A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com - The Ara Pacis or Altar of the Augustan Peace, in Rome was built to celebrate the return of Augustus (63 BC – 14 CE) from his campaigns in Spain and Gaul.
Augustus was the first and - by all accounts – greatest emperor of Rome.
The marble structure, which once stood on the Campus Martius, is a masterpiece of Roman sculpture, particularly of beautiful and vivid portraits.
The 3 m tall altar stands on a 6 x 7 m podium is richly decorated and was consecrated on July 4, 13 BC and dedicated on January 30, 9 BC, the birthday of his wife, Livia. The U-shaped altar was inside a precinct, open to the sky with one staircase and double doors. Photo: Wikipedia
Senators, officials and the Imperial family are depicted on the wall reliefs of the monument in an animated procession, perhaps, the very procession which consecrated the altar site on 4th July 13 BC or the celebratory procession to welcome the emperor’s return.
Augustus recorded the altar's construction in his "Deeds of the Divine Augustus" (Ris gestae), revealing important details: when, why it was consecrated, where it was built.
Ara Pacis scenes.
The 3 m tall altar stands on a 6 x 7 m podium is richly decorated and was consecrated on July 4, 13 BC and dedicated on January 30, 9 BC, the birthday of his wife, Livia. The U-shaped altar was inside a precinct, open to the sky with one staircase and double doors.
The inner and outer walls are adorned with historical, legendary, mythological, sacrificial and decorative reliefs. The relief figures include Augustus and the Imperial family, officials such as magistrates, senators, priests and their families. All are captured in a single moment as they participate in a procession.
The Ara Pacis appeared on the coins of Nero between 64 and 67 CE. Various pieces of the altar were re-discovered in c. 1568, 1859 and 1903 CE and later during excavations between 1937 and 1938 CE.
The monument was restored on a new site in the 20th century. The altar fragments, stored in several European museums, were collected together and the altar reassembled. Now, the Ara Pacis is almost complete and stands in the Museo dell'Ara Pacis, next to the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome.
Written by – A. Sutherland - AncientPages.com Senior Staff Writer
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Expand for references
E. E. Kleiner, Roman Architecture: A Visual Guide