Posts Tagged With: Tombs

F is for Festius

Whilst finishing corrections to the manuscript that became my book, I discovered that one of the funerary inscriptions carved into the city wall in an area of poor burials between the Porta di Nola and the Porta di Sarno had been misread. CIL X 8351 was read as Aulus Fistius, but is in fact, Aulus Festius. The ‘i’ is actually an ‘e’.

Photo 1.JPG

The name ‘Fistius’ doesn’t actually occur anywhere else in the Roman world, whereas Festius does – including in Pompeii. There are a series of dipinti (CIL IV 1182-1184) that record a man named Numerius Festius Ampliatus, who was a lanista, organising gladiatorial games. The most famous of the texts naming Ampliatus was written in charcoal on a tomb at the Porta di Ercolano. As this dipinto was recorded alongside an elaborate stucco decoration of games, gladiators, and wild animals, his games are believed to have been quite the spectacle.

festius.jpg

The article that discusses my findings and the evidence for the mis-reading of the name of Festius has been published in the latest volume of Epigraphica. If anyone would like a PDF of the article, please email me here.

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E is for Epidius

The letter E has been a bit of a dilemma for me – there aren’t many gentilicium that begin with this letter – but there are two that are considered to be families of distinction. What is somewhat remarkable about both of them – the Epidii and the Eumachii  – is that they have a reputation for importance in Pompeian scholarship, yet the evidence is actually somewhat scarce, but in different ways. The Eumachii are known almost entirely because of one person, whereas the Epidii are known primarily from a single place – the family burial plot. The idiosyncratic nature of the evidence for the evidence thus made me decide to derive from form and write about both.

The Epidii are one of the families of what are typically termed ‘indigenous’ Pompeians – that is – their presence in Pompeii pre-dates the time of Roman colonisation in 80 BC. There is some connection between the family name and a god of the river Sarnus. Members of the family are attested in the Sabellian period in some Oscan inscriptions. Castrén claims, somewhat dubiously, twenty-nine individuals that belong to the gens Epidia. (A number of these names are only partially recorded in the witness lists of the tablets of Iucundus, and thus there could be some duplication in Castrén’s prosopography). The most well known member of the family is Marcus Epidius Sabinus, who was a magistrate in the Flavian period. There are numerous dipinti supporting his campaigns for both aedile (which he won) and later for duovir. What is noteworthy about his electoral programmata is the inclusion of an endorsement of an agent of the emperor Vespasian in six of his notices.

CIL IV 768 = ILS 6438d
M(arcum) Epidium Sabinum d(uumvirum) i(ure) dic(undo) o(ro) v(os) f(aciatis) dig(nus) est / defensorem coloniae ex sententia Suedi Clementis sancti iudicis / consensu ordinis ob merita eius et probitatem dignum rei publicae faciat / Sabinus dissignator cum Plausu facit.
‘I beg you to elect Marcus Epidius Sabinus duovir with judicial powers, he is worthy. May you elect one who is a protector of the colony according to the opinion of Suedius Clemens, the worshipful judge, and by agreement of the council on account of his merits and his honesty, worthy of public office. Sabinus, the theatre official, elects him with applause.’

There are at least ten different freedmen whose names appear in the wax tablets of Iucundus that belong to the gens Epidia. This in itself is a testament to the apparent size of the family: the tablets are dated to a decade from the 50s to 60s AD, so document a fairly short period of time in which there were ten or more male freedmen of sufficient status to serve as witnesses to financial transactions. None of these men are attested anywhere else in the epigraphic record except Marcus Epidius Hymenaeus, who also appears in electoral notices as a rogator (CIL IV 7509, 7692) and has recorded his name on the walls of the city (CIL IV 9517, 9518.1-5).

What is particularly striking about this family, however, is their funerary evidence. In the early twentieth century, an area was found approximately five hundred meters from the Porta di Stabia, which upon excavation, revealed the burials of more than one hundred and sixty individuals, believed to all be members of the Epidii family. Known as Fondo Azzolini, this four hundred square meter area features two types of burial: inhumation and cremation. Forty-four of the burials are relatively simple interments of corpses in stone lined graves, following the tradition of pre-Roman burial typical of the Samnite period. The remainder consist of burial of urns containing cremated remains, the use of terracotta libations tubes, and grave markers in the form of columellae. Made primarily of tufa and limestone, they are fairly rough in design in comparison to the marble variants found in the city, and many of them are inscribed. In his publication on the original excavation, Matteo Della Corte (NSA 1916: 287-309) recorded funerary epitaphs on thirty-two of the Roman era burials.

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Like so many of those whose name appear as witnesses on the wax tablets, those recorded in the funerary inscriptions are unattested elsewhere in Pompeii. However, based on the nomenclature, the majority appear to belong to slaves, women, and freedmen, so it probably is little surprise that these individuals are otherwise unknown. What this does, though, is clearly illustrate the extended nature of the Roman family. Many also record their ages, which is not unusual in practice, particularly for those who die young, but is nevertheless disproportionately high in occurrence in comparison to other burial areas in Pompeii. Some examples:

NSA 1916: 302.4
M(arcus) Epidius / Monimus / vix(it) ann(is) XXX.
‘Marcus Epidius Monimus lived thirty years.’

NSA 1916: 302.7b
Livia Calliope / v(ixit) ann(is) XXX.
‘Livia Calliope lived thirty years.’

NSA 1916: 303.23
Liberalis / vixit XVII / annis.
‘Liberalis lived seventeen years.’

NSA 1916: 303.66
M(arcus) Epidius / Dioscorus.
‘Marcus Epidius Dioscourus.’

NSA 1916: 303.110
Epidiae / Veneriae.
‘To Epidia Veneria.’

Ultimately, what I find fascinating about the Epidii, is that unlike many of the other prominent families of Pompeii, far more epigraphic evidence survives for the freedmen and slaves of the family than for the men who would have served as owners and patrons. Because so many are to be found in the family’s burial area, it begs the question whether the more elite members of the family were also interred therein, or have the monumental tomb that would be expected of those of their status elsewhere. The fact that Marcus Epidius Sabinus, when running for office, is the sole evidence of support coming from an external magistrate, much less one in the employ of the emperor, suggests that this was a family to be reckoned with. That they had power and prestige is clear, as is the wealth they must have possessed as demonstrated by the number of slaves and freedmen attested. That they are so unobtrusive in the epigraphic record is an anomaly in comparison to other magisterial families.  I, of course, want to know why. Short of finding another tomb or burial area (hang on, I’ll get my trowel!) I’m afraid we’ll never know.

