Jupiter doesn't seem to be on our side the last few days. It has been raining on and off the last few days and we have been leaving the apartment with raincoats and umbrellas ready after the unexpected attack at the forum on Monday. Today was no exception and it rained on and off during our excursion to the Museo dell'Ara Pacis and the Forum of Augustus. Previously enclosed in a Fascist monument built by Mussolini, the Ara Pacis museum received a new case in 2005 when Richard Meier designed another museum in steel, travertine and glass.
The Ara Pacis itself, shaped like a temple, is decorated with relief sculpture depicting a procession on the north and south and scenes from mythology on the east and the west. The procession is commonly interpreted as a procession scene on the 4th of July 13AD, when the altar was consecrated and a wooden enclosure was set up. Over the next three years, the marble altar was constructed and it was dedicated on the 31st of January 9AD (Livia's birthday). The Ara Pacis at the museum has been reconstructed from fragments found in the 16th century; some fragments have been built into the Villa Medici and are reproduced in plaster on the museum restoration.
After a leisurely lunch break, we reconvened at the Rome Center at 4pm. The sky was cloudy but it was not raining even as we walked past the Forum Julium toward the Forum of Augustus. Just as we leaned on the railings to examine the temple of Mars Ultor, it started raining–Jupiter must not be happy with the FSP team visiting forum sites. Although we were armed with raincoats and umbrellas this time, the rain was still an unwelcome guest. We fumbled to shade out notebooks from the rain while trying to hear what Professor Ulrich was saying over the traffic of the Piazza Venezia.
The most prominent structures in the Forum of Augustus is the Temple of Mars Ultor, or Mars the Avenger and the partially preserved exedra that blocked the sides of the forum. It was an octastyle temple designed conservatively, with a frontal staircase and back walls closed off (sine postico). Augustus referred back to the aesthetics of 5th century BC Athens, in a conscious attempt to bring conservative architecture back. The forum itself was blocked off by a 'fire wall' behind the Temple of Mars Ultor, blocking access from the Subura and quite literally, preventing fires from spreading into the forum. Like at the Forum Julium, access was closely controlled.
It only stopped raining when we had walked to the back of the forum to see the cornice of the Temple of Mars Ultor; hopefully we will be used to the rain by the time we are at Pompeii.
Photos (brought to you by Tedward):
After some trouble with the public transportation system, the group finally manages to make it to the Ara Pacis.
Mini scaled models! Woot!
“Where's the Ara Pacis?”
Prof. Ulrich: ” Right there!”
“So we don't really know who these figures are, but there's a sea dragon!”
Observing the Ara Pacis, hoping to be hit with some divine inspiration.
Lunchtime woes in the Rome Center.
Aaron makes a point about something. Or he's heckling the TA. One can never be sure.
“Hey Professor Ulrich, strike a pose!”
Forum = rain.
Observing some ruins in the Forum of Augustus.