Festus (A Soldier)

Elisabeth Campbell
Elisabeth Campbell is a graduate student in the Classics Department at Johns Hopkins, where she is writing a dissertation on Roman victory cognomina during the Republican period. Through her work with the museum, Elisabeth has further developed a special interest in Roman epigraphy and numismatics.
Sanchita Balachandran
Sanchita Balachandran is the Associate Director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. She teaches courses related to the identification and analysis of ancient manufacturing techniques of objects, as well as the history, ethics and practice of museum conservation.

  • 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.”


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.


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.


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.