 

 

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E is for Eumachius

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The letter E has been a bit of a dilemma for me – there aren’t many gentilicium that begin with this letter – but there are two that are considered to be families of distinction. What is somewhat remarkable about both of them – the Epidii and the Eumachii – is that they have a reputation for importance in Pompian scholarship, yet the evidence is actually somewhat scarce, but in different ways. The idiosyncratic nature of the evidence thus made me decide to derive from form and write about both.

In the case of the Eumachii, it is an issue of quality over quantity. There are only four members of the family who are actually known from thirty inscriptions. Twenty-one of these texts are found on stamps on tiles, bricks, and amphorae. Robert Étienne once suggested the family was involved with viticulture, which, if true, would naturally lead to involvement with the amphorae industry as well. These stamps potentially name two different members of the family. The majority are attributed to Lucius Eumachius (CIL X 8042.47a-b, 47d-f, 47h-i, 47k-s). Nothing further is known of this man, although he is typically thought to be the father of Eumachia. Inscriptions relating to her (see below) name her father as Lucius, and his use of two names rather than than full tria nomina suggests a Republican date, which would fit chronologically with his daughter’s rise to prominence in the Augustan period. The remaining stamps (CIL X 8042.48c-g) belong to Lucius Eumachius Erotis. The cognomen Erotis is typically associated with slaves, which makes it plausible that this man was a freedman of the family who came to operate the tile manufacturing business. He is named in one further text, a graffito found in the House of Fabius Rufus (VII.16.22). What I find remarkable about this is that if the drawing is correctly rendered, the graffito closely resembles the style of a stamp as found on a clay object:

 

$IFabioRufo_00005 (1)

Fabio Rufo 77.

 

There are six texts that name the gens Eumachia  found in two locations: the eponymous Building of Eumachia (VII.9.1) in the Forum, and her tomb, in the necropolis outside the city at the Porta di Nocera. Eumachia lived during the Augustan period, was a public priestess, and built one of the largest buildings in the Forum during a period of redevelopment that also saw the erection of a temple by her fellow priestess, Mammia. The dedicatory inscription for the building repeats in two locations:

CIL X 810
Eumachia L(uci) f(ilia) sacerd(os) publ(ica) nomine suo et / M(arci) Numistri Frontonis fili(i) chalcidicum cryptam porticus Concordiae / Augustae pietati sua pe<c>unia fecit eademque dedicavit.
CIL X 811
[Eumachia] L(uci) f(ilia) sacerd(os) pub[l(ica)] // [nomine su]o et M(arci) Numistri Front[onis] // [fili(i) c]halcidicum cr[yptam] // por[ticus] // [Con]cordiae Augusta[e pietati] // [sua pec]unia fec[it] // [ea]demque dedicavit.
‘Eumachia, daughter of Lucius, public priestess, in her own name and that of her son, Marcus Numistrius Fronto, built  the chalcidicum, crypt and portico at her own expensein honour of Augustan Concord and Piety and also dedicated them.’

Other inscriptions from the building include a further dedication with priestesses of Ceres (CIL X 812), and the honourific text found on the base of her statue (pictured above):

CIL X 813
Eumachiae L(uci) f(iliae) / sacerd(oti) publ(icae) / fullones.
‘Eumachia, daughter of Lucius, public priestess, the fullers (set this up).’

The tomb itself is sparse, epigraphically speaking. The primary dedication is split across two limestone tablets embedded in the façade of the tomb:

D’Ambrosio & De Caro 11OS
Eumachia / L(uci) f(ilia) // sibi et suis.
‘Eumachia, daughter of Lucius, for herself and hers.’

There are a number of columella associated with this tomb, but only one that names a member of this family.

D’Ambrosio & De Caro 11OS
L(ucius) Eumachius / Aprilis / vix(it) ann(is) XX.
‘Lucius Eumachius Aprilis, lived twenty years.’

Again, the cognomen suggests a freedman rather than a freeborn member of the family. Only one other family member is attested in the epigraphic record. Lucius Eumachius Fuscus is recorded in two texts put up by a number of Augustales, dedicated to the cult of Mercury, Maia, and Augustus (CIL X 899, 900). He is listed in the inscriptions as part of the fasti, which names the consuls in Rome and the men serving Pompeii as duoviri and aedilis in the year AD 32. He was an aedile. Castrén speculates that he is the brother of Eumachia, but it is not at all clear from the evidence. He could just as easily be the son of a freedmen, such as Lucius Eumachius Erotis, the tile maker. There is no record of the family later than AD 32.

What is interesting here, is that for all intents and purposes, the epigraphic record for the Eumachii family is relatively small. The majority of it comes from stamps on tiles and amphorae – not texts that usually garner much attention when scholars discuss the prominent families of the ancient city. The high status awarded this family is, in reality, down to the prominence of a single building. That Eumachia was able to not only fund such a large scale building project, but also able to obtain the central location it holds in the Forum, is the sole factor contributing to the reputation given to the family for their power, influence, and wealth. Her tomb, being the largest in the city, may contribute to this some as well. But what both of these projects indicate is an extreme amount of disposable wealth, not political power, nor influence of a tangible nature. It is entirely possible that the Eumachii themselves were of little significance in the social and political landscape of Pompeii. Eumachia’s euergetism may be the result of nothing more than a lucky marriage. Her husband, Marcus Numistrius Fronto, served as duovir in AD 1/2 and then died, likely leaving her incredibly wealthy. It has long been speculated that her building programme was thus intended to pave the way for their son’s entry into local politics. If she was successful in this endeavour, there is no record of it. In reviewing the epigraphic material left by her family, I can’t help but wonder if the name Eumachia would be known at all, much less be one that is so central to Pompeian studies, were it not for that one inscription that names her as the sponsor of a building.

