Ceremonial Front
original west front

Numa / Aeneas

This is one of the most complete of the figurative relief panels. Yet the scene and figures represented continue to be debated. This relief had long been identified as Aeneas sacrificing to the Penates, and some scholars continue to support this reading. But an increasing number of scholars recognize that there are problems with this identification. Most serious is the fact that the Roman public would surely have been expected to recognize the main figure, but there are no other known images of Aeneas middle age with beard and head covered. Increasingly, scholars interpret this image as Numa sealing a peace treaty. Numa Pompilius was elected by the Roman Senate as the second king of Rome, following Romulus.

The purpose of this web site is not to engage in these interpretations but to provide visual documentation which may contribute to their reconsideration. For these questions, not only the main figures but also rare surviving details such as the small shrine at upper-left and subtly carved hand holding a staff at upper-right provide essential evidence.