procession is good subject matter for illustrating the emperor's family in
an almost "genealogical" way, in the manner in which Romans of noble
family would display their genealogical trees in their domus, with carefully
arranged portraits. According to a recent theory, foliated scrolls were arranged
beneath the members of the family to symbolically represent the "branches"
of these genealogical "trees".
Here, however, the family members pictured are alive, rather
than the traditional genealogical representation of deceased ancestors. It
is an immediate ambition, rather than the nobility of the gens, which motivates
this representation: a desire to show all Romans that Augustus is the first
of a lineage intended to succeed him. Knowing
this, we can understand why so many children are depicted in the procession.
The order of the members of the family is significant: it reflects the order
of succession at the time of the monument's construction; the South frieze,
in which Augustus is illustrated, figures the people closest to power.
The family's portrait is idealized: each member has regular features, a dignified
pose (but without stiffness).