Septimius Severus (reign 193-211) was about forty-eight or forty-nine years old when he became emperor and was described as "physically small but strong," with a long beard and curly white hair (Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Severus, 76.16.I.). This portrait is of the so-called Serapis-Severus type, which was adopted circa 200 A.D. to show the Emperor's association with the Egyptian god. According to Kleiner (Roman Sculpture, p. 320), "Severus was associated with the African god Serapis. Serapis was both a personal symbol of Severus's origins and a general symbol of death and renewal, which reflected the demise of civil war and the rise of a new dynasty and a new golden age." For a similar portrait of the Serapis-Severus type see no. 283 in Kleiner, Roman Sculpture.