The eagle, symbol of the power of the Imperium Romanum, stands with outspread wings on a palm branch. In its raised left talon it clutches an oak wreath. The eagle has been cut from the dark layer of the stone to give it a natural colour. The image is a reference to the honours the Senate bestowed on Octavian on 16 January 27 BC in gratitude for his rescuing the Romans from the chaos of civil war. These included the title of “Augustus” and an oak wreath, the corona civica (literally: citizen’s crown) placed above the door of his house. It is the eagle of Jupiter holding the symbols of victory and the rescue of Rome: Augustus enjoys the protection of the highest
god, whom he represents on earth. © Kurt Gschwantler, Alfred Bernhard-Walcher, Manuela Laubenberger, Georg Plattner, Karoline Zhuber-Okrog, Masterpieces in the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities. A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2011


  • Title: Eagle Cameo
  • Creator: unknown
  • Creator Death Place: unknown
  • Creator Birth Place: unknown
  • Date Created: 27 BC
  • Style: Roman
  • Setting: gold enamelled, silver gold-plated, Milan (?; Italy),16th century
  • Provenance: The state cameos were originally in the possession of the imperial treasury in Rome and were probably taken to Byzantium in the 5th century AD. After sacking the city in 1204, the crusaders brought them back to the West. Shortly thereafter, our “Eagle Cameo” is believed to have been taken to the ambo of King Henry II in Aachen Cathedral. It was first documented in Vienna in 1750.
  • Physical Dimensions: w220 x h220 cm (without setting)
  • Inventory Number: ANSA IXa 26
  • Type: glyptics
  • External Link: http://www.khm.at/en/collections/collection-of-greek-and-roman-antiquities
  • Medium: Two-layered onyx

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