Here is one of the earliest known reliefs to commemorate the legitimate marriages of former Roman slaves. 
The Funerary Stele of Aurelius Hermia and his wife Aurelia Philematium is from the tomb on Via Nomentana, and dates to ca. 80 BCE.
The British Museum provides the following prose translation of the funerary stele:
"Aurelius Hermia, freedman of Lucius, butcher by trade from the Viminal Hill. My partner who departed this life before me was pure of body and loving of spirit. She was the only one for me, and lived her life faithful to her faithful husband, with equal devotion. She never failed in her duties through self-interest or greed. Aurelia, freedwoman of Lucius.
Aurelia Philematio, freedwoman of Lucius. In life, I was given the name Aurelia Philematium (little Kiss) and led a chaste, modest and sheltered life, faithful to my husband. Aurelius, my husband, whom I now sadly miss, was a fellow freedman. He was, in fact, much more to me than even a parent. He took me into his care at the age of seven. Now at the age of forty, I fall into the hands of death. He flourished in the eyes of others due to my constant and close support.”
Courtesy of & currently located at The British Museum, London, 1867,0508.55. Photo taken by Sebastià Giralt.

Here is one of the earliest known reliefs to commemorate the legitimate marriages of former Roman slaves. 

The Funerary Stele of Aurelius Hermia and his wife Aurelia Philematium is from the tomb on Via Nomentana, and dates to ca. 80 BCE.

The British Museum provides the following prose translation of the funerary stele:

"Aurelius Hermia, freedman of Lucius, butcher by trade from the Viminal Hill. My partner who departed this life before me was pure of body and loving of spirit. She was the only one for me, and lived her life faithful to her faithful husband, with equal devotion. She never failed in her duties through self-interest or greed. Aurelia, freedwoman of Lucius.

Aurelia Philematio, freedwoman of Lucius. In life, I was given the name Aurelia Philematium (little Kiss) and led a chaste, modest and sheltered life, faithful to my husband. Aurelius, my husband, whom I now sadly miss, was a fellow freedman. He was, in fact, much more to me than even a parent. He took me into his care at the age of seven. Now at the age of forty, I fall into the hands of death. He flourished in the eyes of others due to my constant and close support.”

Courtesy of & currently located at The British Museum, London, 1867,0508.55. Photo taken by Sebastià Giralt.

Claudius -the 4th emperor of the Roman Empire.

His mother Antonia often called him “a monster of a man” […] and if she accused anyone of dulness, she used to say that he was “a bigger fool than her son Claudius.” […] When his sister Livilla heard that he would be emperor, she openly and loudly prayed that the Roman people might be spared so cruel and undeserved a fortune.”

-Roman historian Suetonius unfavorably speaks of Claudius in ‘The Lives of the Twelve Caesars’ (5.3.2). Rolfe translation.

Claudius ruled the Roman Empire from 41-54 AD, was the grandson of Mark Antony, and step-grandson and grandnephew of Augustus. Claudius suffered from trembling, a limp, and a speech defect, all of which may have been due to cerebral palsy. Because of his physical disabilities, Claudius was originally never considered a candidate for emperorship. This changed when his nephew Caligula, the current emperor, was assassinated. Upon this the rampaging praetorian guards found Claudius terrified, apparently hiding behind a curtain in the palace, and proclaimed the overwhelmed Claudius emperor of Rome.

During his reign Claudius demonstrated excellent management, and was involved in several building projects that improved Rome’s supply of grain and water, such as his construction of the harbour at Ostia. Thrace and Britain were added to the empire under his reign -perhaps partly a way for Claudius to prove himself in response to the opposition he faced from the senate. He died in 54 AD, and the consensus reached by our ancient historians was that he was murdered by poison. It is thought by many that Agrippina was responsible for the poisoning, and did so to secure her son Nero’s appointment of emperorship. Accordingly, Nero became emperor of Rome.

Images used:

Bronze head of Claudius found in Suffolk, England, 1st century AD. Courtesy of the British Museum, P&EE 1965 12-1 1. Photo by Kit.

Emperor Claudius. Marble, found at Gabii. Courtesy of the Louvre, Ma 1231. Photo by Jastrow.

Marbury Hall Zeus. Roman, 1st century, marble.