 

 

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D is for Decidius

Unlike some letters, there are not many examples of family names found in Pompeii that begin with a D. There is one, however, the Decidii, that though small in terms of the epigraphic material, is rather interesting for the fact that one member appears to be the subject of adoption. Generally speaking, in the Roman world, adoption was not something that concerned young children, but was an act carried out in adulthood in order to create a male heir when there was none. This could be for financial or political reasons, but was, in most cases, an attempt to create a legacy, perpetuating a family name when no male issue existed. Typically, this was done when one had something besides just a name to leave behind – wealth, power, or influence. This appears to be the case for a Decidius, who through adoption becomes the first (epigraphically) known member of another gens, one that eventually is one of the most powerful in Pompeii.

According to Castrén, the gens Decidia was of Sabellian (i.e. Samnite) origin, indigenous to the region. There are attestations of at least seven members of the family. These are dated in the Augustan and Neronian periods – so presumably represent at least two generations of the family, possibly three.

The earliest attestation of a Decidius comes from a dedicatory inscription dated to AD 3 which names Marcus Decidius Faustus, the freedmen of two men named Marcus – likely a father and son.

CIL X 892 = ILS 6393 = AE 2000: 293
Messius Arrius / Silenus / M(arcus) Decidius MM(arcorum) l(ibertus) / [- – – F]austus VNG / min(istri) Augusti / M(arco) Numistrio Frontone / Q(uinto) Cotrio Q(uinti) f(ilio) d(uum)v(iris) i(ure) d(icundo) / M(arco) Servilio L(ucio) Aelio / Lamia co(n)s(ulibus).
Messius Arrius Silenus, Marcus Decidius Faustus, freedman of Marcuses, perfumer, ministers of Augustus. To Marcus Numistrius Fronto, Quintus Cotrius, son of Quintus, duovirs with judicial power, to Marcus Servilius and Lucius Aelius Lamia, consuls.

A child of this family is found in one of the city’s necropoleis. Inscribed on a columella associated with a large group burial area to the east of Porta di Nocera, it is difficult to date firmly, but is most certainly from the Augustan period or later.

AE 1990: 186d
M(arcus) Decidius / M(arci) f(ilius) / Macer v(ixit) a(nnos) VIII.
‘Marcus Decidius Macer, son of Marcus, lived 8 years.’

In the Neronian period, Marcus Decidius Pauper (CIL IV 3340.107) is the first witness on one of the tablets of Iucundus. He is only known from this single text, so little can be said about him, except that the first witness on one of these documents is generally considered to be of high esteem. There is further evidence of members of the gens in a series of graffiti. These cannot, unfortunately, be dated clearly at all. One (CIL IV 10329) names a man called Decidius Successus, who is otherwise unattested. The other, found amongst the hundreds of texts scribbled on the columns of the palaestra, says:

CIL IV 8740
L(ucius) Dec[i]d[i]us / XXX.
‘Lucius Decidius 30.’

This is the first mention of a Decidius who does not have the praenomen Marcus, but it is not the only one. Though it is a bit of a leap to suppose it is the same Lucius, two texts, found in the Forum, dedicated to the most prominent member of the gens names a Lucius as his father.

CIL X 952
M(arcus) Lucretius L(uci) f(ilius) Dec[i]d(ianus) Rufus dec(reto) dec(urionum).
‘Marcus Lucretius Decidianus Rufus, son of Lucius, by decree of the decurions.’

ILS 6363a = AE 1898: 143
M(arcus) Lucretius L(uci) f(ilius) Dec(idianus) Rufus / IIvir iter(um) quinq(uennalis) / trib(unus) milit(um) a populo / praefect(us) fabr(um).
‘Marcus Lucretius Decidianus Rufus, son of Lucius, duovir, quinquennalis, military tribune of the people, praefectus fabrum.’

The relationship between Marcus Lucretius Decidianus Rufus and the Marci Lucretii named above is unclear, but he also dates to the Augustan / early Julio-Claudian years. What is clear is that whilst he began his life, and presumably came of age, as a member of the gens Decidia, he was at some point, adopted into the gens Lucretia. This is evident from his name. The suffix -ianus was typically added to the original nomen of the adoptee, and it would shift to follow the nomen of the new family into which he was adopted. Usually, this meant also incorporating the cognomina of the adoptive man, unless he had none. In this case, Rufus is likely the cognomon of the Lucretius who adopted Marcus Decidius. This man, unfortunately, is otherwise unattested.

The adoption seems to be one that allowed a man from a seemingly small and relatively obscure family to gain the connections (and likely finances) that allowed him to raise to the upper echelons of Pompeian politics. Marcus Lucretius Decidianus Rufus served in numerous offices, was honoured with multiple statues and dedications in the Forum, including some that were granted posthumously, and is only one of two men known to have served as pontifex in Pompeii (the other being Gaius Cuspius Pansa II).

CIL X 789 = ILS 6363c
M(arco) Lucretio Decidian(o) / Rufo IIvir(o) III quinq(uennali) / pontif(ici) trib(uno) mil(itum) a populo / praef(ecto) fabr(um) ex d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) / post mortem.
‘To Marcus Lucretius Decidianus Rufus, duovir three times, quinquennalis, pontifex, military tribune of the people, praefectus fabrum, by decree of the decurions after his death.’

What perhaps is particularly interesting about this man is that he is the first epigraphically known member of the gens Lucretia in Pompeii. The Lucretii will come to dominate political and civic life in the Neronian and Flavian periods, when Decimus Lucretius Satrius Valens and his son Decimus Lucretius Valens were holding both magisterial and religious offices and providing lavish gladiatorial games.

The importance of Marcus Lucretius Decidianus Rufus as an ancestor is evident. One member of the family, the last attested belonging to the gens Decidia, Marcus Decidius Pilonius Rufus, is responsible for restoring monuments to his predecessor both in the Forum and the Temple of Isis after the earthquake in AD 62.

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CIL X 788 = ILS 6363b
M(arco) Lucretio Decidian(o) / Rufo d(uum)v(iro) III quinq(uennali) / pontif(ici) trib(uno) militum / a populo praef(ecto) fabr(um) / M(arcus) Pilonius Rufus.
‘To Marcus Lucretius Decidianus Rufus, duovir three times, quinquennalis, pontifex, military tribune of the people, praefectus fabrum. Marcus Pilonius Rufus (set this up).’

