This celebrated statue of the emperor Augustus was found in the ruins of the Villa of Livia, which belonged to his third wife, at Prima Porta on the via Flaminia. The statue, which is thought to be a copy of a bronze original, was unearthed on April 20th, 1863, and is now on display in the Braccio Nuovo (Vatican Museums).
Augustus was Rome's first and longest-reigning emperor (r. 27 BCE - 14 CE). The statue honours Augustus for his success in persuading the Parthians to return the legionary standards that had been lost by general Marcus Licinius Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BCE. This event is depicted on the cuirass, where we see the Parthian king returning one of the standards to a representative of Rome.
The emperor's bare feet associate him with heroes or even gods, while the image of Cupid astride a dolphin designates him as a descendant of the goddess Venus (as the adopted son of Julius Caesar).
Although Augustus (63 BCE - 14 CE) lived until the grand old age of seventy-six, he was always portrayed as a young man, forever in the prime of life.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
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