Base for bronze statue of Attius Insteius Tertullus, prefect of the City; erected to its patron by the guild of wholesale dealers (magnarii). Rome. 307-310.

In 18 lines. Letter height 3-2 cm.

[Inlu]stri viro et omnium retro praefecto/[rum i]ndustriam supergresso, Attio Insteio Tertullo, / [quaestori k(andidato)], praetori k(andidato), consuli, correctori / [Venetiae et Hist]riae, praeposito fabri/[cas(?), proco(n)s(uli) Africae(?), praefecto ur]bis Romae, /(6) [ob curam quam egit, ut fortunae eorum] / inopia ing[enti afflictae sollicitudine eius] / miseriae atque incomparabili [industria, cum in] / apertum periculum proruebant, recrea/tae atque confotae redditis pristinis /(11) viribus, convalescerent et aeternum robur / acciperent, atque (ob) eius aegregia (sic, for 'egregia') facta et in se / munificentiam singularem, corpus magna/riorum gravi, metu et discrimine liberatum, /(15) ei statuam aere insignem locavit, / curantibus / Flaviis Respecto Panckario Sabiniano Palass(io?) / et Florentino, v(iris) p(erfectissimis), p(rae)p(ositis) corp(oris) mag(nariorum), digno pat(rono).

'To a distinguished man who surpassed the diligence of all earlier prefects, Attius Insteius Tertullus, quaestor (quaestor kandidatus), praetor (praetor kandidatus), suffect consul, governor (corrector) of Venetia et Histria, supervisor of the workshops (?), governor (proconsul) of Africa (?), prefect of the City of Rome. On account of the care which he took, with attention to their misery and with incomparable diligence, when they had brought the danger into the open, so that their fortunes, struck by grave poverty, might grow strong, restored and fostered to their former force, and might receive eternal vigour; and [on account] of his outstanding deeds and singular munificence towards it, the guild of wholesale dealers (corpus magnariorum), freed from fear and crisis, has set up [this] fine statue in bronze to him, under the supervision of Flavius Respectus Panckarius Sabinianus Palassius and Flavius Florentius, men of perfectissimus rank, supervisors of the guild of wholesale dealers, to a deserving patron.'

The base is broken, and a large part of the inscription is lost. The reading adopted here is the one suggested by CIL. In ll. 3-4, the governorship of Venetia et Histria is known from LSA-1236 (Chastagnol 1962, 48). In ll. 4-5, ´praeposito fabri[cas]' is unusual for a senator at this stage of his career. Coarelli (2010, 145-146) suggested 'praeposito fabri[cae basilicae novae, praefecto ur]bis', which would make Tertullus the prefect responsible for the erection of the basilica next to which our base was discovered (see also Alföldy, in CIL VI, p. 4736).

DESCRIPTION (From CIL and photograph)
Broken marble base, 164 x 98 x 78 cm. The upper and the lower part survive, fitted together by piece of plaster. The base has decorative mouldings on top and bottom. The top is badly damaged, the lower part was cut. The epigraphic field is framed by a band of vegetable relief. It is deep and rough, indicating re-use. The left side of the base has a relief of Ariadne and Dionysus seated on a car pulled by two centaurs at the top, and a relief of Ariadne and Silen in the middle, now damaged. The right side has a damaged relief of a woman at the top, and an image of Dionysus in the middle.

Found in the gardens of the 'Conservatorio delle Mendicannti', behind the basilica of Maxentius, where present-day Via dei Fori Imperiali is located (Lanciani 2000, 198-199). Another base, dedicated to a relative of our Tertullus, was found in this same location LSA-1402, suggesting that this could be the site of the domus of Tertullus (Guidobaldi 1995, 186-187). The base is now in the Vatican Museums, in the Galleria Lapidaria XLVII.45 (inv. 9269).

Attius Insteius Tertullus had a successful career during the tetrarchy and the reign of Maxentius. He was prefect of the City in 307-308, the most likely date for our dedication (PLRE I, 883-884 Tertullus 6). However, Mithof (in CIL VI, p. 4736) suggests that the difficulties alluded to in the inscription (ll. 7-10) could refer to the crisis in the supply of Rome in 310.

The statue was dedicated by the guild of wholesale dealers to their patron. This reinforces the hypothesis that this was set up in a domestic space.

Carlos Machado

Main Reference

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; , VI, 1696 (+p. 4736-7)

Discussion References

Chastagnol, A., Les fastes de la Préfecture de Rome au Bas-Empire, Paris 1962,

Coarelli, F., "La basilica di Massenzio e la praefectura urbis", in G. Bonamente and R. Lizzi Testa (edd), Istituzioni, carismi ed esercizio del potere (IV-VI secolo d.C.), Bari 2010, pp. 133-146

Guidobaldi, F., "Domus: Attus Insteius Tertulus", in, Lexicon Topographicum Urbis Romae, vol. 2, Rome 1995, pp. 186-187

Jones, A. H. M. et al., The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I 260-395, Cambridge et al. 1971 (1975), pp. 883-884 (Tertullus 6)

Lanciani, R., Storia degli scavi di Roma e notizie intorno le collezioni romane di antichità, vol. 6 (1700-1878), Rome 2000,