Base for statue of Constantine I, emperor. Cirta (Numidia). 313-337

In ten lines:

Triumphatori omnium gentium] et fun[dato]ri / [pacis?, v]irtute, felici/[t]at[e, pie]tate praes/tanti, domino nost[ro] / (5) Constantino Maxi[mo], / victorio[sissimo, sem/p]er Au[gust]o, / Vettius Floren[tinus], / v(ir) p(erfectissimus), rat[io]nalis [Numi]/d[iae et Mauret(aniarum), devotus n(umini) m(aiestatiq(ue) e(ius)].

'To triumphant victor over all tribes and founder of peace, outstanding in virtue, fortune and piety, our lord Constantinus, the greatest, most victorious, forever Augustus; Vettius Florentinus, of perfectissimus rank, rationalis of Numidia and the Mauretanias, devoted to his divine spirit and majesty, [set this up].'

Letter height : 4 cm

DESCRIPTION (from Pflaum)
Statue base broken at the top and in the upper left corner. H 107, W 77 cm ; depth unrecorded. On the back, there is another dedication to the governor Ceionius Italicus dated from 343 (LSA-2327 ; see PLRE I, p. 466-7, Italicus 3).

Our base was found during excavations in the 'rue Cahoreau' in November 1859. It is now stored in the Cirta museum.

The honorand, Constantine I, was Augustus from 306 to 337.

The awarder, Vettius Florentinus (PLRE I, 363, Florentinus 4), was 'rationalis Numidiae et Mauretaniarum', as we learn from another base that he set up to Constantine in Cirta (LSA-2233). A rationalis was an imperial financial officer, in this case working at diocesan level. Other rationales of Numidia and the Mauretanias also set up statues to Constantine in Cirta (LSA-2228, LSA-2230).

The formula 'triumphatori omnium gentium, triumphant over all nations' refers most probably to Constantine's victory over the Germanic peoples and Franks in 313. Pflaum supposes that the expression 'fundatori pacis, founder of peace' refers to the peace with Licinius in 317, and so proposes a dating between 317 and the break between the two emperors in 324. However, this may be reading too much into this formulaic praise, and we have preferred a wider dating: between 313 and Constantine's death in 337.

Many statues were dedicated to Constantine in Cirta, which had been renamed 'Constantina' (LSA-2228, LSA-2229, LSA-2230, LSA-2231, LSA-2233). The city had been sacked by the troops of Maxentius in 310, and was rebuilt through the generosity of Constantine.

Our base was reused in 343 for a bronze statue of a governor dedicated on the forum (LSA-2327), a remarkable case of the rapid recycling of a statue-base, furthermore one to a revered emperor, the founder of the dynasty in power in 343 and the 're-founder' of Cirta.

Gabriel de Bruyn

Main Reference

Pflaum H.-G., Inscriptions latines de l'Algérie. 2, Inscriptions de la confédération cirtéenne, de Cuicul et de la tribu des Suburbures. [1, Rusicade et région de Rusicade, Cirta, Castellum celtianum, Caldis, Castellum tidditanorum], Paris, 1957, no. 585

Lepelley, C., Les cités de l'Afrique romaine au Bas-Empire, t. 2, Notices d'histoire municipale, Paris 1981, p. 389, no. 3