IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica

C.456. Dedication of a statue by Claudia Venusta

Description: Marble base, inscribed at different periods on three different faces with IGCyr081800, C.455 and C.456. (w: 0.97 x h: 0.35 x d: 0.23). An area has been hollowed out on top for the insertion of a statue.
Text: Inscribed on one face, which measures w: 0.97 x h: 0.35.
Letters: Ave. 0.04; rather lightly cut and narrow for their height, needing paint to make them easily legible; probably Hadrianic or early Antonine in date; there are stops for abbreviation markers, and at the end of names.

Date: Second century CE.

Findspot: Cyrene: Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore: found in 1987 by Mr Ramadan Gwaider of the Department of Antiquities at Cyrene, exposed by the combined action of burrowing foxes and winter rain, low down on the site, near the lower wall.
Original location: Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore.
Last recorded location: Cyrene Museum (Inv. no. 3480)


( vac. 1) Κλ(αυδία)((stop)) Βενόστα ((stop)) Κλ(αυδίου)((stop)) Καρτισθένους
( vac. 5) Μελίορος ((stop)) θυγάτηρ ( vac. 5)
( vac. 5) Διονύσον ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων ( vac. 3)


          ΜΕΛΙΟΡΟΣ ΘΥΓΑΤΗΡ          

English translation

Translation source: Reynolds, 2012

Claudia Venusta, daughter of Claudius Kartisthenes Melior, gave the statue of Dionysos at her own expense.

English translation

Translation by: Charlotte Roueché

Kl(audia) Benosta (i.e. Cl(audia) Venusta), daughter of Kl(audios) (i.e. Cl(audius)) Kartisthenes Melior, (scil. gave the statue of) Dionysos at her own expense.


Claudia Venusta and her father also figure in C.495, C.496, C.497, C.498 which record other dedications that she made, almost certainly in this Sanctuary; on the group see Dobias-Lalou, cited above. We can date the father’s priesthood of Apollo in CE 108-9, which shows that her dedications belong in the first half of the second century CE as their lettering suggests - but an earlier date could not be ruled out (Oliverio/SEG proposed first century CE). The family was certainly a locally distinguished one, receiving Roman citizenship under the emperors Claudius or Nero and combining a degree of romanità with Greek traditions. See further the discussion by Fadel Ali Mohamed and J. M. Reynolds, cited above.

It has been questioned whether Venusta offered all these inscriptions in this Sanctuary (Stucchi (1975), 185), but the grounds are weak and the discovery of this item should remove the doubt. We can now accept that she gave there not only a Dionysos but also a ‘great Demeter’ (C.495), a Kore (C.496), a Parthenos (C.497) and a second statue of Dionysos of which C.498 like all her other offerings except this one, mentions that it had a naos (which I take to be a shelter, of which a number of examples have been found on site). Mohamed and Reynolds questioned the normally proposed identity of Kore and Parthenos, suggesting that Parthenos was Athena, but I have come to feel that rash. Accepting their identity, it is possible that Venusta may have given two groups of the three commonly associated agricultural deities, Demeter, Kore and Dionysos. Whether or not that was so it is the case that our proposed date in the second century CE could suggest that she was offering statues to substitute for ones destroyed in the Jewish Revolt of CE 115-7 - but, so far, as I understand, there is no evidence of damage in the Sanctuary on that occasion.

It is noteworthy that Venusta used the koine language in her dedications. The date proposed is one when, as has been maintained, that was becoming normal usage in place of the Cyrenaean dialect (C.Dobias-Lalou, 'Langue et politique: à quoi sert le dialecte dans la Cyrénaïque romaine', Libyan Studies 25 (1994) 245-50, 245-6).

Bibliography: Mohamed-Reynolds, 1994, 2, whence Dobias-Lalou, Bulletin Épigraphique, 1995.683, SEG 44.1539, AE 1994.1820a; Reynolds, 2012, A.28.3, whence Dobias-Lalou, Bulletin Épigraphique, 2013.480.
Text constituted from: Transcription (Reynolds).


None available (2020).