Skip to main content Accessibility help

Statues of Senators in the Forum of Trajan and the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity*

  • Robert Chenault (a1)


The epigraphic evidence from the Forum of Trajan shows that this forum was the most important public venue for the honorific statues of senators in the city of Rome in the fourth and fifth centuries a.d. These dedications celebrated the achievements of individual senators, and thereby helped to promote an image of a coherent senatorial order whose members were defined by their civil offices, literary accomplishment, outstanding personal virtues, and the approbation of their peers and the emperor. In contrast, statuary honours in the Roman Forum continued to be largely restricted to emperors and, in the fifth century, to the powerful generals who increasingly controlled imperial policy. This pattern in the distribution of statues suggests a basic differentiation in the use of the two most important representational spaces of late antique Rome.


Corresponding author


Hide All

*The research and writing of this article were made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar on ‘The Falls of Rome’, held at the American Academy in Rome in 2010, and a generous grant provided by Willamette University's Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology. I am especially grateful to the Seminar Directors, Michele Salzman and Kimberly Bowes, and my fellow participants for many stimulating conversations. A preliminary version of these ideas was presented to a helpful audience at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association in San Antonio, January 2011. In addition, particular thanks are due to Adam Kemezis, David Potter, Michele Salzman, Dennis Trout, and Ray Van Dam for their helpful feedback on early drafts; Adam Kemezis, Carlos Machado, and John Weisweiler for kindly sharing work in advance of publication; Jan Gadeyne for generously making his thesis available to the NEH Seminar (and leading two energetic tours of the city); and the Journal's Editor and referees for their many constructive suggestions.

The following abbreviations are used:

AE = L'Année épigraphique

CIL = Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

ILS = H. Dessau (ed.), Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, Vol. 1 (1892)

PLRE = A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale and J. Morris (eds), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire: Volume 1, A.D. 260–395 (1971), and J. R. Martindale (ed.), Volume 2, A.D. 395–527 (1980)



Hide All

1 Amm. 16.10.15, ‘verum cum ad Traiani forum venisset, singularem sub omni caelo structuram, ut opinamur, etiam numinum assensione mirabilem, haerebat attonitus, per giganteos contextus circumferens mentem, nec relatu effabiles, nec rursus mortalibus appetendos’.

2 Silvius, Polemius, Laterculus IV, ‘Quae sint Romae’, in Mommsen, T. (ed.), Chronica minora saec. IV, V, VI, VII, Vol. 1 (1892), 545. Cass., Var. 7.6.1, ‘Traiani forum vel sub assiduitate videre miraculum est’.

3 See the apt characterization by Kelly, G., ‘The New Rome and the Old: Ammianus Marcellinus’ silences on Constantinople', CQ 53 (2003), 588607, at 599, ‘the real triumph is Rome's over Constantius’.

4 Important works prior to the recent excavations include Zanker, P., ‘Das Trajansforum in Rom’, Archäologischer Anzeiger des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 85 (1970), 499544; Anderson, J. C., The Historical Topography of the Imperial Fora (1984); and Milella, M. and Pensabene, P., ‘Foro Traiano: Introduzione storica e quadro architettonico’, Archeologia Classica 41 (1989), 3354. See also the fundamental study of Packer, J., The Forum of Trajan in Rome: a Study of the Monuments, 3 vols (1997). The best survey of the topography of the Forum in Late Antiquity is Bauer, F. A., Stadt, Platz und Denkmal in der Spätantike: Untersuchungen zur Ausstattung des öffentlichen Raums in den spätantiken Städten Rom, Konstantinopel und Ephesos (1996), 93100, with important analysis at 101–41.

5 The results of these excavations have been summarized in a series of articles; see most recently Meneghini, R., I fori imperiali e i mercati di Traiano: storia e descrizione dei monumenti alla luce degli studi e degli scavi recenti (2009).

6 On this as yet unresolved controversy, see Packer, J., ‘Templum Divi Traiani Parthici et Plotinae: a debate with R. Meneghini’, JRA 16 (2003), 109–36; La Rocca, E., ‘Templum divi Traiani et columna cochlis’, RömMitt 111 (2004), 193238; and Claridge, A., ‘Hadrian's lost Temple of Trajan’, JRA 20 (2007), 5494, especially 55–8 for a helpful review of earlier literature.

7 Meneghini, R. and Valenzani, R. Santangeli, Roma nell'altomedioevo: topografia e urbanistica della città dal V al X secolo (2004), 183.

8 La Rocca, E., ‘La nuova imagine dei fori imperiali’, RömMitt 108 (2001), 171213, at 210.

9 Fortunatus, Carm. 3.18.7–8, ‘vix modo tam nitido pomposa poemata cultu / audit Traiano Roma verenda foro’, 7.8.26, ‘aut Maro Traiano lectus in urbe foro’; Fortunatus' first seven books were written over the period a.d. 566–76: George, J. W., Venantius Fortunatus: A Latin Poet in Merovingian Gaul (1992), 208–11.

10 On the value of inscriptions in providing a fuller picture of the daily life of the Forum, see Anderson, op. cit. (n. 4), 160.

11 Alföldy, G. (ed.), CIL 6.8.2 (1996) and 6.8.3 (2000).

12 Eck, W., ‘Senatorial self-representation: developments in the Augustan period’, in Millar, F. and Segal, E. (eds), Caesar Augustus: Seven Aspects (1984), 129–67.

13 Niquet, H., Monumenta virtutum titulique: senatorische Selbstdarstellung im spätantiken Rom im Spiegel der epigraphischen Denkmäler (2000). Niquet's work is fundamental and deserves to be more widely known; my own debt to it will be evident in the notes, though I differ on particular points.

14 Machado, C., ‘Building the past: monuments and memory in the Forum Romanum’, in Bowden, W., Gutteridge, A. and Machado, C. (eds), Social and Political Life in Late Antiquity (2006), 157–92.

15 The inscriptions are collected in Lugli, G., Fontes ad topographiam veteris urbis Romae pertinentes, Vol. 6.1 (Book XVI, Fora imperatorum (regio VIII)) (1965), 6473, nos 382–407; for the most up-to-date lists, see Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 410–12 and Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 264–9.

