Base recording erection of statue (subject unstated). Lepcis Magna (Tripolitania). Second half of fourth century.

In six lines:

Salvis dd(ominis) nn(ostris), / Fl(avius) Lucreti/us Floren/tinus /(5) Rusticus v(ir) p(erfectissimus), pr(aeses) / conlocavit.

'For the saftey of our lords. Flavius Lucretius Florentinus Rusticus, of perfectissimus rank, governor (praeses), set this here.'

Letter height 7 - 8 cm.

Monolithic base of compact grey limestone, moulded at top and bottom; H 109, W 61, D 40 cm. The shape of the base is pyramidal (larger at the bottom). The upper moulding is disproportionately high, whereas the lower moulding is deprived of its plinth. The front face is decorated with a moulded frame in low relief, the lateral faces are smooth. The back face has a deep rectangular offset along the entire height of the shaft, that ends in a square shaped opening which communicates with the front through a large hole. At the front face this hole cuts the upper portion of the epigraphic field and the lower part of the upper mouldings. These provisions were for a water pipe when the block was used for a fountain. The erosion from the water has caused a deep depression on the surface. On the top face, there are four round holes, two smaller ones set asymmetrically at the front, and two larger ones symmetrically close to the rear margin.

Our base is a twin base with LSA-2220. Both underwent at least three, perhaps four phases of use of various natures. Originally they were produced as statue bases and certainly provided with an inscription on the front. The epigraphic field is uneven; this contrasts with the smooth lateral faces and is an indicator that our inscription is carved over an erased earlier one. At an unknown time, but earlier than our inscription, the twin bases were transformed into fountains. The erosion caused by the water indicates that this use must have lasted for a considerable time. In a third phase, both bases were used again as statue supports and our inscription of the governor (praeses) Florentinus Rusticus was carved on the front face; the inscription respects the hole for the water pipe and must therefore be later than the use as a fountain.

Nothing secure can be said about the original phase of use. However, the anomalous shape and the disproportionate height of the upper mouldings seem to indicate that it was worked at a late period. The neat execution of the mouldings, on the other hand, rule out too late a date. On balance, we would suggest that the base (and its twin base LSA-2220) was produced in the mid-3rd century.

It is possible that both twin bases underwent a fourth phase of use in the Byzantine period, similar to a third base of the same series (LSA-2221). Both bases were found collapsed at the sides of a monumental entrance decorated with reused material, that opens onto the insula immediately south-west of the Severan forum. This area has produced numerous testimonies from the Byzantine era and it is plausible that our base was used here as a form of decoration for this entrance.

The inscription is standing where it was found, at the southern entrance of the Severan forum that opens onto the insula immediately south-west of the forum.

Flavius Lucretius Florentinus Rusticus, the awarder, is known from a series of similar inscriptions in Lepcis Magna (our inscription, LSA-2220, LSA-2221, LSA-2222) (PLRE I, 787 Rusticus 1).

No honorand is mentioned in the inscription; the verb conlocavit (line 6) indicates that this base, like the others of the series, carried statues that were transferred from ruined quarters of the city (often referred to by de sordentibus locis or similar formula in this type of inscriptions; Machado 2009).

The formula salvis dd(ominis) nn(ostris) (line 1) is testified to already under the sons of Constantine, and was widely used in the era of the Valentinianic dynasty. If it indicates two emperors (and is not a generic plural), it allows for a number of time spans: 340-50 (Constantius II and Constans); 351-2 (Magnentius and Decentius); 352-3 (Constantius II and Gallus); 355-60 (Constantius II and Julian); 364-7 (Valentinian I and Valens); 395-402 (Arcadius and Honorius); 408-21 (Honorius and Theodosius II). Of these, the period 355-60 or 364-7 are probably the most preferable. A date in the reign of Arcadius and Honorius or even later, as suggested by Chastagnol (1967 a, 130) appears unlikely, since the perfectissimus rank of the governor is otherwise last testified to in the late 4th century.

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, 481-3, no. 88, figs. 7.14, 10.104, pl. XXIII