Perhaps the most famous representation of the emperor Caesar Augustus, surviving in a marble copy of a bronze original, dating to a little after 20 B.C., and found at the so-called Villa of Livia at Prima Porta. The statue depicts Augustus standing with his right foot forward and the left heel slighty raised, with bare feet. His right arm is slightly bent and raised upwards, pointing with the index finger, in a traditional stance of a rhetorical address. His left is crooked and held to his side at hip-level, holding a staff. His hair is cropped short, typical of his statues, and his face stern, head turned slightly to the right and gazing straight outwards. He is dressed in military garb; a tunic ending at his knees, a cloak draped across his hips and folded over his left arm, and an ornately decorated breastplate.
The pose is not particularly remarkable. Artistic models for the arms are typical of most statues of orators, found as early as the 2nd century, B.C.; indeed, the crooked left and gesturing right are as attributable to the constraints of a toga, which must be pinned in place by the left arm, as to any stylistic trend. The general athletic build, body type, and even the placement of the feet are likewise typical of much earlier Greek statues of athletes.
The breastplate itself separates this statue from its contemporaries. The epaulets depict winged, androcephalic lions. On his breast is a depiction of Sol, the sun, in his chariot, yolked to four horses, underneath Caelus, the heavens, and flanked by Apollo and the figures of Diana, Luna, and the Dawn pouring her dew from an amphora. In the center is the king of the Parthians, handing the Roman signum, the battle standard, to a figure dressed in military gear, with hounds at his feet. Beneath, towards the lower stomach, is a reclining Mother Earth, draped in robes and holding a cornucopia.
The breastplate celebrates the victory over the Parthians, and the return of the Roman standards which had been shamefully lost in 53 by M. Licinius Crassus during his disastrous and ultimately suicidal campaign in the Near East, but also the final victory of Augustus in the cause of peace for the Roman people. For the next 30 years after Crassus' death, the loss of the standards remained a major sore point for the Roman people; even a century later, Lucan chides the Romans for having engaged in civil war without avenging Crassus' death. In 19 B.C., with their return, the gates of the temple of Janus were finally closed, and the Pax Augusta declared, nominally heralding a period of peace and prosperity for all the empire.
The victory on the breastplate is framed by the universe, by the heavens in all their mutations, from dawn to dusk, and by the earth itself. Above them all are the sphinxes, guardians of order. In effect, the statue thus becomes an essential part of Augustus' systematically-portrayed ideology of war and peace.