On this day some 2005 years ago, Gaius Octavian Augustus aged 75 died in Nola, Italy.
He was the first Emperor of Rome, nephew of Julius Cesar. Augustus legacy to the Western World is important and he has become immortal in our memory. In Rome, you can visit his Mausoleum by the river Tiber and next to it the famous Ara Pacis (Altar of the Augustan Peace) where inscribed in marble on the wall is the text in Latin of the Res Gestae. The text consists of a short introduction, 35 body paragraphs, and a posthumous addendum. These paragraphs are conventionally grouped in four sections, political career, public benefactions, military accomplishments and a political statement.
His status as the founder of the Roman Principate has consolidated an enduring legacy as one of the most effective leaders in human history. He was born on the Palatine Hill in Rome in 27 B.C.E. and reigned for more than 40 years.
The original statue of Augustus of Prima Porta made posthumously for his widow Livia Drusilla and placed in the garden of her villa at Prima Porta where she retired after his death. Like all official statues in Rome it was made of marble and painted in life like colours.
As it appears today in the Vatican Museum. Augustus is barefoot, meaning that this is a posthumous portrait. The small Eros is the child of Venus, the House of the Julio-Claudian claimed to be descendants of Venus and in turn of Aeneas. The statue is life sized and is full of political ideology which in Rome was ever present. The public could interpret the message of what Augustus claimed he stood for. One message is a return to Greek antiquity, the golden age of Pericles 500 B.C.E., the Athenian republic. We see a youthful and athletic Augustus, it’s model was the Doryphoros by Polykleitos. Another is a military commander and Augustus divinity in death.