Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Oscan Epigraphic Habit

Last week’s announcement of the discovery of a Samnite tomb in Pompeii was a good indication of how much material (both pre- and post- Roman) there is still to find in the ancient city. Whilst many of us eagerly await further excavation and the scientific analysis of what has been unearthed thus far, there is one thing that will never be known about this woman: her name. The Samnites rarely, if ever, marked their graves, and certainly not with the kind of durable stone inscriptions that are found all over the Greek and Roman worlds. But this is not to say that the Samnites (or other Italic peoples) didn’t have written language, or an epigraphic habit. The survival of Oscan texts in Pompeii is actually quite significant considering that the last of the language and the people who used it were subsumed under the Roman umbrella in the first century BC.

Oscan was one of many Italic languages used in the Italian peninsula prior to the dominance of Latin. It first appears in written form on coins dated to the fifth century BC. An Indo-European language, it borrowed elements of both the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, forming a text that was written from right to left. The Pompeian inscriptions in Oscan were first published in Emil Vetter’s Handbuch der Italischen Dialekte (1953). More recently, a three volume collection edited by Michael Crawford et al, Imagines Italicae, comprehensively compiles the evidence for Italic languages from across the ancient world. Volume II contains the material from Pompeii; 147 texts in all. Some are too fragmentary to transcribe enough to translate or identify, but those that are complete include names on pots, terracotta moulds, tiles, stamps, amphora, and dolia, graffiti on exterior walls of houses, and monumental lapidary inscriptions, most often recording building works. Traditionally, these texts have been primarily used for two purposes: to understand the administration of the city in the periods before the Social War and between the fall of Pompeii and its official colonization nine years later, or to trace the involvement (or lack thereof) of indigenous families in politics through the Roman period. There have also been some attempts to use the Oscan inscriptions as evidence for a resurgence Italic nationalism in the first century AD, but this has largely been discredited by Crawford and McDonald.

There are, however, a series of texts that do seem to relate to the Sullan siege of Pompeii. Collectively known as ‘eituns’, they appear to be notices, usually painted on or near corners of insulae, that designate assembly points for members of the neighbourhood. The exact purpose of the assembly points is unknown, but the generally accepted speculation was that these were in use when the city was besieged, serving as emergency rallying points should the city walls be breached. Most of these were found under later layers of plaster, discovered only when the plaster began to flake and peel. A fairly clear example can be seen on a pilaster between the doorways of VI.6.3 and VI.6.4. This text (Pompei 3 = Ve 24) is nearly identical to one found on a pilaster between VI.2.1 and VI.2.2 near the House of Sallust, covered in antiquity with plaster:

Pompei 2 = Ve 23
Eksuk amvíanud eítuns / anter tiurrí XII íní(m) ver(u) / sarínu puf faamat / m(a)r(as) aadíriis v(ibieís)
‘The eítuns from this quarter, between the 12th tower and the Salt Gate [Porta di Ercolano], where Maras Adirius, son of Vibius, commands.’

Other mustering points and commanders named in these notices include a meeting point between the building of Ma. Castricius and Maras Spurius, where V. Sextembrius commands (Pompei 4 = Ve 25, found between VII.6.23 and VII.6.24), between tower 10 and 11 where T. Fisanius, commands (Pompei 5 = Ve 26, located between VI.12.8 and VI.12.1), and by the domus publica near the Temple of Minerva (Pompei 6 = Ve 27, on a doorpost between VIII.5.19 and VIII.5.20).

The majority of the Oscan texts that survive are dedications and commissionings of building works. The majority can be attributed to local magistrates, but one is, perhaps surprisingly, the result of the actions of one of the consuls of Rome. Despite being sixty some years prior to Roman colonisation, the consul Lucius Mummius, who presented gifts of looted booty to various cities after the sacking of Corinth in 146 BC, chose Pompeii as the recipients of one such award. A statue base in the Temple of Apollo, covered with plaster in antiquity, records the gift.


Imagines Italicae Vol. 2, p. 265. Pompei 1 = Ve 61
L(úvkis) mummis l(úvkeís) kúsúl.
‘Lucius Mummius, son of Lucius, consul.’

