Base for statue of Arcadius, emperor (pair with LSA-2161). Lepcis Magna (Tripolitania). 394, 396, or 402

In twelve lines:

Toto orbe / pacifico / consuli, / d(omino) n(ostro) Flavio /(5) Arcadio, / pio, felici, / victori ac / triumfato/ri, semper /(10) Augusto; / Lepcitani, devoti num(ini) / maiestatiq(ue) eius.

'To the consul who brings peace in the whole world, our lord Flavius Arcadius, pious, fortunate, victorious and triumphant, forever Augustus. The people of Lepcis (Lepcitani), devoted to his divine spirit and majesty, [set this up].'

Letter height 2.5 - 4 cm.

Rectangular monolithic shaft of Proconnesian marble, moulded at bottom and top: H 145, W 65, D 65 cm. All sides are smoothly finished, the front and lateral faces are decorated with moulded frames. The top face is finished with a point; it has two oblong holes placed symmetrically at the centre front and rear, which probably served to fix the plinth of a marble statue (see below, ‘Further Discussion’).

Our inscription is carved over an erased earlier one, traces of which are visible along all margins of the epigraphic field (with the apex of some letters distinguishable on the moulded frame).

The base is standing on the Severan forum, in front of the southern colonnade. Photos from the exacavation archives, showing the situation immediately after excavation, suggest that this is close to where it was found. The proximity to a similar inscription to Honorius (LSA-2161), that certainly formed a pair with ours, suggests that this is our base's original location.

Arcadius, the honorand, was Augustus 383-408. He is styled consul in our inscription, as is his brother Honorius in the paired inscription LSA-2161; both inscriptions therefore were set up in 394, 396, or 402, the years when the brothers held the consulship together.

The base was set up by the people of Lepcis (Lepcitani, line11).

Certainty over the precise date is impossible. The most likely date is perhaps 402, when the common consulship of the two Augusti made manifest the unity of the empire after years of tension between East and West; the unusual introductory formula could well refer to this event. However, this reference to peace could alternatively be an allusion to the defeat of the usurper Eugenius in 394; if the inscriptions were set up on this occasion, then the base to the two young emperors' father, Theodosius I (LSA-2159), was perhaps set up at the same time. However, their joint consulship of 396 is also a possibility: the two emperors were consuls in the first year after their father’s death, and this ‘new reign’ was enthusiastically celebrated by the panegyrist Claudian (De III consulatu Honorii Augusti).

Ignazio Tantillo & Francesca Bigi

Main Reference

Tantillo, I. and F. Bigi (eds.), Leptis Magna. Una città e le sue iscrizioni in epoca tardoromana, Cassino 2010, 336-7, no. 14, figs. 7.17, 10.16, pl. VI

Reynolds, J. M. & J. B. Ward-Perkins, The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania. In collaboration with S. Aurigemma, R. Bartoccini, G. Caputo, R. Goodchild, P. Romanelli, Roma 1952, no. 478