16 See, e.g., Alföldy's commentary in CIL 6.8.3: 5110, no. 41418: ‘de titulo honorario fortasse viri ordinis senatorii cogitavi imprimis ex loco, ubi in lucem prodiit.’

17 For these totals, see the valuable tables assembled by Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 262–9. Niquet's total for the Roman Forum is inflated by numerous statues of military men in the fifth century, but as I argue below (see Section IV), these monuments have more in common with imperial dedications.

18 Machado, C., Urban Space and Power in Late Antique Rome (284–535), D.Phil. dissertation, University of Oxford (2006), 139, s.v. Table 4.1. I am grateful to the author for sharing portions of his thesis with me.

19 Ma, J., ‘Hellenistic honorific statues and their inscriptions’, in Newby, Z. and Leader-Newby, R. (eds), Art and Inscriptions in the Ancient World (2007), 203–20, at 205.

20 Milella and Pensabene, op. cit. (n. 4), 48 assume that the statues stood in the long porticoes north-east and south-west of the forum square, but Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 95 is appropriately cautious: ‘Über die genauere Anordnung der Statuen ist nichts bekannt.’

21 Smith, R. R. R., ‘Late antique portraits in a public context: honorific statuary at Aphrodisias in Caria, a.d. 300–600’, JRS 89 (1999), 155–89, at 161; Smith notes (p. 171) that honorific statues at Aphrodisias were increasingly placed directly on the square itself, rather than in surrounding porticoes.

22 Heather, P., ‘Senators and senates’, in Cameron, Averil and Garnsey, P. (eds), The Cambridge Ancient History, Volume XIII: The Late Empire, A.D. 337–425 (1998), 184210, at 184.

23 Jones, A. H. M., The Later Roman Empire 284–602: A Social, Economic, and Administrative Survey (1964), 1: 529, ‘aristocracy of office’; idem, The social background of the struggle between paganism and Christianity’, in Momigliano, A. (ed.), The Conflict Between Paganism and Christianity in the Fourth Century (1963), 1737, at 29, ‘mixed body’.

24 See below n. 31.

25 Salzman, M. R., The Making of a Christian Aristocracy: Social and Religious Change in the Western Roman Empire (2002), 23.

26 CIL 6.41318, with Alföldy's notes in 6.8.3: 5051–2: ‘senatus ex consulto suo quod eius liberis [quaesturam petentibus interventu eius] / post Caesariana tempora id est post annos CCCLXXX et I [primum sibi quaestorum omnium creandorum] / auctoritatem decreverit [statua honoravit] / Fl(avius) Magnus I[a]nuarius v(ir) c(larissimus) curator statuarum [ponendam curavit et dedicavit].’

27 Salzman, op. cit. (n. 25), 34.

28 This is the sole example listed by Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 262.

29 Salzman, op. cit. (n. 25), 43.

30 This important distinction is easily overlooked: see, e.g., Marrou, H. I., ‘La vie intellectuelle au Forum de Trajan et au Forum d'Auguste’, MEFRA 49 (1932), 93110, at 109, ‘se soient trouvées mêlées aux généraux et aux grands fonctionnaires les images de poètes et de rhéteurs’. On the absence of military statues or tituli in the Forum after the accession of Constantine, see Anderson, op. cit. (n. 4), 169–70. For the case of Flavius Merobaudes, see below.

31 On Valentinian's law, see Jones, op. cit. (n. 23, 1964), 1: 142–3; CTh 6.7.1, ‘indiscretae ducimus dignitatis’.

32 ILS 1244, ‘omnibusque Palatinis dignitatibus functo’.

33 See, e.g., Salzman, op. cit. (n. 25), and most recently Cameron, Alan, The Last Pagans of Rome (2011), 173205.

34 Cameron, op. cit. (n. 33), 10.

35 ILS 1257, ‘pontifici maiori, quindecemviro s(acris) f(aciundis)’. On priesthoods as status markers, see Cameron, op. cit. (n. 33), 132–41, and for the importance of distinguishing between public and private settings, 156–9; Cameron emphasizes the exceptional nature of this inscription as the only surviving Roman public monument from the fourth century to mention priesthoods.

36 Although this three-fold differentiation of senatorial rank was first formalized only by Valentinian's law of a.d. 372 (see n. 31 above), I have followed the practice of PLRE 1 in classifying the careers of men before this date according to the later definition.

37 See Ammianus' criticism (14.6.1) of the urban prefect Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus, ‘splendore liberalium doctrinarum minus quam nobilem decuerat institutus’.

38 The tendency to treat Flavianus as a literary figure may stem ultimately from Dessau's inclusion of Flavianus in a dubious category of inscriptions for famous men of letters (ILS 2947–8). For Flavianus' Annales, see ILS 2948, ‘annalium quos consecrari sibi a quaestore et praefecto suo voluit’. As Cameron, op. cit. (n. 33), 198–205, 627–33, argues, nothing is known about his shadowy history, and scholars have erred in attributing outsized importance to it.

39 Thus it is inaccurate to point to the statues of literary men as evidence that the Forum of Trajan functioned as a ‘hall of fame’ for outstanding men in general, pace Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 133, ‘eine Art Ruhmeshalle verdienter Persönlichkeiten’, and Hedrick, C. W., History and Silence: Purge and Rehabilitation of Memory in Late Antiquity (2000), 232, who refers to ‘men distinguished only for their prominence in literature’.

40 Stewart, P., ‘Continuity and tradition in late antique perceptions of portrait statuary’, in Bauer, F. A. and Witschel, C. (eds), Statuen in der Spätantike (2007), 2742, at 31, tempers his own suggestion of a ‘poets’ corner' by noting that ‘the recipients’ social and political position (and their loyalty) were evidently a necessary condition for such a reward'.

41 ILS 2949; see Jones, op. cit. (n. 23, 1964), 1: 547, 573–4, and Teitler, H. C., Notarii and Exceptores: An Inquiry into Role and Significance of Shorthand Writers in the Imperial and Ecclesiastical Bureaucracy of the Roman Empire (from the Early Principate to c. 450 AD) (1985), 1618.