CIL X 851 = ILS 6363d = AE 2000: 296
M(arcus) Lucretius Decid(ianus) / Rufus IIvir III quinq(uennalis) / pontif(ex) trib(unus) mil(itum) / a populo praef(ectus) fab(rum) / M(arcus) Decidius Pilonius / Rufus reposuit.
‘Marcus Lucretius Decidianus Rufus, duovir three times, quinquennalis, pontifex, military tribune of the people, praefectus fabrum. Restored by Marcus Decidius Pilonius Rufus.’

What I find interesting is the fact that these two monuments were restored by relative of his birth family and not of the adoptive family. Considering the importance of the Lucretii in the period when this restoration occurred, the likely scenario is that the Decidii, who never gained the same prominence as their ancestor’s adoptive family, took it upon themselves to elevate their  social standing by re-establishing the familial link between the two gens by reminding their fellow Pompeians that one man was responsible for the origin of the current generations of both families.

 

 

 

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Duos Annos

f145-lg

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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C is (also) for Calventius

One of the first families that really piqued my interest in regards to the existence of networks in Pompeii and how they work is the gens Calventia. Part of the reason for this is confusion over how many separate individuals might have bore the name Gaius Calventius Quietus. Unlike the multi-generational occurrences of Gaius Cuspius Pansa, the evidence for the Calventii is considerably more confusing, and fragmentary. There is one example of a monumental inscription for the family, found on a tomb outside the Porta di Ercolano. The remainder of the epigraphic evidence is found in dipinti – electoral programmata for what could be the tomb occupant’s son, grandson, and / or adopted son. The fact that the man had an adopted heir actually creates more problems, as that man, known as Gaius Calventius Sittius Magnus, was born into the gens Sittia, which had other members also run for election at roughly the same time. Whose dipiniti is whose is, in some cases, impossible to determine, as is the actual number of people the dipiniti represents. I have made some attempt to tease apart this evidence, and provide some insight into the difficulty one can encounter in dealing with this material in an article that was just published in the Italian journal Athenaeum. If anyone would like a pdf of this article, please email me for a copy: virginia.campbell@classics.ox.ac.uk.

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By Any Other Name: Bodicacia’s Tombstone

Tombstone1-862x1024

Wednesday saw the interwebs all agog with the live raising of a Roman tombstone in southern Britain near Cirencester, complete with an inscription seen for the first time in nearly eighteen hundred years. Those outside the world of Classical archaeology might not have seen this as a very big deal – new inscriptions, and for that matter, new burial grounds, are discovered all the time. Indeed, this is part of a larger excavation of a Roman cemetery which has thus far yielded the remains of fifty-five graves. What is fantastic about this is the fact that we have both a tombstone and corporal remains in situ: matching an actual skeleton to a named individual is rare, especially for Roman Britain, and the only example to come out of this burial site. The name itself, recorded on the tombstone in Latin, is sure to spark even further interest and speculation. The inscription reads:

I(unoni) / D(is) M(anibus) / Bodicacia / coniunx / vixit anno / s XXVII.
‘To the genius of the shades of the departed, Bodicacia, wife, lived twenty seven years.’

The dedication to Iuno is hardly unusual, and in fact appears in the funerary record of Pompeii. The inclusion of the Manes is a bit difficult to date precisely, but this far from Italy probably indicates a date in the 2nd century AD. Whist there is still some speculation as to whether this should be translated as a single name, or split to read Cacia, wife of Bodus, as I am not a linguist, this is a debate with which I don’t feel qualified to engage. What is interesting is that a number of the news stories have also offered the alternative of Bodica, and at least one I came across gave a full history of the infamous Boudica, clearly linking this burial to the Celtic rebel who fought Rome.

Although the burial of this warrior queen has never been located, and likely never will, there has been much desire to find it, and speculation of location ranges from the barrow of Parliament Hill to under a platform at King’s Cross to a McDonald’s in Birmingham (the latter no doubt inspired by the location of Richard III in a car park in Leicester). It seems very clear to me that this particular burial cannot be *that* Boudica. Not only is it miles away from both her area of origin (East Anglia) or the final battle between the Iceni and the Roman legions (the Midlands), but it is in Latin, follows Roman conventions for a funerary epitaph including a dedication to the Roman gods of the dead, and if the Twitter speculation is correct, bears Roman religious iconography in the form of the god Oceanus. Let’s face it: there is no way a woman synonymous with revolt would have been buried following the practices of those she saw as her oppressors.

But this leads me to a far more interesting question: was the name Boudica (or one of its many variants) a popular one? With this tombstone we potentially have the second known person to bear this name in the British Isles. Are there more? A quick search of the Epigraphik Databank Clauss / Slaby reveals that there are a number of occurrences of this name, with the initial root of Boudic-, Bodic-, and Boudig-. Whilst none of them are found in Britain, they do originate in other provinces with some Celtic antecedents, namely Lusitania and Germania Superior. There are three funerary inscriptions from Civitas Igaeditanorum (modern Idanha-a-Velha in Portugal), all of which demonstrate a combination of Roman and Celtic names.

CIL II 455 = ERBeira 229 = AE (1988) 697
Quintus Modesti f(ilius) a(nnorum) XXV / Placida Modesti f(ilia) a(nnorum) XIII / Boudica Flacci f(ilia) Modestus / Celtiatis f(ilius) liberis uxori sibi feci[t].

ERBeira 44
Bassus Maturo/vi et Boudica Sem/proni sibi et Bassi/no filio an(norum) XXX.

ERBeira 33 = AE (1967) 170
[L]ovio Caenonis f(ilio) patri / Boudicae Tongi f(iliae) matri / Cilio Tapaesi f(ilio) socro Cileae / Cili f(iliae) uxori Caeno Lovi f(ilio).

The texts from the province of Germania are also funerary in nature. One is from Bingium (modern Bingen am Rhein), a name thought to be Celtic in origin in and of itself, and the second is found in Ingelheim am Rhein:

CIL XIII 7519  
D(is) M(anibus) / Focuroni(a)e Pat/t(a)e fili(a)e et Firmi/nio [—]esinto ge/nero s[u]o Lutoria / Bodic(ca?) mater / de suo [vi]va pos(u)it.