Another text was recovered from the Temple of Apollo, dated to circa 140 BC, which records the construction of flooring leading into the cella of the temple. This inscription is slightly unusual, as it is formed from the use of small stones laid directly into the flooring at the threshold.

Pompei 23 = Ve 18
Ú(vis) kamp[aniís 1-2 kva]ísstur kúmvbenni[e]í[s] [tanginud] appelluneís eítiuv[ad pavmentú(m) úps]annú(m) aaman[aff]ed
‘Ovius Campanius, [son of?], quaestor, [by decision] of the assembly, from the money of Apollo, had [the pavement] made.’

20150926_161608A similar medium, a pebble mosaic with text, was found on the ramp leading to the Temple of Dionysus.

Pompei 14
Ú(vis) epidiis ú(vieís) tr(ebis) meziis tr(ebieís) aídilis.
‘Ovius Epidius, son of Ovius, and Trebius Messius, son of Trebius, aediles.’

Located about one kilometer from the amphitheatre, the Doric temple at Sain’ Abbondio, dated to approximately 250-200 BC, also houses an inscribed altar with an identical Oscan text on both sides.

Pompei 16
M(a)r(as) atiniís m(a)r(aheís) aídíl suvad eítiuvad.
‘Maras Atinius, son of Maras, aedile, at his own expense.’

Other building works recorded epigraphically include road works beyond the Porta di Stabia  (Pompei 13 = Ve 8), a sundial in the Stabian Baths (Pompei 21 = Ve 12), a small tholos above a well in the Triangular Forum (Pompei 11 = Ve 15), a portico (Pompei 9 = Ve 13), honorific dedications of one sort or another (Pompei 18 = Ve 20, Pompei 24 = Ve 11 et al.) and a variety of building projects that cannot be identified. The biggest problem with the Oscan inscriptions is that many of them were re-used as building material in antiquity. Thus, the original location or structure indicated in the text is lost. An excellent example of this comes from the Porta di Nola.

20150926_150413This limetone slab, now housed in the British Museum, was used in the construction of the gate, and appears to have already been broken / damaged when it was inserted into the archway of the gate, near the keystone, and was covered with plaster. Its location renders it highly improbable that the inscription was still meant to be read, much less was actually legible in situ.

Pompei 8 = Ve 14
V(ibis) púpidiis v(ibieís) / med(dís) túv(tíks) / aamanaffed / ísídu / prúfatted
‘Vibius Popidius, son of Vibius, chief magistrate (meddix tuticus) had this built, the same person passed (it) as completed.’

The re-use of Oscan inscriptions demonstrates the fundamental fact that the language was more or less obliterated with the influx of Latin. That the Romans cared little to preserve the earlier texts is incredibly frustrating for someone like me, but understandable in the context of the ever-expanding empire of the first centuries BC and AD. Even when structures, such as the mensa ponderaria (Pompei 27 = Ve 22) which originated in the Oscan period, were maintained, alterations were made: both the measurement cavities and the text were re-formed to Latin standards in the Roman period. Regardless, the Oscan inscriptions that remain demonstrate that the epigraphic habit was hardly just a Roman one, or one that was introduced to Pompeii with colonisation. Despite the initial non-urbanised culture of the Samnite people, the evidence shows that city life, and recording its civic activities, was not limited to any one Italic population. Perhaps the best example of that comes in a final series of texts, graffiti, found around Pompeii. There are at least eight abecedaria (Pompei 74-81), which, if we view them as the Latin versions are interpreted, demonstrate children (or adults) busy learning their language. 

Pompei 78 = Ve 69, a

Pompei 78 = Ve 69, a

To my mind, there is little else that can illustrate the importance of Oscan in pre-Roman Pompeii so well.

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Duos Annos


It is now two years since I began my Leverhulme Trust funded project looking at social networks in Pompeii. Over the past year, my research has taken me off into a slightly different direction, particularly looking at some very specific aspects of political life in the ancient city, for which the way names are used is a fundamental component. Looking back at what I wrote to commemorate the first anniversary, I am pleasantly surprised by the increase in traffic, comments, and followers for this blog. To date, the site has been visited more than 18,000 times (more than twice the number of the first year), which is, frankly, astounding. I am sure this is in no small part due to the support of Blogging Pompeii and Napoli Unplugged, amongst others, who have frequently shared my posts, for which I am most grateful. I hope that the many people who come here continue to find my work interesting, as I certainly enjoy writing these posts.

