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Funerary Altar of Licinia Tyche

Roman art


This four-sided altar is decorated with moulding on the base and the top. The front is inscribed with a funerary dedication from a son to his mother, Licinia Tyche, who died prematurely.

Documented in the sixteenth century in the vineyard of Cardinal Carpi on the Quirinal Hill, it was later mentioned by Montelatici in the Villa Borghese storerooms. Displayed in Room V in 1796, it was mentioned in its current location in the portico in 1832.

The use of the formula Diis Manibus and the double ‘i’ in Diis suggests that the sculpture is datable to the middle of the first century CE.


Object details

Inventory
CXIVa
Location
Date
second half of the 1st century A.D.
Classification
Medium
white marble
Dimensions
height 63 cm; width 65 cm; depth 37 cm; letter height 4 cm
Provenance

From the collection of Cardinal Carpi (Gruter 1602, p. DCCXXXII, no. 5); Borghese Collection (cited for the first time in the ‘Stanze sotterranee’ (‘underground rooms’) by Montelatici, 1700, p. 308); Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, C., p. 41, no. 7. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Inscriptions

Diis Manibus /

Liciniae Tych(a)e /

L(ucius) Licinius Strico /

fil(ius) matri suae /

piissimae fecit. /

Vix(it) ann(is) XXXV

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 17th century - Restoration with pieces of marble
  • 1994-1995 - Abacus di N. Naldoni e G. Tautschnig
  • 2008 - Consorzio Capitolino di Elisabetta Zatti ed Elisabetta Caracciolo

Commentary

In the sixteenth century, the altar was in the vineyard of Cardinal Carpi on the Quirinal Hill (Gruter 1602, p. DCCXXXII, no. 5); later, in 1700, it was documented by Montelatici in the ‘Stanze sotterranee’ (‘underground rooms’) of the Villa Borghese (Montelatici 1700, p. 308). In 1796, it was in Room V, as a base for the Venus and Cupid standing on a dolphin now in the Louvre (Visconti, Lamberti 1796, II, p. 47). And, finally, in 1832, Nibby mentioned it in its current location in the portico (Nibby, 1832, pp. 15–16).

The sculpture is four sided with an upper cornice composed of a protruding listel, a cyma reversa and a second listel, while the lower one is composed of a wide cyma reversa, an astragal and a smooth band. The epigraphic zone on the front, surrounded by a moulded frame, bears a six-line inscription:

Diis Manibus /

Liciniae Tych(a)e /

L(ucius) Licinius Strico /

fil(ius) matri suae /

piissimae fecit. /

Vix(it) ann(is) XXXV

The sides of the sculpture are decorated with a relief of a small pitcher called a urceus, on the left, and a ritual bowl called a patera umbilicata, on the right. The funerary inscription was dedicated by the son Lucius Licinius Strico to his mother Licinia Tychae, who died at a young age. The invocation to the Diis Manibus with the double ‘i’ in Diis suggests a date for the monument in the middle of the first century CE. 

The inscription is included in the Corpus Iscriptionum Latinarum (CIL, VI, 21358).

Giulia Ciccarello




Bibliography