Portrayed as a mature bearded man, Zeus sits enthroned in his role as king of the gods. Originally he would have held his attributes: a scepter and a thunderbolt. The colossal god towers over his mortal observers.
This Roman statue dates to the first century A.D., but certain stylistic features in the carving, especially in the face and hair, reveal that it reproduces an earlier, Hellenistic Greek statue. Its model was a statue made by a school of sculptors based in the city of Pergamon in the 100s B.C.
Documented in the 1570s at Tivoli near Rome, the statue once decorated the gardens of the Villa d’Este. It is named for having once been in the collection at Marbury Hall in England. (getty)

Currently located at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California, via their online collections, 73.AA.32.  Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Marbury Hall Zeus. Roman, 1st century, marble.

Portrayed as a mature bearded man, Zeus sits enthroned in his role as king of the gods. Originally he would have held his attributes: a scepter and a thunderbolt. The colossal god towers over his mortal observers.

This Roman statue dates to the first century A.D., but certain stylistic features in the carving, especially in the face and hair, reveal that it reproduces an earlier, Hellenistic Greek statue. Its model was a statue made by a school of sculptors based in the city of Pergamon in the 100s B.C.

Documented in the 1570s at Tivoli near Rome, the statue once decorated the gardens of the Villa d’Este. It is named for having once been in the collection at Marbury Hall in England. (getty)

Currently located at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California, via their online collections73.AA.32 Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

On this day in 306 AD: Constantine the Great is proclaimed emperor of the Roman empire.
The rule of Constantine is given a particular significance in world history. This is largely because he was the first Christian (or, at least pro-Christian) emperor of Rome and the empire.
Not born or raised Christian, it was before the battle of the Milvian Bridge against Maxentius in 312 AD that Constantine experienced his famous vision. According to this account, after calling upon the highest God for help, Constantine is said to have seen a cross in the sky rising from the sun. Following this, the monogram for Christ (chi rho) was placed on the shields of his men going into battle. Constantine attributed the resulting victorious battle to the God of the Christians.
The question of whether of not Constantine was Christian, or how sincere his proclamation was, remains a matter of debate. Evidently his conversion did not entirely result in a changed morality, Constantine had his wife and son murdered. He was baptized a Christian shortly before his death, which was not an uncommon decision to make in this period. In Constantine’s instance, being emperor, he was still obligated to order executions and fight battles, which is why the cleansing of his sin through baptism was postponed to not long before his death. I would suggest that the importance Constantine placed on his baptism in preparation for his death reflects at least a degree of genuine belief. 
The matter of his personal faith aside, few other Roman emperors have left such a lasting impact on the course of world history. With his conversion, construction of Christian Rome, foundation of a new senate and capital, the way to a new epoch of world history was opened.
The artefact shown is the head of Constantine’s colossal statue, courtesy of & currently located at the Capitoline Museums. Photo taken by Jean-Christophe Benoist, via the Wiki Commons.

On this day in 306 AD: Constantine the Great is proclaimed emperor of the Roman empire.

The rule of Constantine is given a particular significance in world history. This is largely because he was the first Christian (or, at least pro-Christian) emperor of Rome and the empire.

Not born or raised Christian, it was before the battle of the Milvian Bridge against Maxentius in 312 AD that Constantine experienced his famous vision. According to this account, after calling upon the highest God for help, Constantine is said to have seen a cross in the sky rising from the sun. Following this, the monogram for Christ (chi rho) was placed on the shields of his men going into battle. Constantine attributed the resulting victorious battle to the God of the Christians.

The question of whether of not Constantine was Christian, or how sincere his proclamation was, remains a matter of debate. Evidently his conversion did not entirely result in a changed morality, Constantine had his wife and son murdered. He was baptized a Christian shortly before his death, which was not an uncommon decision to make in this period. In Constantine’s instance, being emperor, he was still obligated to order executions and fight battles, which is why the cleansing of his sin through baptism was postponed to not long before his death. I would suggest that the importance Constantine placed on his baptism in preparation for his death reflects at least a degree of genuine belief. 

The matter of his personal faith aside, few other Roman emperors have left such a lasting impact on the course of world history. With his conversion, construction of Christian Rome, foundation of a new senate and capital, the way to a new epoch of world history was opened.

The artefact shown is the head of Constantine’s colossal statue, courtesy of & currently located at the Capitoline Museums. Photo taken by Jean-Christophe Benoist, via the Wiki Commons.

