AS 90514 – “Beyond the Façade – Roman Art and Architecture”
The category I have chosen is ‘Public Monuments’ which includes the works Arch of Titus, Arch of Constantine, Trajan’s column and the Ara Pacis Augustae.
The frieze is the central section of an entablature often decorated with relief sculpture. In the Arch of Titus frieze is set above the architrave, which is carved in high relief and depicts a procession of figures leading sacrificial animals. In the Arch of Constantine “The Great Trajanic frieze” is divided into a series of panels to decorate both walls of the central passageway and the ends of the attic storey. The great frieze records Trajan’s war and subsequent victory over the Dacians. On Trajan’s Column a continuous frieze winds up around the shaft from base to capital. The relief portrays Trajan's two victorious military campaigns against the Dacians; the lower half illustrating the first (101-102), and the top half illustrating the second (105-106). The two sections are separated by a personification of Victory writing on a shield flanked on either side by Trophies. Otherwise, the scenes on the frieze unfold continuously and in tipped-up perspective. The imagery is not realistic as the sculptor pays little attention to perspective. Often a variety of different perspectives are used in the same scene, so that more can be revealed (e.g. a different angle is used to show men working behind a wall). The scenes depict mostly the Roman army in military activities such as setting out to battle and engaging the Dacians, as well as constructing fortifications and listening to the emperor's address and the success he accomplished. The carvings are crowded with sailors, soldiers, statesmen and priests, showing about 2,500 figures in all and providing a valuable source of information for modern historians on Roman and barbaric arms and methods of warfare (such as forts, ships, weapons etc.). The relief shows such details as a ballista or catapult for example. The emperor Trajan, depicted realistically in the Veristic style, makes 59 appearances among his troops. On the Ara Pacis Augustae the best-preserved extant frieze is on the western side and depicts the Trojan Aeneas sacrificing the Lavinian sow to the Penates. The Penates were the household gods, which he brought with him from the city of Troy. The Penates can be seen placed in a small shrine set on top of a rock in the back of the relief. A heavily bearded Aeneas stands before the sacrificial altar with his toga draped over his head, a traditional symbol of piety. He is assisted by two youths who both wear wreaths. The older boy carries a plate of fruit and a jug while the younger urges the sow towards the altar. The older boy may be meant to represent Ascanius (or Iulus), the son of Aeneas, who was the legendary founder of the Julian line. The historical friezes that fill the top of the long northern and southern sides of the altar are the most significant features of the monument. They are a complex combination of historical characters, represented by their portrait heads, and representatives of the various priestly and senatorial offices that can be identified by the regalia. The most important section of the frieze is featured on the south side. Here the Emperor – his image is preserved in a fragmentary state – is depicted about to conduct a sacrifice. He stands, like the figure of Aeneas on the south-west panel, with his head covered in a gesture of piety. Gathered around him are members of a priesthood known as the Flamines. These priests can be recognises easily by their unusual headgear, which resembles a candlestick. Set further back in the procession are members of Augustus’ family, led by the figure of Marcus Agrippa, his toga draped over his head. Following Agrippa are the most important members of Augustus’ family and those most closely involved with the succession, and they include Livia, his wife; his daughter Julia; and...
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