Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day Four - Ara Pacis

From the diary:
20 aprile 2011

This morning we took the Metro to Spagna then walked up to the Piazza del Populo, spent a few minutes in Sta Maria dei Miracoli. (Bill commented that it was the first place we've been that felt vaguely religious.)

Then we walked along the Tiber embankment to the Ara Pacis in its modern museum. I thought, first time of several today, of Betty Wiley.

Setting out on our little street toward the Piazza Barberini where we caught the Metro.

The Piazza del Populo lies just within the northern gate of the Aurelian Walls and was once the Porta Flaminia of ancient Rome from which the major road north headed toward Rimini. Travelers from northern lands had their first sight of Rome here. You may read more about it at the link.

An overview of the Piazza del Populo [Wikimedia Commons]

Obelisk of Rameses II in the center of the piazza and the "twin" churches of Sta Maria Montesanto (on the left, referring to Mount Carmel) and Sta Maria dei Miracoli (on the right). [Wikimedia Commons]

My shot of the piazza. Firemen were out taking collections for the Red Cross.

I wanted a closer shot of the fire fighters because, well, I like fire fighters (and their trucks, esp. the red ones).

Sta Maria dei Miracoli, named for miracles attributed to the image over the high altar. [Wikimedia Commons]

High Altar [Wikimedia Commons]

Above the Main Altar [Wikimedia Commons]

A fresco [Wikimedia Commons]

The Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of the Augustan Peace) was commissioned by the Senate to honor the triumphant return of Emperor Augustus from Hispania and Gaul. It was located on the Field of Mars and unearthed in the 20th century. It has walls of Parian marble and is housed in a controversial new museum next to the Mausoleum of Augustus. Mussolini had hoped to have a center celebrating Fascism. The Mausoleum appears incredibly overgrown but the altar is pretty cool.

Upper panels on the sides show processions of dignitaries and priests, including members of the imperial family.

Wonderful scroll work.

There are many interpretations of this goddess. Is she Peace, Tellus (Earth), Italia, Venus, or some other deity? In any case she holds twins and symbols of peace and prosperity.

If you have ever wondered where all those garlands and skulls come from in neoclassical buildings, Rome is your answer.

The standard sacrifice when Romans made peace treaties was a sow and here we have such a sacrifice. All manner of scholarly debate has taken place over the identity of the figures here. Sieveking said it was Aeneas making sacrifice to Juno on his arrival in Italy, basing this position on Vergil's descriptions. Richardson challenged this and later claimed it is Numa Pompilius.

Well, with the impression Vergil's Aeneid made on me in high school (and again, re-reading in graduate school), I inclined to Aeneas, a warm-up for later on Day Four (another post). Lines of the Aeneid kept running through my head. Betty Wiley was my Latin teacher at Fresno High School, hence the diary mention of her.

A plain yet lovely marble wall separating the altar from the stairs to the lower floor.

Yours truly in front of the sow sacrifice section.

More to come on Day Four, but at least I can relax having sifted through some more photos and put them up.

--the BB

1 comment:

Fran said...

I just sit here, read, stare at the photos, re-read, stare at the photos some more... Thank Paul, grazie.

I recall going to a restaurant near the Piazza del Popolo, but both churches were locked up tight so I never got to see either one. There were no firemen that night either!!