Art And The Aeneid
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The Depiction of Augustus through Art
“ This is the man, this one,
Of whom so often you have heard the promise,
Caesar Augustus, son of the deified,
Who shall bring once again an Age of Gold.”
--Aenied (VI. 1062-1065)
After defeating Mark Antony in 31 B.C., Augustus became the First Emperor of Rome. Under Augustus’ power, the Roman Empire rose to power and conquered most of Europe and parts of Northern Africa. By the time Augustus died in 14 B.C., Romans grew to worship their leader like a god, but still human. With art, people can compare several pieces to get a sense of the artist’s motives for depicting a person in a certain way. Looking at the piece Head of Augustus and comparing it to The Head of Aphrodite, a divine figure and The Portrait of Man, a human figure, the question to ponder is how does the artist portrays the leader as both a human and divine figure.
The Head of Aphrodite has many idealized features in order to capture the essence of Aphrodite as a divine figure. The skin of Aphrodite is perfectly smooth and doesn’t have any discolorations. Her facial features are extremely symmetrical and proportional. It seems that the artist took extreme care to center and space Aphrodite’s nose and lips. Augustus has the same impeccable skin, not even having any cracks or chips in the marble. His nose and mouth are centered and placed precisely just like Aphrodite’s facial features. In particular, his lips are so perfect that it almost seems like the artist have been made from a mold. His lips are not like that of a human being because they do not have any cracks to show lines that human lips normally have. If the artist of Head of Augustus wanted to portray him with more human characteristics, he would’ve had facial features similar to The Portrait of Man, aren’t centered and not proportional to the rest of his face. The Portrait of Man has a nose that is too large for his small head. The ar...
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