IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica

A.48. Imperial building? inscription of Domitian

Description: Series of sandstone blocks or parts of blocks, moulded above. Similarities in the letter-forms and cutting between the two groups suggests, but does not prove, that both may be from a single text presented in two registers. a: fragments of 8 blocks; b: fragments of two inscribed blocks, and three uninscribed fragments.
Text: Inscribed on one face, a. on an upper register, originally disposed in 7 bays (each 2.40) interrupted by pilasters. Within each bay stood two blocks of unequal size, of which the larger carried 8-9 letters and the smaller 4-6, (depending on whether these were narrow or broad); b. probably on a lower register.
Letters: First century CE; series a. 0.22; bars above the figures; series b. 0.15; a stiff, down-pointing ivy-leaf after the text on block i.

Date: CE 92

Findspot: Apollonia: Theatre, in the area of the stage; found in 1961.
Original location: a: On the façade of the scaenae frons; b: uncertain.
Last recorded location: Findspot, 2008.


Iṃp̣(eratore) Caesa | [r Diui]
Vespasian | i f(ilius) ⟦Do
[mitianus]⟧ [ | Aug(ustus)]
pont(ifex) [max(imus)] | [t]rib(unicia)
p̣ọṭ(estate) XI Iṃp̣(erator) | XXII co(n)ṣ(ul)
[XVI] [censor] | p̣erpe
[tuus p(ater) p(atriae) ( vac. 4)?]
[--- ciuitati Apolloni]atarum ((leaf)) ( vac. 4) | [--- d]edit [---]


I..CAESA | [.....]
PONT[...] | [.]RIB
...XII.. | XXIICO.
[.........] | .ERPE
[---................]ATARUM          | [---.]EDIT[---]

English translation

Translation by: Joyce M. Reynolds

(a): Emperor Caesar Domitian (scil. son) of the deified Vespasian, Chief Priest, holding tribunician power for the eleventh time, acclaimed victor twenty-two times, consul [for the sixteenth time], perpetual censor, father of the country.

(b): . . . ?the city of the Apollon]ians [ . . . ] gave.


a. These blocks were disposed in seven bays interrupted by pilasters. It is clear from blocks ii-iii that local taste was not offended when pilasters interrupted words (perhaps because the population was essentially Greek-speaking and did not pay attention to the alien Latin).

It is in principle possible that the emperor's name was in the nominative case and if so the monument was his gift (Domitian was active in Cyrenaica and attested as donor of the Nomophylakeion at Cyrene, C.92); or in the dative, and if so it was dedicated to him; or in the ablative, and if so it was dated by reference to him and his titles. The use of Latin and to some extent the prominence given to the emperor's name on the façade seems to me to recommend the first possibility. Its weakness is that at the date of the inscription the name Germanicus normally follows Augustus in Domitian's title. It would indeed be easy to fit two more letters after AVG in the space available in Bay 3, but the minimum needed is three (GER) and four is more normal (GERM) - all of them broad; the result would be remarkably crowded. This aesthetic argument is not conclusive of course - the crowding may have occurred; but Reynolds prefers to guess that the name was omitted as in ILS 8798 of 93-4. There is, on the other hand, no difficulty in fitting Germanicus into a reconstruction which uses the dative or the ablative cases but it is necessary to find an explanation for the surprising use of Latin, which certainly seems to indicate some official intervention.

Domitian's eleventh year of tribunician power ran from 13th September 91 to 12th September 92. He was cos XV from 1st January 90 to 31st December 91 and became cos XVI on 1st January 92; XVI seems to be required here by the figure given for the imperial salutations. The exact date of his 22nd salutation is not known, though it is to be associated with the Suebo-Sarmatian War of 92-3 (cf. G. Corradi, in De Ruggiero, Dizionario Epigrafico s.v. Domitianus, p. 1988); its first precisely dated appearance seems to be in a military diploma of July, 93 (CIL XVI. 38, at EDH 075700) while the last precisely dated appearance of the 21st salutation is in a diploma of 14th June, 92 (CIL XVI. 37). Supposing that the figures are correctly transmitted in the three documents, the Apollonia text implies that the 22nd salutation was given between 14th June and 12th September 92, a fact of interest to the history of Domitian's reign as well as that of the construction of the Theatre at Apollonia.

b. The leaf and the vacat on the first block might suggest that this concluded the text but their intention may be simply to emphasize the city name which preceded Apolloni]atarum as in some Hadrianic texts at Cyrene; in that case the second block can follow after an interval of unknown length, giving a verb, d]edit, in a normal position towards the end of the sentence. It is not unusual for a city to be described as "giving" a public monument, so that the case to be restored here must be the dative.

Assuming that texts a. and b. are contemporary and connected, the dative case for Domitian's name can be ruled out for the verb required would be dedicavit. If he appeared in the nominative he was the subject of the verb dedit and the text of this series (in any case shorter that that of a., cf. the uninscribed blocks) may have been filled out by the name of his agent (presumably the proconsul) and/or a description of those elements of the Theatre which he gave. If he appeared in the ablative providing a date (and an implied dedication), this series must surely have contained the name of the donor and/or a description of his gift.

Bibliography: Reynolds, 1976, 57, whence AE 1977.846, whence EDH 020896; mentioned Kenrick, 2013, 278
Text constituted from: Transcription (Reynolds).


   Fig. 1. Block a.i (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.41)

   Fig. 2. Block a.i (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 3. Block a.i, second part (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.40)

   Fig. 4. Block a.i, second part (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 5. Block a.ii (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 6. Block a.ii, second part (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 7. Block a.iii, second part (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 8. Block a.iv (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.44)

   Fig. 9. Block a.iv (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 10. Block a.v (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.43)

   Fig. 11. Block a.v (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 12. Block a.v and vi (Reynolds 1971, NS.XV.6)

   Fig. 13. Block a.v and vi (Reynolds 1971, NS.XV.7)

   Fig. 14. Block a.v and vi (Reynolds 1971, NS.XVΙ.9)

   Fig. 15. Block a.v, vi and vii (Reynolds 1971, NS.XV.8)

   Fig. 16. Block (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 17. Block, second part (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.38)

   Fig. 18. Block, second part (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 19. Block a.vii (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.42)

   Fig. 20. Block final blank block (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 21. Block b.i (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.46)

   Fig. 22. Block b.ii (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.45)

   Fig. 23. General view (2008, H.Walda)

   Fig. 24. Fragments (E.Alföldi-Rosenbaum: Reynolds IX.39)