To what extent did Augustus use the building programme to beautify Rome.

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To what extent did Augustus use the building programme to beautify Rome. (40 Marks)

Augustus undoubtedly had designs to create a state capable of being an imperial capital and he was aware that his building programme was an essential aspect of this. Suetonius mentions this desire as he states that Augustus was “aware that the city was architecturally unworthy of her position as capital of the Roman Empire.” He goes on to recite Augustus’ famous quote that he often boasted of having “found Rome built of bricks; I leave her clothed in marble.” This quote immediately reflects Augustus’ ambitions to create a state worthy of its empire, although it is important to understand that there were many other contributing motivations and ambitions held by Augustus which he hoped to accomplish through the building programme.

Presenting Rome as an imperial capital was obviously an objective of Augustus which can be seen in his boasts of having “found Rome built of bricks; I leave her clothed in marble.” Augustus was concerned with restoring and building theatres such as the theatre of Pompey and Marcellus which he built “without inscribing my own name on it” which implies that he was concerned with the beautifying of Rome rather than personal glory. Augustus’ concern with beautifying Rome which is evident in his restoration of damaged old buildings, roads, sewers and streets. The most notable of these is his restoration of the Aqueducts and building of the roads.  It is important to note that Augustus’ motivations for such restorations could simply be for the wellbeing and benefit of the plebs although in reality this was most likely a by-product of the beautifying of Rome.

The concept of pietas was central to Augustan values, he saw the decay of Roman temples to be a symbol of negative pietas so thus resolved to change it in order to enter Rome into a period of mos maiorium. Augustus emphasised his pietas to the Gods through the restoration of the temple of Quirinus which linked Troy with Rome, symbolising the link between Aeneas and Augustus. Augustus dedicated a temple to Apollo on the Palatine hill close to his house to establish their association. At the forum Augustum, Mars Ultor had a temple dedicated to him to show thanks for allowing him to avenge his father which emphasised both Augustus’ pietas for the Gods and family. Augustus also stressed his pietas towards his family through constructing a temple for Vesta, Lares and Penates. As shown in the Prima Porta, the concept of piety and divinity is one frequently reinforced. Augustus’ own divinity is alluded to through the inclusion of Cupid which gives Augustus ties with Venus the ancestor of the Julii family which are built upon due to her inclusion on the breastplate; these ties are cemented by the dolphin that Cupid rides upon which was Venus’ patron animal. Augustus’ bare feet also allude to this semi-divinity.

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The breastplate that Augustus wears on the Prima Porta is significant in reflecting Augustus piety and desires to project such a public image. On the breastplate many Gods are included such Sol who rules over the skies, establishing connotations with Rome as its protector. The god of war Mars is also featured, receiving the stolen standards after a shameful defeat in the past.  To the left of Mars is Apollo whom was Augustus patron god and to the right of Mars is Diana, the inclusion of these two gods may reference Augustus’ secular games which provide a source of propaganda. ...

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