The Ara Pacis Augustae, known as the Altar of Augustan Peace, is one of the most renowned works of Roman art. Many scholars believe this specifically represents Augustus’s triumphant return from Gaul and Spain. As a result, the monument commemorates Augustus’s finest accomplishments for bringing peace in the Roman world. Consequently, the altar encompasses the theme of peace and the prosperity that occurred thereafter. Although the name of the artist remains unknown, much is known about its history.
The Ara Pacis Augustae’s foundation was laid on July 4 in 13BC in which a major ceremony took place.
On this day, several sacrifices were made to the state gods along with the Pax, the goddess of peace. After three and a half years of construction, the Ara Pacis was completed in 9BC. The altar, which is free standing on a podium, is encompassed by four different walls, each decorated with sculptural reliefs on the inside and outside. On the lower registers there are mainly decorative vines and cactus leaves while upper registers consist of mainly figural sculptures.
There are many notable friezes contained on the Ara Pacis including two processional friezes on different sides, which depicts the ceremony of the monument being dedicated along with Augustus’s return from Gaul. Augustus, although missing the majority of his body, is shown along with his two grandsons and various Senate members in the frieze. Moreover, the panel of Tellus includes Gaius and Lucius Caesar, who are both believed to be the nephews and future heirs of Augustus.
Another frieze shows a Roman priest and his attendants about to sacrifice a sow, perhaps indicating a more sacrificial meaning to the altar, although this has been a source of controversy for art historians. Aside from this scene, there are several other friezes which personify Earth or Tellus, the lineage of Venus, and even Pax, herself, among several other integral figures. However, perhaps two of the most important figures are Aeneas and Romulus, who are two contrasting representations of Augustus. This displays the wide range of significant figures included on the Ara Pacis.
Included in much of the Ara Pacis Augustae’s decoration are animals, flowers, and fruit, which serve as symbols of fertility and growth. Augustus attempts to demonstrate that the peace he has achieved will bring prosperity to Rome. Furthermore, these symbols refer to the message being propagated to women in the empire that they should be fruitful and have children. These vegetable friezes are readily abundant, particularly on the lower sides of the Ara Pacis, many of which were believed to be originally in color.
Due to Augustus’ use of art as propaganda, the Ara Pacis projects the emperor’s importance and magnificence through many of the included friezes. Much of the design and decoration on the Ara Pacis is symbolic and iconographic that range from displaying Augustus’ greatness to political policies. Although this was constructed over two thousand years ago, the Ara Pacis remains an important piece of art that is still studied today. The monument has been on display to the public at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome since the 1930s following its excavation in several parts during the sixteenth century.
As a result, the Ara Pacis, with all of its friezes and intricate decoration, serves as one of the best monuments ever constructed. Annotated Bibliography Syme, Ronald. “Neglected Children on the Ara Pacis. ” American Journal of Archaeology 88. 4 (1984): 583-89. The credentials of Syme are extremely solid and well-validated. Prior to his death, Syme worked as a professor of ancient history at Oxford University as well as a professor of history at the University of California at Los Angeles.
He was also a prolific author who wrote numerous books including Tacitus, The Roman Revolution, and From Augustus to Nero: The First Dynasty of Imperial Rome. Along with Syme’s prestigious background, the American Journal of Archeology has been touted as one of the most renowned publications throughout the world. Since its foundation in 1885, the journal is circulated among fifty-three countries and nearly one thousand universities and museums. This demonstrates that both Syme and the American Journal of Archaeology are very valuable contributors to field of art.
Syme’s thesis is that the two children represented in the frieze on the Ara Pacis are not Gnaeus or Domitia, but instead older siblings. He asserts that Domitia died in 12 B. C. while Gnaeus passed away in his twenties. Syme contends that due to the mortality rate around this time, such early deaths were probable. He argues that the true male figure depicted is a brother of Gnaeus. In addition, Syme asserts that the flamen represented in the Ara Pacis is indeed Sextus Appuleius, which he supports with an inscription from Carthage. As a result, he presents a new argument, which he backs up with a number of sources.
Syme disagrees with earlier authors who have supported the interpretation that the two children in the Ara Pacis are Gnaeus and Domitia. While he does not mention any specific authors by name, Syme clearly differs from earlier explanations of these figures. He attempts to set the record straight by presenting alternative interpretations that align well with the available sources. Consequently, the bulk of his work is dedicated to refuting previous notions concerning the Ara Pacis. Syme makes a valuable contribution in that he provides a contrasting interpretation not previously espoused by other authors and scholars.
