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"Aurelius Maximus Fails His Field Sobriety Test"

Dominic Angers

In 1833 Angers was commissioned by the Governors of the City of Paris to create a mural for the barracks of the Paris Gendarmerie depicting the role of law enforcement in classical antiquity. He chose to portray the Golden Age of Rome in a series of 12 criminal acts ranging from misdemeanors to crimes against the state. The painting shown here is part of the "Traffic and Transportation" subcategory, which also included "Marcellus Driving an Unregistered Chariot" and "Antiochus the Elder Cited for Reckless Parking."

The otherwise unidentified Aurelius Maximus is shown here in the classic pose of the charioteer pulled over on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence of Vino (DUIV). From his glazed eyes, rumpled clothing and the fact that he has missed the tip of his nose by a good 2 inches (0.12 cubits), it seems obvious to the viewer that he will have little better luck with the heel-to-toe walking or the balance-on-one-foot tests.

Angers resented the pedestrian nature of the assignments he received from the city, although they paid the bills and allowed him to support a better-looking-than-average mistress. He notes in his diary that his heart was broken when the city commission rejected his proposal for a gigantic reclining nude to be painted on the side of the Louvre as a tourist attraction.


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