Described as a “man of Moorish race and considered the ablest soldier in the Roman army”, Quietus was Emperor Trajan’s military deputy and, according to some sources, his named successor. In a story reminiscent of the 2000 film 'Gladiator', Quietus was murdered after the death of Trajan, possibly on the orders of Emperor Hadrian, Trajan’s successor.
This late 1st-early 2nd century AD mask shares similarities with a presumptive image of the general on Trajan’s Column. Such masks would have been used in the hippika gymnasia – ritual tournaments performed by the cavalry of the Roman Empire.
The 11½in (29cm) high piece will be offered with a £20,000-30,000 estimate at antiquities specialist TimeLine Auctions in Mayfair, London, on May 28. It comes from the property of a south London collector and was previously in a German collection before 1980.