The Ara Pacis Augustae and the Imagery of Abundance in Later Greek and Early Roman Imperial Art
AUTHOR: Castriota, David
PUBLISHER: Princeton University Press
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David Castriota examines one of the most important monuments of early Roman Imperial art, the Ara Pacis Augustae, the sculptured marble altar built to celebrate the peace, prosperity, and stability initiated by the reign of Augustus in the later first century b.c. Castriota argues that the floral decoration of the altar enclosure was profoundly significant, operating as a visual counterpart to the technique of metonymy in language. It utilized an array of realistic plants and flowers as allusive elements associated with various gods and goddesses, which together symbolized the support and blessing of the Roman divinities for the Augustan regime.
Supporting his argument with evidence from Greek and Roman literature and religion, Castriota shows that the planners of the Ara Pacis adapted and expanded a long tradition of symbolic floral decoration from Greek monumental arts. Throughout his work, Castriota demonstrates that the Roman absorption of Greek precedent enabled viewers to recognize the intended message of divine sponsorship. By examining the origins of the Ara Pacis within its broader historical setting, the author provides new insights into a crucial period that witnessed the emergence of a distinctly Roman Imperial art.
PUBLICATION DATE: 6/15/1995