Ara Pacis Augustae Monumental PR

by Robert Hamilton

If a picture is worth a thousand words, as in the old adage, then the images adorning the Ara Pacis Augustae  are telling a story, that illustrates Augustus’ vision of a Roman ‘golden age’.  The monument itself is classically Hellenistic in design and is architecturally influenced by the Parthenon in Athens.[1] [2] [3] Augustus was bringing a gravitas to the architecture of Rome, to reflect his own view of how the city should be seen.  Augustus employed artists, both literary and sculptures, to portray his principate, as he wished it to be portrayed, to the Roman people.[4] Virgil wrote the words within the Aeneid, which told the story of the creation of Rome, and Augustus’ family line, the Julie, were seeded there and the gods prophesied  the coming of Augustus; and his apotheosis.[5] [6] Scenes from the Aeneid, were also depicted in relief upon the front wall of the Ara Pacis Augustae, showing Aeneas sacrificing to the Penates.[7] [8]

Each image has specific links and meanings, which would have conveyed to the Roman people messages of peace and abundance through Augustus’ achievements; and the importance of proper religious behaviour.[9] [10]  Beginning with the frontal view, the relief on the top right front wall, depicts Aeneas sacrificing to the Penates, this choice of image, containing the founder of Rome sacrificing a white sow, links to Augustus through the gens Julie, and the founding of ‘home’ to the Penates.[11]  Aeneas is in many ways Augustus’ own creation, through Virgil, and is seen as a new type of Roman hero and god; a bringer of peace and prosperity.[12] The sculptured Aeneas is again classically Greek and godlike in form.[13]  Augustus was a different Roman leader, basing his successful reign. as princeps, on peace and prosperity rather than through continual war.[14]

Continued in Roman and Greek History by Robert Hamilton

©Robert Hamilton

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Billows, Richard. “The religious procession of the Ara Pacis: Augustus’ supplicatio in 13 B.C.” Journal of Roman Archaeology , 6: , 1993.

Bosworth, Brian, Augustus, the Res Gestae, and Hellenistic theories of apotheosis, Journal of Roman Studies, 89, 1999.

http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/italy/rome/arapacis

Cassius Dio, Roman History, 16:4-8, (trans. Bill Thayer), Loeb Ed, 1917. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/home.html

Conlin, Diane Atnally. “The Augustan artists of the processional friezes” in The Artists of the Ara Pacis: The Process of Hellenization in Roman Relief Sculpture , Conlin, Diane Atnally , 1997.

Elsner, J, Cult and Sculpture: Sacrifice in the Ara Pacis Augustae, Journal of Roman Studies, Vol181, 1999.

Galinsky, Karl, Venus, Polysemy, and the Ara Pacis Augustae, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol 96, No 3, 1992.

Grummond, N, de, The Goddess Peace on the Ara Pacis Augustae, American Journal of Archaeology, 1990.

Holliday, P,J, Time , History and Ritual in the Ara Pacis Augustae, Art Bulletin, 72, 1990, p- 544.

http://italic.org/programs/Ara_Pacis/arafotos.

Livy, From the Foundation of the City, (trans. V. M. Warrior). Indianapolis, Ind. : Hackett ; Lancaster : Gazelle Drake Academic , 2006.

 

Ovid, Metamorphoses, (trans. More, Brookes) Boston, Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922. http://www.theoi.com/Text/OvidMetamorphoses1.html

Plutarch, Romulus, Parallel Lives, (trans. Dacier), Edinburgh : printed by A. Donaldson and J. Reid, London and Edinburgh, 1763.

http://academic.reed.edu/humanities/110tech/graphics/ParthenonFromNW

Res Gestae Divi Augusti, http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Augustus/Res_Gestae

 

Sear, Frank, Roman Architecture, Routledge, London, 1998.

Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars, The Life of Augustus, (trans. Bill Thayer) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/home.html

Tacitus, The Annals, (trans. Alfred John Church & William Jackson Brodribb) , Book 1 http://classics.mit.edu/Tacitus/annals.1.i.html

Thornton, M. K. “Augustan genealogy and the Ara Pacis” Latomus: Revue D’Etudes Latines , 42: , 1983.

Toynbee, Jocelyn, Italian Lecture: The Ara Pacis Reconsidered and Historical Art in Roman Italy, The British Academy, 1958.

