Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Fine Arts

Committee Chair

Maloney, Stephanie


Augustus, Emperor of Rome, 63 B.C.-14 A.D.--Tomb; Mausoleum of Augustus (Rome, Italy); Sepulchral monuments--Italy--Rome; Mausoleums--Italy--Rome; Rome (Italy)--Buildings, structures, etc.


In this dissertation I examine the meaning of the Mausoleum of Augustus and how this meaning has evolved and expanded over its two thousand years of existence. The discussion of the meaning of the tomb has often been neglected in previous scholarship due to the continuing debates over possible reconstructions of its appearance, probable antecedents for its design and questions concerning its date of construction. I propose the Mausoleum was constructed primarily as a victory monument. This message is conveyed through the use of architectural elements typical of victory monuments that can be found in and around the city of Rome. The construction of the Ara Pacis and Horologium, creating an Augustan complex in the northern Campus Martius, emphasized this message of victory but also expanded it to include the concept of peace. I continue my evaluation of the meaning of the Mausoleum of Augustus by tracing its history from the fall of Rome to the twenty-first century. I present the monument as if the main subject of a biography. I examine its role in the life of the city of Rome as it changed from being a tomb to being used as a fortress, vineyard, statue garden, bull ring, and, finally, a concert hall. These various uses over the centuries affected both the physical appearance of the Mausoleum as well as its meaning to the citizens of Rome. I then examine the role of the Mausoleum in the first half of the twentieth century when it became a centerpiece of Fascist propaganda. In the 1930s Mussolini initiated the excavation and isolation of the monument. It was during this time, that the Piazza Imperatore Augusto was constructed in an attempt to highlight the monument. I suggest that instead of spotlighting the Mausoleum, this work actually ended its vibrant role within the life of Rome. It is only now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, that Mausoleum is beginning to reemerge as an important part of Rome's past and future. This change started with the construction of Richard Meier's Ara Pacis Museum and is continuing with the proposed revitalization of the monument and the Piazza Imperatore Augusto.