And as such, as before, the five most popular posts published in the last year:

5. Losing my Religion (249)

4. Fools & Fakes (275)

3. Samnites in Pompeii (290)

2. Alma Tadema’s Imagined Connections (425)

1. Pompeii & Rome (441)

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Samnites in Pompeii

155837163-9171ee50-2b8f-422d-b732-d49f1073699dYesterday came a rather exciting announcement that a Samnite grave has been discovered in Pompeii. The details revealed thus far include that a skeleton, belonging to a woman approximately forty to fifty years old, complete with grave goods including numerous jars still containing traces of their original contents, has been excavated in an area beyond the Porta di Ercolano.

The Samnites were a native Italic people (much like the Latins who founded Rome), whose culture was similarly tribal, consisting of a loose federation of a number of groups who inhabited parts of central and southern Italy. They tended to live in some of the more mountainous regions of Italy, were sheep herders, and famed wool workers. They leave no written record of their own, but survive in the history of Rome written by Livy. His material, however, is heavily biased, as he was largely writing about the Samnites and their part in a series of wars fought against Rome in the fourth and early third centuries BC. Known collectively as the Samnite Wars, this conflict is largely characterised as a struggle for control of the Italian peninsula, in which Rome was the ultimate victor. It should thus come as no surprise that Livy views the Samnites as warlike, uncivilised, and generally inferior.

So how did a Samnite woman end up in Pompeii? Whilst my current work is focused entirely on the Roman period of Pompeii (89 BC to AD 79), the city existed for many hundreds of years before that. The settlement’s history is long and complicated: at a minimum, five separate cultural groups, including the Romans, are thought to have contributed to the town’s development during its six hundred years of existence. There are archaeological remains in Pompeii for Greeks, Etruscans, Samnites, and an unnamed indigenous Italic population in addition to the Romans. The foundation of the city, and the exact phases (if exclusive, which they probably were not) of each cultural group are a bit murky. However, it is clear from the archaeological record in Pompeii and in other towns of southern Italy, that sometime in the fourth century BC, the people of Samnium moved down from the mountains and into some of the more urban areas. Just in Campania, there is evidence of Samnite populations in Capua and Nola in addition to Pompeii.

One of the most comprehensive works published on the Samnites comes from E.T. Salmon. According to him, Samnites practiced inhumation, not cremation, and the archaeological evidence from excavations various necropoleis, such as the one at Aufidena, shows the same burial rite continuously used over centuries. The graves were lined, initially with wooden planks, later progressing to stones, and, eventually, to tiles. Many of the graves were also lined with gravel to facilitate drainage. The body of the deceased was fully dressed and laid out at full length in a supine position. The head was usually propped up on some object serving as a pillow. Grave goods always contained a number of rough impasto jars and a bowl, presumably used in a funeral feast (many recovered were found to contain traces of food). Stones or tiles were used to cover the graves, but they remained unmarked. Amongst the grave goods for women, spindles and loom weights were often found. As these items have been found in abundance in many of the native sites excavated in southern Italy, working wool was clearly a large part of the daily life of Samnite women. Schneider-Herrmann has suggested the importance of wool working was such that the women had great skill in weaving intricate patterns, basing this on the clothing depicted on Campanian vases of the fourth century. Though made under Greek influence throughout the fourth century BC, vases found in Campania and Apulia can be identified as depicting Samnites based on the native costumes worn by the figures.

