The Digital Sculpture Project

Catalog Entry: Augustus of Prima Porta

Name: Cast of the Augustus of Prima Porta

Material: Plaster

Dimensions: Height: 217 cm

Collection: Skulpturhalle, Basel

Inventory Number: 752

Museum of original: Vatican Museums (inv. no. MV.2290.0.0)

Note: Model is courtesy of Flyover Zone, Inc.

Description: The Emperor Augustus wears a mantle wrapped up on the hips and held with the left hand, while the right arm is raised in an orator's gesture. The reliefs on the armor depict an event of great importance in Augustan propaganda: the recovery in 20 B.C. of the Roman standards lost by Crassus thirty years earlier at the Battle of Carrhae, where a Roman army was destroyed by the Parthians. At the center of the breastplate is a symbol of the Roman Army, perhaps the god Mars, standing opposite a figure symbolic of the Parthians, who gives back the Roman standards. These are returned in the presence of the Sky, below which races a chariot of the Sun preceded by Aurora (Daylight), with her torch, on the shoulder of the personification of the Dew, who holds her attribute, the jug. At the other extreme, below, is the Earth, who is loaded down with ears of corn and fruits, while at her sides we see Artemis on a deer and Apollo on a griffin. To the right and left of the central scene are the personifications of two peoples: probably the Celtic people of Gallia and Germany, on the right; and the people of Dalmatia, on the left. The Eros on a dolphin at the side of Augustus is an attribute of Venus and recalls the legends of the divine origins of the Julian clan.

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