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Free course

The many guises of the emperor Augustus

Free statement of participation on completion
The many guises of the emperor Augustus

This free course focuses on Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, who lived from 63 BCE to 14 CE. The rule of Augustus marked a significant political change in Rome, and Augustus’ position as emperor was initially fragile and controversial. Key to his success in holding onto power was his masterful use of visual propaganda to cement his position and underline his legitimacy. The course examines the various roles Augustus constructed in an attempt to appeal to as many people as possible, and highlights the central importance of dress in Augustus’ imagery. To illustrate this, the course will also look at Abdullah II, who became king of Jordan in 1999, who applies a similar principle to his portraiture.

Interested in taking your learning further? You might find it helpful to explore the Open University’s Classical Studies courses and qualifications.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand how political leaders can construct various different roles to appeal to as many people as possible
  • understand the key role that visual representation and dress plays in these roles
  • show some knowledge of the personality and history of Rome's first emperor Augustus, and some of the ways in which he consolidated his power
  • analyse images and source texts, and compare them to one another.

First Published: 19/03/2024

Updated: 19/03/2024

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