As to Samnite burial in Pompeii, there are, in fact, a number of pre-Roman graves that have been found around the city. The dominant practice at the time was inhumation, as is expected, and they mostly consisted of simple burials of the corpse in stone or tile-lined cists, or occasionally even unlined burials. Some of these rather basic burials include grave goods such as bronze bracelets, terracotta bowls, jars and lamps, including Greek forms such as lekythoi, kylixes, and skyphoi. There are two areas around Pompeii were Samnite (or at the very least, pre-Roman) burials have been discovered. The largest of these consists of a group of approximately 160 graves, includes both pre- and post-colonial burials. Found five hundred metres beyond the Porta di Stabia in a four-hundred-square-metre area known as Fondo Azzolini, it has been identified as belonging to one family, the Epidii, who continued to use this one specific area outside the Porta di Stabia from pre-Roman times until the end of the city’s life, demonstrating a multigenerational adherence to one spot that is considered atypical. The earliest graves (just over forty in number) are inhumations similar to those attested by the Samnites, but there is alteration in the postcolonial period with a change to cremation, the addition of terracotta tubes for libations, and a greater inclination towards marking the burial locations with columellae.

A few pre-Roman graves have also been identified beyond the Porta di Ercolano, and this is part of what makes yesterday’s announcement so exciting. The original identification probably originated with Mau who notes the existence of a small Oscan cemetery that contains skeletons on the north-west side of the city. This reference is repeated by J.M.C.Toynbee in Death and Burial in the Roman World, who notes a series of four Samnite graves on the north side of the road leading away from the Porta di Ercolano on her plan of the cemetery.

ph plan

Section of Toynbee’s plan: Samnite graves are numbers 31-32.

But Toynbee failed to elaborate any further on the nature of the burials, or if they had ever even been excavated. This was slightly problematic, as later studies refer back to her when they mention ‘Samnite graves.’ Kockel included a brief description of the graves; his discussion, however, was confused by including a number of pre- and post-Roman burials, and artifacts that could be dated from the late Republican to early Flavian periods. All that was really clear about the area was that it had been used for burial continuously since before colonisation.

But this area, on the northwest side of the road, is exactly where the new grave has been found. From the photos (the best released so far are in the La Repubblica article), it is apparent that the tomb consists of a stone lined, inhumed, skeleton, fully extended in a supine position, with various pots, including red-figure vases of the type that were produced locally in Campania as well as imported from Greece. At first glance, it looks like a text-book example of a Samnite burial. I am sure I am not the only person who is eagerly anticipating further analysis of the bones, the jars and their contents, and hopefully, more excavation in the surrounding area.

The earliest graves in Pompeii resemble the Samnite burials of central and southern Italy dating from the ninth to the fourth centuries BC, which I have always felt indicates there was a stronger Samnite presence in the city than has previously been attested. The limited remains of Oscan (the language of the Samnites, which I intend to get to on another day) has been used by some to argue that Pompeii was thoroughly Romanised already at the time of colonisation, and the changes in burial that took place fairly rapidly after 80 BC may be indicative of that. Still, the pre-Roman graves thus far discovered, including this new one, are all located in the extra-mural environment, which shows that although the Roman directive to bury beyond the city walls was not a change from pre-existing practice, the change in form to cremation and large, above-ground tombs, more or less obliterated the earlier burials from the archaeological record, subject only to accidental discovery. I, for one, am extremely grateful for such a beautiful accident.

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Go Figure*

I recently discovered the eclectic and all together fantastic collection of Classical and classically inspired objects that make up Sir John Soane’s Museum. It was, for the sheer size and arrangement of the artifacts, overwhelming. As such, I plan to return another day to explore the permanent collections more thoroughly. My primary objective on this occasion, however, was to see the temporary exhibit ‘Drawn from Antiquity.’ The exhibit focuses on the use of ancient sculpture as the basis for life-drawing over the course of the last five hundred years. Sculpture, particularly the many nudes that survived antiquity, was a more than adequate replacement for a live model, either when it was considered unseemly, or as an initial introduction, prior to the use of the real life human form. If one considers particularly the athleticism often depicted in male statues (which indeed, was in part the inspiration of the recent British Museum exhibit ‘Defining Beauty‘), sculpture was an ideal representation of the musculature of the human form. This exhibit then, brings together a collection of works that focus particularly on the artist at work, whether in a studio or museum, and thus demonstrate the use of ancient sculpture as the model for life drawing. One excellent example of this, shown below, illustrates the use of a combination of classical sculpture, skeletons, and what appears to be a corpse as the artists’ models.

Jan van der Straet and Cornelis Cort 'The Practice of the Visual Arts' (1578) British Museum.