His new identification of these figures in the Ara Pacis is undoubtedly valuable to the field as earlier authors have not devised a similar conclusion. The identifications he has put forth add to the scholarly research already conducted. Although the Ara Pacis has been interpreted in a myriad of ways, Syme’s contributions and arguments unparallel to other scholars must be acknowledged due to his new take on this work of art. Pollini, John. “Ahenobarbi, Appuleii and Some Others on the Ara Pacis. ” American Journal of Archaeology 90. 4 (1986): 453-460. John Pollini’s credentials are both extensive and sound.
At the time of this article, Pollini worked as a professor at John Hopkins University in the Department of Classics. Today, he is a professor at the University of Southern California, where he works as a professor of art history. In addition, he attained his PhD in ancient history and Mediterranean archaeology in 1978 at UC Berkley. He has also served as the Dean of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California and has a number of prominent publications in this field. Aside from Pollini, the American Journal of Archaeology is recognized as one of the leading publications in this field.
This journal is lauded for its scholarly journal articles and in-depth research. Today, this journal can be found at numerous universities and museums worldwide. Therefore, the credentials of Pollini along with the American Journal of Archaeology easily validate their importance to the study of art. Pollini argues that one of the children on the south frieze of the Ara Pacis is actually Gnaeus. There has been a tremendous amount of controversy as to whether this represents Gnaeus since he could not have attained the consulship until fifty, which is eighteen years past the usual age.
However, Pollini asserts that it was not usual for scandalous figures such as Gnaeus to be delayed in receiving the consulship. He also suggests that while Gnaeus is depicted as an older man, there are still youthful elements included. In addition, Pollini affirms that Marcus Appuleius is the Flamen Iulialis in the south frieze since only Octavia Maior’s sons were the only men known to be related to Augustus during the Ara Pacis’s construction. For these arguments, he utilizes historical and contemporary sources to bolster his position in a convincing manner.
Pollini’s work ultimately demonstrates the variety of interpretations scholars have concerning the Ara Pacis. The extent of Pollini’s journal article is dedicated to refuting Ronald Syme’s interpretations of the Ara Pacis. Throughout his work, Pollini disagrees with Syme on nearly every interpretation. The rebuttal to Syme’s article disputes several interpretations that have been previously put forth and for years have remained unchallenged. Pollini appears dedicated to debunking these earlier interpretations and suggesting more plausible explanations.
However, he does agree with one earlier interpretation, although he names no specific authors, that the figure on the south frieze is Gnaeus. Pollini does not mention any other authors who have worked on the Ara Pacis and thus, only focuses squarely on Syme. Pollini makes several valuable contributions to the interpretations of the Ara Pacis. Prior to his work, earlier interpretations were readily accepted despite scant evidence. However, Pollini offers new explanations which he buttresses with ample support and references. He not only reaffirms the revious interpretation of Gnaeus, but puts forth a new interpretation that Marcus Appuleius is the Flamen Iulialis. Furthermore, Pollini discusses several other minor figures in a briefer detail that conflict with Syme. Despite their disagreement, Pollini’s contribution adds to the scholarly literature of the Ara Pacis. Thomson de Grummond, Nancy. “Pax Augusta and the Horae on the Ara Pacis Augustae. ” American Journal of Archaeology 94. 4 (1990): 663-677. Nancy de Grummond has stellar credentials that undoubtedly make her qualified for this line of work. She currently is a professor of classics at Florida State University.
She has also written numerous works including The Religion of the Etruscans and Etruscan Mythology along with Sacred History and Legend. Aside from her solid background, the American Journal of Archaeology has been in existence since 1885, providing scholarly contributions in the field of classical archeology. This journal has membership in the Archaeological Institute of America and has been highly regarded by many scholars. Thus, both de Grummond and the American Journal of Archaeology are extremely credible sources of information for the study of the Ara Pacis.
De Grummond’s thesis argues that the figure on the southeast panel only represents the one identity of Pax Augusta. Although there have been numerous debates in the scholarly community about if Pax is depicted in this frieze, de Grummond unequivocally asserts that she is clearly represented through her attributes. Elements such as poppies and grain are symbolic of Pax. Much of this is known from her depiction on coins that have been attained by art historians. She also asserts that Augustus and his political advisors used the concept of seasons as well as the goddess of Peace and connected them to Pax Augusta.
De Grummond believes there is an inherent relation between the altar and Hesiod’s Theogony, where the Greek Eirene is the goddess of the seasons. She provides numerous examples on the Ara Pacis, which support the notion of the four seasons on the relief. Ultimately, de Grummond illustrates that there is an important link between Augustus and the seasons represented in the Ara Pacis. De Grummond builds off of previous authors who have similarly argued that the panel only represents Pax Augusta. This includes both Gardthausen and Zanker who have both espoused similar beliefs.
