The East and West Panels of the Ara Pacis Augustae in Rome

The east and west sides of the Ara Pacis Augustae in Rome, Italy each bears two main reliefs, although the reliefs themselves have survived to differing degrees.  The interpretation of the reliefs has been the subject of scholarly debate.

The Tellus Panel.  The east wall holds a well-preserved relief depicting what is probably Mother Earth, holding two infants who symbolize the people of Rome.  The scene is one of fertility and prosperity, the benefits of peace.  The figure to the left of Mother Earth represents the land winds, riding on the back of a swan.  The figure to the right of Mother Earth represents the sea winds, riding on the back of a sea serpent.  Other interpretations suggest that the main figure represents Rome, or even Peace.

The Roma Panel.  The other, poorly preserved relief on the east wall has been redrawn from images on Roman coins.  The female warrior, Roma, sits on a pile of weapons so that they cannot be used.

The Aeneas Panel.  The west wall includes a fairly well preserved relief depicting Aeneas, the founder of Rome, making a sacrifice to the Penates, the household gods Aeneas saved from the fires of Troy.  Two attendants stand before him, one with a jug and bowl, the other with a sow.  Another interpretation is that the main figure is not Aeneas, but Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, instead.

The Lupercal Panel.  The second panel on the west wall is poorly preserved, but is thought to depict the discovery of Romulus and Remus by Faustulus, the shepherd.  Romulus and Remus are shown suckling a she-wolf and the god Mars observes from the left.

Tellus Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae

Tellus Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae

SOURCE:  Tellus Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 11 August 2011.

Roma Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae

Roma Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae

SOURCE:  Roma Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 11 August 2011.

Aeneas Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae

Aeneas Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae

SOURCE:  Aeneas Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 11 August 2011.

Lupercal Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae

Lupercal Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae

SOURCE:  Lupercal Panel on the Ara Pacis Augustae (Rome, Lazio, Italy); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 11 August 2011.

Copyright © 2011 by Stephen J. Danko

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