Finke 224
D(is) M(anibus) / Martialio / Miccioni / et Ibliomari(a)e / Bodic(a)e patribu(s) / Miccionia / Ammisia / filia / f(aciendum) c(uravit).

What I find intriguing, however, is an inscription found on an altar in Bordeaux. This small monument appears to have been erected by a man as part of a vow regarding his passage from York (where the stone was sourced) to Gaul in AD 237:

ILTG 141 = AE (1922) 116
Deae Tutel(a)e Boudig(ae) / M(arcus) Aur(elius) Lunaris IIIIII/vir Aug(ustalis) col(oniarum) Ebor(aci) et / Lind(i) prov(inciae) Brit(anniae) inf(erioris) / aram quam vover(at) / ab Eboraci evect(us) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito) / Perpetuo et Corne(liano).
‘In honour of the goddess Tutela Boudiga, Marcus Aurelius Lunaris, sevir Augustalis of the colonies of Eboracum and Lindum, in the province of Britainnia Inferior, set up the altar he vowed on starting from Eboracum.  Willingly and rightly he fulfilled his vow, in the consulship of Perpetuus and Cornelianus’.

A more detailed discussion of the altar can be found here, but what I find compelling about this (and of course, the other texts) is that the name of Boudica, so often associated with an Iceni queen, with revolt, and re-appropriated during the reign of Victoria to symbolise the might of the British Empire, has a place in Roman history far beyond one individual. The name itself, in all its versions, divine or otherwise, was an example of the creation of a Romano-Celtic culture that held a place of some significance in the provinces.

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Alma Tadema’s Imagined Connections

an-exedra-sir-lawrence-alma-tadema

An exhibit at the Leighton House Museum, ‘A Victorian Obsession,’ prompted some discussion on Twitter* a few months ago about the content of one of Laurence Alma Tadema’s Pompeian paintings, An Exedra (1869). I have finally had the chance to see the exhibit myself, and for the first time, see in person a work of art that I have long had an affection for due to its subject matter. What suddenly struck me anew about this painting is the way in which Alma Tadema included not just the two families whose funerary texts are depicted in the tableau, but that he also added a third, thus creating a connection between three important figures (families) in Pompeian history, Marcus Porcius, Mammia, and a Marcus Holconius. (For the point of clarification, another tomb is visible in the background, that of the Istacidii, but there is no text included in the painting that identifies it as such).

The setting for the painting is the schola, or bench tomb, of a woman named Mammia, a public priestess and benefactor of the town who is known from two inscriptions. Her family is attested from pre-colonial Pompeii (VE 32) and other areas of Campania.  The first text is her epitaph, carved directly into the rear of the bench  depicted in this painting, which sits on the southern side of the Via dei Sepolcri just outside of the Porta di Ercolano:

CIL X 998 = ILS 6369
Mam(m)iae P(ubli) f(iliae) sacerdoti publicae locus sepultur(ae) datus decurionum decreto.
‘To Mammia, daughter of Publius, public priestess, the place of this tomb was given by decree of the decurions.’

The second, found in an unfortunate fragmentary state in the Forum  has garnered much debate as a result of missing bits of text, but is related to a temple complex Mammia constructed in the Augustan period:

CIL X 816 = AE 1992: 271 = 1995: 298 = 2001: 793 = 2002: 333 = 2003: 276 = 2003: 315
M[a]m[m]ia P(ubli) f(ilia) sacerdos public(a) Geni[o Aug(usti?) et Laribus Augustis s]olo et pec[unia sua fecit eademque dedicavit].
‘Mamia, daughter of Publius, public priestess, (built this) to the genius (of the colony? / of Augustus?) on her own land at her own expense.

The only other member of the family known in Pompeii is a Republican ancestor of Mammia, Gaius Mammius. He appears in two similar inscriptions from the Temple of Apollo, in which the name order is reversed from the first to second, which record him as a duovir. Castrén claims that he is one of the first indigenous Pompeians to be elected to a magisterial position after colonization in 80 BC.

CIL X 803 – ILS 6357
Q(uintus) Tullius Q(uinti) f(ilius) / M(arcus) Cinnius M(arci) f(ilius) / d(uum)v(iri) i(ure) d(icundo) / C(aius) Mammius L(uci) f(ilius) C(aius) Naevius M(arci) f(ilius) / d(uum)v(iri) v(iis) a(edibus) s(acris) p(ublicis) p(rocurandis) ex d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) / constat HS DCLXXII s(emis).

CIL X 804
M(arcus) Cin[nius M(arci) f(ilius)] / Q(uintus) Tullius [Q(uinti) f(ilius)] / d(uum)v(iri) i(ure) d(icundo) / C(aius) Naevius M(arci) f(ilius) C(aius) Mam[mius L(uci) f(ilius)] / d(uum)v(iri) v(iis) a(edibus) s(acris) p(ublicis) p(rocurandis) ex d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) / [cons]tat HS DCL[XXII s(emis)].
‘Quintus Tullius, son of Quintus, Marcus Cinnius, son of Marcus, duoviri with judicial powers (and) Gaius Mammius, son of Lucius, Gaius Naevius, son of Marcus, duoviri, by decree of the decurions saw to the [maintenance of?] public sacred ways with 672 sesterces each.’

The second burial monument that Alma Tadema includes is just out of frame on the left side of the painting, but he does include one of the boundary marking cippi that demarcated the extent of the plot owned by Marcus Porcius. The inscription on the cippus records the dimensions of the area:

CIL X 997 = I² 1637
M(arci) Porci / M(arci) f(ilii) ex dec(urionum) / decret(o) in / frontem / ped(es) XXV / in agrum / ped(es) XXV.
‘Of Marcus Porcius, son of Marcus, by decree of the decurions. Twenty five feet in front, twenty five feet in depth.’