42 For this date, see Cameron, Alan, Claudian: Poetry and Propaganda at the Court of Honorius (1970), xv, and on Claudian as Stilicho's propagandist, 42–62.

43 ILS 2950, ‘carmen, cuius praeconio gloria triumfali crevit imperio’. For Merobaudes' career and this panegyric (not extant), see Clover, F. M., ‘Flavius Merobaudes: a translation and historical commentary’, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society n.s. 61 (1971), 178, at 39–40, and PLRE 2:756–8.

44 For Sidonius' allusion to Merobaudes' statue, see Carm. 9.299–301; his own statue is attested at Ep. 9.16.3 vv. 25–8, ‘cum meis poni statuam perennem / Nerva Traianus titulis videret, / inter auctores utriusque fixam / bybliothecae’, and Carm. 8.7–8, ‘nil totum prodest adiectum laudibus illud / Ulpia quod rutilat porticus aere meo’.

45 Sidonius' known offices appear to post-date this panegyric; see PLRE 2:115–18, ‘Apollinaris 6’.

46 Jer., Chron. s.a. 354 (p. 239 Helm), ‘Victorinus etiam statuam in foro Traiani meruit’. Augustine, Conf. 8.2.3 places the statue ‘Romano foro’, which need only mean ‘a Roman forum’, not ‘the Roman Forum’ (I owe this observation to one of the Journal's anonymous referees).

47 Hadot, P., Marius Victorinus: recherches sur sa vie et ses œuvres (1971), 31–3, followed by Cooper, S. A., Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians: Introduction, Translation, and Notes (2005), 1819. Victorinus is not identified as clarissimus in PLRE 1:964.

48 Symm., Rel. 5.1, ‘erudiendis nobilibus’. Quintilian, the first occupant of the chair of rhetoric at Rome, had also received consularia ornamenta: Auson., Grat. act. 31.

49 Aug., Conf. 8.2.3, ‘doctor tot nobilium senatorum, qui etiam ob insigne praeclari magisterii … statuam Romano foro meruerat et acceperat’.

50 On grants of senatorial rank to orators and poets, see Jones, op. cit. (n. 23, 1964), 1: 549.

51 Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 231 goes too far in claiming that senators who reached the urban prefecture could ‘count on’ a statue in the Forum of Trajan.

52 On the conservatism of these virtues, see Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 151–72, and Trout, D. E., ‘The verse epitaph(s) of Petronius Probus: competitive commemoration in late-fourth-century Rome’, NECJ 28.3 (2001), 157–76, at 168–9.

53 ILS 1221, ‘ob meritum nobilitatis eloquii iustitiae atq(ue) censurae, quibus privatim ac publice clarus est’.

54 ILS 1257, ‘auctoritate prudentia atq(ue) eloquentia pro dignitate tanti ordinis magnitudinem loci eius inpleverit’.

55 ILS 1262, ‘provisione efficacia vigor[e] eloquentia egregia moderatione praestanti’.

56 ILS 1275, ‘ob testimonium morum, integritatis adque iustitiae singularis’.

57 ILS 1243, ‘genere nobili, domi forisque ad exemplum veterum continentia iustitia constantia providentia omnibusque virtutibus semper inlustri’. See also the eulogy of Praetextatus in Symm., Rel. 11, ‘veteribus parem virtutum omnium virum’.

58 Avianius' epigrams are found in Symm., Ep. 1.2.3–7, or in Courtney, E. (ed.), The Fragmentary Latin Poets (1993), 451–3. Testa, R. Lizzi, Senatori, popolo, papi: Il governo di Roma al tempo dei Valentiniani (2004), 355–72, at 363, suggests that the inscriptions and epigrams were ‘quasi aspetti omologhi di un medesimo processo di autorappresentazione’.

59 Seeck, O. (ed.), Q. Aurelii Symmachi quae supersunt, MGH. Auctores antiquissimi 6.1 (1883), XLIII calls them ‘frigida et ieiuna’.

60 Lizzi Testa, op. cit. (n. 58), 370, likewise argues that the epigrams were designed not just to praise individuals, but to define ‘un’ immagine collettiva di ceto'.

61 ILS 1257, ‘multis legationibus pro amplissimi ordinis desideriis apud divos principes functo, qui primus in senatu sententiam rogari solitus’.

62 ILS 1256, ‘ob depulsam ab eadem provincia famis et inopiae vastitatem consiliis et provisionibus, et quod caste in eadem provincia integreque versatus est, [qu]od neque aequitati in cognoscendo neque iustitiae defuerit, quod studium sacerdotii provinciae restituerit ut nunc a conpetitoribus adpetatur quod antea formidini fuerit’; see also below.

63 ILS 1274, ‘Cronio Eusebio v(iro) c(larissimo), consulari Aemiliae addita praedictae provinciae contuitu vigilantiae et iustitiae eius etiam Ravennatium civitate quae antea Piceni caput provinciae videbatur, vicario Italiae, quae potestas supra dicto viro ob testimonium ante acti honoris est adtributa’.

64 ILS 1255, ‘ob egregia eius in rem publicam merita’ (the same phrase is also found in ILS 1244), noted as an example of the tendency toward vagueness in late antique inscriptions by Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 163.

65 Pliny, Ep. 2.7; the phrase ad exe]mplum has been restored in CIL 6.41347; see also n. 57 above.

66 Symm., Rel. 12.2, ‘ornamentis bonorum incitatur imitatio et virtus aemula alitur exemplo honoris alieni’. Ma, op. cit. (n. 19), 218.

67 ILS 809 (Petronius Maximus, a.d. 420/1), ‘censores remuneratoresque virtutum’; ILS 2950 (Flavius Merobaudes, a.d. 435), ‘remunerantes in viro antiquae nobilitatis novae gloriae’; ILS 1284 (Flavius Olbius Auxentius Draucus, a.d. 441/5), ‘ad remunerationem titulosque virtutum’.

