A ROMAN PHARAOH
AND A ROMAN EMPEROR
Octavian became master of Egypt even before he became Augustus, and thus inherited the traditional rights of the pharaohs and their Ptolemaic successors. One of these was to celebrate the official cults and to be depicted as so doing on the walls of Egypt's temples. Both Augustus and the local priests had compelling reasons to maintain an unbroken tradition of building and restoring temples and decorating them with appropriate scenes and inscriptions. The priests were probably given the authority by Rome to continue with business as usual, but it is likely that Roman advisers, with close ties to the emperor's circle, were chosen as well to participate in mapping a general pictorial strategy for Augustus in Egypt. Although we will never know the names of those who participated in these discussions, it is very probable that the script that emerged owed a great deal to the aims and ideology of Rome's first emperor and reflected the fact that Egypt was not just any new Roman acquisition.
The Egyptian monuments that were built or refurbished during the principate of Augustus demonstrate that the plan was to preserve prevailing custom and portray the emperor in appropriate Egyptian costume, paying obeisance to the usual Egyptian pantheon of deities (Fig. 13.1). Augustus was depicted in strict profile and without much reference to his personal physiognomy, imparting the message that Augustus's ascendance to power in Egypt was in the natural course of things. Before long, Augustus was the star of an impressive array of narrative relief sculptures