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Palatine Museum

Fresco with Apollo playing the cithara

This fresco fragment was found in 1950 near the “scalae Caci”, the steps that lead from the Cermalus (one of the Palatine’s peaks) to the Forum Boarium. Apollo, identifiable by his laurel-crowned head, is represented semi-nude with a quiver strapped across his back and a cithara in his left hand. Enthroned at a three-quarter view, the figure stands out against a compact, sky blue background. To the right of the throne, covered by a purple drape, is the omphalos (navel) of Delphi, the city where Apollo’s temple was located and which, mythically, represented the center of the world. The god is represented here in his role of overseer of order and balance and it was precisely for these characteristics that he was chosen as divine protector by Augustus, who had the temple of Palatine Apollo built near his own residence.