Lost base (or plaque) for statue of deified Constantine I, emperor; erected by the guild of salt traders (salarii). Rome. 337-340

In six lines, one word per line:

Divo / Constantino / Augusto / corpus / salariorum / posuerunt.

'To the deified (divo) Constantine. The corporation of salt traders [set this up].'

The inscription is lost, and there is no description of it. It is most likely to have been directly onto a statue base, but may have been on a plaque from such a base.

The inscription was discovered in 1793 in Trastevere, in the 17th century complex of S. Michele a Ripa. This was an important area for the activity of corporations, and this Constantinian monument may well have come from the headquarters of the corpus salariorum, sited nearby. The inscription is now lost.

The inscription honours the emperor Constantine (Augustus 308-37), but after his death, since he is referred to in the traditional way for deceased emperors as 'divus, deified'.

Our monument was dedicated by the corpus salariorum. The precise role of this corporation is debated; it is not certain whether they were responsible for the extraction, supply, or simply retail of salt (Waltzing, vol. 2, 227; Lanciani 1888, 89).

Although it is impossible to fix a terminus ante quem for our dedication, it is likely to have been set up fairly soon after the emperor's death in 337.

This dedication by the corpus salariorum, to the deified Constantine, is an important document, attesting to the role of non-official agents in the commemoration of Constantine after his death. Eusebius (VC 4.69.1-2) describes the grief of the Roman people at the news of the emperor's death, and this is a good illustration of reactions in Rome.

Carlos Machado

Main Reference

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; , VI, 1152 (+p. 4330)

Discussion References

Lanciani, R., "Il campus salinarum romanarum", Bullettino della commissione archeologica comunale di Roma, 16, 1888, 89

Waltzing, J.-P., Étude historique sur les corporations professionnelles chez les Romains: depuis les origines jusqu'à la chute de l'Empire d'Occident , Louvain 1895-1900 , 227