Reason #5371 to love Rome: Emperor Augustus

‘Marmoream relinquo, quam latericiam accepi’  – I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.

Emperor AugustusOkay, you may not love Emperor Augustus already (thought by many to be Ancient Rome’s greatest emperor), but you’re bound to enjoy the exhibition organized at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale to mark the 2000th anniversary of his death, in 14 A.D.

The exhibition “Augusto” runs through 9 February 2014, and is well worth a visit during your stay in the Eternal City.

Gaius Octavianus – later known as Emperor Augustus -was born in 63 B.C. He was adopted by his great-uncle, Julius Ceasar. His future was tied very closely to the assassination of his adoptive father by a group of Senators on 15 March 44 B.C. Only a young man at the time of the assassination, he developed into an extremely astute politician, speaking eloquently about Julius Ceasar and flaming the anger of the masses against Brutus and Cassius, who he would eventually defeat in battle.

Emperor AugustusHis father’s death officially ended the Republican period, and Augustus became the first Emperor of Ancient Rome.

His reign coincided with the Pax Romana – the so-called Roman Peace. Although there were still wars of expansion, it was  period of relative peace and prosperity. Under Augustus, the Empire reached its maximum expansion – stretching throughout the Mediterranean coast, from Spain to Turkey, the Maghreb, Greece and Germany.

It was a time celebrated by the great poets Virgil and Ovid (ironically, toward the end of his long reign, Augustus would banish the latter from the Empire for his criticism), a period of relative prosperity, and a time of great flourishing in the intellectual and cultural realms.

Unlike the Greeks, popular Roman art depicted scenes of nature and animals, such as this wild boar suckling her young

Unlike the Greeks, popular Roman art depicted scenes of nature and animals, such as this wild boar suckling her young

The exhibition brings together major pieces from collections all over the world, and presents an interesting introduction to life during the time of Augustus’ long reign, during what is commonly known as the Golden Era of the Roman Empire.

At Augustus’ death, the Senate had him declared a god. As the exhibition points out, his wife, Livia, paid an ‘eyewitness’ handsomely to swear he saw the Emperor’s resurrection.

One of the statues on display depicts Augustus as Zeus/Jupiter, a popular way to reinforce his godlike status throughout the Empire.

Don’t miss this excellent exhibition at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale.

The Scuderie del Quirinale is open daily (Sunday – Thursday 10:00-20:00, Friday and Saturday 10:00-22:30). Tickets are 12 euro.


  1. Catherine on January 14, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Sounds interesting! Will it still on for my spring visit??

    • kimberlysullivan on January 15, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Hi Catherine. No, unfortunately it ends in early February (the 9th). But you can still see Augustus in Rome – the Ara Pacis and his wife, Livia’s gorgeous dining room frescoes at Palazzo Massimo. You won’t be bored if you ever make it down here… : )

  2. […] The lake was known to the Ancient Romans, although it was believed to have been larger at the time, and its water was used in the Alseatium Aqueduct constructed in 2 B.C. under Emperor Augustus (see my earlier post). […]

  3. […] (This statue was also recently on display at an exhibition at the Scuderie del Quirinale, see my post on the Augustus exhibition), the bronze Dyonisus, and the discus […]

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