Ara Pacis

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  • Ara Pacis & Symbolism
    • Divine ancestry
    • Peace
      • Ara Pacis Augustae itself translates to 'Altar of Augustan Peace'
      • Often interpreted as strictly ideological, the embodiment of the idea that peace is the result of a just war
    • Wealth
      • The vegetal friezes with ivy & grape leaves, on the external walls of the Ara, suggest rebirth & fruitfulness associated with Augustus' reign
    • Validation by past history/myth
      • Western & Eastern facades bear 4 mythological scenes
        • 2 reliefs of the western entrance depict events from Rome's legendary history
          • Romulus & Remus under the Ficus Ruminalis, flanked by Mars & Faustulus
          • & on the opposite side, Aeneas, the mythical founder of Rome
    • Traditional power structures
    • Religious revival
      • Practical purpose of sacrificial practices
        • Every year the officials, priests and vestal virgins celebrated a sacrifice at the Altar in memory of Augustus' return.
      • Augustus is represented in the south frieze as Pontifex Maximus, amongst the pontifices and flamines, performing sacrifices
      • Interior walls decorated with bull's skulls, referring to the sacrificial feasts, sacrificial bowls & fruited garlands
    • Propriety, both legal & behavioural
    • prosperity
      • The viewer was meant to read the 2 images of Tellus & Roma together
        • This conveyed the message that blessing & prosperity were won and made secure by Roma, the warrior goddess
    • Augustus' achievements
      • Often referred to as a literal embodiment of Augustus' Res Gestae
    • Imperial Family
      • Did the Ara Pacis ultimately serve the dynastic pretensions of the absolutist ruler & his dynasty?
      • Recognise Agrippa, Livia, Tiberius, Julia, Antonia the younger & elder, and Octavia, amongst others

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