Faustina the Elder, A.D. 140 - 160. This marble sculpture is Roman, and from Asia-Minor (present-day Turkey).

Annia Galeria Faustina, known as Faustina the Elder, was the wife of Antoninus Pius, who ruled the Roman empire from A.D. 137 to 161. She probably married Antoninus Pius about A.D. 110 and they had four children. The marriage appears to have been quite loving compared to others in the Imperial family. Although she died twenty years before him, Antoninus Pius did not remarry. On her death in A.D. 141, Antoninus Pius declared Faustina divine and built a temple in her honor in the Roman Forum.

Portraits of Faustina can be identified by her distinctive hairstyle and facial features. This slightly over life-size statue combines a conventional portrait head for the empress with a standardized body type, referred to as a “Large Herculaneum Woman” by scholars. The size of this statue indicates that it occupied a public space, perhaps a city square or a temple dedicated to the divine Faustina. Although they are now missing, Faustina may have held attributes of poppies and ears of wheat in her lowered left hand. That being the case, this statue would have portrayed the empress in the guise of Ceres, the goddess of fertility. (getty)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Getty Villa, Malibu, 70.AA.113. Photos taken by Harvey Barrison.

Bronze statuette of a veiled and masked dancer. Greek, 3rd–2nd century B.C.

The complex motion of this dancer is conveyed exclusively through the interaction of the body with several layers of dress.

Over an undergarment that falls in deep folds and trails heavily, the figure wears a lightweight mantle, drawn tautly over her head and body by the pressure applied to it by her right arm, left hand, and right leg. Its substance is conveyed by the alternation of the tubular folds pushing through from below and the freely curling softness of the fringe.The woman’s face is covered by the sheerest of veils, discernible at its edge below her hairline and at the cutouts for the eyes. Her extended right foot shows a laced slipper. This dancer has been convincingly identified as one of the professional entertainers, a combination of mime and dancer, for which the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria was famous in antiquity. (MET)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections1972.118.95.

Reclining Buddha at Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.
Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka following the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. Within Polonnaruwa is one of the largest sculptures in Southeast Asia: the reclining Buddha, which measures 14 metres long.
It is thought by some to be the finest achievement of Sinhalese monumental sculpture. K M de Silva in A History of Sri Lanka writes the following on the sculpture: ”The consummate skill with which the peace of the enlightenment has been depicted, in an extraordinarily successful blend of serenity and strength, has seldom been equalled by any other Buddha image in Sri Lanka.”
Photo taken by Jerzy Strzelecki.

Reclining Buddha at Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka.

Polonnaruwa was the second capital of Sri Lanka following the destruction of Anuradhapura in 993. Within Polonnaruwa is one of the largest sculptures in Southeast Asia: the reclining Buddha, which measures 14 metres long.

It is thought by some to be the finest achievement of Sinhalese monumental sculpture. K M de Silva in A History of Sri Lanka writes the following on the sculpture: ”The consummate skill with which the peace of the enlightenment has been depicted, in an extraordinarily successful blend of serenity and strength, has seldom been equalled by any other Buddha image in Sri Lanka.

Photo taken by Jerzy Strzelecki.

Sculptures of a young and adult Nero.

Nero became emperor of the Roman Empire in AD 54, and reigned for 13 years before committing suicide in AD 68. Nero is remembered as being particularly notorious -very few surviving ancient sources paint him in a favourable light, and he is often noted today for his persecution of the Christians.

Much of what our Roman historians record can’t be taken at face value, but it provides some entertaining reading nonetheless. Below is my personal favourite account of Nero:

Suetonius, Life of Nero, 23:

While he was singing no one was allowed to leave the theatre even for the most urgent reasons. And so it is said that some women gave birth to children there, while many who were worn out with listening and applauding, secretly leaped from the wall, since the gates to the entrance were closed, or faked death and were carried out as if for burial.” 

The first sculpture shown is courtesy of and located at the Romisch-Germanisches Museum, Cologne; and the second, the Glyptothek. Photos taken by Carole Raddato and F. Tronchin.

