Base for statue of Titus Flavius Vibianus iunior, priest and duovir (later re-used for LSA-2158). Lepcis Magna (Tripolitania). Earlier fourth century.

In eleven lines:

Heraclii. / Dignissimo principali, / innocentissimo puero, / T(ito) Flavio Vibiano iuniori, /(5) pontifici, du(u)mviro, filio ac / collegae T(iti) Flavi Frontini / Heraclii, in parvulis annis / exhibenti aequaliter / voluptatum genera, patris /(10) sui studiis, populi sufragio / et decreto ordinis.

'Statue of Heraclius. To the most worthy principalis, most blameless boy, Titus Flavius Vibianus the younger, priest, duovir, son and colleague of Titus Flavius Frontinus Heraclius; who, while still a young man, displayed delightful spectacles [contributing] in equal part [with his father]; through the zeal of his father, by acclamation of the people, and by decree of the council (ordo) [this was set up].'

Letter height 3.5 cm.

The inscription was seen intact and recorded by travellers of the late 17th and of the 18th century. It is today heavily mutilated; only two fragments survive (see below, ‘Description’).

Two fragments of a base of white marble, probably Pentelic: H 36.5, W 23, D 47 cm. One fragment (IRT 652) preserves a portion of the left margin of the epigraphic field with a moulded frame; the other, found in 2005, is adjacent and preserves portions of the three preceding lines, but is without the left margin. The fragments belong to an inscription which was recorded intact by travellers the 17th and 18th centuries (IRT 595; see below, ‘Provenance and Current Location’). These travellers report that the base was 4 feet (c.120 cm) high; it was probably of the monolithic type with integral mouldings. The base was later used for an inscription to Valentinian II (LSA-2158).

The inscription was first recorded in 1694 when the base was standing intact in the Severan forum. Its original location was probably in the eastern colonnade of the forum, next to the dedication to the honorand’s father (see below, ‘Honorand, Awarder and Date’). From there it was possibly removed when the base was re-used for an inscription to Valentinian II in the later 4th century (LSA-2158); on the Severan forum, the long sides (north and south) were apparently reserved for dedications to emperors.

The fragment from the left margin (IRT 652, see above, ‘Description’) was found in the eastern colonnade of the Severan forum, while the adjacent fragment was found in 2005 by Francesca Bigi in the central area of the square; both are today in the storerooms of the Lepcis museum.

IRT cautiously recorded separately the fragment then known, and the inscription copied in the 17th century, while suggesting that they belonged together. This suggestion is now confirmed by the newly found fragment.

The honorand, Titus Flavius Vibianus iunior, signo Heraclius, was the son of Titus Flavius Frontinus, signo Heraclius (LSA-2200). He was a member of an established local family (principali, line 2). Despite being of young age, as the inscription tells us, he held a priestly office and, together with his father, the highest municipal office of duovir (line 5). He is praised for the generosity with which he funded games on the occasion of his municipal office.

The inscription was set up by the civic bodies of Lepcis Magna (the ordo and populus, lines 10-11) which are recorded with an epigraphic formula similar to that used in his father’s inscription (for more detailed comment ,see LSA-2200).

A secure terminus ante quem for our inscription is the redeployment of the base for Valentinian II, in or around 378 (LSA-2158). However, a time span of at least one generation should be presupposed before a base was re-used; several elements suggest a date in the Constantinian period for the inscriptions to Heraclius father and son, which were probably set up at the same time (for a more detailed discussion, see LSA-2200).

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, 420-422, no. 55, figs. 10.62-63

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. 595=652