Marcus Porcius was an important man in the early years of the Pompeian colony, who served in multiple elected offices, and oversaw a number of public works and dedications, roughly between 75 and 70 BC. Along with three other men, in one of the few remaining texts that name the early colonial office of the quattroviri, he dedicated an altar in the Temple of Apollo:

CIL X 800 = I² 1631 = ILS 635
M(arcus) Porcius M(arci) f(ilius) L(ucius) Sextilius L(uci) f(ilius) Cn(aeus) Cornelius Cn(aei) f(ilius) / A(ulus) Cornelius A(uli) f(ilius) IIIIvir(i) d(e) d(ecurionum) s(ententia) f(aciundum) locar(unt).
‘Marcus Porcius, son of Marcus, Lucius Sextilius, son of Lucius, Gnaeus Cornelius, son of Gnaeus, Aulus Cornelius, son of Aulus, quattuorvirs, awarded the contract for its construction by the decree of the decurions.’

He was also responsible, along with Gaius Quinctius Valgus, with the construction of the covered theatre, and later, when the men were serving in in the more exulted position of quinquennales, the amphitheatre.

CIL X 844 = I 1633 = ILS 5636 = AE 2000: 243
C(aius) Quinctius C(ai) f(ilius) Valg(us) / M(arcus) Porcius M(arci) f(ilius) / duovir(i) dec(urionum) decr(eto) / theatrum tectum / fac(iundum) locar(unt) eidemq(ue) prob(arunt).
‘Gaius Quinctius Valgus, son of Gaius, Marcus Porcius, son of Marcus, duovirs, awarded the contract for the construction of the covered theatre and approved it, by decree of the decurions.’

CIL X 852 = I² 1632 = ILS 5627
C(aius) Quinctius C(ai) f(ilius) Valgus / M(arcus) Porcius M(arci) f(ilius) duovir(i) / quinq(uennales) colonia<e> honoris / caus{s}a spectacula de sua / pe<c>(unia) fac(iunda) coer(averunt) et colon{e}is / locum in perpetu<u>m deder(unt).
‘Gaius Quinctius Valgus, son of Gaius, Marcus Porcius, son of Marcus, duovirs, quinquennales, for the honour of the colony, saw to the construction of the amphitheatre at their own expense and gave the place to the colonists in perpetuity.’

There are additionally two amphorae that bear the name of Marcus Porcius (CIL X 8049.10a-b), but these shed no light on anything further regarding this man or anyone else in his family.

The only error that occurs in Alma Tadema’s re-creation of these tombs and inscriptions is in the line divisions of the cippus of Marcus Porcius, which he divides differently than it exists in reality, but this is undoubtedly based on the slightly more squat depiction of the stone.

DSCF3331

 

His invention, however, comes in with the words inscribed on the tunic of the slave, which is a text purely of his own devising:

M(arci) Holconi(i) / LXVIII.
‘Of Marcus Holconius, 68.’

The gens Holconia was not only an important one in Pompeii, but one who boasted a far larger family than either Marcus Porcius or Mammia (at least in terms of the epigraphic evidence). Castrén lists sixteen known members of the family, ranging from the Augustan period until the time of the city’s demise. The most prominent member of the family in terms of offices held was Marcus Holconius Rufus, who served as duovir, quinquennalis, military tribune of the people, a priest of Augustus, and patron of the colony. He was responsible, with his brother, Marcus Holconius Celer, for renovations to the large theatre in the Augustan period, often likened to emulating the construction of the Theatre of Marcellus in Rome:

CIL X 833-834 = ILS 5638
MM(arci) Holconii Rufus et Celer cryptam tribunalia thea[trum] s(ua) p(ecunia).
MM(arci) Holco[nii] Rufus et Celer [cryp]tam tribunalia theatrum s(ua) p(ecunia).

‘Marcus Holconius Rufus and Marcus Holconius Celer (built) the crypt, boxes, and theatre seating at their own expense.’

Both men were subsequently honoured for this work, but whilst Celer only has a dedicatory inscription, Rufus received a special seat in the cavea:

CIL X 840 = ILS 6362
M(arco) Holconio Celeri / d(uum)v(iro) i(ure) d(icundo) quinq(uennali) designato / Augusti sacerdoti.
‘To Marcus Holconius Celer, duovir with judicial power, quinquenalis designate, priest of Augustus.’

CIL X 838 = ILS 6361a
M(arco) Holconio M(arci) f(ilio) Rufo / IIv(iro) i(ure) d(icundo) quinquiens / iter(um) quinq(uennali) trib(uno) mil(itum) a p(opulo) / flamini Aug(usti) patr(ono) colo(niae) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum).
‘To Marcus Holconius Rufus, son of Marcus, duovir with judicial power five times, quinquennalis twice, military tribune of the people, priest of Augustus, patron of the colony, (by) decree of the decurions.’

The theatre was not the only public work in which Rufus was involved. Sometime before 2 BC he, along with another duovir, made improvements to the precinct around the Temple of Apollo.

CIL X 787 = ILS 5915
M(arcus) Holconius Rufus d(uum)v(ir) i(ure) d(icundo) tert(ium) / C(aius) Egnatius Postumus d(uum)v(ir) i(ure) d(icundo) iter(um) / ex d(ecreto) d(ecurionum) ius luminum / opstruendorum HS |(mille) |(mille) |(mille) / redemerunt parietemque / privatum col(onia) Ven(eria) Cor(nelia) / usque a<d> tegulas / faciundum coera(ve)runt.
‘Marcus Holconius Rufus, duovir with judicial power for the third time, Gaius Egnatius Postumus, duovir with judicial power for the second time, by decree of the decurions paid 3,000 sesterces for the right to block the light, saw to the building of a private wall as far as the roof for the Colony of Venus Cornelia.’

At some point, probably in the later years of his career, Marcus Holconius Rufus was honoured with a statue depicting him in full military dress, now housed in the Museo Archeologica Nazionale di Napoli, that likely once stood in the Forum, and was later removed to the crossroads of the Via dell’Abbondanza and the Via Stabiana.

CIL X 830 = ILS 6361b
M(arco) Holconio M(arci) f(ilio) Rufo / trib(uno) mil(itum) a popul(o) IIvir(o) i(ure) d(icundo) V / quinq(uennali) iter(um) / Augusti Caesaris sacerd(oti) / patrono coloniae.
‘To Marcus Holconius Rufus, son of Marcus, military tribune of the people, duovir with judicial power five times, quinquennalis twice, priest of Augustus Caesar, patron of the colony.’

