HomePatronsRestorationsAugustus of Prima Porta





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.