logo del sito Romainteractive
You are in: Home > Take a bit of Rome a day > Ara Pacis



Ara Pacis
Ara Pacis - click to enlarge

The first uncertain traces of the Ara Pacis (=altar of the peace) were discovered in 1568, under palace Peretti Fiano Almagià, near the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. Three centuries later the excavations resumed, ending in 1937, while about a year was needed to reconstruct the Ara; in 1938 was inaugurated, near the Mausoleum of Augustus, the pavilion where the Ara would be hosted.

The Ara was dedicated by Augustus to Peace in 9 BC.

The panel on the left side of the entrance represents the Lupercale, the legendary cave where the she-wolf suckled the twins Romulus and Remus. The characters we can discern are: the legendary pastor Faustolo, who saved the twins and Mars.

Ara Pacis - Lupercale
Ara Pacis, Lupercale - click to enlarge

In the right panel you see Enea, that sacrifices to the Penates (the spirits patrons of the State and of the Home), the sow with thirty piglets, representing the 30 towns founded by Enea who is accompanied by the Camilli, young people that in the Roman rite assist the priest in the sacrifice.

Ara Pacis - Enea
Ara Pacis, Enea - click to enlarge

On the opposite side, the left panel depicts the Earth or Italy, while the two girls represent, the one sitting on a swan the air, the other the water. The symbolism wants to mean the rebirth of the Earth and Italy thanks to the Peace assured by the domination of Rome.

Ara Pacis - Earth
Ara Pacis, Earth - click to enlarge

The friezes at the side of the Ara represent the procession of 13 BC, when there was the dedication of the monument. On the right side, preceded by lictors and pontifexes, it appears a fragment of the face of Augustusfollowed by augurs and flamens (Roman priests), coming before the imperial family.

In the order we recognize: Agrippa, Gaius Caesar, Livia (the wife of Augustus), Tiberius (Livia’s son). Then Antonia Minor (daughter of Mark Antony and Octavia the sister of Augustus), Germanicus, Drusus, Antonia Major (grandmother of Nero and sister of Antonia Minor), Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus (the father of Nero, here portrayed when baby), Domizia, Sextus Apuleius, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus (husband of Antonia Major).

Ara Pacis, Imperial Family - click to enlarge
Ara Pacis - Agrippa, Gaio Cesare, Livia, Tiberio Ara Pacis - Antonia Minore, Germanico, Druso, Antonia Maggiore, Gneo Domizio Enobarbo, Domizia, Sesto Apuleio e Lucio Domizio Enobarbo
Agrippa, Gaius Caesar, Livia, Tiberius Antonia Minor, Germanicus, Drusus, Antonia Major, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, Domizia, Sextus Apuleius, Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus

On the opposite side are depicted other members of the imperial family, whose faces have been extensively restored in the seventeenth century. The group of women and children represents the widows and orphans of the imperial family.

In the interior on the altar table annually was held the sacrifice in the name of Peace.

Note the rich spiral decoration as well as the naturalism with which are depicted people and animals.



Go to the web site of Università di Roma Tor Vergata