Ara Pacis – Altar of Peace – Roman art

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The Ara Pacis - the Altar of Peace. Originally it was outside, but today a roof protects it.

The Ara Pacis – the Altar of Peace. Originally it was outside, but today a roof protects it.

When the Roman emperor Augustus took over Rome after the civil wars at the end of the Roman Republic, about 30 BC, he built a Altar of Peace (Ara Pacis in Latin), to show that the fighting was over.

Augustus was very interested in Greek art, and in showing how civilized Rome was by taking Greek art styles and developing them into a new, sophisticated Roman style.

The carved frieze on the Ara Pacis shows Augustus and his household going to perform a traditional religious sacrifice.

The carved frieze on the Ara Pacis shows Augustus and his household going to perform a traditional religious sacrifice.

The frieze shows Marcus Agrippa (on the left, with his head covered), leading a procession to dedicate the Altar of Peace (Augustus is on the other side). In many ways, this frieze is like the Parthenon frieze of four hundred years earlier, which also shows a procession.

Learn by doing: go see a parade
More about animal sacrifice

Bibliography and further reading about the Ara Pacis:

The Artists of the Ara Pacis: The Process of Hellenization in Roman Relief Sculpture, by Diane Atnally Conlin (1997). Specialized, but an award-winning study of the Greek influence on the carving of the frieze – concluding that Roman carvers did the actual work.

Roman Art: Romulus to Constantine, by Nancy and Andrew Ramage (4th Edition 2004). The standard textbook.

More about Augustus
Main Roman Art page
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By | 2017-08-31T09:21:58+00:00 August 31st, 2017|Art, Romans|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Ara Pacis – Altar of Peace – Roman art. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 31, 2017. Web. December 12, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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