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Time, History, and Ritual on the Ara Pacis Augustae

Peter J. Holliday
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 72, No. 4 (Dec., 1990), pp. 542-557
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3045761
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3045761
Page Count: 16
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Time, History, and Ritual on the Ara Pacis Augustae
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Abstract

Studies of the Ara Pacis and similar public Roman monuments traditionally address the potent political symbolism of their decorative programs, and emphasize dynastic and other imperial policies. It is suggested here that the Altar's imagery of the Golden Age, usually discussed as mere poetic allusion, actually appealed to a significant component of the Roman populace. The program of the Ara Pacis addressed this group's very real fears of cyclical history, and promised that the rule of Augustus would avert the cataclysmic destruction of the world predicted by contemporary models of historical thought.

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