The most famous statue of Augustus (the Roman Empires first emperor) is known as Augustus of Primaporta, discovered at Villa of Livia at Primaporta near Rome, the statue Augustus of Primaporta has a much greater amount of symbolism than other statues of Augustus which contributes to its fame, some of the symbolism includes; the Armor breastplate he bears on his chest, the top half of the plate has several powerful gods represented on it with one of the overall messages being that Augustus had the gods on his side in battle. In the center of the plate it depicts “a Roman and a Parthian.
On the left, the enemy Parthian returns military standards. This is a direct reference to an international diplomatic victory of Augustus in 20 B. C. E. ” also adding to the propaganda messages on the “breastplate are female personifications of countries conquered by Augustus. ” Symbolism continues on in the statue with the depiction of baby Cupid riding a dolphin beside Augustus, which represents Augustus’ naval victory over Mark Antony as well as the victory over Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium, that just so happened to be the final Battle that confirmed Augustus’ status as the sole Ruler of the Roman Empire.
Cupid is connected to Augustus through his relationship with his adoptive father Julius Caesar, who is said to have descended From Venus so Cupid being the son of Venus gave Augustus a shared connection to the gods through Caesar. Aside from all of the symbolism and propaganda the Statue contains, it does hold similarities to other statues in the same time period such as, standing in a contrapposto pose where his weight is balanced more heavily on one leg then the other to convey a more realistic and relaxed stance, also the directional movement in the lifted arm of
Augustus to suggest that he is a leader speaking to his troops, or the people of his lands. At first glance it seems as though a lot of different things are going on in the statue, with a variety of texture and contrast. However upon deeper analysis of all these separate parts and looking at the bigger picture, they all actually come together for more of an overall image and message rather than separate pieces of art clumped together.
The statue emphasizes the message of how glorious of a Ruler Augustus was and the connection he had with the gods, the slight emphasis on certain things draws the eyes to what is important to the message that was intended. A great amount of detail was put into the statue, not only in the realistic characteristics of the human body but from the rhythm of the drapery around Augustus’ waist to the life like flow of his hair and spot on anatomy of his legs and feet.
As well as the detail put into how he looks, the same if not more detail was put into the messages of the statue and how they would be taken, while properly conveying the idealized personification of Augustus as an Emperor. August of Primaporta is of course an idealized statue showing the Emperor as a flawless and youthful man with an athlete’s muscular body, very similar to the Greek traditions of portraits specifically similar to Polykleitos’ Doryphoros, a Greek spear bearing statue in the same contrapposto pose.
Augustus is dressed in military clothing and carrying a consular baton which is more imagery of the Strength and power of his military efforts, the statue is what provided the people of the Roman Empire information to get a better understanding of their Emperor and what type of leader he was. This sort of sculptural portrait was created in the way that it was largely for the benefits of the government through propaganda, to set such an incredibly high standard of a leader that no ordinary man thought it ever possible to overpower him.
Overall, the meanings conveyed by the artist through the principals of art was done so successfully that the imagery still conveys the same meanings today as it did the first year it was placed in public in 20 B. C. E however now it also represents the two hundred year time of peace in the Roman empire known as the Pax Romana between the 1st and 2nd centuries AD, also sometimes referred to as the Pax Augustus thanks to its establisher.
The term “Augustus” is a title rather than a name; it is a title that was given to a young man named Gaius Octavius, born Sept. 23,63 B. C. air and adopted son of Julius Caesar, the title however was not bestowed upon Octavius until much later, after many years of struggle. Octavius, who changed his name to “Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (English, Octavian)” set out to claim his inheritance in Italy at the young age of eighteen. Italy was where Octavian first encountered Mark Antony, an associate who gained respect during Caesar’s time in power, Antony instantly did not care for Octavian upon his arrival, even stating “I think he knows where he stands, and I don’t think he’s going to make any very large plans.
He’s a pompous, unimpressive little fellow, and he would be of no account at all—if only he didn’t have some right to the use of that name. That alone won’t get him very far, but it has proved annoying. ” Antony turned out to be completely and utterly wrong about Octavian, the two battled over who would rightfully take control over the Roman Empire, Antony was also battling the senate during the same time, Octavian took the side of the senate and defeated Antony.
The senate proceeded to declined to give Octavian the credit that he felt was due to him so Antony, Octavian, and a third party officer of Caesar’s named Lepidus joined together to defeat the republican armies and split the Roman Empire into thirds. After time went on the battle for sole power over the Roman World was decisively between Antony and Octavian, later in the war Octavian declared a second war on Cleopatra of Egypt. Octavian went on to defeat both Cleopatra and Antony in the battle of Actium in 31 B. C. , thus taking full control of the entire Roman Empire which of course after the war included Egypt.
Some say that Octavian’s victories had a lot to do with his usage of propaganda against his enemies, gaining him enormous popularity and support with the people. Octavian had a political plan to restore Rome to the mos maiorum which was the laws that their ancestors lived under, he followed through with his plan and told the senate that he was restoring the old customs to Rome, they celebrated his decision by granting him the title Augustus which means (Supreme Ruler) and giving him certain political powers such as being the emperor and leader until his death in 14 A. D.
Also he “received two important republican titles from the Senate — Tribune of the People and Proconsulwhich together gave him enormous control over the army, foreign policy, and legislation. ” Augustus was as strict and hard as any Ruler was, during the war with Cleopatra over Egypt he allowed her young son to be executed because he was the true son of Caesar, and was a possible enemy for power in the future. His harshness and strict ways of Ruling rolled into his personal life as well when “in 2 BC Augustus was forced to exile his beloved daughter and only child, Julia, to a tiny island called Pandateria.
One of the charges was adultery-a violation of the strict morality laws her father had instituted as part of his campaign to renew old-fashioned Roman virtues in his new state. ” The way Augustus Ruled the roman Empire has a lot of similarities to how the Artwork of Augustus was created, both providing symbolism to the grand scheme of what he hoped Rome to be. The statue; Augustus of Primaporta uses two different styles of sculpting, “The artist took the orator’s gesture from Republican art that shows portraits of actual Romans, like the sculpture of the Roman Senator Aullus Metellus. However, “The stance and perfect physique comes from Classical Greek sculptures of gods and idealized athletes such as Polykleitos’ sculpture of the Doryphoros”.
So, much like his political reign the Artwork was sort of contradictory in ways, taking the best parts of different styles of ruling, some old, and some new. “the reference to the Roman sculpture indicates he had the support of the Roman Senate and was working within their tradition of debate and reason. The reference to Classical Greece provides n idealized element, comparing Augustus to Greek notions of the perfection and harmony of the Divine. It also associates Augustus with the political golden age of Classical Athens. ” Augustus created a legend for himself through many military victories, setting into place the two hundred year time of peacethe Pax Romona, and leaving behind successfully meaningful pieces of art that conveyed a Supreme Ruler who was partly a god, or who had the god’s powers on his side.
From a young boy with a powerful adoptive father to the first and one of the most powerful Emperors who ever lived, Augustus displayed an incredible amount of effort throughout his time in Power of the Roman World, he successfully imprinted the perfect and idealized image of himself as the Ruler and successfully changed the history of both the Roman Empire and art, especially in the sense of Power and propaganda.