68 ILS 1244, ‘[statuam] quam ante sub divo Constante vitae et fidelissimae devotionis gratia meruit’.

69 ILS 2948, ‘in monumenta virtutum suarum titulosq(ue) revocemus’; see Hedrick, op. cit. (n. 39), with the criticisms of Cameron, op. cit. (n. 33), 198–205.

70 ILS 1256; see n. 62 above. On the rapprochement between Gratian's regime and the senate, see Matthews, J. F., Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, a.d. 364–425 (1975), 65–9.

71 One might compare the statues dedicated to governors in late antique Aphrodisias for their culture, wisdom and honesty: Smith, op. cit. (n. 21), 175 and 185–8. For the enduring gratitude felt by provincials toward a good governor, see Dio 69.14.4.

72 ILS 1254, ‘pleno aequitatis ac fidei’.

73 ILS 1256, ‘quod nulli proconsulum vel ex proconsulibus statuendam antea postularit’.

74 For a memorable portrait of an evil official, see Amm. 28.6 and 29.5 on Romanus, comes per Africam under Valentinian I, who refused to defend the citizens of Lepcis against external attack, suborned other officials to thwart the emperor's inquiry, and eventually provoked the revolt of Firmus in Mauretania; Matthews, J. F., The Roman Empire of Ammianus (1989), 383–7.

75 Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 77–86.

76 Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 133, views the dedications as part of an ‘exchange of honours’ and a ‘reciprocal affirmation’ between senate and emperor; an excellent example is provided by a mid-fifth-century inscription in which the emperors award a statue ‘at the request of the most noble senate, which is the proper arbiter of honours’ (ILS 1284, ‘petitu senatus amplissimi, qui est iustus arbiter dignitatum’).

77 ILS 1221, ‘petitu populi R(omani), testimonio senatus, iudicio dd(ominorum) nn(ostrorum) triumphatoris Aug(usti) Caesarumq(ue) florentium, statuam secundam auro superfusam locari sumptu publico placuit’; for the continuity between this formula and that used in the second century, see Millar, F., The Emperor in the Roman World (31 BC–AD 337) (1977), 354, and Section III below.

78 ILS 809, ‘ad petitione<m> senatus amplissimi populiq(ue) Romani’.

79 Symm., Rel. 10.2, ‘recusavit populus sollemnes theatri voluptates memoriamque eius inlustrem multa adclamatione testatus’.

80 ILS 1257, ‘decretis frequentibus’; Symm., Rel. 10–12 and 24, with request at 12.2, ‘senatus … vestrumque numen precatur, ut virum nostra aetate mirabilem statuarum diuturnitas tradat oculis posterorum’. The statue requested may be the same as the one to which the inscription found in the Roman Forum (CIL 6.1779a) was once attached (see Section IV below).

81 J. Weisweiler, ‘Inscribing imperial power: letters from emperors in late antique Rome’, in R. Behrwald and C. Witschel (eds), Historische Erinnerung im städtischen Raum: Rom in der Spätantike (forthcoming). I am grateful to the author for providing a copy of this paper before publication.

82 See n. 61 above; embassies are also mentioned (and totalled up) in inscriptions for Memmius Vitrasius Orfitus (CIL 6.1739–1742) and Praetextatus (ILS 1258, 1259).

83 ILS 769, ‘dedicandi operis honore delato iudicio princip(um) maxim(orum) L(ucio) Aur(elio) Avianio Symmacho v(iro) c(larissimo) ex praefectis urbi’. Cf. Amm. 27.3.3.

84 ILS 1257, ‘quorum perenne iudicium tanto muneri hoc quoque addidit, ut alteram statuam pari splendore etiam apud Constantinopolim conlocaret’.

85 Weisweiler, op. cit. (n. 81), counts three examples from the Forum of Trajan and two from the Roman Forum, and suggests additional examples may lurk in other fragmentary inscriptions.

86 ILS 1257, ‘idem triumfatores principes nostri constitui adposita oratione iusserunt, quae meritorum eius ordinem ac seriem contineret’.

87 CIL 6.40776, ‘consulibus praetoribus tribunis plebis senatui suo salutem dicunt. si vos liberique vestri valetis bene est; nos exercitusque nostri valemus’. The same greeting was used in the second century: see especially Dio 73.[72].15.5 on Commodus' notorious letters addressed to the ‘consuls, praetors, tribunes, and the fortunate Commodian senate’, and 69.14.3, for Hadrian's deliberate omission of the line about the safety of the armies during the war with Bar Kokhba.

88 CIL 6.40776, ‘repetentibus nobis insignem nobilitate prosapiam Proculi c(larissimi) v(iri) eiusdemque virtutes privatim et publice decursis officiis cogni[tas] intuentibus, p(atres) c(onscripti), facilis aestima[tio est Pro]culum v(irum) c(larissimum) tantundem glori[am quam a pa]tribus acceperat…’. The interpretation hinges on the translation of patribus in the last extant clause. If it means ‘from his forefathers’ (thus Millar, op. cit. (n. 77), 354–5), there is no reference to a senatorial decree; less likely, in my view, is ‘from the senators’, which would imply that Constantine was acting on a senatorial request (thus Weisweiler).

89 ILS 2948, ‘non inmerit[o] patientiae vestrae gratias agamus, ne quid erga restitutionem honoris eius admoniti potius quam sponte fecisse videamur’.

90 Amm. 14.6.8, ‘ex his quidam aeternitati se commendari posse per statuas aestimantes eas ardenter adfectant quasi plus praemii de figmentis aereis sensu carentibus adepturi, quam ex conscientia honeste recteque factorum, easque auro curant inbracteari’.

91 For this formula, see, e.g., ILS 2949 (Claudian, a.d. 400/2), ‘statuam in foro divi Traiani erigi collocarique iusserunt’.

92 On statue dedications as ‘a way of defining and using space’, see Machado, op. cit. (n. 18), 122.

93 Gell. 13.25.1, inscription. On the triumphal chariots, see Meneghini, op. cit. (n. 5), 132 and 141, and for a reconstruction of the attic colonnades, Packer, op. cit. (n. 4), 1: 96–104, 425–7.

