This statue is a posthumous portrait of Marcellus, nephew and son-in-law of Octavian Augustus, whom he hoped to make his successor before his untimely death in 23 BC. J.-C. Marcellus is represented according to a Greek model created in the 5th century BC. BC: a funeral Hermes erected on the tomb of the heroes who died at the Battle of Coronado in 447 BC. This battle had resulted in the victory of the Boeotians, defenders of the aristocracy, over the Athenians, partisans of popular governments. The heroic nudity and the probable presence of the caduceus in the left hand assimilated the young deceased to the god of travelers for his quality of psychopompe, conductor of souls in the underworld. The tortoise, on which the Athenian sculptor Cléoménès (son of Cléoménès) signed his work, recalls the invention of the lyre by Hermes. It is also an emblem of Venus, which alludes to the legendary ancestry of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, from Aeneas, son of Anchise and Venus.
In order to serve Imperial propaganda, the Emperor Octavius Augustus referred to the Athens of the 5th century BC. This heroic portrait is deliberately inspired by classical Greek art, favouring the frontal vision and the idealization of the body, whose athletic musculature is animated by the contrapposto. The face is also idealized to soften the relationship with this body of god.