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Funerary Altar of Catilia Paolina

Roman art


In the sixteenth century, Jan Gruter reported that this altar, with its figured lid, was in Campo Marzio, not far from Montecitorio. In the second half of the sixteenth century, it was depicted in a drawing by Giovanni Antonio Dosio, who noted that it was ‘in the house of someone who lives near the Arco di Portogallo’, a monument that stood on what is now via del Corso.  Finally, in 1832, Nibby wrote that it was in its current location in the Portico of the Villa Borghese, without its cover, which was removed so that it could be used as a base for a statue.

The sculpture, which has complex moulding at the top, is inscribed on the front with a funerary dedication (inside a flat frame) from L. Catilius Felix and Catilia Lucina to their mother and, later, their father, Casinas, and Lucina’s husband, Critias.


Object details

Inventory
XVIa
Location
Date
1st-2nd century A.D.
Classification
Medium
white marble
Dimensions
height 113 cm; width 73 cm; depth 49 cm; letter height 4 cm
Provenance

From Campo Marzio, then in a house near the Arco di Portogallo, where a drawing of it was made, in the second half of the sixteenth century, by Giovanni Antonio Dosio, (Tedeschi Grisanti 1983, p. 87, no. C13, b); Borghese Collection (cited for the first time in the Portico by Nibby, 1832, pp. 20-21, no. 8); Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, C., p. 41, no. 1. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Inscriptions

M. /

Catiliae Paulinae /

Catilius Felix et /

Catilia Lucina /

matri optumae et /

Indulgentissimae. /

et Casinati /

Patri dulcissimo. /

item Critiae marito Lucina

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1997 Giovanna Carla Mascetti
  • 2008 Consorzio Capitolino of Elisabetta Zatti and Elisabetta Caracciolo

Commentary

This four-sided altar stands on a rectangular base and has upper moulding comprising a protruding listel followed by a cyma recta, another listel and an astragal, distinguished below by a smooth ovolo.  The base is composed of an inverted cyma recta followed by a wide band. The epigraphic field on the front of the central element is framed by a listel and a cyma reversa. The nine-line inscription is a dedication from two children, L. Catilius Felix and Catilia Lucina, to their mother, followed by their father, Casinas, and Lucina’s husband, Critias:

M. /

Catiliae Paulinae /

Catilius Felix et /

Catilia Lucina /

matri optumae et /

Indulgentissimae. /

et Casinati /

Patri dulcissimo. /

item Critiae marito Lucina

The sides are decorated in relief with a small jar called an urceus on the left and a patera umbilicata on the right.

In the first half of the sixteenth century, Jan Gruter reported that the altar was in Campo Marzio, not far from Montecitorio. The scholar noted that its cover, called an epitéma, was decorated with a bas-relief of an eagle holding a serpent in its claws (Gruter 1602, p. DCCXXV, no. 6). In the second half of the sixteenth century, the sculpture was reproduced in a drawing by Giovanni Antonio Dosio now in the Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence, with a note reading: ‘in the house of someone who lives near the Arco di Portogallo’ (Tedeschi Grisanti 1983, p. 87, no. C13, b). The monument, located on the ancient via Lata, now via del Corso, was demolished when the road was expanded in 1662.

The work subsequently entered the Borghese Collection. In 1832, Nibby reported it in its current location in the Portico, without the lid, which was probably destroyed to adapt the sculpture to use as a statue base (Nibby 1832, pp. 20-21, no. 8). The inscription was included in the Corpus Iscriptionum Latinarum (CIL, VI, 2, 14586).

Giulia Ciccarello




Bibliography