94 Dio 68.16.2. On the careers of these three consulars and the obscurity surrounding Celsus, that ‘total enigma among the marshals of Trajan’, see Syme, R., ‘Hadrian and the Senate’, Athenaeum 62 (1984), 3160 (= Roman Papers IV (1988), 295–324, at 298).

95 Senecio: ILS 1022, with Jones, C. P., ‘Sura and Senecio’, JRS 60 (1970), 98104; Palma: ILS 1023. Senecio and Palma could still have received additional honorific statues in the Forum of Trajan after it was completed: Lahusen, G., Untersuchungen zur Ehrenstatue in Rom: literarische und epigraphische Zeugnisse (1983), 28–9. See also AE 1934, 177, another acephalous inscription, found in Heliopolis, Syria, which appears to be a copy of an inscription attesting the award of a statue by the senate on Trajan's initiative to a legate and comes who had served in both Dacia and Parthia; the inscription has been restored to say that the statue was placed in the Forum of Augustus, but since Trajan is styled ‘Parthicus’, the dedication must date to a.d. 116/17 and perhaps should be assigned to the Forum of Trajan; for the date of this victory title, see Lightfoot, C. S., ‘Trajan's Parthian war and the fourth-century perspective’, JRS 80 (1990), 115–26, at 120.

96 Alföldy, G., ‘Pietas immobilis erga principem und ihr Lohn: öffentliche Ehrenmonumente von Senatoren in Rom während der Frühen und Hohen Kaiserzeit’, in Alföldy, G. and Panciera, S. (eds), Inschriftliche Denkmäler als Medien der Selbstdarstellung in der römischen Welt (2001), 1146, at 23.

97 HA Hadr. 7.1–3, with Birley, A. R., Hadrian: the Restless Emperor (1997), 87–8.

98 Dio 69.7.4, with Lahusen, op. cit. (n. 95), 29 and Alföldy, op. cit. (n. 96), 23, identifying this Forum as Trajan's Forum.

99 These three generals were the last to receive ornamenta triumphalia: see ILS 1056 (Severus), with Eck, W., ‘The bar Kokhba revolt: the Roman point of view’, JRS 89 (1999), 7689, at 82–7.

100 On these inscriptions, see the newly edited texts at CIL 6.41140–52, with the indispensable notes of Alföldy in 6.8.3: 4948–61 and idem, op. cit. (n. 96), 23–4. The dedications diminish under Commodus and the lone Severan example is CIL 6.1566, perhaps honouring a general who perished in the wars of a.d. 193–7: CIL 6.8.3: 4713.

101 CIL 6.41142 = ILS 1098, ‘quod post aliquot secunda proelia adversum Germanos et Iazyges ad postremum pro r(e) p(ublica) fortiter pugnans ceciderit’.

102 CIL 6.41146 = ILS 1094 + 1100 (M. Pontius Laelianus Larcius Sabinus, a.d. 175/7) and CIL 6.41140 (C. Aufidius Victorinus, a.d. 184/5). Victorinus' statue is noted by Dio 73.[72].11; on Victorinus' career and representation in Dio, see A. Kemezis, ‘Commemoration of the Antonine aristocracy in Cassius Dio and the Historia Augusta’, CQ 62.1 (2012), 386–413, at 387–93. On the different types of honorific statues, see Fejfer, J., Roman Portraits in Context (2008), 181227.

103 Fejfer, op. cit. (n. 102), 387, rightly observes that the Forum was used for a variety of civilian functions.

104 Kemezis, op. cit. (n. 102), 391, observes that Dio similarly portrays the honorific statues for Antonine senators as a ‘consensus-building device’.

105 See, e.g., CIL 6.41142 = ILS 1098 (M. Claudius Fronto, a.d. 170), ‘Huic senatus auctor[e] imperatore M(arco) Aurelio Antonino Aug(usto) Armeniaco Medico Parthico maximo … armatam statuam [poni] in foro divi Traiani pecunia publica cen[suit]’. Marcus is said to have shown scrupulous respect for the senate's authority: see, e.g., Dio 72.[71].33.2 on public funds, with Talbert, R., The Senate of Imperial Rome (1984), 364 and 366.

106 Alföldy, op. cit. (n. 96), 31–2.

107 Kemezis, op. cit. (n. 102), 387.

108 HA Marc. 10.2, ‘neque quisquam principum amplius senatui detulit’; 22.7, ‘et multi nobiles bello Germanico sive Marcomannico immo plurimarum gentium interierunt — quibus omnibus statuas in foro Ulpio collocavit’.

109 CIL 6.41145B, with Alföldy's notes in 6.8.3: 4958; the text consists of several letters dated on the basis of their forms to the fourth or fifth century: ‘[Invi]ct(-) (?) Caesar[- —]’. On reused bases in the Forum of Trajan, see Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 91 (who does not count this instance). Viewers might be expected to react to reused monuments: Stewart, op. cit. (n. 40), 29: ‘any erection of a monument in late antiquity involved some kind of dialogue with existing works; this is especially clear in areas such as the imperial fora in Rome where earlier displays of statues appear to have been partly preserved intact alongside newly erected or transplanted monuments.’

110 CIL 6.41145, ‘[amico Aug]ustorum … marito A[nniae Fundaniae Faustinae] imp(eratoris) Caesaris M(arci) [Antonini Aug(usti) et div]ae Faustinae Piae pa[truelis, affini domus] Aug(usti)’.

111 For Orfitus, see Amm. 14.6.1 and CIL 6.1739–1742 (1741 = ILS 1243). On his Antonine ancestry, see Barnes, T. D., Ammianus Marcellinus and the Representation of Historical Reality (1998), 115. Cameron, Alan, ‘Orfitus and Constantius: a note on Roman gold-glasses’, JRA 9 (1996), 295301, at 300–1, argues that Orfitus was the husband of Constantia, a woman of the extended Constantinian family, but F. Chausson, Stemmata Aurea: Constantin, Justine, Théodose: revendications généalogiques et idéologie impériale au IV esiècle ap. J.-C (2007), 141–6, argues that Constantia's husband was likely a different Orfitus; nevertheless, he allows the possibility (146 n. 114) that the prefect Orfitus may have been linked in some way to the imperial family. Interestingly, the cognomen Faustina is also found in the name of [Me?]mmia Vitrasia Faustina, probably a sister or cousin of Orfitus.

