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Greek and Roman Sculptures - Essay Example

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The Greeks during the high classical age (470-430 BC), created standing sculptures of human figures, carved out of limestone and marbles, adapting seventh century Egyptian models. These sculptures were stiff, rigid, decorative, subordinate elements of tombs and temples rather than true sculpture…
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Greek and Roman Sculptures
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Download file to see previous pages This activity provided steady employment for many architects and sculptors who organized leading workshops in Greece, revolutionizing Greek classical art and architecture. The Parthenon, built by Menesicles and Ictinus, along with the Propylaea (the gateway with the finest paintings and sculpture of the Classical age) crowned the Athenian Acropolis. Other prominent works included The Panhellenic shrines, Delphi (oracle of Apollo) and Olympia (the shrine of Zeus). Delphi (460 BC) is the athlete offering libation of oil from patera (sacrificial bowl) in thanks for victory1.
Roman art and architecture was founded on a different principle than their Greek counterparts. The Romans believed that for the continuity of the Roman Empire, they could only do so only through art. Since an emperor could not be omnipresent, it was necessary to set up the statue of the emperor in law courts, market places, public assemblies, and theatres. This policy led to the sculpture of a large number of the imperial effigies to adorn prominent buildings in Rome2.
Since its discovery in 1963, the sculpture of Augustus of Prima Porta has been the subject of much scholarly discussion. The marble sculpture is probably a copy of a now-lost bronze statue which was made shortly after 22 BC. Augustus was lionized by the Roman people, he promoted conservative Republican values. He tried to restore faith in the Roman state by equating his role as Pontifex Maximus (Head Priest) with religious and moral values. Augustus used religion to reorganize state and to establish his own rule. He also promoted the cult of emperor as divine by building a temple to the Divine Julius

2.0 Augustus of Prima Porta (Roman Sculpture)

Photo of Augustus of Prima Porta
(Courtesy: Late Antiquity: Imperial Image)

In Augustus of Prima Porta, Augustus is portrayed as a general, draped in a cuirass (breastplate) richly embellished with reliefs. The waist is draped in a paludamentum or officer's cloak. The upraised arms of the figure are an interpretation of ad locutio, a gesture conveying the power of speech in Roman art. It gives a visual demonstration of the emperor's power. Augustus saw himself as the Principate of Rome. Augustus of Prima Porta is one of the earliest examples of imperial portraiture used for political propaganda; the statue's purpose was to identify the state with a well-meaning and enlightened Augustus.


The sculpture of Augustus of Prima Porta is a Greco-Roman example of exquisite craftsmanship of the Roman period. The sculpture has the power of expression in its god-like appearance. Practices of deifying rulers and erecting temples in their honor began in Rome as early as the reign of Augustus. Augustus of Prima Porta is the type of statue that stood in such a temple. It adapted an orator's gesture, combined with the pose and body proportions, as prescribed by the Greek Polykleitos and exemplified by the Spear Bearer, Doryphoros. Bare feet suggest that the work may have been posthumous and signified his apotheosis, or elevation to divine status. Carved on the cuirass are scenes, recounting outstanding achievements of Augustus' reign and pictures of the gods and goddesses. The Greek influence can be seen in the depictions of divine figures. The depiction of a Parthian giving back the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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