1. Augustus of Primaporta
A marble sculpture of a little over two meters in height, found in Primaporta in 1863 and currently housed at the Vatican Museum, the so-called Augustus of Primaporta is a military portrait of Augustus Caesar. Carved between 1 and 20 C.E., it is thought to be modeled off a Greek sculpture, Polykleitos, and may have been carved by a Greek sculptor. It may also have been a copy of related bronze sculpture, a funerary gift to Augustus’s mother. Augustus is depicted as imperator (emperor), with the fringe hairstyle and hand upraised as though he addresses troops; he stands contrapposto—with weight borne on one leg. His bare feet (usually reversed for depiction of gods) are suggestive of his divinity, along with cupid riding the dolphin, which is a symbol of his house’s descent from Venus, and possibly the naval battle of Actium. His breastplate (cuirass) has the sky god Caelus, Aurora and Luna above a Roman receiving the captured battle standards being returned by a Parthian. To either side of that central motif, two female figures represent conquered populations, and beneath it are Apollo (his patron), Diana, and Tellus/Ceres, an earth goddess of fertility. These all suggest his adherence to Roman religion as well as the support of the gods for his Pax Romana. Interestingly, the original sculpture would have been polychromatic.

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2. Ara Pacis Augustae

Ara Pacis Augustae is an outdoor monument commemorating the Pax Romana, dedicated (and therefore definitively completed by) in 13 B.C.E. Augustus commanded the blood sacrifices of the Roman religions to be performed on it. The altar is surrounded by a massive stone screen, covered in bas-relief processions of priests, members of the royal family, their bodyguards and attendants. The processional friezes have patterned banding beneath and beneath them plants that suggest the fertility of the Roman empire. The shorter sides of the altar have mythological panels. Some of the figures have been securely identified, but others are still contested. A bearded man making a sacrifice is probably the second king of Rome, know for instituting peace, like Augustus. A seated goddess may be a representation of the Pax Romana, Tellus, or Italia. Opposite the bearded man are Romulus and Remus, the twins who founded Rome. And the remaining panel is usually thought to be Roma. Stairs lead up to the altar, a relatively plain monument, with crouching gryphons at the corners. Some of the scholarly debate is generated by the monument having been found in pieces. It was reconstructed and enclosed in the 1930s by order of Mussolini as a demonstration of his symbolic connection to Augustus.

3. Sarcophagus of Ceveteri

Dated to the 6th century B.C.E., the Sarcophagus of Ceveteri is sometimes known as the Sarcophagus of the Spouses. It is housed in the Etruscan Museum in Rome at Villa Giulia and is often compared to a remarkably similar piece at the Louvre. Found in a necropolis in modern Ceveteri, once the Etruscan city of Caera, it is a painted terracotta funerary piece that once held the ashes of the deceased. On the lid, two figures recline—in Roman times, the sign of a free man, and possibly also so in the Etruscan—probably at a funerary banquet. Notably the man is accompanied by a woman (who had status in the Etruscan household) who pours perfume oil into his palm, which was apparently part of the festivities. There is also a roundish thing that might be a pomegranate, symbol of Persephone, immortality, and the “resurrection” of plants in spring. Both are smiling and have pointed oval/almond eyes and plaited hair and the woman wears very pointy shoes. There s thought to be Greek influence in the faces, but the smiles and the lack of detail in the legs is considered Etruscan.

4. Mausoleum of Ravenna

Built in 520 C.E., this mausoleum was original built as a tomb for Theoderic the Great, a king of the Ostrogoths. He was made a patrician of Rome by emperor Zeno. The mausoleum is made of “opus quadratum” stone, a technique that was outdated long before this was built, so it probably intended to make a connection between current Christian rule and the long-lived reins of the Roman empire. It is two decagons stacked on top of each toher, topped by a single massive piece of stone for the roof. On the inside it has a porphyry (purple, often reserved for emperors) marble grave which originally held Theoderic, but his remains were removed. It is considered remarkable for being neither Byzantine nor Roman, but the Romanesque of the rest of Europe.

5. Wartburg Castle

Wartburg Castle, begun in 1067, sits high above the Thuringian city of Eisenbach. It has fun stories associated with its founding. The name which plays on Burg for town or fortress, and Berg which is mountain is one of them, bt the more interesting is that Louis the Springer had dirt from his land put on the cliff so he could say the castle had been built on his land. It is built in the Romanesque style more commonly used for churches, and has a barbican and drawbridge. The owners housed poets and important personages, including the author of the famous grail story Parzival, Martin Luther, and Goethe who did drawings of the castle.

6. Canterbury Cathedral

The original cathedral of Canterbury in England was founded in 597 C.E., and completely rebuilt in the 1070s in a Romanesque style by the Norman conquerors, not at all dissimilar to Warburg. After a fire, it was rebuilt in a Gothic style in the late 12th century. The symbolic seat of power for the Anglican Christians, on one level, it is intimately related to St. Peter’s in the Vatican. It also houses the shrine of Thomas Becket, archbishop and friend/thorn in side of the then king. It is built on a long, rectangular basilican plan that terminates in a rounded apse and transepts. The impressively long nave has vaulted ceilings, about 80 feet high, supported on massive pillars. The tall external towers are visible from dozens of miles away, and the exterior is pierced characteristic arched windows and recessed portals, which bear extensive sculptural programs. The interior chapels were outfitted with stained glass windows in the 13th century.