Prima Porta is a small town located about 20 kilometers north of Rome, Italy. It is best known for the Augustus of Prima Porta. The famous Roman statue of the emperor Augustus was discovered there in 1863.

Augustus of Prima Porta, Villa Livia in Prima Porta, 1863. Vatican
Augustus Prima Porta (20-17 v. Chr.), Villa Livia in Prima Porta, 1863. Vatican

The statue was created in the early first century AD, shortly after Augustus’ death. It is believed to be a copy of a bronze original. It is made of marble and stands about 2 meters tall. Augustus is depicted in military dress, he is shown with a breastplate and a cloak draped over his left shoulder. The statue also includes various symbols of Augustus’ power, such as the crown of oak leaves on his head, which represents his status as pontifex maximus or chief priest. The small cupid riding a dolphin at his feet, symbolizes Augustus’ naval victory over Mark Antony and Cleopatra.

The Augustus of Prima Porta is considered one of the finest examples of ancient Roman statuary. It is now housed in the Vatican Museums in Rome. The statue has been the subject of much scholarly debate, with experts analyzing its iconography, style, and symbolism to better understand Augustus’ reign and the ideals of the Roman Empire.