112 Elsner, J., ‘From the culture of spolia to the cult of relics: the Arch of Constantine and the genesis of late antique forms’, PBSR 68 (2000), 149–84, at 153.

113 Ruysschaert, J., ‘Essai d'interprétation de l'arc de Constantin’, Atti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia (série III), Rendiconti 35 (1962–3), 79100, at 89. The frieze may once have run along the south side of the courtyard enclosing the Column: Meneghini, op. cit. (n. 5), 154.

114 Packer, op. cit. (n. 4), 1: 437–8.

115 Liverani, P., ‘Reimpiego senza ideologia: la lettura antica degli spolia dall'arco di Costantino all'età carolingia’, RömMitt 111 (2004), 383434, at 384.

116 Elsner, op. cit. (n. 112), 174, glory; for the senate's (especially the prefect's) likely rôle in designing the Arch, see ibid., 171 n. 28 and Marlowe, E., ‘That Customary Magnificence which is Your Due’: Constantine and the Symbolic Capital of Rome, Ph.D. thesis, Columbia University (2004), 202–56. Van Dam, R., Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge (2011), 126–32, emphasizes the senate's desire to mould Constantine's behaviour.

117 Sutherland, C. H. V., The Roman Imperial Coinage, Volume VI: From Diocletian's Reform (A.D. 294) to the Death of Maximinus (A.D. 313) (1967), 390, nos 345–52 (a.d. 312–13), struck also for Constantine's fellow Augusti in the East. The legend had already appeared on gold coins of Constantine minted at Trier, perhaps in anticipation of the honours he would receive after capturing Rome (pp. 160, 348).

118 For the exact dates, see Packer, op. cit. (n. 4), 1: 5 n. 11.

119 Alföldi, M. R., Die constantinische Goldprägung (1963), 5769; cf. Wright, D. H., ‘The true face of Constantine the Great’, DOP 41 (1987), 493507, at 505, who traces the hairstyle instead to Augustus. Either model represented a break with the militaristic style of the Tetrarchic period: La Rocca, E. and Zanker, P., ‘Il ritratto colossale di Costantino dal Foro di Traiano’, in Leone, A., Palombi, D. and Walker, S. (eds), Res bene gestae: ricerche di storia urbana su Roma antica in onore di Eva Margareta Steinby, Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae Supplementum IV (2007), 145–68, at 146.

120 For Constantine's irreverence toward Trajan and other predecessors, see Anonymus post Dionem (= Dio Continuatus), Frag. 15.2, ed. Müller, C., Fragmenta historicorum graecorum, Vol. 4 (1851), 199: ‘Since Constantine wished to diminish the accomplishments of earlier emperors, he was eager to belittle their merits with some [disparaging] nicknames. He called Octavian Augustus a “plaything of fortune”, Trajan “wall ivy”, Hadrian a “paintbrush”, Marcus [Aurelius] a “buffoon”, and [Septimius] Severus …’ (translation from Van Dam, op. cit. (n. 116), 128 n. 37). Trajan as ‘wall ivy’ is attested also by Epit. 41.13, ‘herbam parietariam’; cf. Amm. 27.3.7, where the joke is attributed instead to the urban prefect Lampadius, himself an avid auto-inscriber. The joke is cited by Liverani, op. cit. (n. 115), 394–6, as evidence that Constantine did not seek to associate himself with Trajan or the other emperors of the second century.

121 CIL 6.1143 (a.d. 312/24), ‘[fo]rtissimo [cle]mentissimo e[t] [gl]oriosissim[o] [p]rincipi’.

122 Marlowe, op. cit. (n. 116), 206.

123 ILS 692 (Forum of Trajan), ‘fundatori etiam securitatis aeternae’; ILS 694 (Arch of Constantine), ‘fundatori quietis’.

124 La Rocca and Zanker, op. cit. (n. 119), 146; Meneghini, op. cit. (n. 5), 132–3.

125 See Section II above.

126 Other fragmentary inscriptions have been found in or near the Forum that may have carried dedications to emperors, but none can be securely dated to after a.d. 337: two inscriptions for beatissimi Caesares may honour sons of Constantine (CIL 6.40779A, 40820a), and another may record a dedication by a senator to an emperor of the Constantinian age (41325).

127 A dedication to Arcadius (a.d. 383/408) may have stood in the Markets of Trajan (CIL 6.40797), and another stone found in the Forum may have carried an imperial dedication (40813).

128 For the date of Victor's prefecture, see Chastagnol, A., Les fastes de la Préfecture de Rome au Bas-Empire (1962), 232–3.

129 ILS 2945, ‘[ve]terum principum clementiam [sa]nctitudinem munificentiam supergresso’. This distinctive terminology is found also in a dedication by the senate and people of Rome to Marcus Aurelius, ‘quod omnes omnium ante se maximorum imperatorum glorias supergressus’ (ILS 374).

130 Them., Orat. 16.205a, ὁ σὸς πρόγονος καὶ ἀρχηγέτης; Epit. 48.1, ‘originem a Traiano principe trahens’, 8–10, physical resemblances; Oros. 7.34.2, Gratian's choice of Theodosius compared to Nerva's of Trajan. For the court's encouragement of the link between Theodosius and Trajan, see Syme, R., Emperors and Biography: Studies in the Historia Augusta (1971), 91, and Chausson, op. cit. (n. 111), 189–254, at 253, who concludes that ‘l’exemplum a inspiré la généalogie'.

131 Claud., IV Cons. 19, ‘Ulpia progenies’. CIL 6.1194, ‘D(omino) n(ostro) Honorio florentissimo invictissimoq(ue) principi’.

132 On the rarity of statues for senators in the Roman Forum in the Principate, see Eck, W., ‘Die Familie der Volusii Saturnini in neuen Inschriften aus Lucus Feroniae’, Hermes 100 (1972), 461–84, at 472.

