Base for statue of Honorius, emperor (pair with LSA-2160). Lepcis Magna (Tripolitania). 394, 396, or 402.

Originally in nine lines, of which the first is now lost:

[Toto orbe] / [pacifi]co con[s(uli)], / d(omino) [n(ostro) Flavio] Honorio, pio, / felici, victori /(5) ac triumfatori, / semper Augusto; / Lepcitani devoti / numini maiesta/tique eius.

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

Letter height 3 - 4 cm.

Most of the first two lines of the inscription are lost; but the dedication is undoubtedly a pair with the well-preserved base to Arcadius LSA-2160, which allows to complete the opening lines with confidence.

Rectangular base of Proconnesian marble, moulded at bottom: H 119, W 70, D 55 cm. The top is broken, with the loss of the first and a part of the second line of the inscription; a large part of the bottom moulding is lost on the left. The three main faces are smoothly finished, the back face finished with a point.

Our inscription is the fourth use of the base. It is carved over an erased earlier one of which traces are visible along both vertical borders; this is probably from the first use of the base. On both lateral faces traces of erased inscriptions are visible; on the left side the formula '[Lep]cit[ani publ]ice' and various letters (B, C, D) are still legible, with letter-form suggesting a date in the 3rd century. Both lateral inscription are later that the original one, now erased, on the front face, but earlier than our inscription.

The base is today set up on the Severan forum, in front of the southern colonnade, where in modern times it has been aligned with its counterpart LSA-2160 found close-by. Photos from the excavation archives show that our base was found only a few metres from its present position, and it is very likely that its original location was this part of the forum, alongside LSA-2160.

Honorius, the honorand, was Augustus 393-423. On the death of his father Theodosius I he became ruler of the western part of the empire, while his brother Arcadius ruled the East. Our dedication, which is certainly a pair with LSA-2160, dates to a year when the two emperors held the consulship together, i.e. 394, 396, or 402 (see above, ‘Inscription’, and below, second to next paragraph).

The base was set up by the people of Lepcis (Lepcitani, line 7).

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, 337-339, no. 15, figs. 7.23, 10.17

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. 479