Augustus of Prima Porta

Augustus of Prima Porta. Marble

Augustus of Prima Porta, first century C.E. White marble, Vatican Museums, Vatican City.

Caesar Augustus, Rome’s first and greatest emperor, ruled from 27 B.C.E – 14 C.E. Augustus was the great-nephew and heir of Julius Caesar. The Roman senate gave him divine status, naming him Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus—Emperor Caesar Exalted One Son of God. He ruled in a time of peace and stability known as the Pax Romana, or “Roman Peace.” Augustus is portrayed here as a benevolent and powerful ruler. His right arm is raised to address his legions. Augustus advocated religious tolerance, allowing other faiths to coexist with Roman polytheism. Augustus died when Jesus was a boy. Later Christians would take advantage of the Pax Romana to spread their gospel message.