133 On adventus, see MacCormack, S., Art and Ceremony in Late Antiquity (1981), 1761; Roman Forum as the setting for the emperor's adlocutio: Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 124–7 and Liverani, P., ‘Osservazioni sui rostri del Foro Romano in età tardoantica’, in Leone, A., Palombi, D. and Walker, S. (eds), Res bene gestae: ricerche di storia urbana su Roma antica in onore di Eva Margareta Steinby. Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae Supplementum IV (2007), 169–93.

134 For a catalogue of the late antique imperial monuments and statues in the Roman Forum, see Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 401–5; he points (p. 132) to the importance of the Forum as the visual expression of Rome's venerable history and the place where each emperor established his own presence in this continuum, though he overstates the degree of the continued imperial monopoly on representation in the later period: ‘Während der ganzen Spätantike blieb also die Exklusivität des Forums als Ort der Kaiserehrung weitestgehend gewahrt’.

135 Machado, op. cit. (n. 14), 180–1; Gillett, A., ‘Rome, Ravenna, and the last western emperors’, PBSR 69 (2001), 131–67.

136 Machado, op. cit. (n. 14), especially 179–85 on moving statues; for the honour to be gained by dedicating a statue in the Roman Forum, see Pliny, Ep. 1.17.4.

137 CIL 6.1779a. Two other stones are too fragmentary to admit of classification: CIL 6.41348, bearing only an erased [[C V]] and a consular date of a.d. 382; and CIL 6.41346, which appears to honour a consul and praetorian prefect and has been dated on the basis of letter-forms to the second half of the fourth century.

138 See, e.g., Amm. 27.9.8–10; Symm., Rel. 10–12, 24; Jerome, Ep. 23.3, ‘ad cuius interitum urbs universa commota est’.

139 So exceptional is this dedication that Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 75 suggests (unnecessarily) that it may originally have stood in the nearby Porticus Deorum Consentium, which Praetextatus is known to have restored (ILS 4003).

140 A right evidently enjoyed by urban prefects who died in office: Cameron, Alan, ‘The funeral of Junius Bassus’, ZPE 139 (2002), 288–92; idem, op. cit. (n. 33), 287–94, further argues that a iustitium (public mourning) mentioned in the so-called Carmen contra paganos refers to Praetextatus' death in a.d. 384.

141 Symm., Rel. 12.2, request for statue, assumed by Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 96, to be the statue that once bore the inscribed base found in the Roman Forum; Rel. 12.4, ‘clementiae vestrae testimonio cuncta servanda sunt; inlustrior enim laus est de caelesti profecta iudicio’.

142 CIL 6.41357, ‘[praef(ect-) u]rbi pra[…]’, dated on the basis of letter-forms to the fourth or fifth century. For the interpretation of this inscription as an oratio principis, see Gregori, G. L., ‘Nei depositi del Foro Romano e Palatino: schede epigraphiche’, ZPE 86 (1991), 283–90, at 288 and Weisweiler, op. cit. (n. 81); neither associates this inscription with Praetextatus.

143 Coates-Stephens, R., ‘The reuse of ancient statuary in late antique Rome and the end of the statue habit’, in Bauer, F. A. and Witschel, C. (eds), Statuen in der Spätantike (2007), 171–87, especially 183: ‘By the 6th century, new statues were simply not being made any longer.’

144 I include in this category military officers who bore the titles magister equitum et peditum, magister utriusque militiae, and magister militum, which appear to have been used inconsistently, with the same man sometimes referred to differently in different sources: O'Flynn, J. M., Generalissimos of the Western Roman Empire (1983), 5.

145 e.g. Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 405–8 and Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 262–4, though she rightly points out (p. 86) that statues in the Roman Forum were mainly restricted to men who could claim military achievements or proximity to the imperial house.

146 Gadeyne, J., Function and Dysfunction of the City: Rome in the Fifth Century AD, Ph.D. dissertation, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (2009), 116.

147 ILS 1278, a statue of bronze and silver placed ‘in rostris’. For the exclusiveness of this location, see n. 132 above.

148 ILS 1277, ‘Africa consiliis eius et provisione liberata’.

149 CIL 6.41381, with Alföldy in CIL 6.8.3: 5089. The dedicatee is praised as ‘[p]rov[identissimo, duci] victo[rios]iss[imo, dominorum nostrorum] [c]onsult[o]ri etiam [fautori divini] [ge]neris ac no[minis Romani]’.

150 ILS 799, ‘fidei virtutiq(ue) devotissimorum militum domnorum nostrorum Arcadi Honori et Theodosi perennium Augustorum, post confectum Gothicum bellum felicitate aeterni principis domni nostri Honori, consiliis et fortitudine inlustris viri comitis et [[ (II vv.) ]]’; for Stilicho's consilia, see n. 148 above. Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 20–1 argues that this was a monument to one of the three emperors, likely Honorius; he is followed by Messerschmidt, W., ‘Die statuarische Repräsentation des theodosianischen Kaiserhauses in Rom’, RömMitt 111 (2004), 555–68, at 559 no. 4. The attribution to Stilicho is defended by Alföldy and Witschel in CIL 6.8.3: 4800, no. 31987.

151 For the date of Stilicho's marriage to Serena, see O'Flynn, op. cit. (n. 144), 15–16. Eucherius and Galla Placidia: Claud., Stil. 2.354–61, with Cameron, op. cit. (n. 42), 47 and 154.

152 ILS 1277, ‘ab ineunte aetate per gradus clarissimae militiae ad columen gloriae sempiternae et regiae adfinitatis evecto, progenero divi Theodosi, comiti divi Theodosi Augusti in omnibus bellis adque victoriis et ab eo in adfinitatem regiam cooptato itemque socero d(omini) n(ostri) Honori Augusti’. Thermantia, mother of Theodosius I: Epit. 48.1 and ILS 8950. Eucherius, uncle of Theodosius I: PLRE 1:288; Theodosius honoured him with the consulate in a.d. 381 (Them., Orat. 16.203d) and was said to have revered him like a father: Epit. 48.18, ‘patruum colere tamquam genitorem’. For Stilicho's dynastic pretensions, see, e.g., Claud., Stil. 1.78, 2.239–40, 3.122, and Cameron, op. cit. (n. 42), 46–9, 153–4.

