Festus (A Soldier)

By
Elisabeth Campbell
Elisabeth Campbell is a graduate student in the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology, based in the Classics Department. Her interests include Roman history and archaeology, and she is currently working on her dissertation on the commemoration of victories in the Roman Republic.
and

  • Accession Number: JHUAM 14 (Wilson 13)
  • Measurements: Height: 10.5 cm, Width: 6.8 cm, Thickness: 3.9 cm.
  • Material: Marble
  • Date/Culture: Roman, 1st century CE.
  • Provenance: Porta Salaria, Rome, Italy

“To the Spirits of the Dead. Quintus Caedius Festus, son of Quintus, of the tribe Velina from Aquileia, a soldier of the sixth Praetorian cohort of Atilius. He lived 28 years, 4 months, and 7 days; and served in the military for 12 years. Mem(m)ia Proba made this [inscription] about him for the well-deserving one.”

Description

This inscription is an epitaph for a soldier who served in the Praetorian Guard, the bodyguard of the emperor. Quintus Caedius Festus was from Aquileia in north-east Italy. He served as a Praetorian under the centurion Atilius. His exact age is given here, as well as the length of his military service. However, we do not learn how or where he died. A woman, Memmia Proba, dedicated this inscription to him, but we do not learn what their relationship was.

The Praetorian Guard was stationed in Rome, and this inscription was found outside the Porta Salaria, one of the northern gates of the city.

Conservation

The image on the far left shows the inscription before any treatment began with its old repairs and stains. The image on the near left shows the inscription disassembled into its five parts before they were re-attached using appropriate stable adhesives.

This particular inscription had been previously broken into several fragments and crudely adhered together using an animal glue; it was also backed with two pieces of slate and gaps in the inscription had been filled with cement. During the 2010 conservation of this piece, the object was completely disassembled, cleaned and re-attached using reversible materials to make it legible once again.

References

H.L. Wilson, “Latin Inscriptions at the Johns Hopkins University III,” American Journal of Philology 30 (1909), 153-170, 162. The inscription is described in the US Epigraphy Project hosted by Brown University.