IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica

C.552. Military funerary inscription

Description: Limestone stele (w: 0.52 x h: 0.85 x d: 0.39)
Text: Inscribed on one face within a moulded panel (w: 0.24 x h: 0.52).
Letters: Probably first century CE line 1, 0.045; lines 2ff. 0.035: very rough.

Date: Probably first century.

Findspot: Cyrene: North Necropolis, near the Apollonia road and not far from the Circular Tomb (N.1); found before 1915.
Original location: Unknown.
Last recorded location: Cyrene Museum


T(itus) Pompei-
us Ligyrus
ann(orum) XL
5eques [e]x
aer[um] XX
h[i]c situs
10Cleme<n>s pa-



English translation

Translation by: Editors

Titus Pompeius Ligyrus, from Autricum, aged 40, cavalryman of the the cohort of Spaniards, having served 20 years, lies here; Clemens, for his patron.


The cohort has been identified with the Cohors II Hispanorum scutata Cyrenaica equitata, attested in Dacia Porolissensis in 159 (CIL XVI.110, available at EDH 005845). The text was dated by Ghislanzoni in the second century CE, followed by Romanelli, Cirenaica 192f., and by Applebaum, JJS II (1950) 30, suggesting that the cohort had been temporarily moved from its normal station on the Danube during the Jewish Revolt of 115 CE. But Reynolds (loc.cit.) discussed the inscription with two further discoveries which refer to the same cohort C.726, P.220; she pointed out that the letter forms and formulae (eque ex cohorte, aera = stipendium, hic situs) suggest rather the first half of the first century CE. The absence of the dedication dis manibus, in any of the three and the use of the nominative case for the subject (this text and C.726) are again suggestive of the first century rather than a later date. The inscriptions would therefore belong to an earlier phase in the history of the cohort, before it went to the Danube region or, as Le Glay suggested (art.cit) to Cohors I Hispanorum equitata, attested in Egypt in the late first century. Similarly another Spanish cohort, of Lusitani, was stationed in Cyrene under Tiberius (C.118)

There are some indications to suggest that the men concerned were actually Spaniards, and if so, it is probable, although of course not certain that they were in service comparatively soon after the unit was recruited, or at least, after it left Spain. Thus Pompeius Ligyrus is perhaps better regarded as a man of the Cantabrian tribe of Autricones (Autrigones) than as supposed at first a man from Autricum; both he and Sempronius Macer (C.726) bear nomina which are relatively common in Spain as a result of the Gracchan and Pompeian connections with the peninsula (Aemilius is common enough there too, but not particularly characteristic). As against all this it must be said that it is unexpected to find three full Roman citizens serving as auxiliaries in the first century (four if the brother, Aemilius Macer, is assumed to be a fellow soldier), two of them sons of Roman citizens. It is also rare for auxiliary men to mention ranks in the first century, but not unknown. Neither can be regarded as absolute bars to a first century date.

If a first century date were accepted it would be a reasonable hypothesis that the unit was brought to Cyrenaica in the course of the Marmaric War of the Augustan period and remained in garrison there for a time thereafter. An armed garrison at Cyrene itself and in Ptolemais is fully understandable in this context; detachments may well have been placed for a time in all the cities of the province. Subsequently units may have been sent away and those that remained seem to have been withdrawn to the limes forts.

There is no reason to confuse this cohort with three Cyrenaean cohorts apparently raised in Cyrenaica, in the early years of the province (on which see J. Bennett, 'The Cohortes Augustae Cyrenaicae', Journal of African Archaeology 7 (2009), 107-121, p.113; J.Spaul, Cohors 129-130)

Bibliography: Ghislanzoni, 1915, 179, whence AE 1915.111; Héron de Villefosse, 1917, pl. CIII, whence AE 1917/18.64; republished, Reynolds, 1980-81, 3, whence AE 1983.942, whence EDH HD000838; discussed, Leglay, 1985
Text constituted from: Transcription (Reynolds).


None available (2020).