Monday, March 10, 2014


Begun in 29 BC at the behest of Augustus (27 BC/14 AD) as a tomb for himself and for his family
The diameter is about 87 m (285 feet) and it was probably 30 m (100 feet) high
At the top maybe there was a bronze statue of Augustus, a copy of which may be the '"Augustus of Prima Porta" in the Vatican Museums
It was not a burial mound of Etruscan origin, but a complex structure in superimposed layers derived from Hellenistic funerary monuments like the tomb of Alexander the Great in Alexandria that Augustus had visited the year before or the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus itself, built in 351 BC for Mausolus, who gave his name to this type of monumental tombs
Here were buried, in chronological order:
Marcellus, Agrippa, Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar (sons of Agrippa and Julia, the daughter of Augustus, who was not buried here because she was deemed unworthy for her sexual behavior too promiscuous), Augustus himself, Drusus Minor, Augustus' wife Livia, Agrippina Maggiore mother of Caligula and the emperors Tiberius (14/37), maybe Caligula (37/41), Claudius (41/54) and Nerva (96/98)
For a short time the mausoleum housed the ashes of Vespasian (69/79) and after over a century since the last deposition it was reopened to house the ashes of Julia Domna, wife of Septimius Severus (193/211)
The door that opened to the south was preceded by TWO OBELISKS Roman imitation of the Egyptian ones, now in Piazza del Quirinale and Piazza Esquilino
On two pillars at the side of the entrance there were brass plates with the official autobiography of Augustus, the RES GESTAE, known from a copy found in Ankara, Turkey
On the paving slabs there are graffiti used to work the marble blocks of the Pantheon
In the twelfth century it was turned into a DEFENSIVE STRONGHOLD OF THE COLONNA FAMILY (Agosta) stormed in 1241 by the Conti family
It passed later to the Orsini family, and in 1550 to the Soderini family, who transformed it into a hanging garden, after the upper part had collapsed
The Mausoleum then became a vineyard, an arena for bull fights, an arena for shows during the day under the name of ANFITEATRO UMBERTO (Humbert Amphitheater) until 1888, a warehouse, a workshop of the sculptor Enrico Chiaradia (1851/1901) who modeled here the equestrian statue of Victor Emmanuel II for the Victor Emmanuel Monument, an auditorium for classical music with the name of AUGUSTEO for the orchestra and choir of the Academy of St. Cecilia from 1905 to 1936, when the mausoleum was restored to its original structure
In the years 1934/40 the old neighborhood around it was dismantled
It seems incredible the difference between the amount of money spent for the nearby Ara Pacis, which is not even located in its original site, and the lack of funds, resulting in total abandonment, suffered by the Tomb of Augustus and of the Roman emperors

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