The University of Wisconsin Press

Classical Studies / Ancient History / Architecture 


Imperium and Cosmos
Augustus and the Northern Campus Martius
Paul Rehak
Edited by John G. Younger

Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Laura McClure, and Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell, Series Editors

“An important volume that helps us perceive the relationship between political power and architecture in the Augustan building programme.”
—Peter J. Holliday, The Classical Review

Caesar Augustus promoted a modest image of himself as the first among equals (princeps), a characterization that was as recognized with the ancient Romans as it is with many scholars today. Paul Rehak argues against this impression of humility and suggests that, like the monarchs of the Hellenistic age, Augustus sought immortality—an eternal glory gained through deliberate planning for his niche in history while flexing his existing power. Imperium and Cosmos focuses on Augustus’s Mausoleum and Ustrinum (site of his cremation), the Horologium-Solarium (a colossal sundial), and the Ara Pacis (Altar to Augustan Peace), all of which transformed the northern Campus Martius into a tribute to his major achievements in life and a vast memorial for his deification after death.

Rehak closely examines the artistic imagery on these monuments, providing numerous illustrations, tables, and charts. In an analysis firmly contextualized by a thorough discussion of the earlier models and motifs that inspired these Augustan monuments, Rehak shows how the princeps used these on such an unprecedented scale as to truly elevate himself above the common citizen.   

Paul Rehak (1954–2004) was associate professor of classics at the University of Kansas and author of such studies as The Role of the Ruler in the Prehistoric Aegean. John G. Younger is professor of classics and director of women, gender, and sexuality studies at the University of Kansas and is author of Sex in the Ancient World from A to Z and Music in the Aegean Bronze Age.


“Rehak’s book, like the monuments themselves, richly asks for reflection, dialogue, and response. It will remain essential for the scholarly discussion of these unique witnesses to the Augustan era for a long time.”
—Karl Galinsky, American Journal of Archaeology

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

Of Related Interest:
Romans and Barbarians
The Decline of the Western Empire
E. A. Thompson
With a new foreword by F. M. Clover and J. H. W. G. Liebschuetz

"E. A. Thompson is one of the pioneers of the revival in the study of Late Antiquity. . . . [Here he] shows, once again, what can be done with a critical reading of the exiguous sources and relentless pursuit of their implications. Thompson's characteristic terse elegance, wit, and lucidity make the book as delightful to read as it is constantly illuminating."
—R. A. Markus, Journal of Roman Studies

Rehak's book is illustrated with a sepia-toned photo of a Roman obelisk, in front of some Italian buildings.

May 2009

LC: 2006008624 DG
288 pp.   8 x 10 
40 b/w photos, 11 illus., 1 map

Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-22014-3
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Cloth $60.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-22010-5
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