The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus

Paul Zanker; translated by Alan Shapiro
Examines the imperial mythology that was reflected by Roman art and architecture during the rule of Augustus Caesar


"Art and architecture are mirrors of a society. They reflect the state of its values, especially in times of crisis or transition." Upon this premise Paul Zanker builds an interpretation of Augustan art as a visual language that both expressed and furthered the transformation of Roman society during the rule of Augustus Caesar. The Power of Images in the Age of Augustus illustrates how the establishment of monarchy under Augustus Caesar led to the creation of a new system of visual imagery that reflects the consciousness of this transitional age.

"...Paul Zanker's new book is outstanding. It can be welcomed without exaggeration as the most significant contribution to the understanding of Augustan Rome since The Roman Revolution."
Journal of Roman Studies

Praise / Awards

  • "...masterly in its grasp of the evidence, instructive in the range and quality of the illustrations, and challenging and provocative in its overall theme and interpretation."
    The Classical Review
  • "Elegant simplicity and creative redundancy are surely the hallmarks of Augustan art, symptomatic of its pervasive atticism, on one hand, and of its affective character as visual rhetoric, on the other. Both have been superbly illuminated by Paul Zanker in what must be considered a truly iconological study of Roman art in its most creative phase, the saeculum augustum."
    The Art Bulletin
  • "In this most impressive volume, Zanker brilliantly controls and organizes a wealth of disparate material so as to provide a coherent, plausible, and readable account...[an] admirable book."
    Classical World

Look Inside


Introduction     1

1   Conflict and Contradiction in the Imagery of the Dying Republic     5

2   Rival Images: Octavian, Antony, and the Struggle for Sole Power     33

3   The Great Turning Point: Intimations of a New Imperial Style     79

4   The Augustan Program of Cultural Renewal     101

5   The Mythical Foundations of the New Rome     167

6   Form and Meaning of the New Mythology     239

7   The New Imagery in the Private Sphere     265

8   The Roman Empire of Augustus: Imperial Myth and Cult in East and West     297

Conclusion     335

Notes and References for Further Reading     341

Illustration Sources     371

Index of Sites and Museums     381

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 400pp.
  • 324 B&W photographs, 11 maps and 16 drawings in text.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1990
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08124-0

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  • $34.95 U.S.