Pyramid of Caius Cestius



Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Italian, 1720 - 1778


Pyramid of Caius Cestius






15 3/8 x 21 in. (39.1 x 53.3 cm)

Object Number



Once Egypt had become a province of the Empire in 30 BC, many Romans began to display a taste for all things Egyptian. Caius Cestius, who held several prominent offices under the emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD), indulged this taste by constructing his tomb in the shape of a pyramid sometime before 12 BC on the road leading to the port of Ostia. In the third century it became a part of the Aurelian walls, as can be seen at the left of this veduta. During the Middle Ages, when brambles had grown up to cover the inscriptions, it was thought to be the tomb of Remus. This was a monument that fascinated Piranesi. He had published another view of the pyramid earlier, but returned to it here in a more dramatic treatment, with one face in shadow and its apex rising to just touch the edge of the plate.
The Views of Rome

Credit Line

Museum purchase


Discovering Rome: Maps and Monuments of the Eternal City, Michael C. Carlos Museum, September 16, 2006 - January 14, 2007|
Antichità, Teatro, Magnificenza: Renaissance and Baroque Images of Rome, Michael C. Carlos Museum, August 24 - November 17, 2013
Antichita, Teatro, Magnificenza (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2013), 61 (checklist only).


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.
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On View



Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Italian, 1720 - 1778, “Pyramid of Caius Cestius,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed January 16, 2019,

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