Virgil, Aeneid, (trans. J. Conington), New York : Thomas Y. Crowell, 1900.

 

 

 



[1] Sear, Frank, Roman Architecture, Routledge, London, 1998, p- 64. “The mood of exuberance and richness changed to a  much more sober one over the next few years as a result of influence from Athens. One of the first products of this new influence was the Ara Pacis, vowed in 13BC and dedicated in 9BC.”

 

[4] Holliday, P,J, Time , History and Ritual in the Ara Pacis Augustae, Art Bulletin, 72, 1990, p- 544. “It is well known that Augustus sought to endow his political and social policies with the characteristics and status of a sacred saeculum. But Augustan Golden-Age imagery had a much more profound significance than the fanciful, poetic concetto usually ascribed to it. The Golden-Age incorporated a profound faith in Roman regeneration and continuity, mingled nonetheless with fears for the destiny of Rome; these ideas, moreover were not restricted to the native aristocratic elite, but were shared by the increasing number of freedmen in Rome, many of whom were highly educated professionals from Greece and elsewhere. This unresolved tension between fear and faith was elaborated and exploited during the principate. Augustus enlisted the aid of a congeries of poets and sculptors to give artistic form to his ideology. Virgil and Horace, Tibullus and Propertius gave that ideology vivid literary expression, but it was most eloquently embodied in the Ara Pacis Augustae ”

 

[5] Bosworth, Brian, Augustus, the Res Gestae, and Hellenistic theories of apotheosis, Journal of Roman Studies, 89, 1999, p – 6.  “Conquest, however, was not the only criterion for apotheosis; there had to be benefactions to mankind. On this Anchises is brief but emphatic. Augustus will revive the golden age of Saturnus and bring felicity to Latium – and indeed to the human race in so far as it came under his sway.”

 

[6] Virgil, Aeneid, 6, 789-795,This is the man. This is the man promised to you so often: Augustus Caesar, son of the deified Caesar. Who will create a Golden Age once more in the fields where Saturn once was king, and extend the empire  past the Libyans and the Indians, to a land outside the zodiac’s belt outside the ecliptic of the sun and the year, where atlas, the sky-bearer, turns the sphere, set with shining stars, on his shoulders.”

 

[7] Bosworth, Brian, Augustus, the Res Gestae, and Hellenistic theories of apotheosis, Journal of Roman Studies, 89, 1999, p – 7.  “Vergil continues with the emphasis on universal peace and a new golden age in which the personified frenzy of civil war is kept in perpetual confinement.”

 

[9] Elsner, J, Cult and Sculpture: Sacrifice in the Ara Pacis Augustae, Journal of Roman Studies, Vol181, 1999, p – 55.  “Marking sacred space and action in this way, Roman images function in order to define the meanings of religion. Their very presence in sanctuaries is a kind of visual theology.”

 

[10] Galinsky, Karl, Venus, Polysemy, and the Ara Pacis Augustae, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol 96, No 3, 1992, p -470.  “We can see the changes that come about in the pictorial program of the Ara Pacis. Its underpinning is the Augustan social and political program of a return to central value system: “Peace as prosperity now depends on Roman mores.”

 

[12] Toynbee, Jocelyn, Italian Lecture: The Ara Pacis Reconsidered and Historical Art in Roman Italy, The British Academy, 1958, p- 77.  “On the west side are two legendary scenes -Aeneas, Augustus’ prototype, making his sacrifice, that, offered to Juno, of the famous white sow of the prodigy, the augury for the foundation of Lavinium, I a sacrifice of thanksgiving for his homecoming to the promised land of Italy;”

 

[14]  Res Gestae Divi Augusti,  13 (trans. Bill Thayer) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Augustus/Res_Gestae/1*.html

“Janus Quirinus, which our ancestors ordered to be closed whenever there was peace, secured by victory, throughout the whole domain of the Roman people on land and sea, and which, before my birth is recorded to have been closed but twice in all since the foundation of the city, the senate ordered to be closed thrice while I was princeps.”

