Base for equestrian statue for Manilius Rusticianus, prefect of the annona and patron. Ostia, Forum (hinterland of Rome). Early fourth century.

In nine lines. Letter height 4.5-3cm.

Manilio Rus[ticiano], / v(iro) p(erfectissimo), praef(ecto) ann(onae), a(genti) v(ices) pra[eff(ectorum) praetorio], / emm(inentissimorum) vv(irorum), curato[ri et p]atrono / splendidissim(a)e col(oniae) Os[t(iensium)]. Ob eius fidem ac /(5) merii (sic, pro merita) erga rem publicam, ordo / et populus Ostiensium ouo (sic, pro quo) civitas / titulis administra[ti]onis eius / fieret inlustr[ior], decrevit adq(ue) / const[itui]t.

'To Manilius Rusticianus, of perfectissimus rank, prefect of the annona), acting representative of the praetorian prefects of eminentissimus rank, curator and patron of the most splendid colony of Ostia. On account of his trust and services towards the community (res publica), the council and people of Ostia, who by the notices of his admnistration was made more noble, decreed and set [this statue] up.'

The text is presented here as established by Chastagnol in 1972 (see Chastagnol 1987) and reprinted in AE 1972, 71. I have marked the parts where the text is not legible anymore.

DESCRIPTION (personal observation):
White marble base for equestrian statue, broken into 8 pieces and reassembled (one piece is missing, on the front). 98 x 94 x 221 cm. The epigraphic field measures 41 x 69 cm. The front is made of 5 different pieces put together, lacking its upper right part. The inscription is very corroded. Roughness of the front indicates re-use, due to erasure of earlier inscription. Right and eft sides are plain with pieces missing, the back is plain and damaged at the top. The top of the base has 4 holes, 3 of them with dowel holes for hooves of bronze horse, the fourth (at right side on the back) is too neat (a circle), with no fitting hole.

Discovered in Ostia, in the Forum. The importance of the monument suggests that it was originally set up in that location. It is still in the Forum, near the temple of Rome and Augustus.

Manilius Rusticianus was prefect of the annona and acting representative of the praetorian prefects. He probably held the two offices at the same time, during the tetrarchic period. During the tetrarchy the praetorian prefects were active away from Rome, and the court could appoint acting representatives in the city (Porena 2003, 142-143; contra Chastagnol 1987, 333). The inscription refers to Rusticianus as representing both praetorian prefects, and since we know that Maxentius only appointed one prefect at a time, usually in Rome, our base must have been dedicated before 306. Rusticianus was praetorian prefect during the reign of Maxentius, probably in 310 (Porena 2003, 278). This suggests that he was prefect of the annona at an earlier date, but probably not before the beginning of the fourth century. During his term Rusticianus was also curator and patron of Ostia.
The statue was dedicated by the councillors and the people of Ostia.

Carlos Machado

Main Reference

L'Année épigraphique, , 1972, 71;

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum; , XIV, 4455

Discussion References

Chastagnol, A., "Deux chévaliers de l'époque de la tétrarchie", L'Italie et l'Afrique au Bas-Empire. Scripta Varia, Lille 1987, pp. 326-334

Porena, P., Le origini della prefettura del pretorio tardoantica, Rome 2003,