Casa dei Cavalieri di Rodi, via dei Fori Imperiali, Rome
2 BCE to 14 CE
Marble statue base with an inscribed front. The inscription is now badly worn, rendering some letters illegible. Traces of lead fixings to support the statue remained on the top of the base when first identified in 1889.
Height: 46 cm
Width: 38.5 cm
Depth: 28 cm
Letter height: 2.5 – 3.8 cm
CIL VI, 31267 (AE, 1992 164; Alföldy, Geza, Studi sull'epigrafia augustea e tiberiana di Roma (Casa editrice Quasar, 1992) p. 71-72)
This inscription records a dedication to the emperor Augustus by the province of Baetica in Spain. The statue, and the base upon which it stood and on which this inscription is found, stood in the Forum Augustum in Rome. Some scholarship has suggested that the base held a statue of Augustus, made from “100 pounds of gold” (auri pondo centum), others a statue of the personification of Baetica; although it is not possible to identify exactly whom the honorific statue was of, the base certainly held some kind of dedication, the lead fixings for which still survived on the top of the base when it was first identified in 1889 (Alföldy, Studi sull’epigrafia, p. 72). It is possible to date the inscription from 2 BCE, due to the acclamation of Augustus as pater patriae, or Father of the Fatherland, which he accepted from the senate on 5th February of that year (Alföldy, Studi sull’epigrafia, p. 70-2). This was also the year in which the Forum Augustum and the Temple of Mars Ultor within it were consecrated, meaning that the statue and base may have been sent by the people of the province of Baetica in celebration of both facts, commemorating the honorific title awarded to Augustus in the forum that carried his name. However, Geza Alföldy has also argued that as well as celebrating Augustus’s acceptance of the title Pater Patriae, the inscription also offers gratitude for actions more specific to the region (Fasti Hispansenses, p. 224). The text of the inscription records the reasons for which the province dedicated such a prestigious monument, namely to recognise the ‘beneficence and perpetual care’ (beneficio eius et perpetua cura) that Augustus had bestowed upon Hispania Ulterior, and for having ‘pacified the province’ (provincia pacata est). Both reasons carry interesting implications, which shall be examined in more detail in the following discussion.
The ‘beneficence and perpetual care’ in lines 5-6 likely refers to Augustus’s settlement of the different regions of Spain into reorganised provinces. The process by which this occurred is far from clear, and the primary sources offer conflicting accounts; Cassius Dio stated that Augustus had organised Hispania Ulterior into three provinces in 27 BCE (Roman History, LIII.12.4–5), but this is almost certainly a mistake as the entire region continued to be administered by an imperial legate for some time afterwards (Haley, Baetica Felix, p. 33). Ronald Syme, and later Geza Alföldy, have argued for the division of the region into Baetica and Lusitania in the period 16-13 BCE, which accounts for Augustus’s own presence there in that period, although the final settlement of the eastern boundary of the province may not have occurred until 2 BCE (Syme, A governor of Tarraconensis,p. 126; Alfoldy, Fasti Hispanienses, p. 224). Evan Haley cites the crucial evidence for this as a number of milestones also dating to 2 BCE that were set up to record the distance along the Via Augusta from the Ianus Augustus (a monumental gate) at the eastern boundary of Baetica to the famed site of ‘Ocean’ – the limit of the known world – at Gades (Haley, Baetica Felix, p. 34). The emergence of these milestones would seem to offer a date for the final organisation of this boundary line, one in which Augustus himself had been closely involved. The dedication of the base and statue may therefore be a way to thank the emperor for resolving a local boundary dispute; although the evidence for the exact sequence of events is unclear, the establishment of Baetica as a senatorial province, and the delimitation of its borders was a significant local event and one that justified the incursion of a considerable expense in the form of the dedication.
This reorganisation of boundary lines can be extended further to explain the second reason given for the dedication of the statue, that under Augustus’s care the province had been ‘pacified’ (pacata est). Myles Lavan has explored the complexity of pacatus-a-um, and has suggested that we should be careful not to attribute the narrow range implied by the English ‘pacified’ to it (“Peace and Empire,” p. 2). He has noted that pacatus can stand as a participle, with the meaning ‘made peaceful’ or ‘brought into a state of peace,’ but that it can equally function adjectivally as ‘at peace,’ ‘peaceful,’ or ‘friendly,’ reflecting the ambiguity of the Roman idea of peace abroad, encompassing “an order founded on violence without being reducible to it” (Lavan, “Peace and Empire,” p. 2-3). Provincia pacata est can therefore be understood in three possible ways here: firstly, describing the state of the province it could be translated as ‘the province is peaceful’; secondly, it could describe an action, such as ‘the province was made peaceful’. ‘When the province had been made peaceful’ and ‘with the province at peace’ are also possible translations (as ablative absolutes) (Lavan, “Peace and Empire,” p .7-8). Identifying the exact meaning intended by the community of Baetica here is difficult to establish, but if the lines are understood in relation to the settlement of boundary lines by Augustus, it is clear that the main interest of the province was a local dispute that had been formally resolved, resulting in a final state of peace within the official demarcations of its area, which was deserving of a display of gratitude to the emperor who had made it possible. That the dedication was one of considerable value – 100 pounds of gold – emphasises the positive reception of his reign in this part of Spain, and the loyalty that was felt towards his leadership (Navarro, Senadores y caballeros, p. 133-134).
The date and location of the dedication are also important factors in the significance of this inscription. This is the first – in either epigraphy or literature – known record of the province of Baetica, and it was erected in a location of high prestige and visibility. The Forum Augustum was the showcase of Augustan Rome, in which his aims and achievements – both ideological and actual – were keenly advertised in a deliberate display of martial success and personal virtue. Indeed, as Evan Haley has stated, the milestones erected in Baetica in the first months of 2 BCE, and the consecration of the Forum of Augustus in the first half of that year were “designed to be simultaneous and to advertise the princeps’suniversal dominion” (Baetica Felix, p. 35). The dedication of the statue in the forum was a conscious response from the province of Baetica (organised as one entity) to these ideals, which they acknowledged in the very language used by Augustus himself to advertise the singularity of his power – pax. Not only did the province of Baetica celebrate the emperor and the titles awarded to him, but it advertised its own good relationship with him through the dedication of a visibly prestigious and valuable monument, attesting the positive nature of their accord in the most prominent space associated with him.
Dedication to Augustus from the province of Baetica (CIL VI, 31267) Author(s) of this publication: Caroline Barron Publishing date: Mon, 04/03/2017 - 21:14 URL: https://www.judaism-and-rome.org/dedication-augustus-province-baetica-cil-vi-31267 Visited: Sat, 09/25/2021 - 08:40