Jan van der Straet and Cornelis Cort ‘The Practice of the Visual Arts’ (1578) British Museum.

This sort of practice is, in fact, the inspiration for Soane’s own collection of architectural fragments, casts, sculpture and other items which he kept in his home and used to educate his architecture students at the Royal Academy of Art.

This got me thinking a bit about the practice of drawing generally, but more specifically about the tendency to draw the human figure, whether a simple stick figure or a fully articulated representation of the human form. Pompeii, of course, in addition to the thousands of textual graffiti adorning the city’s walls, also hosts a large number of figural graffiti. These range from elaborate drawings like that found in the House of the Ship Europa (so named, in fact, for the graffito of the ship), to small doodles that are not readily identifiable as depicting an human or animal:

Man or bird? Langner 241,  III.4.b

Man or bird? Langner 241, III.4.b

Although some of the figural graffiti include some text, usually in the form of a single name or numerals, the majority are nothing but a drawing, and thus not something I often get to look at. The tendency to draw in antiquity is, however, well documented in Martin Langner’s Antike Graffitizeichnungen, which demonstrates that practice was widespread both in terms of geography and subject matter. He attempts to classify the images into typologies, which, for the most part work, but the ambiguity and differences in the skill level of execution to sometimes render this subjective. Regardless, what quickly becomes apparent when flipping through his catalogue is that there is a desire to replicate the human form, whether or not one can do so accurately.

Langner 633, IX.11.3

Langner 633, IX.11.3

This figure is of particular interest for its crudity. An argument has been put forward by Katherine Huntley that some of the figural graffiti from the Vesuvian region can by used to study childhood development. Her premise is that developmental psychology has shown children conceptualise and draw in a specific manner as they are developing which is ubiquitous across language, culture, and time, and therefore can be applied to the identification of the type of drawing typical of children as a method for identification. She outlines six stages in development of drawing beginning with scribbling, progressing through basic or pre-schematic, schematic, visual schema, visual realism. She attributes this human figure from the exterior of a bar to the third (schematic) stage when drawing begins to become more complex and multiple elements are combined to form a composite image such as this one, which combines a diagonal cross and an oval to create a more complex figure.

Other elements of the progression of drawing (whether by child or adult) can be seen in the layering of elements. In the figure below, hair exists underneath the cap, in a manner that suggests one aspect (hair) was applied before the next (cap), thus creating a final product that was logical in its conception, but is unrealistic in its execution. This occurs in full figure illustrations


Langner 254, V.2.4

as well. This figure, viewed in profile, depicts both arms despite the side-on perspective. This too, is a common occurrence in drawings created by those of either lesser skill or age.

Langner 711, Grand Palaestra, II.7

Langner 711, Grand Palaestra, II.7

What is interesting to me, however, particularly in the context of the Soane exhibit which inspired me to look at figural graffiti, is that many of the images actually recreate standard ancient portrait types. The majority of the facial illustrations are similar to the portrait busts popular in Roman (and to be fair, Greek) sculpture. They depict a head and shoulders, often but not always in profile. Some are of course, rendered more expertly than others,

Langner 206, VI.16.35

Langner 206, VI.16.35

This particular example adds lines around the neck and shoulders, attempting to give a three-dimensional appearance to the graffito as if it was, in fact, a sculpture rather than a scratched drawing. The final example is an illustration of a gladiator. It is in gladiators and other athletic figures that there is an attempt to depict the human form more accurately, that is, in conveying musculature, movement, and often clothing and weaponry.

Langner 770, Grand Palaestra, II.7

Langner 770, Grand Palaestra, II.7

Here, there is a curvature to the calf, knee, and thigh that is indicative of muscular legs. The bent leg emphasises this. Likewise, the left shoulder and upper arm is similarly muscled, and the bent elbow, combined with the hold on a short sword demonstrates an awareness on behalf of the artist of movement, the form of the body, and the way athletic figures were depicted in other media, especially sculpture. This image, and others like it, seem to indicate that like their more modern counterparts, those living two thousand years ago also drew from antiquity.

*The inspiration for this post lays in part with Sophie Hay and her recent habit of tweeting figural graffiti to illustrate her current mood.

