Julius Caesar’s adopted son Augustus (63 BC–4 AD) was the first Roman emperor. His name is indissociable from the grandeur and glory of the empire he helped pacify and whose institutions he reformed.
Art played a key role in his astute politics. His portraits scattered throughout the empire projected an original image of the statesman and the staging of power was an integral part of Augustus’ urban renovations.
Rome, which Augustus boasted was made of brick when he found it and marble when he left it, enjoyed a veritable golden age. His long reign, lasting over forty years, was a period of great artistic ferment: the “century of Augustus” and the name of Maecenas, a close friend of the emperor and the patron of Virgil, Propertius and Horace, have become mythical cultural references.