chapter  14
4 Pages

Gems And Jewels

Many of these cameos displayed imperial types, thus serving the same sort of propagandist purpose as large-scale public reliefs and medallions (before the latter came into any substantial existence). They include such manifestations of the Augustan and Julio-Claudian imperial spirit as the Grand Camee de France at the Louvre in Paris, the Blacas Cameo in the British Museum and the Gemma Augustea in the Kunsthistorisches Museum at Vienna (Figure 35)-

Its brown layer has a bluish tinge, and the rest is as usual white. The cameo is nowadays incomplete on its upper left extremity, where there was originally at least one additional figure. The field is divided into two parts, both crammed with imperial symbolism. In the lower register are figures of defeated barbarians, displayed in conjunction with Roman soldiers occupied in the erection of a trophy. The upper part of the cameo shows the emperor's adopted son (and eventual successor) Tiberius, directly above the trophy pole, stepping out of his chariot after celebrating a Triumph - probably in AD 12, in honour of his victory over Germans and Pannonians. As for Augustus himself, he is seen seated, with a conscious echo of Jupiter, beside Roma personified. He is waiting to receive the victorious Tiberius.