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Funerary Altar of Lucius Julius Eutichianus

Roman art


In 1832, Nibby described this altar in Room 2 of Villa Borghese, supporting a fragment of a colossal head of Hercules. This quadrangular sculpture preserves projecting moulding on the upper and lower borders; on the sides are reliefs depicting the ritual instruments for sacrifices: a patera and a small pitcher. The inscription engraved on the anterior face is dedicated to the freedman Lucius Julius Eutichianus by his mother Julia Spendusa.

This sculpture can be dated to the second century CE.    


Object details

Inventory
LXXXIIIa
Location
Date
2nd century A.D.
Classification
Medium
Luni marble
Dimensions
height 85 cm; width 72 cm; depth 43 cm; letter height 4.5-5 cm
Provenance

Borghese Collection, mentioned for the first time by Nibby in Room 2 (Nibby 1832, pp. 72–73, no. 3). Inventario Fidecommissario Borghese, 1833, C., p. 45, no. 66. Purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

Inscriptions

D(IIS) M(ANIBUS)

L(UCI) IULI EUTYCHIANI

DEC(URIO) III IIII

VIX(IT) ANN(IS) XXV M(ENSIBUS) VIII D(IEBUS) VIII

IULIA SPENDUSA

MATER INFELICISSIMA

FECIT ET SIBI LIBERTIS

LIBERTABUSQ(UE) SUIS

POSTERISQ(UE) EORUM

Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1996-97 Liana Persichelli

Commentary

This quadrangular altar is enclosed between two projecting mouldings; the upper is composed of a fillet and a cyma recta, the lower of a fillet, a cyma reversa, a second fillet and an ovolo. On the right and left sides are reliefs depicting ritual symbols: a patera (a bowl for libations) and an urceus (a small pitcher). On the front, framed in a fillet, is an inscription articulated in nine lines and dedicated to the freedman Lucius Julius Eutichianus by his mother Julia Spendusa:

D(IIS) M(ANIBUS)

L(UCI) IULI EUTYCHIANI

DEC(URIO) III IIII

VIX(IT) ANN(IS) XXV M(ENSIBUS) VIII D(IEBUS) VIII

IULIA SPENDUSA

MATER INFELICISSIMA

FECIT ET SIBI LIBERTIS

LIBERTABUSQ(UE) SUIS

POSTERISQ(UE) EORUM

This epigraph is reminiscent of a funerary monument erected by Julia Spendusa for herself, for her son Lucius Julius Eutichianus who died when he was twenty-five, for her freedmen and freedwomen, and her descendants.

In 1832, Nibby mentioned it in Villa Borghese in its present location in Room 2, supporting a colossal head of Hercules, dating it to the Antonine era because of how the letters were shaped. This author speculated that the dedication might have been written at the time of the freedman’s third mandate as decurion and that the fourth was added at a later time (Nibby 1832, pp. 72–73, no. 3). In 1885, Hübner believed it to be datable to the reign of the emperors Claudius and Nero, in the early first century CE (p. 113), while contemporary critics have dated it to the second century CE.

Giulia Ciccarello




Bibliography
  • A. Nibby, Monumenti scelti della Villa Borghese, Roma 1832, pp. 72-73, n. 3.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano della Villa Borghese, Roma 1840, p. 13, n. 6.
  • A. Nibby, Roma nell’anno 1838, Roma 1841, p. 915, n. 6.
  • Indicazione delle opere antiche di scultura esistenti nel primo piano del Palazzo della Villa Borghese, Roma 1854 (1873), I, p. 15, n. 6.
  • Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI, I, 1876, n. 10401.
  • E. Hübner, Exempla scripturae epigraphicae latinae a Caesaris dictatoris morte ad aetatem Iustiniani tra i monumenta urbana aetatis Claudiae et Neronianae, 1885, p. 113.
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 26.
  • R. Calza, Catalogo del Gabinetto fotografico Nazionale, Galleria Borghese, Collezione degli oggetti antichi, Roma 1957, p. 19, n. 225.
  • P. Moreno, Museo e Galleria Borghese, La collezione archeologica, Roma 1980, p. 13.
  • P. Moreno, A. Viacava, I marmi antichi della Galleria Borghese. La collezione archeologica di Camillo e Francesco Borghese, Roma 2003, p. 168, n. 139.
  • Scheda di catalogo 12/0147825, P. Moreno 1975; aggiornamento G. Ciccarello 2020.