The relief is a fine example of one of the chief characteristics of imperial propaganda: the fusion of current politics and fictitious mythical tradition elevated to history. The parade-car is used for transporting the sacred paraphernalia of the gods, while the men behind it are leaders of the Roman state. But the four horses are led by a goddess, Virtus Romana (her figure is continued on a slab now in Seville). The sides of the chariot are decorated with a scene from the mythical past of Rome: Aeneas, ancestor of the Roman people, flees the burning city of Troy with his father and son. His journey to Italy lasted, as the prophecy went, until his ships arrived at a place marked by a sow suckling her piglets. Beside him there is Romulus, the founder of Rome, with the trophy of a defeated enemy general in his hand. The relief thus creates a link in history from Aeneas through Romulus to the emperor.
Marble analyses conducted by Danielle Decrouez (Geneva, Museum of Natural History) and Karl Ramseyer (University of Bern, Institute of Geological Sciences) have shown that the relief was made of Luna (Carrara) marble. Click here for the detailed results.