Colossal marble head of the emperor Augustus


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 162

In 30 B.C., Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, grandnephew and heir to Julius Caesar, became master of the empire that Rome had amassed over the previous three centuries. Over the next forty-four years, he introduced institutions and an ideology that combined the traditions of republican Rome with the reality of kingship. A new type of leadership evolved in which Octavian officially relinquished command of the state to the Senate and the people while actually retaining effective power through a network of offices, privileges, and control over the army. In 27 B.C., after this restoration of the republic, the Senate conferred on Octavian the honorific title of Augustus, an adjective with connotations of dignity, stateliness, even holiness.

Colossal marble head of the emperor Augustus, Marble, Roman

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