Base for gilded bronze statue of Iulius Festus Hymetius, governor of Africa Proconsularis; erected by the provincials of Africa, with imperial permission. Rome. 376-378.

In 24 lines. Letter height 2-2.5 cm.

Hymetii. / [---] Iulio Festo Hymetio, c(larissimo) v(iro), / correctori Tusciae et Umbriae, praetori urbano, / consulari Campaniae cum Samnio, /(5) vicario urbis Romae aeternae, proconsuli / provinciae Africae, ob insignia eius / in rem publicam merita et ob depulsam / ab eadem provincia famis et inopiae vastitatem / consiliis et provisionibus et quod caste /(10) 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, /(15) quod antea formidini fuerit ob quae eadem / provincia Africa decretis ad divinos principes / dominos nostros missis / Valentem, Gratianum et Valentinianum, / perpetuos Augustos, /(20) statuam unam apud Carthaginem sub auro / alteram quoque Romae eidem sub auro / postulandam esse credidit, quod nulli / proconsulum vel ex proconsulibus / statuendam antea postularit. // DD(ominis) nn(ostris) Val[ente V et Valentiniano co(n)s(ulibus?)].

'(Statue) of Hymetius. To …Iulius Festus Hymetius, of clarissimus rank, governor (corrector of Tuscia et Umbria, urban praetor, governor (consularis) of Campania with Samnium, vicar of the eternal city of Rome, governor (proconsul) of the province of Africa. On account of his distinguished services towards the Commonwealth (res publica); and because the desolation of hunger and neediness was driven away from the same province by planning and provisions; and because he occupied himself in that same province with chaste and honest affairs; because he did not lack in the recogniton of fairness or justice; because he restored the rigour of priests to the province so that now what had been before dreaded is sought after by plaintifs; because of such things this same province of Africa with decrees having been sent to the divine princes our lords, Valens, Gratian, and Valentinian, perpetual Augusti, believed that for him a gilded statue at Carthage and another gilded one at Rome should be demanded since for no proconsul or ex-proconsul before had it requested a statue to be set up. [On the left side] In the consulship of our lords Valens, for the fifth time, and Valentinian (II)… '

The inscription records the dedication of two gilt statue to Hymetius, one in Rome and the other in Carthage (LSA-1440).

DESCRIPTION (personal inspection and CIL)
Marble base, 140 x 84 x 75 cm. The base has mouldings on top and bottom. The epigraphic field is framed by moulding. It has an uneven surface, indicating re-use. The upper moulding is damaged, but it was still in good state in the 19th century. The main text of the original inscription was at the back of our dedication, and it was erased. The top has dowel holes for fitting a statue and the marks of its feet.

Our base was found in the foundations of the Savorelli palace, near the church of SS. Apostoli. It is impossible to be certain of the original setting of this statue. The fact that it was authorized by the emperors suggests a public context, and the importance of the monument (gilt) suggests that even the Forum of Trajan cannot be confidently ruled out. the most likely possibility, however, is a domestic space, due to the ultimately personal character of the dedication. The base is now in the Vatican Museums, at the Cortile della Pigna (inv. 22646).

The dedication was made by the province of Africa, with special permission from the imperial court. Iulius Festus Hymetius was governor of Africa in 366-368 (PLRE I, 447 Hymetius), but the dedication was made years later, in 376-378. This date is indicatedin the first place, by the reference to Gratian as one of the emperors who granted permission for the erection of the monument; bearing this in mind, the emperor that appears in the dating inscription must be Valens, who was consul senior in 376, in his fifth consulship, and 378 (sixth consulship), when he died (Kienast 1990, 330).

Carlos Machado

Main Reference

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; , VI, 1736 (+p. 4747)

Discussion References

Jones, A. H. M. et al., The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire. Vol. I 260-395, Cambridge et al. 1971 (1975), p. 447 (Hymetius)

Kienast, D., Römische Kaisertabelle : Grundzüge einer römischen Kaiserchronologie, Darmstadt, 1996, p. 330