This location, besides being a heavily trafficked area, is not that far from the house that is attributed to Rufus, just a bit further up the Via dell’Abbondanza at VIII.4.4. (The house of Marcus Holconius features in another of Alma Tadema’s paintings, the 1870 work The Vintage Festival, which purports to be in his atrium. According to Barrow, this dimensions of the house actually make this impossible.) His brother Celer also had an honourific statue, the base of which was reused as building material in the Forum (CIL X 944). Additional inscriptions naming Rufus demonstrate him carrying out his duties as a priest of Augustus (CIL X 890 = ILS 6391), and campaigning for magisterial positions (CIL IV 1886, 1918 and likely 2927).

Other magisterial members of the family include Marcus Holconius Gellius (CIL X 895 = ILS 6394), duovir in AD 22-23, Marcus Holconius Macer, who served as praefectus with judicial power in AD 40-41 (CIL X 904 = ILS 6397), and Gaius Holconius, who has surviving dipinti for an unidentified campaign (CIL IV 786a, 5628). Additionally, there are freedmen such as Marcus Holconius Iucundus (CIL IV 3340.73), Marcus Holconius Proculus (CIL IV 3340.79, 3340.93), and Marcus Holconius Quintio (CIL X 947), and a number of family slaves attested in the epigraphy (CIL IV 1917, 8171, 8732, X 899). The only female member of the family recorded is Holconia, probably the daughter of Rufus, who served as a public priestess (CIL X 950-951).

The latest known member of the family is Marcus Holconius Priscus, who was a candidate for office in the Flavian period. He must have been successfully elected as aedile at some point in the AD 70s, as there are numerous surviving dipiniti calling for his election both as aedile and duovir (AE 1903: 168, 1913: 96, 1951: 157d, 1988: 334, CIL IV 96, 103 = ILS 6410, 127, 140, 157, 161, 199, 202 = ILS 6411a, 206 = 6411c, 216, 280, 297, 300, 304, 309, 321, 341, 570, 623, 633, 648, 649, 657, 681, 718, 745, 767a = 1029, 828, 831, 860, 863, 876, 890, 904a, 927, 943, 981, 1010, 1065, 2939, 3277 = 3637, 3428 = ILS 6411b, 3429, 3466, 3486, 3491, 3502, 3723, 3837, 6685, 7612, 7614, 7202, 7235, 7242, 7544) and further collection that do not name the office he is seeking (CIL IV 994, 1007, 1099, 1166, 1848a, 1924, 2980, 3084, 3430, 7459, 7481, 7548). It seems that his candidacy for duovir took place in AD 79, so whether or not he was elected to that office or indeed, survived the eruption of Vesuvius, is entirely unknown. What is clear from the plethora of epigraphic evidence left by the Holconii is that the family was not only one of influence in Pompeian politics, but was also of unusually long standing within the city.

The point of all of this is to demonstrate how incredibly clever Alma Tadema was to incorporate the gens Holconia in his painting of this Pompeian scene. In the first instance, it makes the ancient date of the painting almost impossible to date. The Tomb of Marcus Porcius dates to the late Republic (70-50 BC), the Tomb of Mammia to the Augustan period (27 BC – AD 14), and the Tomb of the Istacidii to the early Julio-Claudian era (AD 25-50). This provides a clear terminus post quem of the mid first century AD, but since the Holconii are present and active until AD 79, the painting could represent an imagined scene at any point between AD 25 and 79. That Alma Tadema chose to make a Marcus Holconius the owner of the slave depicted is not necessarily that surprising considering the preponderance of the epigraphic evidence naming various members of the family, especially if one recalls that the statue of Rufus was excavated less than ten years before this artwork was completed. Secondly, and what I find the most intriguing about Alma Tadema’s use of the Holconii, is that the inclusion of this family, along with Marcus Porcius, Mammia, and to a lesser extent the (nameless in the painting) Istacidii, is that he has managed to depict prominent individuals and families covering the entireity of the Roman colonial period of Pompeii – from 80 BC until the eruption in AD 79 – in a single image.  This may be entirely an accident on his part, but would like to think he did this with intent. He did, after all, spend a considerable amount of time in Pompeii, studying the ruins and artefacts for his art, and the intensity and thoroughness of his research is clear to anyone who has ever stood in front of one of his paintings. I would lament the loss of such wonderous depictions of the ancient world, but I cannot help but think he missed his calling as a Classicist.

* I owe much gratitude to Caroline Lawrence, whose questions about the inscription of Marcus Porcius got me thinking about the texts in this painting.

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With Malice Towards None

With thanks to Will, a lovely park ranger who answered my questions, gave me a fabulous book on Vicksburg’s monuments, and tipped me off to the gastronomic delight that is Mother’s Restaurant in New Orleans.

If there is one period of history other than the Classical world with which I am utterly fascinated, it is the U.S. in the mid-nineteenth century, specifically the Civil War era. As such, when taking a little road trip on my way to New Orleans to attend the annual meetings of the AIA/SCS last week, I couldn’t resist a slight detour to visit the National Military Park at Vicksburg. The city of Vicksburg (if you need a little history lesson), marked the last battle between Union and Confederate forces for control of the Mississippi River, which had, to that point, been an essential conduit for supplies and troops in the Confederate war effort. It is the battle that made General Ulysses S. Grant known to President Lincoln, subsequently leading to his appointment as commander of the entire Union army for the last two years of the war. But more to the point, Vicksburg was a long, hard campaign for both sides, and ended only after the city was besieged by Union forces for more than fifty days in the summer of 1863. (Oddly enough, surrender came within a day of the conclusion of the other truly decisive battle of the war, taking place concurrently in Gettysburg.)