This colossal Roman statue of a female has been restored as the muse Melpomene with the addition of a modern mask. It is however thought that this sculpture might have originally been part of the Theatre of Pompey in Rome. For comparison, here is a later well-known Roman sculpture of Melpomene. 
Melpomene was one of the 9 Muses (Mousai), and was first the Muse of singing, and later the Muse of tragedy, the latter for which she is best known today. In this guise she was often portrayed to be holding a tragic mask or sword.
The following passage was written by Greek historian Diodorus Siculus during the 1st century BC (Library of History 4. 7. 1, trans. Oldfather):
"To each of the Mousai (Muses) men assign her special aptitude for one of the branches of the liberal arts, such as poetry, song, pantomimic dancing, the round dance with music, the study of the stars, and the other liberal arts … For the name of each Mousa (Muse), they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her: … Melpomene, from the chanting (melodia) by which she charms the souls of her listeners." 
This sculpture is 12’7” in height, and dates to ca. 50 BC.
Artifact courtesy of the Louvre, France. Accession number: Ma 411 (MR 269). Photo taken by Eric Gaba.

This colossal Roman statue of a female has been restored as the muse Melpomene with the addition of a modern mask. It is however thought that this sculpture might have originally been part of the Theatre of Pompey in Rome. For comparison, here is a later well-known Roman sculpture of Melpomene. 

Melpomene was one of the 9 Muses (Mousai), and was first the Muse of singing, and later the Muse of tragedy, the latter for which she is best known today. In this guise she was often portrayed to be holding a tragic mask or sword.

The following passage was written by Greek historian Diodorus Siculus during the 1st century BC (Library of History 4. 7. 1, trans. Oldfather):

"To each of the Mousai (Muses) men assign her special aptitude for one of the branches of the liberal arts, such as poetry, song, pantomimic dancing, the round dance with music, the study of the stars, and the other liberal arts … For the name of each Mousa (Muse), they say, men have found a reason appropriate to her: … Melpomene, from the chanting (melodia) by which she charms the souls of her listeners." 

This sculpture is 12’7” in height, and dates to ca. 50 BC.

Artifact courtesy of the Louvre, France. Accession number: Ma 411 (MR 269). Photo taken by Eric Gaba.

A quick look at: Germanicus, a prominent Roman general of the early Empire, and the grandson-in-law of Augustus Caesar.
"Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success." -Tacitus, Annals (2.26), via The Internet Classics Archive.
Germanicus Julius Caesar (15 BC-AD 19), usually just referred to as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius. He commanded 8 Roman legions on the Rhine frontier with distinction. He appears to have gained affection among the Roman people; Suetonius in Life of Caligula III describes his “…unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men’s regard and inspiring their affection." He died aged 33 on October 9 of AD 19, it was a suspected poisoning. 
Great honours were granted to Germanicus after his death and he was elevated to a god-like status:

[…] Five voting centuries were to be named after him; a curule chair was to be kept in the temple of the new god, the temples were to be closed on the day that Germanicus’ ashes were interred and sacrifices were to be made on that day each year at his tomb.
[…] In public, all due honours were granted to Germanicus. The only oddity was that Tiberius and his mother did not attend the internment. Some bad feeling may have been read into this by Germanicus’ supporters, but this would seem to be an over-reaction.
-Richard Alston in Aspects of Roman History AD 14–117, page 28.

Sculpture courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Photo taken by Jastrow. The sculpture dates to circa 40 AD, Accession number: Ma 1238.

A quick look at: Germanicus, a prominent Roman general of the early Empire, and the grandson-in-law of Augustus Caesar.

"Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success." -Tacitus, Annals (2.26), via The Internet Classics Archive.

Germanicus Julius Caesar (15 BC-AD 19), usually just referred to as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius. He commanded 8 Roman legions on the Rhine frontier with distinction. He appears to have gained affection among the Roman people; Suetonius in Life of Caligula III describes his “…unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men’s regard and inspiring their affection." He died aged 33 on October 9 of AD 19, it was a suspected poisoning.

Great honours were granted to Germanicus after his death and he was elevated to a god-like status:

[…] Five voting centuries were to be named after him; a curule chair was to be kept in the temple of the new god, the temples were to be closed on the day that Germanicus’ ashes were interred and sacrifices were to be made on that day each year at his tomb.

[…] In public, all due honours were granted to Germanicus. The only oddity was that Tiberius and his mother did not attend the internment. Some bad feeling may have been read into this by Germanicus’ supporters, but this would seem to be an over-reaction.

-Richard Alston in Aspects of Roman History AD 14–117, page 28.

Sculpture courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Photo taken by Jastrow. The sculpture dates to circa 40 AD, Accession number: Ma 1238.