However, she does disagree with earlier scholars such as Torelli, who have put for the assertion of the triple goddess that embodies Pax, Venus, and Tellus, all in one. Furthermore, de Grummond lists a number of other arguments proposed by Hannell and Simon, but points out their deficiencies. However, she agrees with Gardthause’s idea that the Ara Pacis incorporated the four seasons. During the latter half of de Grummond’s work, she elaborates and inevitably buttresses Gardthause’s developing argument.
Although de Grummond did not conceive the original argument concerning the Ara Pacis’ connection with the four seasons, she adds considerably more support to Gardthause’s idea. De Grummond runs with this argument to craft an intellectually stimulating interpretation about the Ara Pacis. While she bolsters her thesis with plenty of support, she leaves some questions unanswered for other art historians to explore. This is a significant contribution to this field of study that has left the Ara Pacis open to a whole new set of interpretations. Elsner, John. Cult and Sculpture: Sacrifice in the Ara Pacis Augustae. ” The Journal of Roman Studies 81. 1 (1991): 50-61. Elsner’s credentials are very extensive in the field of classical art. He has been a Senior Research Fellow in Classical Art at Corpus Christi College and Oxford. Furthermore, he has served as a visiting professor of Art History at the University of Chicago. Elsner has a number of works published including Roman Eyes: Rituality and Subjectivity in Art and Text, “The Rhetoric of Buildings in the De Aedificiis of Procopius,” and “Classicism in Roman Art,” among several others.
Along with Elsner’s credentials, The Journal of Roman Studies provides several peer-reviewed articles that deal specifically with Roman art and architecture. This journal has gained recognition due to its groundbreaking articles that have led to new interpretations and debates in Roman art history. As a result, Elsner and The Journal of Roman Studies are both valuable assets to the study of Roman art. Elsner’s main argument is that the altar was utilized as a location for sacrificial cult rituals. He maintains that earlier scholarship neglected the sacrificial aspect that the altar served.
In addition, he affirms that the sacrificial altar produced a variety of meanings depending on the viewer. Thus, the altar has different meanings for a Roman priest, Jew, and a Pythagorean, which leads Elsner to believe that the ancient viewer was intended to be part of this altar. Ultimately, he asserts that Ara Pacis represents the sacrificial rituals, which engaged the Roman viewer in this altar. Although Elsner puts forth a new argument in his work, he does not completely dismiss the previous scholarship performed on the Ara Pacis.
Elsner states early on in his discussion that earlier authors have discounted the sacrificial meaning of the altar. In addition, he disagrees with other authors who espoused the naturalist theory because it maintains that the Ara Pacis has a single meaning and subsequently, excludes the ancient viewer. However, Elsner does build upon the contributions of other authors such as Paul Zanker, who argues that the Ara Pacis does not portray a specific historical event or individual. Yet, Elsner states that Zanker’s argument is too simplistic.
Instead, Elsner wants to focus primarily on the sacrificial meaning of the Ara Pacis and its relation to the Roman viewer. While this is a deviation from traditional approaches, he bolsters his argument throughout this article with ample evidence. Elsner contributes to the ongoing study of the Ara Pacis Augustae by suggesting the altar had a sacrificial meaning that was essential to Romans. From this new interpretation, he states that there was no single meaning attributed to this altar. Prior scholarship overlooked this important aspect associated with the altar, which motivated Elsner to choose this topic.
He asserts that two main forms of sacrifice are represented in the procession and altar scene. Furthermore, the Aeneas relief, according to Elsner, depicts ritual action while the altar relief draws in the viewer to participate in the ritual. The viewer is always an active participant in the Ara Pacis, as they would be in these sacrifices. Moreover, the altar displays a mythological act instead of representing a specific ritual. In sum, his contribution shows that the sacrificial rituals were an integral part in the Ara Pacis. Castriota, David.
The Ara Pacis Augustae and the Imagery of Abundance in Later Greek and Early Roman Imperial Art. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995. Castriota has an excellent background that ultimately bolsters the credibility of his work. He earned his baccalaureate degree from New York University and received his PhD from Columbia University. Castriota is currently an assistant professor of art history at Sarah Lawrence College. Furthermore, he has also authored Myth, Ethos, and Actuality: Official Art in Fifth Century B. C. Athens and received several fellowships from the Dumbarton Oaks Center for Early Christian and Byzantine Art.
