Base for statue, probably bronze, of Maternus Cynegius, praetorian prefect. Alexandria (Aegyptus). 384-387

In 13 lines:

Domini nostri, invictissimi et venerabiles / ac perpetui Augusti, Theodosius et / Arcadius, toto orbe victores, / Materno Cynegio, omnium virtutum viro et ad / (5) insignem laudem gloriamque progenito, per / omnes honorum gradus meritorum con-/templatione provecto, praefecto / praetorio per orientem, statuam / civili habitu, ad petitum primorum nobilissime (sic) / (10) Alexandrinae urbis, in eadem splendida / urbe, ad perpetuitatis famam, loco cele-/berrimo constitui collocarique iusserunt, / per clarissimos Alexandrinae civitatis.

'Our lords, the most unconquered and venerable and perpetual Augusti, Theodosius and Arcadius, victors over the whole globe, at the petition of the first-ranking citizens (ad petitum primorum) of the most noble city of Alexandria, ordered that a statue in civil dress (civili habitu) be set up and placed in a highly frequented site (loco celeberrimo) by the most distinguished men (per clarissimos) of the city of Alexandria, to Maternus Cynegius, a man of all virtues, born for exceptional praise and glory, promoted through all the grades of office in consideration of his merits, and praetorian prefect of the East, in order to perpetuate his fame.'

We reproduce the text of CIL III suppl. I 6587 (of 1902). The same inscription was edited by CIL III 19 in 1873 with a slight difference in lines 9-10: ... ad petitum primorum nobilium / Alexandrinae urbis .... - ' ...at the petition of the foremost nobles of the city of Alexandria ....' .

Letter height not recorded.

No description or measurements of the block are given by CIL, the only publication of the inscription. No published image.

According to CIL, the inscription was found in Alexandria in 1746. There is no published record of its present location.

Theodosius I was Augustus 379-95, his son Arcadius 383-408.

The honorand Maternus Cynegius was praetorian prefect of the East 384-8 (PLRE I, 235-6 Maternus Cynegius 3). He was consul, together with Theodosius I, in 388, while still in office as praetorian prefect, and held both offices until his death, sometime before 19 March 388. Since his consulship is not mentioned in the inscription, it must date to before 388.

The inscription unusually states which type of statue Cynegius was honoured with, namely a togate statue (statuam civili habitu, lines 8-9). It also makes clear that the Alexandrians had to seek imperial permission to set up the statue. This is almost certainly not because of its form, but because it was of bronze (though this is not stated), since imperial permission was required for bronze statues from the middle of the fourth century (Premerstein 1912, Feissel 1984). This regulation was extended on marble statues only in 399 (Codex Justinianus I, 24, 1).

The wording of the Latin inscription does not follow the lofty style of contemporary Greek verse inscriptions, but nor does it follow the sober, informative style of traditional Latin cursus honorum inscriptions. The many offices Cynegius held before arriving at the peak of his career are referred to, but not listed; likewise his virtues are praised in a general way, but not named.

Given the elaborate system of ranks and rank attributes developed in the 4th century and codified in the Theodosian period (Codex Theodosianus book VI), the clarissimi referred to in the last line are most likely the men of senatorial rank resident in Alexandria. We have translated clarissimi as 'the most distinguished men' of the city, but it could alternatively be translated as 'the men of senatorial rank'. Indeed by the later fourth century these groups would be more or less coterminous.

Naming the emperors first, rather than just mentioning their permission (as on other examples, like LSA-2,LSA-579 ), was presumably done by the Alexandrians in order to flatter them.

Ulrich Gehn

Main Reference

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; , III 19

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; , III suppl. I,1, 6587

Discussion References

Feissel, D. 'Notes d' Épigraphie chrétienne', Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique 108, 545-579, Paris 1984, 545-58

Jones, A. H. M. et al., The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I 260-395, Cambridge et al. 1971 (1975),

Premerstein, A. v., 'Griechisch-Römisches aus Arkadien', Jahreshefte des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 15, 197 - 218, Wien 1912, 216-18