The Sistine Chapel
School of Athens
Angelico & the Chapel of Nicholas V
of Prima Porta
Casina of Pius IV
|The Augustus of Prima Porta, believed to have been commissioned in 15 A.D. by Augustus adopted
son Tiberius, is a majestic example of Imperial Roman statuary. It is currently
under restoration, generously financed by the patrons of the Florida chapter.
It was discovered at Prima Porta
nine miles outside of Rome in the villa belonging to Augustus wife Livia.
Although it may be a copy of a bronze original, dated 20 B.C., Tiberius made a significant
addition to his marble copy: on the chest plate, he added scenes depicting the Roman
victory over the Parthians. These scenes were used by Tiberius as a form of
propaganda so that the viewer would recall the important role his father played in
securing the Roman empire.
The Augustus of Prima
Porta is based on the Doryphorus, a famous antique statue by Polykleitos portraying the
ideal human proportions of an Athenian athlete. The depiction of Augustus portrays
him as a victorious general making a speech. He is posed in the traditional
controposto manner: his right leg is placed firmly forward while his left leg is
bent and the heel slightly-raised. Augustus right arm is stretched out in a
noble and controlled Roman gesture and is counter-balanced by the slightly-bent left
leg. Combined with these idealized features of strength and beauty, there are also
personal features of Augustus: a broad cranium, deep-set eyes, sharp ridges in his
brow, a well-formed mouth and a small chin. Furthermore, his face depicted in the
manner of Apollo was meant to associate Augustus abilities with those of the
powerful god. Thus, Augustus wanted to portray himself as a perfect leader with
flawless features, personifying the power and authority of the emperor who had the
capacity to stabilize a society and an empire.