IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica

C.211. Honours for Septimius Severus

Description: Three blocks from the frieze of a triumphal arch, with reliefs of battle scenes.
Text: Below the reliefs, the first two blocks carry an Inscribed text in two lines; the third block is badly damaged below and has lost the greater part of the corresponding area, but there is no trace of inscription; the remainder of the text is therefore assume to have been painted.
Letters: No description

Date: CE 195-8

Findspot: Cyrene: Severan Propylaeum
Original location: Findspot
Last recorded location: Findspot.


( vac. 6)Αὐτοκράτορα Καίσαρα Λ(ούκιον) Σεπτίμιον Σ | [εου]ῆρον Εὐσεβῆ Περτίνακα Σεβαστὸν Ἀραβικὸν Ἀδιαβ( vac. ) | [ηνικὸν πατέρα πατρίδος Εὐτυχῆ]
( vac. 6)ἀν[ε]ίκητον τὸν εὐεργέτην̣ τῆς ὅλης | [οἰκ]ο̣υμένης σὺν τῷ ἅρματ[ι] ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων ο̣ἱ φιλότει( vac. 3) | [μοι ---]



English translation

Translation by: Charlotte Roueché

Emperor Caesar L(ucius) Septimius Severus Pius Pertinax Augustus, victor in Arabia, victor in Adiab[ene, father of the country, Fortunate,] undefeated, the benefactor of the whole inhabited world, with his troops: the honour-loving (i.e. citizens erected this) from their own resources.


When block 3 was first found Goodchild and Reynolds carefully examined the one small surface in which traces of letters might have survived and could see none, perhaps due to the chance that there had been a space in the text just at this point, possibly to the state of the surface or of course to our failure in observation; further damage has now occurred to the surace and facts can no longer be checked. We also believed that at the right end of the second block there is a vacat of one letter space in line and of 3 in line 2 where nothing was ever inscribed. In both lines the final words, on block 2, were incomplete; this was checked at the time of discovery, recorded publicly and is to some extent still susceptible of control although again the surface have suffered damage. Our observations suggest that if the inscription was continued onto the third block these two words were oddly laid out, with large gaps in the middle of them. that is by no means impossible; we are inclined to believe, however, that the mason had left the cutting at this point with the inscription incomplete. It is of course very oddly asymmetrical to confine the inscription to two of three blocks - but it is not impossible perhaps to suppose that the text had been painted on all three blocks, but only cut on two for some reason connected with the construction of the monument which is not now recoverable.

Deductions from Severus' title do not much assist a solution to the problem for it could be in a sense complete as it stands: he became Adiabenicus in 195 and was not Parthicus Maximus until 198. If the titulature was continued onto block 3 symmetry would suggest that there were some 30 letters in line 1 to balance the 30 inscribed on block 1 and it is not quite easy to find these unless the text included the title Britannicus, acquired in 210. That puts the dedication of the Arch surprisingly late in the reign, at a date hardly consistent with the clear indications of an eastern campaign in the frieze, or for that matter, with the implied age of Caracalla as presented there. It seems probable that on any basis we must assume a lack of symmetry in the text although it will be less remarkable if some part of the text stood on block 3 than if it finished on block 1. For block 3 we may consider: [ηνὶκὸν πατέρα πατρίδος εὐτυχῆ] / [μοι vac.], where the shortness of line two does not make any problem.

Bibliography: R.G. Goodchild, Illustrated London News 230 (1957) 303, whence Sichtermann, 1959, 273-4, photographs only, Robert, Bulletin Épigraphique, 1961.837, Robert, Bulletin Épigraphique, 1978.560, SEG 20.728, PHI 324488, Reynolds, 1972, 46; Strong, 1973, whence Robert, Bulletin Épigraphique, 1976.788; illustrated, Goodchild, 1971, plates 85-6; republished Reynolds, 1976-1977, 4, whence Dobias-Lalou, Bulletin Épigraphique, 1988.1024, SEG 35.1717; discussed, Laronde, 1983, whence Dobias-Lalou, Bulletin Épigraphique, 1988.1023; mentioned Kenrick, 2013, 192.
Text constituted from: Transcription (Reynolds).


   Fig. 1. Drawing (1955)