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'Framing' Romanità: The Celebrations for the Bimillenario Augusteo and the Augusteo–Ara Pacis Project

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date10/2011
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Journal number4
Volume46
Number of pages23
Pages809-831
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In the early 1930s the fascist authorities took the decision to celebrate the 2000-year anniversary of Augustus’ birth, scheduled for 1937–8. The celebrations constituted the pinnacle of fascism’s identification with romanità and underlined Mussolini's growing tendency to identify with an 'imperial' imagery. They also constituted a crucial landmark in the regime's effort to portray Rome as the sacred centre of a new universal political religion. In this article I focus on the two landmark architectural-urbanistic projects in the context of the Bimillenario that were eventually fused into one: the reconfiguration of Augustus’ Mausoleum and its surrounding zone; and the excavation and reconstruction of the Ara Pacis Roman temple. The extravagant programme of architectural-urbanistic interventions in an area of profound archaeological importance inside the historic centre of Rome provides a case-study for assessing the regime’s growing tendency to use architecture and conspicuous, lavish urban planning as acts of 'framing' the past in new 'sacred' locations where space and time interpenetrated. Through projects such as the Augusteo-Ara Pacis the fascist regime aimed to transform the ‘framed’ relics of the Roman palimpsest into 'sacred' access points of a new, decidedly futural and universal temporality.