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Studies of the Issaic Imperial Group (I) – Cyriacus of Ancona, Issa and Providentia Augusta

Dražen Maršić ; Odsjek za arheologiju Filozofskog fakulteta u Zadru


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Some of the Croatian authors who dealt with the archaeology of the island of Vis, that is, the imperial sculptures and the imperial cult there, deemed that Cyriacus of Ancona in his work of 1436 stated that on Vis he had seen the pedestal of a bronze sculpture of Augustus with a completely preserved inscription. However, reading the second edition
of the Cyriacus' notes from that travel (of 1747) leads to a completely different conclusion.
The information published here consists of the introductory note, the transcript of the »inscription«, and the concluding comment (fig. 1). Literally translated, the introduction reads »on bronze next to the image of Augustus«, but since the primary meaning of the word aes, aeris is »money«, an even more probable translation is »on coin next to the image of Augustus«. Hence, the text provides for no conclusion that it was cut in stone, the material the sculpture pedestal was made of, but this was probably a coin. This interpretation is further supported by the fact that the contents of the alleged »inscription« corresponds to the so called Providentia of an issue of the Tiberius' asses (fig. 2). These coins on their obverse show the bust of Augustus in left profile with radial crown on the head and the legend DIVUS AVGUSTUS PATER, and on the reverse an altar with closed panel door and an unclear decoration, under which is the legend PROVIDENT(ia) and next to it the letters SC (fig. 3). The interpretation that Cyriacus actually described a coin is burdened with just a few dilemmas: why does not he mention also the image of altar on the reverse, and why does he omit mentioning the letters SC (Senatus consulto) on the same side, while he does mention the word Provident(ia)? The wear of the coin can but does not have to make the
sought reason. Theoretically, one could also think of the possibility of a forged inscription, forged by transferring a part of the legend into stone. However, this would rise the question why and with what goal, in the early 15th century, one would have tricked Cyriacus, a man who saw hundreds of Latin and Greek inscriptions and who would have recognised the trick immediately. The possibility of this being a forgery is therefore to be rejected. The concluding comment deest icon provides no help in searching for answers. These are words by the manuscript editor, meaning »without icon«, the expression denoting inscriptions that
(besides the transcript) are not presented by a drawing! The Cyriacus' »inscription« appears neither in the well known Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg (EDH) nor in the Lupa data bank, whereas the Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss-Slaby (EDCS) presents it under the number EDCS-65000046. The first two data bases follow the opinion of the great Th. Mommsen. Namely, in the beginning of the third volume of CIL, in the chapter Inscriptiones falsae vel alienae, under the number 176*, he presented comment next to the Cyriacus' problematic statement, saying: »Cyriacus in the comment of the no. 154 on the island of Vis writes that he saw a copper coin with the inscription DIVUS . AUGUSTUS . PATER . PROVIDENT, that should not be presented between inscriptions«. Therefore, Mommsen himself advocated the proposed interpretation of the Cyriacus' statement.
Another reason for which this should be about a coin is that Providentia – the divine personification of the ability to foresee and make proper decisions, one of several qualities worshipped within the imperial cult – most rarely appears in inscriptions cut in stone, but when it does appear it is followed by the epithet Augustus in its adjectival (Augusta) or genitive case (Augusti) form. It is interesting that several inscriptions show that her cult was known and organised outside the city of Rome and Italy. Two such inscriptions – probably statue pedestals – originate from Corinth (fig. 4), are of almost identical contents, and dedicated
to Callicratea, a sacerdote (priest) of the cult of Providentia Augusta and Salus. Further two inscriptions originate from Italy – one from Iulia Concordia (fig. 5), and the other from Interamna in Umbria – bringing typical brief dedications in the dative case. These are rare epigraphic artefacts from the early 1st century AD by their contents comparable with the Cyriacus' Issaic »inscription«, but none of them brings the text from the Providentia asses, or directly calls upon Augustus. Appearance of the above mentioned inscriptions undoubtedly results from widening of aspects of the imperial cult inaugurated by Tiberius by erecting the eponymic altar in Rome (Ara Providentiae Augustae), that etrospectively established the personification of concern (as a virtue) of the first princeps about the matter of dynastic succession finally aimed to glorifying the Augustus' idea of adoption of Tiberius (and the Tiberius' adoption of Germanicus). We learn of this directly and unmistakably from two first-rate Roman documents called Senatus Consultum de Cn. Pisone Patre and Acta Fratrum Arvalium. From the former one we learn that Ara Providentiae Augustae existed before 20 December 20, and from the latter that one of the rituals practiced there took place on the
date of the Tiberius' adoption (16 July 4).
Having in mind the genuine meaning of the Providence (Providentia) cult and the extracts on its development known to us, it can be concluded that the cult was manifested on the contents level also in erecting statues to the divinised Augustus, Tiberius and Germanicus.
Corinth makes an example of this practice, yet more important because of the discovery of the honorary sacerdote of Callicratea. In the basilica at the eastern side of Agora discovered is just a statue of Augustus, but a comprehensive analysis of its remains shows that the statues of Tiberius and Germanicus had to make parts of the inventory.
Veleia is another important example because of the first five erected statues, three were our protagonists. Narona is certainly the most important example at the eastern coast of the Adriatic. The first two principes and Germanicus certainly were presented within the imperial sanctuary, the question is in what statues they are to be recognised, and such an attempt has already been made.
From Issa originate several insufficiently studied imperial statues, and some more have disappeared, this rising the question whether Issa, too, can be found among the localities (sanctuaries) that made home to statues of Augustus, Tiberius and Germanicus. There are some affirmative finds. The sculpture in armour, today in the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb, undoubtedly belongs to the Julian-Claudian period, thus evidencing existence of the imperial group in the contemporary Issa. A further proof of its existence are the stylistic and technological details in production of other Issaic statues (especially a sculpture in
toga and a nude one), corresponding to the adequate details on several sculptures from Narona dated to that time. This can not be a coincidence but indicates that erecting the Issaic group also resulted from a wide action, planned and implemented by exponents of the Roman state in the province. Such group must have contained a sculpture of divinised
Augustus. Without it, erecting sculptures from the Tiberius' or the later Claudian periods simply would have made no sense and would have been unfounded. Due to the great volume of this matter, it will be discussed in the continuation of this series.

Ključne riječi

Cyriacus of Ancona,Providentia, Augustus, Tiberius, Germanicus

Hrčak ID:

186029

URI

https://hrcak.srce.hr/186029

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