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Losing My Religion

I recently completed an article I was invited to write for a special issue of Leidschrift that focuses entirely on Pompeii and Herculaneum. My contribution looks specifically at the connections that exist between politics and religion. In doing so however, I noticed something that rather surprised me: it is difficult to reconcile the architectural and epigraphic evidence in regards to religious activity. There is a disconnect between which gods had temples dedicated in their honour, and which had active worshipers according to written records.

This map, with temple precincts shaded grey, locates the majority of temples and religious sanctuaries, with the exception of the Temple of Venus just outside the city walls, in Regio VII and Regio VIII, in and around the Forum and the Triangular Forum.


From W. van Andringa (2012) ‘Statues in the Temples of Pompeii: Combinations of Gods, Local Definitions of Cults, and the Memory of the City’

The temples include the aforementioned complex dedicated to Venus, as well the Capitolium dedicated to the Triad of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, Apollo, Isis, Aesculapius, Fortuna Augusta, Minerva/Hercules, Divus Augustus, and other small shrines and altars. The official offices of priests and priestesses (sacerdos, flamen, and pontifex) that survive in the epigraphic record are limited to only three divinities: Venus, Ceres, and the Imperial Cult. Numerous men are named as sacerdos Augusti or flamin Augusti in the texts. I have previously discussed the priestesses, primarily from the Augustan and Tiberian period, who served Ceres and Venus. The precinct of Venus is well documented, but the texts that survive naming her priestesses are either funerary in nature, or in the case of Eumachia and Mammia, survive in dedicatory inscriptions on public edifices in the Forum. Despite epigraphic evidence for Ceres, there is no known temple, at least not within the city walls. A complex containing three small temples from the suburban area of Pompeii, may contain a Temple of Ceres, but identification is based solely on the discovery of two female statues, one of which is thought to represent Ceres.

On the contrary, the Temple of Isis, which has long been considered one of the most important religious centres in Pompeii, not least because of its speedy re-building after the earthquake in AD 62, has no identifiable priest.

CIL X 846 = ILS 6367
N(umerius) Popidius N(umeri) f(ilius) Celsinus / aedem Isidis terrae motu conlapsam / a fundamento p(ecunia) s(ua) restituit hunc decuriones ob liberalitatem / cum esset annorum sex{s} ordini suo gratis adlegerunt.
‘Numerius Popidius Celsinus, son of Numerius, rebuilt the Temple of Isis from the foundations at his own expense which had collapsed from an earthquake. Because of his generosity, despite his age of six years, the decurions nominated him to the ordo without charge.’

This is one of the only surviving inscriptions found in Pompeii that actually names a temple as such. However, there is no evidence of a priest of Isis. The few other inscriptions from the temple precinct are dedicatory and say little, if anything, about Isis. For example, the plinth on which stood a statue of Isis, was inscribed with the following:

CIL X 849
L(ucius) Caecilius Phoebus posvit / l(oco) d(ato) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum).
‘Lucius Caecilius Phoebus placed (this statue). Place given by decree of the decurions.’

LRT_13700156000Whilst there might not be any evidence for those charged with the office of worshiping Isis, there are some dipinti that indicate that the goddess did have adherents.

CIL IV 787 = ILS 6420b
Cn(aeum) Helvium / Sabinum aed(ilem) Isiaci / universi rog(ant).
‘All the worshipers of Isis call for the election of Gnaeus Helvius Sabinus, aedile.’

CIL IV 3141
Isi[acis – – – ]is ubique.
‘The worshipers of Isis are everywhere.’

CIL IV 1011 = ILS 6419f
Cuspium Pansam aed(ilem) / Popidius Natalis cliens cum Isiacis rog(at).
‘Popidius Natalis, his client, with the worshipers of Isis, call for the election of Cuspius Pansa, aedile.’

That this last dipinto is commissioned by a member of the Popidii may give some indication that this family was heavily dedicated to Isis, but still fails to provide evidence for a priest. On some level, this may not be surprising. Priests of foreign – especially eastern or oriental – religions tended to live separately, often marked by distinctive clothing, shaved heads, and were not unusually foreigners themselves. Evilness aside, the characterisation of the Egyptian Arbaces in Bulwer-Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii wasn’t entirely unfounded. This may go some way to explaining the lack of priests in the epigraphic record.

