Essay

Richard Meiers project for Ara Pacis

Richard Meier’s building was erected to accommodate The Ara Pacis in Rome, the 2000-year-old altar built by Augustus between 13 and 9 BC to celebrate the Pax Romana (Roman Peace). Ironically, it has been affected by war since the beginning. It has been surrounded by unprecedented controversies and conflicts involving politics, culture, history, nationalism and different schools of architecture. The essay seeks to investigate why so much effort is focused on this project. It will also investigate the main sources of criticism and justification if any. It will try to answer these questions: How can we explain why so much effort is spent on a single project? Are the critics justified? Where do the attacks come from and why?During the Emperor Augustus rule in the last century B.C, Rome went through a chaotic period in which conspiracy and rivalry prevailed in the Roman senate. However, he got power and authority over the Senate and the population of Rome and finally took the title of emperor. His great military successes in Gaul and Spain from 27 to 24 B.C. were such remarkable events for Rome that the Senate decided in 13 B.C. to erect an altar to celebrate his victorious return. Dedicated as a symbol of the reigning peace in the Roman Empire, Pax Romana, the altar was named Ara Pacis.In appearance, the altar resembles stone structures that early generations of Romans had built for offering sacrifices to the gods but it is much larger and was built with marble, not stone. All four sides are decorated with images of different scenes.

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