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Tarraco Viva – Augustus and the power of the mask

The centerpiece of the sixteenth edition of the Tarraco Viva festival  in Tarragona is the replica of the Ara Pacis, the Altar of Augustan Peace, faithfully recreated and centre stage of “Augustus and the power of the mask”, a one and half hour historical presentation given by the festival’s director Magí Seritjol, and based the life of the Emperor Augustus.

Tarragona Blog has the great privilege this year of being granted access to the core of the festival and witness the painstaking preparations which take place behind the scenes. Last night, two hours before the start of the event, a feverish rehearsal was taking place at the Recinte Firal of the Palau de Congresso de Tarragona and starring nearly a hundred history enthusiast dressed in Roman garbs. The details would make Stanley Kubrick proud and include rings, jewellery, and the perfect replica of the foodware of the times.

The stage consists of interchanging panels which follow the historical narration. A replica of a statue of Augustus, cast from an original bronze which can be found on the Muralles romanes de Tarragona, is presented with a polychrome  finish, faithful to the appearance the statuary of the time; the effect is dazzling, almost a life like appearance.

But the centre piece is the Ara Pacis which is unveiled  as the symbolic legacy of Augustus reign. The reproduction rotates around its axis giving the seated spectator a full tour of the intricate decorated details.

Magí Seritjol’s one and half hours bravura presentation provides the connection between the stage sets and slides, introducing Gaius Octavius and it’s ascent of power which would eventually make him the first Roman emperor and confer him the title of Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus.   Augustus fondness of Tarraco is well documented and he often came here on vacation to recover from his ailing health and if his spirit has been among the audience last night he would have been pleased.

For more information about the festival, see

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