Side with Augustus
original south side

Far right with Children

16th and 17th C. Drawings of Slabs
from the Processional Frieze

The identity, and thus interpretation, of the 4 children toward the right of the processional frieze with Augustus has engaged scholars in perhaps the most challenging, and revealing, debate regarding any of the figures in the 2 processional friezes. Persuasive arguments have been advanced for why the children must be members of the imperial family, others for why one or more of them must be not even Romans but barbarian hostages or eastern princes.

Beginning in the late 16th century, drawings were made recording figural reliefs on blocks of marble that had recently been discovered.

We now recognize that these drawings represent sections of the processional reliefs originally on the north and south sides of the Ara Pacis Augustae. However, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the original location of the Ara Pacis has been totally forgotten. Thus, even though these blocks were discovered near the original location of the monument, no one associated these reliefs with the Ara Pacis.

Nevertheless, the quality and importance of the reliefs was recognized and these drawings were done partly to document these impressive new discoveries. The drawings made in the 16th and 17th centuries usually agree closely in their imagery. Although they do not have the usual characteristics of documentary drawings, the Codex Vaticanus drawings have the fewest changes and most accurately record the reliefs as rediscovered. As such, they are invaluable in helping us distinguish original carving from later additions and other changes. The drawings of slabs from the original south side processional frieze, reproduced below, support our impression that these slabs are the best preserved of all figural reliefs on the Ara Pacis.

Drawings of reliefs from the original south side are illustrated on this page. Drawings of reliefs from the original north side are illustrated in that section of this website.