Along with Castriota, Princeton University Press is renowned as a publisher for its multitude of works from art to photography to poetry. In addition, Princeton University Press retains an excellent reputation for publishing books that garner tremendous notoriety within academia. As a result, both Castriota and the Princeton University Press have sound backgrounds that make this work extremely credible. Castriota’s thesis is that the vegetal decoration on the Ara Pacis is extremely important because it represents the gods, which typified Augustae.
In addition, he asserts that the depiction of various plants and flowers symbolized the values and sacred practices of Romans. He did not subscribe to the belief that the vegetal friezes were merely for decorative purposes. Furthermore, Castriota argues that the relationship between Dionysos and Apollo is complimentary instead of antagonistic. He buttresses his argument by drawing from Greek and Roman literature as well as their respective religious values. From these sources, Castriota is able to offer a new interpretation of the vegetal friezes on the Ara Pacis.
Castriota’s book does not support or bolster previous arguments and interpretations made by earlier authors. In particular, he does not support scholars who believed that Dionysos and Apollo had an antagonistic relationship. However, he argues that these two gods support one another to convey the image of Augustae. Furthermore, earlier authors have not dedicated much research or time to studying the vegetal friezes. Only a few authors including L’Orange, Busing, and Sauron, have briefly studied the vegetal friezes.
While Castriota does not discount their scholarly works, he does not add to their works either. Overall, Castriota makes an important contribution to the study of the Ara Pacis. Although extensive work has been performed, Castriota puts forth a new interpretation of Dionysos and Apollo that had not been previously conveyed. In addition, Castriota is one of the few authors who have studied the vegetal friezes. His belief that the vegetal friezes were more than decoration has become critical in examining the friezes on the Ara Pacis.
As a result, Castriota’s work is undoubtedly valuable by presenting a fresh and unique interpretation unparallel to previous authors who have studied this fascinating work of art. Rehak, Paul. “Aeneas or Numa? Rethinking the Meaning of the Ara Pacis Augustae. ” The Art Bulletin, 83. 2 (2001): 190-208. Rehak has very solid and outstanding credentials, particularly within the field of classical art. He earned his baccalaureate degree at the University of Michigan in classical studies and classical archaeology followed by his PhD at Bryn Mawr College in Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology.
Following his attainment of these degrees, he served as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Kansas and College Wooster, American University of Paris, and Duke University. Aside from Rehak’s exceptional credentials, The Art Bulletin is a prominent journal that includes a variety of articles on art history that are peer-reviewed. In addition, the publication is part of the College Art Association and comprised of an editorial board with members of distinguished backgrounds.
Therefore, both Rehak along with The Art Bulletin demonstrate that the journal article can be validated. Rehak’s thesis is that the Aeneas relief represents King Numa sacrificing a sow to guarantee peace with another country. He maintains that Numa espoused Fetial Law, which refers to the set of rules Romans utilized for conducting a just war. During this ceremony, an oath would be sealed by sacrificing a sow to establish peace. Rehak also asserts that the gods in the relief are guarantors of the oath and not the beneficiaries of the sacrifice.
In addition, he maintains that the pairing of Numa and Romulus on the western part of the Ara Pacis was intentionally done to illustrate three main points: First, Numa and Romulus had contrasting models of ruling, one using war and the other peace, respectively; Second, both are foils to Augustus, each showing central characteristics that are included in his life and personality; Third, the circumstances surrounding Numa’s and Romulus’s births relate to Augustus’s birth and bring cosmic time around to the time of the golden age.
Ultimately, Rehak buttresses his thesis by examining ancient literature and mythology that provide ample evidence. Rehak’s work is directed at debunking previous authors, such as Johannes Sieveking and John (Jas) Elsner, who maintained that the relief represented the sacrificial ritual of a sow. He seeks to quash this erroneous interpretation that archeologists and art historians have readily accepted for years.
He dedicates a large majority of his article in explaining why this earlier interpretation is incorrect. For example, he states that few sacrifices of single sows were depicted on state monuments. Since the particular relief depicted only one sow, the initial interpretation should appear dubious. Rehak provides countless other examples that demonstrate why earlier authors might be incorrect in their understanding of this intricate relief.
Rehak makes an important contribution because he suggests that the relief does not represent a sacrificial ritual. Instead, he is one of the first art historians to propose that the relief depicted something entirely different. He also states that the Ara Pacis’ message concerns both the balance of war and peace as well as the continuity of this similar balance as represented by Augustus. Consequently, Rehak deflates previous interpretations of the relief on the Ara Pacis and puts forth his own solid explanation.
Cite this Ara Pacis Augustae
Ara Pacis Augustae. (2017, Mar 20). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/ara-pacis-augustae/