 

[15] Grummond, N, de, The Goddess Peace on the Ara Pacis Augustae, American Journal of Archaeology, 1990, p -672.  “This vision of a land in which the seasons blend and intermingle is paralleled by the image of the plants that grow in the garden frieze: their hybrid character – with flowers and grapes sprouting from the same vines, and the vines in turn springing from acanthus leaves – has often been noted and cited as part of the iconography of the reign of Pax in the Golden Age (as in Virgil, Ecl. 4. 19-20).”

 

[17] Elsner, J, Cult and Sculpture: Sacrifice in the Ara Pacis Augustae, Journal of Roman Studies, Vol181, 1999, p – 58.  “Just as the Aeneas relief both presaged and looked back to the sacrificial action and function of the sanctuary, so the Italia scene (in the opposite position at the back of the altar to the Aeneas relief at its front) offers a golden age fantasy of fruitfulness which in Augustan ideology marked the distant past, the Augustan present, and the immediate future.”

 

 

[18]  Res Gestae Divi Augusti,  5 (trans. Bill Thayer) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Augustus/Res_Gestae/1*.html

“I did not accept. I did not decline at a time of the greatest scarcity of grain the charge of the grain-supply, which I so administered that, within a few days, I freed the entire people, at my own expense, from the fear and danger in which they were.”

 

[19] Thornton, M. K. “Augustan genealogy and the Ara Pacis” Latomus: Revue D’Etudes Latines , 42: , 1983 , p-619. “The Ara Pacis, an altar built by the Senate for Augustus in commemoration of his safe return to Rome in 13 B.C. after a prolonged absence in Spain and Gaul (Res Gestae, 12), was originally located on the Via Flaminia. Today only the tufa foundations of the original altar remain there (3). In 1938, however, collected parts of the altar, removed from the original site by unknown persons, were reconstructed into the present day altar, located on the left bank of the Tiber between the river and the mausoleum of Augustus (4).”

 

[20]  Res Gestae Divi Augusti,  12 (trans. Bill Thayer) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Augustus/Res_Gestae/1*.html

“When I returned from Spain and Gaul, in the consulship of Tiberius Nero and Publius Quintilius, after successful operations in those provinces, the senate voted in honour of my return the consecration of an altar to Pax Augusta in the Campus Martius, and on this altar it ordered the magistrates and priests and Vestal virgins to make annual sacrifice.”

 

[21]  Res Gestae Divi Augusti,  26 (trans. Bill Thayer) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Augustus/Res_Gestae/1*.html

“ I extended the boundaries of all the provinces which were bordered by races not yet subject to our empire. The provinces of the Gauls, the Spains, and Germany, bounded by the ocean from Gades to the mouth of the Elbe, I reduced to a state of peace. The Alps, from the region which lies nearest to the Adriatic as far as the Tuscan Sea, I brought to a state of peace without waging on any tribe an unjust war. My fleet sailed from the mouth of the Rhine eastward as far as the lands of the Cimbri to which, up to that time, no Roman had ever penetrated either by land or by sea, and the Cimbri and Charydes and Semnones and other peoples of the Germans of that same region through their envoys sought my friendship and that of the Roman people. On my order and under my auspices two armies were led, at almost the same time, into Ethiopia and into Arabia which is called the “Happy,” and very large forces of the enemy of both races were cut to pieces in battle and many towns were captured. Ethiopia was penetrated as far as the town of Nabata, which is next to Meroë. In Arabia the army advanced into the territories of the Sabaei to the town of Mariba.”

 

[22] Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars, The Life of Augustus, 21;2, “But he never made war on any nation without just and due cause, and he was so far from desiring to increase his dominion or his military glory at any cost, that he forced the chiefs of certain barbarians to take oath in the temple of Mars the Avenger that they would faithfully keep the peace for which they asked; in some cases, indeed, he tried exacting a new kind of hostages, namely women, realizing that the barbarians disregarded pledges secured by males; but all were given the privilege of reclaiming their hostages whenever they wished. On those who rebelled often or under circumstances of especial treachery he never inflicted any severer punishment than that of selling the prisoners, with the condition that they should not pass their term of slavery in a country near their own, nor be set free within thirty years. 3 The reputation for prowess and moderation which he thus gained led even the Indians and the Scythians, nations known to us only by hearsay, to send envoys of their own free will and sue for his friendship and that of the Roman people.”

