1884. During the fire, this very part of the frieze depicting Alexander the Great’s Triumphal Entry into Babylon was so badly damaged that it could not be reinstated in the present Christiansborg.