The Ara Pacis Augustae

The Ara Pacis Augustae During the reign of the Emperor Augustus, in the year 9 B.C., in Campo Marzio (The Field of Mars), the Ara Pacis Augustae was consecrated. Begun in 13 B.C., the Ara Pacis was a celebration of Augustus Ceasar and his successful domination of much of the known world.

The Emperor himself makes mention of the altar in his autobiography:

¨When I returned to Rome from Spain and Gaul in the consulship of Tiberius Nero and Publius Quintilius, after successfully settling the affairs of those provinces, the senate, to commemorate my return, ordered an altar of the Augustan Peace, to be consecrated in the Campus Martius, on which it decreed that the magistrates, priests and Vestal Virgins should make an annual sacrifice.¨Ara Pacis detail

Interestingly, the gigantic Solarium (solar clock), which consisted of an obelisk brought from Egypt as the spoils of war, and a huge grid that marked the hours and seasons was also dedicated on the Field of Mars in 9 B.C. On September 23, Augustus's birthday, the shadow of the obelisk fell on the Ara Pacis at sunrise.Ara Pacis detail

 

After the fall of Rome, the monument was apparently lost; and though fragments of it surfaced during the Renaissance, their identity was not firmly established until the late nineteenth century. Reconstructed in 1938, the altar can be seen variously as a political statement or a work of art.

 

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