 

[23] Tacitus, The Annals, (trans. Alfred John Church & William Jackson Brodribb) , Book 1.“When after the destruction of Brutus and Cassius there was no longer any army of the Commonwealth, when Pompeius was crushed in Sicily, and when, with Lepidus pushed aside and Antonius slain, even the Julian faction had only Caesar left to lead it, then, dropping the title of triumvir, and giving out that he was a Consul, and was satisfied with a tribune’s authority for the protection of the people, Augustus won over the soldiers with gifts, the populace with cheap corn, and all men with the sweets of repose, and so grew greater by degrees, while he concentrated in himself the functions of the Senate, the magistrates, and the laws. He was wholly unopposed, for the boldest spirits had fallen in battle, or in the proscription, while the remaining nobles, the readier they were to be slaves, were raised the higher by wealth and promotion, so that, aggrandised by revolution, they preferred the safety of the present to the dangerous past. Nor did the provinces dislike that condition of affairs, for they distrusted the government of the Senate and the people, because of the rivalries between the leading men and the rapacity of the officials, while the protection of the laws was unavailing, as they were continually deranged by violence, intrigue, and finally by corruption.”

 

[24] Elsner, J, Cult and Sculpture: Sacrifice in the Ara Pacis Augustae, Journal of Roman Studies, Vol181, 1999, p – 61.  “ ‘The impact of the new imagery in the west thus presupposed the acceptance of a complete ideological package’ (p.332). In short, for Zanker, Augustan art unproblematically encapsulates and propagates Augustan ideology – retailing it to a public which accepts its implications wholesale.”

 

[25] Billows, Richard. “The religious procession of the Ara Pacis: Augustus’ supplicatio in 13 B.C.” Journal of Roman Archaeology , 6: , 1993 , p- 89. “In sum, the iconography of the friezes only supports the identification of the occasion depicted as a supplicatio. Such an identification also permits us to make sense of the priestly functions of Augustus and Agrippa. It is in honor of their achievements as magistrates of the Roman people – and above all of Augustus’ achievements – that the supplicatio is being celebrated. Roman magistrates with imperium and auspicia also functioned as priests in a variety of religious rites connected with their official duties, and Augustus and Agrippa should be seen in this light: in the course of the suppIicatio they officiate at the sacrifice of incense and wine at the various shrines visited by the procession. Their representation capite vela to does not identify them as members of a priestly college but as colleague magistrates sharing tribunicia potestas and imperium proconsulare, whose official efforts for securing peace are celebrated by the Ara Pacis, and in particular by the depiction of the supplicatio in which they participate as magistrates fulfilling priestly functions.”

 

[26] Billows, Richard. “The religious procession of the Ara Pacis: Augustus’ supplicatio in 13 B.C.” Journal of Roman Archaeology , 6: , 1993 , p- 87. “Whatever priestly function Augustus was fulfilling should be understood in connection with the priestly function filled by Agrippa too, for they are depicted so as to mirror each other. They stand exactly one-third and two-thirds of the way along the 5 frieze, opening and closing the group of state priests. Augustus also closes the group of priests, lictors and senators that filled the first third of the frieze, while Agrippa opens the group of imperial family members that fills the last third. The two men are shown as the same height, somewhat taller than the priests between them (though Augustus was in fact rather short – Suet., Aug. 79.2). Just as Augustus returned to Rome in 13 from a successful tour of duty in the west, Agrippa returned at about the same time from a successful tour in the east. Though Augustus clearly takes precedence, it seems that the frieze also honours Agrippa as his right-hand man.”

 

[29] Conlin, Diane Atnally. “The Augustan artists of the processional friezes” in The Artists of the Ara Pacis: The Process of Hellenization in Roman Relief Sculpture , Conlin, Diane Atnally , 1997 , p-59.  “The traces of tooling on the Ara processions that compare closely to marks on unrestored contemporary Roman reliefs can be considered original Augustan work. Marks that relate neither to a known post-Augustan restoration nor to first-century B .c. figural carving may be either traces of an unknown later restoration or evidence of carving innovations introduced by the Augustan sculptors In light of the apparent novelty of the overall design of the Ara Pacis Augustae and its incorporation within the Horologium complex and the larger urban landscape of the northern Campus Martius, perhaps we might expect a few technical experiments on the part of the sculptors.”

