Ara Pacis

Rome, Italy

Ara Pacis

The Ara Pacis Augustae (Latin, "Altar of Augustan Peace"; commonly shortened to Ara Pacis) is an altar in Rome dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of Peace. The monument was commissioned by the Roman Senate on July 4, 13 BC to honour the return of Augustus to Rome after three years in Hispania and Gaul and consecrated on January 30, 9 BC. Originally located on the northern outskirts of Rome, a Roman mile from the boundary of the pomerium on the west side of the Via Flaminia, the Ara Pacis stood in the northeastern corner of the Campus Martius, the former flood plain of the Tiber River and gradually became buried under 4 metres (13 ft) of silt deposits. It was reassembled in its current location, now the Museum of the Ara Pacis, in 1938, turned 90° counterclockwise from its original orientation so that the original western side now faces south.

The altar reflects the Augustan vision of Roman civil religion. The lower register of its frieze depicts agricultural work meant to communicate the abundance and prosperity of the Roman Peace (Latin: Pax Romana). The monument as a whole serves a dual civic ritual and propaganda function for Augustus and his regime, easing notions of autocracy and dynastic succession that might otherwise be unpalatable to traditional Roman culture.

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