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Historical Relief: Battle of Actium, Procession

Date second quarter of the 1st century A.D.
Object type relief
Medium, technique carved, marble

4817.1: 60.5 x 74.5 x 14.5 cm; 4817.2: 48.5 x 75.7 x 12.5 cm

Inventory number 4817
Collection Classical Antiquities
On view This artwork can be displayed at the permanent exhibition

The two parts of this relief do not fit together, but they belong to the same monument. The central figure in this relief is clearly Apollo, seated on a rock and holding a kithara; behind him is the tripod referring to his oracle in Delphi. The monument which this relief decorated and whose intended purpose is as yet unknown, commemorated the decisive victory of Augustus over Mark Antony in the sea battle fought near the promontory of Actium in northern Greece in 31 B.C. The victory marked the beginning of the Roman Imperial Age and Augustan propaganda attributed it to the support of Apollo. To the right of Apollo a depiction of the decisive sea battle could be seen; parts of it were the bows of the boats visible in front of the god’s seated figure. Other scenes of the battle are in Spanish private collections. In 2000, the Museum of Fine Arts purchased a complete marble panel, belonging to this monument, which shows an additional part of the triumphal procession depicted possibly to the left of Apollo. The reliefs were found in Rome, where they were probably originally mounted.

János György Szilágyi

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