 

[30] Sear, Frank, Roman Architecture, Routledge, London, 1998, p- 49. “The age of Augustus represents the coming of age of Roman architecture. During the 40 years of his reign Augustus practically rebuilt the entire city of Rome, and his ambitious building programme certainly resulted in a major influx of foreign craftsmen and architects.”

 

[31]  Res Gestae Divi Augusti,  19 (trans. Bill Thayer) http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Augustus/Res_Gestae/1*.html

“I built the curia and the Chalcidicum adjoining it, the temple of Apollo on the Palatine with its porticoes, the temple of the deified Julius, the Lupercal, the portico at the Circus Flaminius which I allowed to be called Octavia after the name of him who had constructed an earlier one on the same site, the state box at the Circus Maximus, the temples on the capitol of Jupiter Feretrius and Jupiter Tonans, the temple of Quirinus, the temples of Minerva, of Juno the Queen, and of Jupiter Libertas, on the Aventine, the temple of the Lares at the highest point of the Sacra Via, the temple of the Di Penates on the Velia, the temple of Youth, and the temple of the Great Mother on the Palatine.”

 

[33] Thornton, M. K. “Augustan genealogy and the Ara Pacis” Latomus: Revue D’Etudes Latines , 42: , 1983 , p-621.  “There are some scholars who identify the figure as Venus; two that do are Galinsky and Booth. Thus, Galinsky shows through an extensive examination of archaeological evidence that the figure can be Venus.”

 

[34] Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15;750-751, “Of all the achievements of Caesar, none in his record is more impressive than that he was the father of this man.”

 

[35] Livy, From the Foundation of the City, 1-5, “According to the traditional story, when the water retreated the floating basket in which the boys had been exposed was left on the dry land. A thirsty she-wolf from the surrounding mountains turned towards the sound of the boy’s crying. She gave the babies her teats to suck and was so gentle that the king’s stock-master found her licking them with her tongue.”

 

[36] Toynbee, Jocelyn, Italian Lecture: The Ara Pacis Reconsidered and Historical Art in Roman Italy, The British Academy, 1958, p- 77. “Faustulus, the (now vanished) she-wolf suckled Romulus and his brother-Romulus, carried home, as it were, in his cradle by the Tiber to the site of the city of Rome, of which he was the founder and of which Augustus, who restored the Lupercal was hailed as second founder. Roman Italy and the city of Rome, the Troiugenae and the Gens Romula, both inaugurated long ago by divine signs or prodigies, are now reborn in the promise of a new order, which the Emperor’s return has sealed. This homecoming, the whole raison d’etre of the altar’s existence, is the unifying thought behind all the reliefs. It belongs to the present, but is rooted in the past, and the future will reap its fruits.”

 

[37] Plutarch, Romulus, Parallel Lives, 4; 2, “While the babies were lying here, according to history, they were nurtured by a she-wolf.”

 

[38] Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15;833-838, “The entire inhabited world will bow to him. “The sea will do his bidding. He will bring peace to every land and then he will turn his attention to domestic rule. As a careful law-maker he will introduce wise laws. He will also control the morality of his people by setting his own example.”

 

 

 

[39] Cassius Dio, Roman History, 16:4-8, (trans. Bill Thayer), Loeb Ed, 1917. “And when Caesar had actually carried out his promises, the name Augustus was at length bestowed upon him by the senate and by the people.  For when they wished to call him by some distinctive title, and men were proposing one title and another and urging its selection, Caesar was exceedingly desirous of being called Romulus, but when he perceived that this caused him to be suspected of desiring the kingship, he desisted from his efforts to obtain it, and took the title of “Augustus,” signifying that he was more than human; for all the most precious and sacred objects are termed augusta. Therefore they addressed him also in Greek as Sebastos, meaning an august personage, from the passive of the verb sebazo, “to revere.” “

 

[41] Elsner, Jas. “Inventing imperium: Texts and the propaganda of monuments in Augustan Rome” in Art and Text in Roman Culture , Elsner, Jas , 1996 , p-34.

“Mussolini’s actions have reunited the Mausoleum of Augustus with the bronze letters of a text which, according to the inscriptional copies we possess from Asia Minor, was originally ‘engraved in two

bronze columns’ and placed, as Suetonius tells us (Augustus 101.4),6 in front of the Mausoleum.”