However, that is not the case for many of the Roman gods that also have temples in the city, many of which were more prominent in terms of location and within the Pantheon of Roman religion.  Apollo, Minerva, and Aesculapius all have temples but no named priesthoods. Jupiter, independently and as part of the Capitoline triad, has two named priests, albeit one is sligtly problematic. An inscription, dated to AD 37, has Greek on one side that names Gaius Iulius Hephaistion, a priest of the community of Frigi, who made  a dedication to Jupiter Frigio. The other side contains a fragmentary Latin text:

CIL X 796
I(ovi) [O(ptimo)] M(aximo) / pro salute [C(ai) Ca]esaris Augusti / Germani[ci I]mp(eratoris) pontif(icis) max(imi) / tribunic(ia) p[ote]stat(e) consulis / [- – -]octus p(ecunia) s(ua).
‘To Jupiter Best and Greatest. For the well-being of [Gaius] Caesar Augustus Germanicus, hailed as victorious general, chief priest, holder of tribunician power, consul, [. . .]octus at his own expense.’

Because the text specifically names the priest as belonging to another town, it is a bit tenuous to claim this represents a religious office in Pompeii. Likewise, one text, also dated to the Julio-Claudian period, that survives naming a priest of both Jupiter and Mars belongs to a man who had a rather illustrious career elsewhere:

CIL X 797 = ILS 5004
Sp(urius) Turranius L(uci) f(ilius) Sp(uri) n(epos) L(uci) pron(epos) Fab(ia) / Proculus Gellianus praef(ectus) fabr(um) II pra<i>f(ectus) curatorum alvei / Tiberis pra<i>f(ectus) pro pr(aetore) i(ure) d(icundo) in urbe Lavinio / pater patratus populi Laurentis foederis / ex libris Sib<u>llinis percutiendi cum p(opulo) R(omano) / sacrorum principiorum p(opuli) R(omani) Quirit(ium) nominis/que Latini qua<i> apud Laurentis coluntur flam(en) / Dialis flam(en) Martial(is) salius pra<i>sul augur pont(ifex) / pra<i>f(ectus) cohort(is) Ga<i>tul(orum) tr(ibunus) mil(itum) leg(ionis) X / loc(us) d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum).
Spurius Turranius Proculus Gellianus, son of Lucius, grandson of Spurius, great-grandson of Lucius, of the Fabian tribe; staff officer twice; prefect of the curators of the Tiber channel; prefect with the powers of a praetor in charge of jurisdiction in the city of Lavinium; father of the deputation of the Laurentine people in charge of concluding the treaty with the Roman people in accordance with the Sibylline books, which relates to the rites concerned with the origins of the Roman people, the Quirites, and of the people of the Latin name, which are observed among the Laurentines; priest of Jupiter; priest of Mars; leading member of the Salii priesthood; augur and pontiff; prefect of the Gaetulian cohort; military tribune of the tenth legion (dedicated this) place by  decree of the decurions.’

One further example exists naming a flamen of Mars, but like Ceres, there is no known Temple.

CIL IV 879 = ILS 6364
M(arco) Lucretio flam(ini) Martis decuri//oni / Pompei[s].
‘To Marcus Lucretius, flamen of Mars, decurion of Pompeii.’

As the only two texts that name Mars consist of a man who had a long career elsewhere and a graffito, the worship of the war god in Pompeii remains somewhat speculative.

Overall, the evidence for religious activity in Pompeii is simultaneously abundant and scarce. There are ample architectural remains by means of temples, the city’s walls are covered with images of gods and goddesses in a mythological context, but the epigraphic record does not reflect the kind of religious activity one would expect. What strikes me as a potential solution to this paradox is evidence I have thus far overlooked, but is perhaps far more prevalent than the large public temples or official offices of priesthoods. The most visible form of religious activity is on a much smaller, localised scale – that of the household, street and neighbourhood shrines dedicated to the lares and genius of individual families and vici. It is here that the daily worship of Pompeians can be seen, but that is a post for another day.

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