Ara Pacis Augustae (Rome, 1st century BC)

Ara Pacis Augustae (Rome, 1st century BC)

The Altar of Peace, commissioned during the reign of Augustus, was one of the most important works of ancient Roman art.

History

Keywords

Ara Pacis, Augustan, Augustus, Ara Pacis Augustae, Pax, altar, peace agreement, Rome, Római Birodalom, Campus Martius, building, edifice, architecture, religion, relief, marble, frieze, Hispania, Gaul, senate, ceremonial procession, mythology, deities, art, antiquity, history

Related items

Scenes

The altar

Ara Pacis Augustae

The altar was named after the period of Augustan Peace, which was established by Augustus, the first Roman emperor. It was commissioned by the Senate in 13 BC, and the construction was completed in 9 BC. Carved by the most talented artists of the Augustan period, the monument commemorates Augustus's return from military campaigns in Hispania and Gaul. The altar, dedicated to Pax, the goddess of peace, stood in the Campus Martius, not far from the Via Flaminia.

The altar proper, made of Luna marble (or Carrara marble), rests on a podium and is surrounded by a wall, which features finely carved reliefs on the inner and outer surfaces. On the outside of the north and south faces of the wall, where there are no entrances, processional friezes depict priests, senators and officials as well as Augustus and other members of the imperial family. Mythological scenes decorate the wall flanking the doorways.

The four main panels feature important figures tied to the city of Rome. The lower parts of the outside of the wall are decorated with carved acanthus plants, the symmetry of which symbolises the harmony of nature. The inside of the wall is decorated with carved ox skulls (bucrania), symbolising sacrificial offerings, as well as garlands interlaced with fruits.

After the fall of Rome, sediment from the Tiber River buried the monument. Fragments of the altar were only found in the 16th century while a palace was being built.

The reliefs on the altar broke into pieces and ended up in a number of different places throughout the world. During the modern period, more and more pieces were found. Finally, in 1937–1938, the base was excavated, fragments of the reliefs were collected from other parts of the world, and the altar was reconstructed. Today, the Ara Pacis is found not at its original location, but in the Museum of the Ara Pacis, near the Mausoleum of Augustus.

The interior

Top view

Animation

Narration

Ara Pacis Augustae

The altar was named after the period of Augustan Peace, which was established by Augustus, the first Roman emperor. It was commissioned by the Senate in 13 BC, and the construction was completed in 9 BC. Carved by the most talented artists of the Augustan period, the monument commemorates Augustus's return from military campaigns in Spain and Gaul. The altar, dedicated to Pax, the goddess of peace, stood in the Campus Martius, not far from the Via Flaminia.

The altar proper, made of Luna marble (or Carrara marble), rests on a podium and is surrounded by a wall, which features finely carved reliefs on the inner and outer surfaces. On the outside of the north and south faces of the wall, where there are no entrances, processional friezes depict priests, senators and officials as well as Augustus and other members of the imperial family. Mythological scenes decorate the wall flanking the doorways.

The four main panels feature important figures tied to the city of Rome. The lower parts of the outside of the wall are decorated with carved acanthus plants, the symmetry of which symbolises the harmony of nature. The inside of the wall is decorated with carved ox skulls (bucrania), symbolising sacrificial offerings, as well as garlands interlaced with fruits.

After the fall of Rome, sediment from the Tiber River buried the monument. Fragments of the altar were only found in the 16th century while a palace was being built.

The reliefs on the altar broke into pieces and ended up in a number of different places throughout the world. During the modern period, more and more pieces were found. Finally, in 1937–1938, the base was excavated, fragments of the reliefs were collected from other parts of the world, and the altar was reconstructed. Today, the Ara Pacis is found not at its original location, but in the Museum of the Ara Pacis, near the Mausoleum of Augustus.

Related items

Ancient Roman senator with his wife

Senators, being members of the highest social class of ancient Rome, wore togas with purple edges.

Arch of Titus (Rome, 1st century)

The Arch of Triumph was built at the entrance of the Forum Romanum, to commemorate Emperor Titus’ victory in the Siege of Jerusalem.

Baths of Caracalla (Rome, 3rd century)

The magnificent bath complex of the Roman Emperor was built in the 3rd century AD.

Circus Maximus (Rome)

The ancient Roman arena became well-known for the chariot races held here.

Colosseum (Rome, 1st century)

The most famous and most magnificent amphitheatre of Rome was built in the 1st century.

Pantheon (Rome, 2nd century)

The ´Temple of all gods´ was built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

Provinces and settlements of Ancient Rome

This animation presents the history of Ancient Rome throughout the centuries.

The battle of Actium (31 BC)

In the battle fought at the shores of Hellas, Octavian won a decisive victory over Marcus Antonius.

Theatre of Pompey (Rome, 1st c. BC)

The building commissioned by Pompey the Great was the first permanent theatre in Ancient Rome.

Wonders of the Ancient World

Today only one of the Wonders of the Ancient World is still intact: the Pyramids of Giza.

Added to your cart.