Saturday, August 1, 2009

Roman Holiday.

As mentioned below, I recently was in Rome on holiday. I've visited many times before, and so I had only some small goals with regards to visiting historical sites. In actual fact I spent most of the holiday showing my girlfriend around (her first visit) and sometimes forcing upon her visits to places of historical interest.

This post is on that particular topic. In an attempt to stay thematically related to some of my older posts, this one is to be about Augustus. When in Rome I visited both the Ara Pacis and the Mausoleum, of which the latter I would like to speak about.

Although the Mausoleum is closed and regrettably hidden by construction barriers around it's full circumference, it's possible to find a few vantage points that can afford one the pleasure of seeing it. The building is in a rather unfortunate state, and while it should really be one of the central attractions in the city, it's actually rather forgotten. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing it anyway.

I derived particular pleasure from the fact that one can still see the holes near the main entrance that were originally used to mount the Res Gestae upon the mausoleum. Given the importance of this document, being able to see these holes gives one the ability to imagine the majesty of the mausoleum as it was after Augustus' death, and despite the general decay of the entire structure, that makes the visit worth every second. I have attached two pictures of the mausoleum to this post, one taken from from afar (it's as close as one can get these days) and another taken, using some considerable amount of sneaking about, showing a close up of the holes used to mount the Res Gestae. (Clicking on the pictures will make them full size).

Almost directly beside the mausoleum is the Ara Pacis Augustae (the Altar of Augustan Peace), which houses that very important and interesting piece of sculpture. What I found particularly interesting, though, was the building designed by Richard Meier to house it. Unexpectedly, I found that on one side of the building (appropriately the one facing the mausoleum) is the entire Res Gestae engraved elegantly on a single wall. Needless to say I was delighted to see it, and proceeded to take pictures for my own enjoyment/records and to post them here for those interested.

Given the importance of the Res Gestae as a historical document, I was very happy to see it, in it's entirety, somewhere in Rome, especially so given it's location. Sadly it's almost entirely overlooked (visited less than the Ara Pacis, which is usually quiet, and quiet enough for people to come here for peaceful lunch, as one of my pictures demonstrates), but that nevertheless allowed me some peaceful time to study the engraving and take these pictures.

Clicking on the pictures will render them larger, and ergo make the Res Gestae entirely readable, for those with some Latin. Failing that, I recommend, in book form, the P.G Brunt and J.M Moore translation, and if that is impossible the Thomas Bushnell version available online here. Having the English versions in companion with my pictures of the Latin text should make it very readable.


Permissions and relevant bibliography:

Bushnell, Thomas, "Res Gestae" available at the Internet Classics Archive.
(Copyright 1998, Thomas Bushnell, BSG. This translation may be freely distributed, provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are retained on all copies.).

Brunt, P.G and Moore, J.M, "Res Gestae Divi Augusti: The Achievements of the Divine Augustus", OUP (1967).

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