13—9 BCE. Rome, Museum of the Altar of Augustan Peace (Ara Pacis Augustae)
Rome, Museum of the Altar of Augustan Peace (Ara Pacis Augustae)
(Roma, Museo dell’Ara Pacis).
The figure was integrated by sketching its outline with an incised drawing on mortar; such drawing depended on iconographic comparisons with figurative sources of the same period as the Ara Pacis: since the female figure was evidently seated on a stack of trophy arms, she could not but represent the goddess Rome, whose presence next to Tellus symbolized prosperity and peace flourishing under triumphant Rome: the Ara Pacis welcomed those who entered the town from the Via Flaminia with the representation of the pax romana established through Rome’s dominion (imperium) terra marique.
The drawing was actually made by O. Ferretti (Gatti 1949) after a formal model that in the Augustan period won its place in the Roman pantheon because of its new and original power of propaganda and cultual relevance: the goddess, seated on the rich spoils of war, was depicted as an Amazon, with a helmet crowning her head, her left breast naked, and a short sword hanging from the baldric over her shoulder, while she holds a spear in her right hand. What the drawing leaves out, while instead it was probably represented in the lost relief, are the personifications of Honos and Virtus (or, less likely, of the Genius populi Romani and the Genius Senatus) next to the goddess-portrayed as two young gods. The presence of this couple, common in triumphal scenes, is even more probable because it would balance that of the two “aurae” (winds) on the near panel of the Tellus.