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Augustus of Labicana Street is part of Masterpiece, an Italian podcast by Archeostorie® that describes some of the most beautiful and famous artworks from antiquity.

Fig. 1. Augustus of Labicana Street (photo by Agnese Lena).

Yes, I got my hands dirty. And you did not?

I have lied, betrayed, plotted. I have also killed.  

Why that face? I did what I had to do. Power is a capricious god: it demands a continuous tribute of blood and of love. I sacrificed on its altar my youth, a beloved sister, my only son.

I got my hands dirty. You did not?

Who has never broken a promise? Who has never revealed a secret?

Who has never stood silent in the face of injustice, out of fear and out of weakness? Who has not realized in shame that they are capable of forbidden emotions—jealousy, rancor, petty envy—toward the friend on whom fortune always smiles?

Who has never pretended not to see the loneliness that deserves to be relieved with a gentle look, a word, an outstretched hand.

I have shifted wives and allies with the wind. Yesterday I was an unknown young man, today I am the most powerful man in the world, tomorrow a name forgotten by history. Such is war, such is life

Yes, I got my hands dirty. And you did not?

The Augustus of Labicana Street is a marble statue over six feet high. It represents Octavian Augustus in the garments of the Pontifex Maximus. Today it can be found in the National Museum of Rome, in the Palazzo Massimo. Augustus wears a veil on his head, as prescribed when celebrating a sacrifice, as well as the toga and leather boots reserved for members of the senate.  It is likely that in his left hand he held a roll of papyrus and in his right a small vessel for libations, the offerings of wine to the gods. The Pontifex Maximus was the highest priest of ancient Rome.  This portrait was carved between 12 BC, the year in which Augustus obtained the title, and the beginning of the 1st century AD. 

Volume 3 - 2019

Museum Archaeology

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

How to cite

Cappelletti, G. 2019. Augustus of Labicana Street.Archeostorie. Journal of Public Archaeology. 3: pp. 101-102. DOI: https://doi.org/10.23821/2019_5a/