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How Art Made the World episode 3 Darius Invents the
Political Logo
Alexander's Face

The First
Political Lie

scholar:

Andrew Fitzpatrick:
Gold at Stonehenge
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The First Political Lie

Many leaders after Darius and Alexander used images to promote themselves and their message, but some of them were far darker and more sinister in nature. They took art from being a tool of relatively benign political promotion to an instrument of mass deception. The first political lie was probably invented in Rome, by Augustus, some forty years before the birth of Christ.

Rome was on the point of collapse; for decades a civil war had divided the city into two camps - the old Roman family republicans, and the monarchists, who wanted a powerful king to rule. Augustus came from the monarchists' camp, but in order to unite the city behind him, he knew he had to change his image.

Augustus reinvented himself through the use of art. His sculptors came up with an image that was far more humble.

Augustus reinvented himself through the use of art. His sculptors came up with an image that was far more humble, a sort of man of the people image, and it allowed him to unit the two camps of Rome. But it was all a lie - he had duped the citizen of Rome. In reality, Augustus founded a system of dictatorship that would last over four hundred years.

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