Photographer's Note

Rome, visiting the new Ara Pacis Museum.

The Altar was originally located on the northern outskirts of the city, on the west side of the Via Flaminia, in the northeastern corner of the Campus Martius, a formerly open area.

The first fragmentary sculptures were rediscovered in 1568, and have found their way to the Villa Medici, the Vatican, the Uffizi and the Louvre.

In 1938 Benito Mussolini built a protective building for the Altar, as it had been reconstructed by Giuseppe Moretti, near the Mausoleum of Augustus (moving the Altar in the process) as part of his attempt to create an ancient Roman "theme park" to glorify Fascist Italy.

The new Building:
There is now a new cover building on the same site as Mussolini's. Designed by modern American architect Richard Meier, the new building was opened in 2006 and has proved somewhat controversial, the New York Times describing the result as "a flop", and the sitting mayor Walter Veltroni's opponent Gianni Alemanno stated that (if elected) he would tear the structure down. Veltroni, however, has kept it and even used it to host a 45th anniversary exhibition of designs by Valentino Garavani, beginning in June 2007.

The Ara Pacis Augustae (Latin, "Altar of Augustan Peace"; commonly shortened to Ara Pacis) is an altar to Peace, envisioned as a Roman goddess. It was commissioned by the Roman Senate on 4 July 13 BC to honor the triumphal return from Hispania and Gaul of the Roman emperor Augustus, and was consecrated on 30 January 9 BC by the Senate to celebrate the peace established in the Empire after Augustus's victories.
The altar was meant to be a vision of the Roman civil religion. It sought to portray the peace and fertile prosperity enjoyed as a result of the Pax Augusta (Latin, "Augustan peace") brought about by the military supremacy of the Roman empire, and a visual reminder of the Julio-Claudian dynasty that was bringing it about.

The Altar
The Ara Pacis stood within an enclosure elaborately and finely sculpted entirely in gleaming white marble, depicting scenes of traditional Roman piety, in which the Emperor and his family were portrayed in the act of offering sacrifices to the gods. Various figures bring forth cattle to be sacrificed. Some have their togas drawn over their heads, like a hood; this signifies that they are acting in their official capacity as priests. Others wear laurel crowns, traditional symbols of victory. Men, women, and children all approach the gods. Themes of civil peace are linked to themes of the dynastic Julio-Claudian claims, and the importance of religion as a civilizing force, in rites, some of which were consciously being revived for the occasion, according to Augustus himself.

The Altar is universally recognized as a masterpiece, the most famous surviving example of Augustan sculpture; the life-sized figures in the procession are not idealized types, as are typically found in Greek sculpture, but rather portraits of individuals, some of them recognizable.

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Additional Photos by Chiara Marcotulli (chiaretta) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 253 W: 50 N: 269] (2414)
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