Having lived in the mid-Atlantic region for many years, I have already been to the majority of the Civil War battlefields in Maryland and Virginia, and of course, to Gettysburg. They are all well presented, heartbreaking, and monumental each in their own way. Yet I was wholly unprepared for the sheer beauty of Vicksburg, the manner in which the tragic efforts of approximately 100,000 men have been commemorated, and most surprisingly to me, the fact that so many of the monuments are Classical in style. Indeed, there are so many references to and copies of Classical art and architecture that I could probably write twenty blog posts (don’t worry, I won’t). The Vicksburg Memorial Arch at the entrance to the park resembles a Roman triumphal arch, numerous state monuments are composed of obelisks (New York, Navy Memorial), columns (Louisiana, Wisconsin) or some combination of these devices (North Carolina, Texas, Iowa). A number of states combine the obelisk or column with a bronze sculpture based on a Greek or Roman deity. Michigan‘s statue of the ‘Spirit of Michigan’ is based on Athena Promachos as sculpted in the fifth century BC by Phidias. The ‘Statue of Peace’ at the base of the Minnesota memorial copies the iconography of the Roman goddess PaxOhio, the only state that didn’t erect a single monument but a series of them around the park, built a number of small memorials that resemble a temple façade, similar to the aedicula style tomb popular in Roman cities in the first centuries BC and AD. Pennsylvania also built a monument resembling an ancient tomb, choosing a large exedra with a central pillar, with an inscription carved into the rear of the bench that closely resembles the bench tombs, or scholae, that appear in the necropoleis of ancient Pompeii. Clio, the Greek muse of history, is also a popular feature, appearing in conjunction with an obelisk on the Mississippi monument, as well as in the tympanum of the Illinois memorial.

There are two state memorials in particular, however, which were outstanding for their replication of ancient styles. The first, and perhaps most surprising, is the monument constructed by the state of Illinois. As this state contributed the largest number of men to the Vicksburg campaign, more than 36,000, it is not surprising that they also have the largest memorial. What may be more unexpected however, is that the designers of this structure chose to replicate the Pantheon in Rome.

 

DSCF5238

The Pantheon, built in the early second century AD under Hadrian, was intended to honour the gods of Rome. But by the late eighteenth century, pantheon had become a term used to describe a monument to the dead, and thus was viewed as a fitting model by the architect of the memorial, Major William Le Baron Jenney, who stated that he wanted to design ‘not only a grand and imposing commemorative structure worthy of the State of Illinois, but a temple of fame as well, within the walls of which will be preserved in enduring bronze and stone the name of every soldier from Illinois who participated in that memorable and decisive campaign and siege.’ Although a scaled down version of the original Roman temple, this pantheon is similar in proportions, following the alignment and ratio of dimensions as directed in the first century BC books of the architect Vitruvius. Like its model, the roof has an oculus, a coloured marble floor, and a sculptural group in the tympanum. The three marble figures depict Clio, the muse of history, seated between personifications of North and South, recording the names of the dead in a ledger.

DSCF5245

Rather than sculptures of gods placed around the interior of the round chamber, there are sixty bronze plaques affixed to the walls inscribed with the names of the Illinois corps. There are, of course, other elements of decoration that are clearly American in design, such as the large gilded eagle, various symbols of the Republic in the exterior moulding, and an inscription of a quote from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. However, there is a significant difference in design apart from size, which I find rather interesting: this memorial uses the Doric order in combination with an egg and dart design more commonly found in conjunction with the Ionic order, whereas the capitals of the original Pantheon are Corinthian. This may seem a trifling feature of the design to be concerned with, but it speaks to an overall amalgamation of styles that is typical of the Classically themed structures found in the park.

For a clear example of this, just look to the memorial to Missouri:

DSCF5310

Until 2001, this was the only monument that honoured the fighting men of both the Union and Confederate armies, as Missouri was a border state that was divided in its loyalties. It consists of a large stele, fronted by a bronze female figure standing on the prow of a boat, framed by an exedra with bronze reliefs depicting both Union (left) and Confederate (right) soldiers in action. The style is described as Roman composite, but this is not the traditional composite order which combined elements of Ionic and Corinthian style. Instead, it seems to be something of a slightly (at least to the view of a Classicist) muddled combination of elements of both Greek and Roman influence. The stele itself is common enough in both Greece and Rome, found in honorific and commemorative contexts throughout antiquity. And yet the name of the state is written using the Roman letter shapes (specifically ‘V’ instead of ‘U’) and is decorated with egg and dart and dentil mouldings. The exedra is also ubiquitous, as honorific benches also occurred in both places.

The bronze statue, called the ‘Spirit of the Republic’ is based on Nike of Samothrace, the Greek goddess of victory who was depicted landing on the prow of a ship at the moment of victory.

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Despite being depicted as entirely Greek in nature, adorned with a peplos and aegis, the two items she holds in her hands are decidedly Roman. In her right hand, she clasps an olive branch. Although the olive itself was closely associated with Athena, it was the Latin poet Vergil with whom the association as a symbol of peace originates:

Aeneid VIII 117 ff.
‘High on the stern Aeneas his stand,
And held a branch of olive in his hand,
While thus he spoke: “The Phrygians’ arms you see,
Expelled from Troy, provoked in Italy
By Latian foes, with war unjustly made;
At first affianced, and at last betrayed.
This message bear: The Trojans and their chief
Bring holy peace, and beg the king’s relief.’

The left hand of the statue contains another Roman symbol, the fasces. This bundle of rods containing an axe was a symbol of political authority, and was carried by lictors who accompanied magistrates through the streets of the city, serving as a sort of bodyguard. Like the statue of Nike, the ‘Spirit of the Republic’ stands on the prow of a ship, to which a battering ram is attached. This was a common feature of ancient naval warfare and cannot be attributed to any one civilisation, although I would note that the shape of it does seem to closely resemble rams recovered from the sea floor near Sicily, the site of a final battle in a Punic War.

What I find fascinating about the design of the state memorials at Vicksburg is not necessarily that they are so heavily influenced by commemorative art and architecture of the Classical world: this is hardly unique in the U.S. (just look to the government buildings in Washington, D.C.), and more to the point, it makes sense to turn to civilisations known for their monumental structures, for honouring their war dead in a grandiose fashion, and perhaps more relevant to this location, suffering the horrors of civil war. The mixing of Greek and Roman styles, the odd combinations of orders, figures, and symbolic elements, however, is striking. To me, this indicates not so much the desire (or dare I say, adequate knowledge) for perfectly replicating Classical architecture, but rather the importance of using a traditional and universally recognised motif that was held in great esteem in order to sufficiently honour those whose dedication and sacrifice are still viewed as being part of the greatest tragedy to befall the U.S.

 

 

 

 

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