Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course


Download this course

Share this free course

The many guises of the emperor Augustus
The many guises of the emperor Augustus

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

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, and who applies a similar principle to his portraiture.

This image shows a marble sculpture portraying the head, neck and shoulders of a young-middle-aged man. His chest and shoulders are bare. His hair is cut relatively short, but long enough to show loose locks of curls combed loosely toward his forehead. On his head he wears a large wreath made up of (laurel) leaves, held together at the back with a wide ribbon, the ends of which drape down over his shoulders. His face is gracile, his mouth is small and set in a neutral position, his nose is long and narrow, and he has a cleft chin.
Figure 1 Bust of Augustus, Augustan period. Munich: Glyptothek.

Before you get started we would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for this course, in our optional start-of-course survey [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.