153 e.g. Ambr., De ob. Theod. 5; ILS 795. On this title, see Mazzarino, S., Stilicone: La crisi imperiale dopo Teodosio (1942), 106–13, and Straub, J., ‘Parens principum: Stilichos Reichspolitik und das Testament des Kaisers Theodosius’, La Nouvelle Clio 4 (1952), 94115. For O'Flynn, this designation is tantamount to a formal title, ‘the epitome of his claim to special power’ (op. cit. (n. 144), 65), and the plural is significant, indicative of his claim to authority in both West and East (16).

154 The connection would be through Justina, mother of Galla and Valentinian II and widow of Valentinian I: Chausson, op. cit. (n. 111), 160–5, who concludes that she was Constantine's great-niece.

155 Cameron, op. cit. (n. 42), 154.

156 CIL 6.1719 = ILS 801, 1720.

157 O'Flynn, op. cit. (n. 144), 66–7, emphasizes Constantius' conscious imitation of Stilicho.

158 ILS 801, ‘reparatori rei publicae [et] parenti invictissimo[rum] principum’. For parallels, see CIL 10.516, ‘reparatori orbis sui’ (Constantine), ILS 739, ‘reparatores orbis’ (Constantius II and Julian), CIL 9.417, ‘reparatori orbis Romani’ (Julian), and AE 1986, 631, ‘reparatori Romanae rei’ (Theodosius I).

159 Assumed by Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 23–4, 84–5, 263.

160 CIL 6.40798 (Arcadius, a.d. 399/400) = Messerschmidt, op. cit. (n. 150), 562 no. 16; according to Ruck, B., ‘Eintracht und Sieg: zwei Brüder an der Macht. Die Arcadiusbasis auf dem Caesarforum’, in Alföldy, G. and Panciera, S. (eds), Inschriftliche Denkmäler als Medien der Selbstdarstellung in der römischen Welt (2001), 209–29, this dedication may have been one-half of a pair honouring Arcadius and Honorius. Galla Placidia: CIL 6.40804 (a.d. 421/3), not listed by Messerschmidt.

161 Fraschetti, A., La conversione: da Roma pagana a Roma Cristiana (1999), 175217; Meneghini, op. cit. (n. 5), 53–5.

162 On the ‘wide variety of titles and designations for Aetius, reminiscent of the lack of precision already encountered in the case of Stilicho’, see O'Flynn, op. cit. (n. 144), 83; in CIL 6.41389 he is magister militum per Gallias and magister utriusque militiae.

163 CIL 6.41389, ‘delatorum ut hostium inimicissimo, vindici libertatis, pudoris ultor<i>’.

164 On Aetius' involvement in civil administration, see O'Flynn, op. cit. (n. 144), 86–7 and Delmaire, R., ‘Flauius Aëtius, delatorum inimicissimus, uindex libertatis, pudoris ultor (CIL VI 41389)’, ZPE 166 (2008), 291–4.

165 A second dedication may be present in CIL 6.41344a, which appears to record an oratio principis; see n. 172 below.

166 CIL 6.41398, with Panciera, S., ‘Il precettore di Valentiniano III’, in Stella, C. and Valvo, A. (eds), Studi in onore di Albino Garzetti (1996), 277–97. Fraschetti, op. cit. (n. 161), 211 suggests that the statue stood in the atrium Libertatis.

167 Panciera, op. cit. (n. 166), 286–9; ILS 807/8 (after a.d. 443), ‘auctori sibi tot honorum’. For Maximus' statue in the Forum of Trajan, see ILS 809.

168 Omitted from the indices of CIL 6.8.3 and Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), but included in Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 411.

169 Saturninus' prefectures are dated to a.d. 403/7 by Chastagnol, op. cit. (n. 128), 261–2, but Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 269 allows any fifth-century date before a.d. 476.

170 On the epithet beatissimus, see Alföldy's commentary in CIL 6.8.2: 4355, no. 36952.

171 Almost certainly moved here from a location outside the Forum: see Bauer, op. cit. (n. 4), 75, proposing the Forum of Trajan, and Niquet, op. cit. (n. 13), 21–2, a private setting.

172 Alföldy in CIL 6.8.3: 5073–4 proposes that the inscription honoured Ceionius Rufius Albinus 15 (PVR a.d. 389–91), but Weisweiler, op. cit. (n. 81), n. 43, noting that the title magnificus vir does not occur before the mid-fifth century, suggests instead Rufius Praetextatus Postumianus 5 (PVR (II), cos. a.d. 448).

* *The research and writing of this article were made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar on ‘The Falls of Rome’, held at the American Academy in Rome in 2010, and a generous grant provided by Willamette University's Center for Ancient Studies and Archaeology. I am especially grateful to the Seminar Directors, Michele Salzman and Kimberly Bowes, and my fellow participants for many stimulating conversations. A preliminary version of these ideas was presented to a helpful audience at the annual meeting of the American Philological Association in San Antonio, January 2011. In addition, particular thanks are due to Adam Kemezis, David Potter, Michele Salzman, Dennis Trout, and Ray Van Dam for their helpful feedback on early drafts; Adam Kemezis, Carlos Machado, and John Weisweiler for kindly sharing work in advance of publication; Jan Gadeyne for generously making his thesis available to the NEH Seminar (and leading two energetic tours of the city); and the Journal's Editor and referees for their many constructive suggestions.

The following abbreviations are used:

AE = L'Année épigraphique

CIL = Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

ILS = H. Dessau (ed.), Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, Vol. 1 (1892)

PLRE = A. H. M. Jones, J. R. Martindale and J. Morris (eds), The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire: Volume 1, A.D. 260–395 (1971), and J. R. Martindale (ed.), Volume 2, A.D. 395–527 (1980)


Statues of Senators in the Forum of Trajan and the Roman Forum in Late Antiquity*

  • Robert Chenault (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed