Key to Umbria
 

Relief from Caere: plaster cast in the  Museo delle Antichità Etrusche e Italiche, Rome

The original is now in the Museo Gregoriano Profano, Musei Vaticani, Rome

It is illustrated at p. 22 of the website “Cerveteri et les Étrusques, une Cité d’Italie avant Rome

Original Etruscan Federation

The practices of the ancient federation of the twelve cities of Etruria (described in my page on the Etruscan Federation) are known to us primarily from Livy’s accounts of relations between Etruria and Rome in the period 434-389 BC.  Livy recorded the meeting place of the federation as the fanum Voltumnae,  which (according to Propertius, mentioned below) seems to have been located near Volsinii.  The majority of Livy’s accounts related to the 10 year period in which the Romans besieged Veii, culminating in the fall of that city in 396 BC.  As Marco Ricci (referenced below, at pp. 16-7) summarised:

  1. “The picture that emerges [from Livy’s accounts] is ... that of a confederation of city-states, born above all out of military necessity, essentially defensive but also sustained by deeper cultural values than those of a purely military alliance” (my translation).

After the fall of Veii, the other members of the federation slowly but surely succumbed to the power of Rome, a process that ended in 280 BC with the fall of Volsinii.  The federation did not feature in Livy’s accounts of these later events: thus, if it did survive during this period, it presumably did so as primarily a cultural and religious association: while military and political matters might still have been discussed at meetings of the federation, this did not (as far as we know) result in concerted action. 

Marco Ricci (referenced below, at p. 17) observed that:

  1. “Given the purpose for which the federation had been formed, it could not, of course, have survived the incorporation of Etruria into the orbit of Rome.  Thus, after the fall of Volsinii [in 280 BC] and its destruction in 264 BC, it seems likely that federal meetings were prohibited” (my translation).

Ricci was referring to the aftermath of a slave revolt at Volsinii in 264 BC, after which the Romans (led by the consul Marcus Fulvius Flaccus):

  1. -destroyed the ancient city on the impregnable rock of Orvieto;

  2. -moved the surviving population to the much less defensible site of ‘Roman’ Volsinii on the shores of Lake Bolsena; and

  3. -transferred the cult of Voltumna, the presiding deity of the federal sanctuary, to Rome.

Evidence for the Revived Federation

A body of evidence discussed below confirms that the Etruscan Federation was revived in a modified form at some time in the Julio-Claudian era.  By that time, the old Etruscan cities had been thoroughly absorbed into the Roman Empire, and the revival of the federation would surely have required imperial approval.  In its revived form, it presumably embodied a nostalgic celebration of the shared cultural and religious heritage of the constituent municipia, albeit that its primary purpose was (in my view) probably to serve the interests of the imperial authority of Rome. 

Relief from Caere

The first evidence for the revival of the federation came in the form of a fragmentary relief (illustrated at the top of the page) that was found during excavations at Caere (Cerveteri) in 1840.  This fragment depicts personifications of three of the Etruscan cities (Tarquinia, Vulci and Vetulonia), each of which is identified by inscription: we might reasonably assume that the complete relief depicted personifications of all of the member cities of the revived federation (including Caere itself). 

The relief featured in the recent exhibition “Cerveteri et les Étrusques, une Cité d’Italie avant Rome”.  According to the catalogue entry by Paolo Liverani and Paola Santoro (referenced below, pp. 324-7), it was found with a number of statues of members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty that probably came from the meeting place for the Augustales at Caere (which is known from an inscription CIL XI 3614 of 113 AD).  According to Liverani and Santoro (at p. 325), the relief was:

  1. “... once perceived as a fragment of a throne [the so-called Throne of Claudius] but is actually from one of the sides of an altar of the Claudian era [41-54 AD]” (my translation).

From the time of the discovery of the relief, many scholars have attributed the revival of the federation to the Emperor Claudius, whose academic interest in Etruscan culture is well-known.   However, as discussed below, the epigraphic evidence suggests that the revival should alternatively be attributed to the Emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD).

Epigraphic Evidence

An important paper by Bernard Liou (referenced below) drew attention to a number of surviving (or at least recorded) inscriptions that commemorated men who had held the post of “Praetor Etruriae (XV Populorum)” or, less commonly, “Aedilis Etruriae”.  While ‘praetor’ was generally a secular function, it seems that the praetores Etruriae were rather priests of the revived federation, analogous to the sacerdotes of its precursor.  The inscriptions yielded valuable information on the characteristics of the revived federation itself:

  1. Two of the men commemorated in these inscriptions had held the post of praetor more than once, which suggests that it was an annual appointment (as had been the case for the sacerdotes of the original federation).  Thus, we might reasonably assume that the praetores presided over the annual meetings of the revived federation.  

  2. The title “Praetor Etruriae XV Populorum” in some of the inscriptions indicates that the number of cities that belonged to the federation had increased from the traditional 12 to 15.  The updated list of inscriptions described below provides evidence for holders of the priesthood from: Bettona (3 inscriptions, two of which probably relate to the same individual); Caere (1); Chiusi (4); Cortona (1); Perugia (1); Pisa (1); Rusellae (1); Siena (1); Tarquinia (1); and Volsinii/ Bolsena (3); as well as from the non-Etruscan cities of Ostia and Marruvium.  (Bettona is strictly an Umbrian city, since it was in Augustus’ sixth region, but it had belonged to Etruscan Perusia until ca. 40 BC and shared its Etruscan culture).

Bernard Liou (referenced below, at pp. 94-5) tended to the view (mentioned above) that the revival of the federation had occurred under the auspices of Claudius.  However, Mario Torelli (referenced below, at p. 91), in a paper that commented on Bernard Liou’s work, observed that, in making this suggestion, Liou was:

  1. “... prudently cautious: although he does not reject the hypothesis of an act of political restoration by Augustus, he seems to prefer ... Claudius.  I  find the Augustan hypothesis ... more suitable.  The Claudian reforms to which Liou turns to justify [his view] are generally of very limited significance and ... in direct association with the caerimoniae of Rome.  [However, in order to identify the emperor responsible for the revival of the Etruscan Federation, we should look for examples of] ... wide-ranging and deep intervention in local affairs ... Unfortunately, these examples are absent for Claudius, while. in the Augustan age, they are abundant ... In Etruria alone, one could cite the foundation of the Municipium Augustum Veiens [in 2 BC], in addition to the instances cited by [Eugen Bormann, in 1887].”

Marco Ricci (referenced below) recently updated Liou’s list of inscriptions and (inter alia) reviewed their dating (as summarised below).  He drew attention (at p. 17) to the significance of the dates that he had established for the earliest of them:

  1. “It [must have been] Augustus who, in the context of his policy of the restoration of cults and the exaltation of the local traditions, fostered the rebirth of the ancient Etruscan league, although, of course, in a different form [from the original]. ...  It is impossible to identify a certain date, but it seems appropriate to focus on the early years of the Christian era, perhaps close to the date of the re-founding of the municipium of Veii [in 2 BC]” (my translation).

The most illustrious of the holders of its priesthood (as far as we know) was the Emperor Hadrian (117-38 AD): Aelius Spartianus noted that, among other examples of Hadrian’s devotion to ancient Latin and Italic institutions:

  1. “In Etruria, he held a praetorship while emperor”, (‘Life of the Emperor Hadrian’, 2:19).

Liou (see his conclusions at p. 79) believed that all of the surviving inscriptions that he had collected post-dated this point in time.  However, eight of the men commemorated in Ricci’s updated list of 19 inscriptions (below) held the post before Hadrian. 

Julio-Claudian Period 

The earlier part of Marco Ricci’s list can be summarised as follows:

  1. Sextus Valerius Proculus, known from two inscriptions from Vettona (Bettona), (CIL XI 7979 and AE 1996, 653b):

  2. pr(aetor) Etruriae

  3. early 1st century AD;

  4. [Caius ?] Metellius, one of two men of this name commemorated on an inscription (CIL XI 2115), from Cortona:

  5. [pr(aetor)] Etruriae

  6. first half of the 1st century AD;

  7. Aulus Vicirius (CIL XI 1806), from Saena (Siena):

  8. [pr(aetoris)?] Etruriae

  9. after 45 AD;

  10. Titus Egnatius Rufus (CIL XI 3257), from Caere:

  11. aed(ili) Etrur(iae)

  12. from the period ca. 40-70 AD;

  13. Lucius Alfius Quietus (CIL XI 2116), from Clusium (Chiusi):

  14. aed(ili) Etrur(iae)

  15. from the period ca. 40-70 AD;

  16. ? Pomponianus ? (CIL XI 5170), from Clusium (Chiusi):

  17. aed(ili) Et[̣ruriae - - -]

  18. date uncertain, although the other known aediles (above) date to ca. 40-70 AD; 

  19. Gaius Betuus Cilo (CIL XI 1941), from Perusia (Perugia):

  20. pr(aetori) E[tr]uriae xv populorum

  21. late 1st century AD;

  22. Anonymous (AE 1980, 0459), from Rusellae (Roselle):

  23. pr(aetori) Etr[uriae - - -]

  24. from the period ca. 80-150 AD.

Marco Ricci noted (at p. 18) that, on the basis of the career information contained in this group of inscriptions, the early praetores Etruriae seem to have been men who had followed municipal careers.

After Hadrian

The subsequent inscriptions in Ricci’s list commemorated: 

  1. Publius Tullus Varro (CIL XI 3664), from Tarquinia:

  2. praetori Etruriae

  3. from the period ca. 130-50 AD;

  4. [...] Vopiscus C. Arruntius Catellius Celer, son of Pompeius, of the Pomptina tribe (AE 1980 0426), from Volsinii (Bolsena):

  5. pr(aetori) Etruriae

  6. from the period 140-56 AD; 

  7. Lucius Venuleius Apronianus Octavius (CIL XI 1432), from Pisae (Pisa):

  8. praetori Etruriae V (i.e he held the post on five occasions)

  9. second half of the 1st century AD;

  10. Quintus Petronius Melior (CIL XIV 5345), from Ostia:

  11. praetori Etrur(iae) xv populoruṃ [bis?], (the completion suggesting that he held the post on two occasions)

  12. from the period 180-4 AD;

  13. ...cus Modestus Paulinus(CIL IX 3667), from Marruvium (which was in Samnium):

  14. praetor[i] Aetrur(iae) xv popul[or(um)]

  15. from the period 200-25 AD;

  16. Anonymous (CIL XI 2699), from Volsinii (Bolsena):

  17. praet(ori) Etrur(iae) xv populor(um)

  18. from the period 222-35 AD; 

  19. Anonymous patron of a temple to Nortia (CIL XI 7287), from Volsinii (Bolsena):

  20. praet(ori) Etruriae] xv populor(um),

  21. impossible to date, but possibly the same person as in CIL XI 2699, above;

  22. Lucius Tiberius Maefanas Basilius (CIL XI 2115Last Statues of Antiquity: LSA 1623), from Clusium (Chiusi):

  23. ex praetoribus xv pop(ulorum)

  24. from the period 300-30 AD; 

  25. Anonymous (CIL XI 5170), from Vettona (Bettona):

  26. [- - - prae]tore Aetruriae xv p(o)p(ulorum);

  27. from the mid 4th century AD; 

  28. Anonymous (CIL XI 2114), from Clusium (Chiusi):

  29. pra]et(ori) xv pop(ulorum),

  30. impossible to date.

Marco Ricci (referenced above, at pp. 21-3) drew attention to the fact that, after Hadrian had conferred prestige on the position, it tended to be occupied by men of higher social and professional standing than had previously been the case.  Clearly, the priesthood (and hence the revived federation) continued into the 4th century AD.

Other Priesthoods Revived by Octavian/ Augustus

Looking back on his career, Augustus recorded that:

  1. “I have been Pontifex Maximus; augur; quindecimvirum sacris faciundis (a member of the college responsible for sacred rites); septemvirum epulonum (a member of the college responsible for sacred feasts); an arval brother; a sodalis Titius; [and] a fetial priest” (‘Res Gestae’, 7).

The last three priestly colleges had fallen into abeyance in the last days of the Republic and were apparently revived by Octavian/ Augustus::

  1. According to Cassius Dio, in the prelude to the Battle of Actium (31 BC), in which Octavian defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra:

  2. “[The Romans] voted ... pardon and praise [to the remaining adherents of Mark Antony] if they would abandon him, and declared war outright upon Cleopatra: they put on their military cloaks as if he were close at hand and went to the temple of Bellona, where they performed, with [Octavian] as fetialis, all the rites preliminary to war in the customary fashion. These  proceedings were nominally directed against Cleopatra, but really against [Mark] Antony” (‘Roman History’, 50:4).

  3. It seems that, as early as the regnal period (at least, according to tradition), the Romans had sent a fetial priest as an ambassador to an enemy prior to a declaration of war.  In this ceremony at the temple of Bellona, Octavian apparently performed the necessary ritual as if Mark Antony were present, although he also put forward the falsehood that war was being declared against the non-Roman Cleopatra. 

  4. According to John Scheid (referenced below, at pp. 181-2), Octavian probably revived the Arval Brethren in ca. 29 BC and the sodales Titii before 27 BC.  He suggested that this was:

  5. “... presumably part of the granting of new privileges to all public priesthoods, probably when [Octavian] was censor in 28 BC.”

  6. Scheid cited Suetonius as his source for the granting of these new privileges:

  7. “Augustus increased the number and importance of the priests, and also their allowances and privileges, in particular those of the Vestal virgins” (‘Life of Augustus’, 31: 3-4).

  8. We also learn from Suetonius that:

  9. “[Octavian/ Augustus] also revived some of the ancient rites which had gradually fallen into disuse, such as: the augurium salutis [in 29 BC]; the office of flamen dialis [priest of Jupiter, which he probably revived as Pontifex Maximus in 11 BC]; the ceremonies of the Lupercalia; the Secular Games [in 17 BC]; and the festival of the Compitalia” (‘Life of Augustus’, 31: 4).

It is in this context that we should probably view the revival by Augustus of the Etruscan Federation and its priesthood.

Meeting Place of the Revived Federation

Marco Ricci (referenced below, p. 23 and note 83) pointed out that there is no hard evidence to identify the place at which the meetings of the revived federation were held.  Indeed, we do not know whether there was a single location, or whether, for example, one or more meetings were held each year in the city from which that year’s praetor had been selected.  Nevertheless, as noted above, Ricci reasonably suggested (at p. 17) that Augustus had:

  1. “... fostered the rebirth of the ancient Etruscan league ... in the context of his policy of the restoration of cults and the exaltation of the local traditions ...”

Surely, therefore, he would have favoured the fanum VoltumnaePropertius (in the elegy that he wrote in the form of a monologue delivered by a Roman statue of Voltumna (whom he called by its Roman name, Vertumnus) had this statue insist:

  1. “I am a Tuscan born of Tuscans, [but] do not regret abandoning Volsinii’s hearths in battle [in 264 BC]” (‘Elegies’ 4.2). 

Clearly, at least at the time of Propertius (and thus of Augustus), the fanum Voltumnae was traditionally located at Volsinii. 

I suggested in my page on the Etruscan Federation that the sanctuary that has been excavated at Campo della Fiera, outside Orvieto, might well have been the site of the fanum Voltumnae.  The remains of four temples (labelled by the excavators as A-D) have been discovered to date on the site, at least two of which seem to have been destroyed in the late 4th or early 3rd century BC.  Simonetta Stopponi (referenced below, 2013b, at p.651) suggested that this occurred in the period between 308 BC, when Decimus Mus first attacked Volsinii, and 280 BC, when it finally fell to Rome.  She commented:

  1. “The clashes with Rome cannot have left the sanctuary unscathed: what seems certain is that at neither in Temple B nor Temple C  did the cult continue to function into Roman times: worship [in this period] was reserved for Temple A, where the temenos wall was restored several times.”

This sanctuary would also have been badly damaged during the sack of Volsinii in 264 BC.  If this had been the original federal sanctuary, then what remained of it would have lost all vestiges of its pan-Etruscan character at that point (if it had not done so before then). 

The aerial view above probably holds the key to the function of the sanctuary in the period after the destruction of Etruscan Volsinii: it shows the remains of paved road (picked out by two parallel white lines) that ran southwest from Temple A: according to Simonetta Stopponi (referenced below, 2013b, at p. 633) this road:

  1. “... was built in the mid 3rd century BC.  The track, [which is now] exposed for more than 50 meters, was five meters wide and furrowed by the passage of wagons, connecting Orvieto with Bolsena.”

This road must have constituted an ‘umbilical cord’ some 10 km long, linking the displaced people on the shores of Lake Bolsena to what remained of their ancient city and ancient religion. 

I suggested in my page on the Etruscan Federation that Temple A was probably rededicated to Nortia in or soon after 264 BC, and that this largely accounts for the fact that the cult of this deity in her Etruscan form survived at Volsinii into the 4th century AD.

Restoration of Temple A

Temple A (the putative Temple of Nortia) seems to have been restored in the triumviral period: in particular, it was given a new pavement that Claudia Giontella (referenced below) dated to the 3rd quarter of the 1st century BC.  The sacred enclosure around this temple seems to have been reduced in size at this time in a manner that emphasised the importance of the temple itself.  Other developments that were probably or possibly associated with this restoration include the following:

  1. a large umber of ancient votive objects from elsewhere on the site were buried in a rectangular cavity and two ditches in the reduced sacred enclosure; and

  2. a number of  coins were ritually deposited in a thesaurus in front of the Temple A (as discussed below).

Simonetta Stopponi (referenced below, 2013a, at p. 138) suggested that this restoration was:

  1. “... inspired by the political propaganda of [Octavian/] Augustus, aimed at promoting the revitalisation of ancient traditions” (my translation).

I believe that the restoration and associated cult activity suggests that, even if this had not been the site of the fanum Voltumnae, later tradition assumed that this had been the case.

Thesaurus in the Sacred Area of Temple A

          

                      Tufa altar in front of Temple A              Coins from the thesaurus near the tufa altar

                              Campo della Fiera                                             Museo Archeologico, Orvieto

Samuele Ranucci (referenced below, 2009 and 2011) described the contents of a thesaurus (a stone container with an opening in its lid, often used for the collection of coins) that had been found in tact in 2008 in front of a tufa altar (illustrated on the left, above) in the sacred area of Temple A.   A thick layer of ash and coals from sacrifices that rested against the altar covered part of the thesaurus lid, including the hole through which coins were inserted.  The ash itself contained a number of coins, the most recent of which (RIC I: 389) dated to ca. 15 BC: by this time, therefore, the thesaurus was no longer in use (although, as explained below, six coins were subsequently pushed under its lid). 

The coins in the thesaurus (some if not all of which are now in the Museo Archeologico, Orvieto, as illustrate above) had been deposited in three distinct phases:

  1. Those in the lower part of the thesaurus, which were mingled with the remains of a sacrifice, comprised:

  2. 185 republican asses, with the dateable examples from the period 211-91 BC, together with:

  3. -a quiniarius (RRC 343/2a) of 89 BC;

  4. -a denarius (RRC 422/1a)  of 58 BC; and

  5. ten coins from the triumviral period, made up of:

  6. -a denarius (RRC 528/3) of 39 BC that commemorated Octavian and Mark Antony; and

  7. -9 of the 18 coins in the thesaurus that commemorated Octavian and divus Julius (referred to below as divus Julius bronzes): some of these 18 coins might have belonged to the official issue (RRC 535/1) of ca. 38 BC, but many of them were apparently ‘imitations’ (as discussed below). 

  8. The coins in this lower stratum had presumably originally been donated separately, either in the thesaurus or elsewhere in the sanctuary, and had then been ritually re-deposited in the thesaurus in or shortly after ca. 38 BC. 

  9. The coins in the layer above this ‘single deposition’, which were obviously donated subsequently and possibly separately before the thesaurus was covered by ash, comprised:

  10. another 8 of the 18 divus Julius bronzes (as above); and

  11. 10 of the 14 asses in the thesaurus that commemorated Octavian as Augustus in ca. 16-5 BC (RIC I: 373; 376; 379; 382; 386; and 389).

  12. Six coins were subsequently pushed under the lid of the thesaurus.  These comprised:

  13. the last of the 18 divus Julius bronzes;

  14. the last 4 of the 14 asses that commemorated Octavian as Augustus in ca. 16-5 BC; and

  15. an as issued by M. Maecilius Tullus in 7 BC (RIC I 436).

This distribution suggests (at least to me) two distinct ceremonies involving the thesaurus:

  1. one after ca. 38 BC, evidenced by the inclusion of 9 divus Julius bronzes from this period among the ritually-deposited coins in the lower stratum; and

  2. a second dating to ca. 15 BC, as evidenced by ten asses of this period that had been deposited in the thesaurus just prior to a sacrifice that rendered it effectively unusable.

I suggest in the sections below that:

  1. the first of these ceremonies was designed to promote the image of the triumvir Octavian; and

  2. the second continued the process after Octavian had achieved sole rule as the Emperor Augustus; 

and that they marked two distinct phases in the process that culminated in the revival of the Etruscan Federation at Campo dell Fiera.  In order to elucidate the role that each ceremony played in this process, I first discuss the political situation at Volsinii, in the triumviral period (when the ritual deposition of the coins in the lower stratum took place), and then turn  to the significance of the ceremony of ca. 15 BC.  

Phase I: Volsinii in the Triumviral Period

An Imperial Estate near Volsinii ?


Find spots of inscriptions suggesting an imperial estate north of Bolsena

(The routes marked by blue dots are the existing roads between the various marked locations)

Francis Tassaux (referenced below, at pp. 557-60) recorded five inscriptions from the area to the north of Bolsena that might indicate an imperial estate here, at least in the imperial period if not before: 

  1. Two of these, which date to the reign of Augustus (as Octavian became in 27 BC), were found by a farmer in Santa Maria in Paterno, Castiglione in Teverina (some 15 km from Campo della Fiera):

  2. AE 1904, 0194 commemorated Germanus, a freedman of Augustus and procurator, who had financed the building of a Caesarium and its decoration:

  3. Germanus Aug(usti) / lib(ertus) proc(urator)

  4. Caesareum fec(i)t / et omni cul/tu exornavit

  5. AE 1904, 0195 commemorated Epaphroditus and Hyacinthus (each of whom was also a freedman of Augustus and procurator) who had restored a shrine dedicated to Apollo Augustus that had apparently fallen into disrepair:

  6. Apollini Aug(usto) Epaphro[ditus Aug(usti) lib(ertus) proc(urator)]

  7. Apollini Aug(usto) Hyacinthus Aug(usti) lib(ertus) p[roc(urator)

  8. aediculam vetustate]/ delapsam(!) sua pecunia [refecit]

  9. The cult site evidenced by the these two inscriptions, which seems to have comprised a Caesarium and a temple of Apollo Augusto, might have been built early in the imperial period: Octavian, who regarded Apollo as his personal patron, dedicated a new temple of Apollo near his palace on the Palatine in 28 BC.  The involvement of freedmen of Augustus suggest that this cult site at astiglione in Teverinawas part of an imperial estate and served a private rather than a municipal cult (as noted by Ittai Gradel, referenced below, at p. 83).  It is possible that the Caesarium was devoted to Augustus himself (as Gradel assumed), although it is also possible that it was devoted to divus Julius (as suggested, for example, by Stefan Weinstock, referenced below, p. 407, note 4). 

  10. The other three inscriptions cover a period from the reign of the Emperor Tiberius to that of the Emperor Trajan (i.e. from 14 - 114 AD:

  11. An inscription (CIL XI 2916) from Latera reads:

  12. Chryseros Ti(berii) Caesaris Drusianus, vil(icus ??) 

  13. The possible completion “vilicus” suggests that Chryseros was a slave charged with the management of a villa in this area owned by Tiberius and/or his son, Drusus Julius Caesar (died 23 AD).

  14. A double-sided inscription (CIL XI 2716) from Visentium (Bisenzio, across the lake from Bolsena), reads:

  15. Neronis Caesaris Aug(usti) 

  16. This suggests that the nearby land belonged to the Emperor Nero (54-68 AD).

  17. The inscription (CIL XI 2706) from Castel Viscardo commemorates a freed slave, Ulpiae Terpsidi, the well-deserving wife of Securus and pious mother of Hilarus.  Securus (who was still a slave) held the post of imperial dispensator (treasurer).   (referenced below, at p. 558, note 71) suggested that:

  18. “... in all likelihood [Ulpiae] had been a freed woman of the Emperor Trajan [98-117 AD]” (my translation).

As Tassaux observed (at p. 558):

  1. “Certainly a mere inscription of an imperial slave or freedman is not sufficient to prove the existence of an imperial property.  However, the concentration of [these] five testimonies in three specific locations around Bolsena (on the one hand on the shore of Bisentium, on the other hand on the main axis of the [Via] Traiana Nova), which relate to a dispensator, a possible procurator, a possible vilicus and a possible imperial workshop, ... make such a hypothesis likely ” (my translation).

It is, of course, possible that these lands were accumulated over a long period and, indeed, that they never formed a single estate.  However, it is tempting to postulate a single imperial estate here that had its origins in land confiscations that might well have occurred here under Octavian in ca. 40-36 BC (see below). 

Revolt in Etruria (36 BC) 

The problems of Etruria had not ended with Octavian’s victory in the Perusine War of 41-40 BC.  The grievances over land confiscations that had caused the war at Perusia and those associated with the reprisals that followed it had been exacerbated by the actions of Sextius Pompeius (the son of Pompey the Great), who was securely based on Sicily and was able to use his formidable naval capability to disrupt the Italian grain supply.  Octavian’s attempted invasion of Sicily in 38 BC failed spectacularly (see below), and he was not able to assemble a fleet for a second attempt until July 36 BC.  Even then, he initially faced further setbacks (described below), before he secured a definitive victory off Naulochus in September 36 BC.

Our sources indicate two distinct episodes of violence in Etruria at this time:

  1. According to Cassius Dio, during Octavian’s absence from Italy in 36 BC:

  2. “... parts of Etruria ... had been in rebellion, [but they] become quiet as soon as word came of his victory [at Naulochus]” (‘Roman History’, 49: 15: 1).

  3. According to Appian, even after the victory:

  4. “... Italy and Rome itself were openly infested with bands of robbers, whose doings were more like barefaced plunder than secret theft.  Octavian appointed [Caius Calvisius] Sabinus to correct this disorder.  He [Sabinus] executed many of the captured brigands and, within one year, brought about a condition of absolute security” (‘Civil Wars’, 5:132).

Thus, Emilio Gabba (referenced below, at p. 100) summarised:

  1. “Still in 36 BC, the entire area of Etruria was in revolt, and Octavian had to entrust ... Sabinus with the task of wiping out the armed bands that still roamed across central Italy” (my translation).

Octavian made unusual arrangements for the administration of peninsular Italy in his absence during his second war with Sextus.  According to Cassius Dio:

  1. “Other matters in [Rome] and in the rest of Italy were administered by one Gaius Maecenas, a knight, both then [i.e. in July - November 36 BC] and for a long time afterwards” (‘Roman History’, 49: 16:2).

Josiah Osgood (referenced below, at p. 323) summarised:

  1. “... when, in 36 BC, after Octavian’s departure from Rome, disturbances broke out there and in Etruria (site of the earlier Perusine War), [Octavian] ... gave Maecenas, [who was] not even of senatorial rank, police powers to settle the situation.”

The situation seems to have played out in stages, governed by the progress of the war.  Appian recorded that, when Octavian’s fleet was damaged in a storm early in the campaign:

  1. “In anticipation of more serious misfortune, [Octavian] sent Maecenas to Rome on account of those who were still under the spell of the memory of Pompey the Great, for the fame of that man had not yet lost its influence over them” (‘Civil Wars’, 5:99).

According to A. J. M. Watson (referenced below, at p. 99):

  1. “... it seems that [this] was more of a diplomatic mission than one with a military purpose; ... because the populace in Rome began to riot, Maecenas, Octavian's principal diplomat, was sent to Rome to mollify them.” 

When Octavian suffered a more serious setback off Mylae in August, Appian recorded that:

  1. “He sent Maecenas again to Rome on account of the revolutionists; and some of these, who were stirring up disorder, were punished” (‘Civil Wars’, 5:112).

A. J. M. Watson (referenced below, at p. 99) suggested that:

  1. “The tenure of [Maecenas’] administration [of Rome and Italy] really began in mid-August, with the naval defeat ... off Mylae.  As a result of this [defeat], a rebellion began in Etruria [as recorded by Cassius Dio, above] and Octavian gave Maecenas control of Rome and Italy, [with orders] to keep Rome loyal and to [suppress] the [Etrurian] rebellion ...  However, before he could deal with [the latter], there was [another] outburst of unrest in Rome ... [which became] Maecenas' first objective ...”

Putting these accounts and interpretations together, we might reasonably assume that the revolt in Etruria broke out in August 36 BC and that Maecenas, who was tied up in Rome, delegated the task of suppressing it, probably to Sabinus (although no surviving source actually identifies him at this point).   Sabinus’ task was made much easier by the news of the victory at Naulochus, which brought an end to the famine and simultaneously removed any hope that the rebels might have had of a rival to Octavian in the west.  Thereafter, Sabinus turned his attention to the lawlessness that still engulfed the region (which might be a euphemism for a programme of reprisals against the former rebels).

It would be a mistake, in my view, to regard this short revolt in Etruria as an isolated event.  Ronald Syme (referenced below, at p. 208) wrote of the Perusine War that it had:

  1. “... blended with an older feud and took on the colours of an ancient wrong.  Political contests at Rome and the civil wars into which they degenerated had been fought at the expense of Italy [for decades].  Denied justice and liberty, Italy rose against Rome for the last time.”

In my view, the revolt in Etruria in 36 BC represented a final postscript to the incipient rebellion in central Italy (and elsewhere on the peninsular) that had occupied much of the century.  William Harris (referenced below, at p 313-4) suggested (without giving his sources) that:

  1. “Of the more important towns of Etruria, only Tarquinii, Volsinii and Clusium may have survived the triumvirs and Augustus fairly untroubled.”

However, the imperial estate that seems to have been created to the north of Bolsena (above) suggests that the area might have suffered confiscations at the hands of Octavian.

After Naulochus (36 BC) 

As Josiah Osgood (referenced below, at p.300) observed, after Naulochus:

  1. “Everything changed so suddenly.  There was now only Mark Antony [in the east] and Octavian.  Maybe, as Octavian announced, there would be an end to civil wars.”

He referred here to the following passage from Appian:

  1. “When [the victorious Octavian] arrived at Rome [in November, 36 BC], the Senate voted him unbounded honours ... The next day he made speeches to the Senate and to the people .... He proclaimed peace and goodwill, said that the interviews [relating to the triumviral proscriptions] were ended, remitted the unpaid taxes, and released the farmers of the [tax] revenue and the holders of public leases from what they owed.  Of the honours voted to him, he accepted ... [inter alia] a golden image to be erected in the forum ... to stand on a column covered with the beaks of captured ships.  There the image was placed, bearing the inscription:

  2. ‘PEACE, LONG DISTURBED, HE RE-ESTABLISHED ON LAND AND SEA’

  3. ... This seemed to be the end of the civil dissensions.  Octavian was now 28 years of age. Cities joined in placing him among their tutelary gods” (‘Civil Wars’, 5:130 -2).

Octavian now seems to have embarked on a carefully planned propaganda programme.  Josiah Osgood (referenced below, at pp.323-4) commented on his:

  1. “... new persona after Naulochus, ...[which represented the] most significant of several shifts in [his] public image during the triumvirate. ... Now, he would try to ... [repair his image among] the segment of [Italian] society that [he] had antagonised terribly with land confiscations and dissatisfied still further with the war against Sextus... [He now wanted] to show that there would be an end to chaos, that ... property rights did matter.  [Among the measures he took with this in mind, he started] dealing with the gangs of bandits that had seized on civil war as an opportunity to menace the Italian countryside. ... In 36 BC, [he] appointed ... Calvisius Sabinus to crush the outlaws, a task that he [carried out] with notable success ...”

Osgood acknowledged that:

  1. “The record that we have in our sources must surely be an echo of Octavian’s own advertisement of this crackdown on crime.”

In my view, Octavian probably elided the categories of rebels (i.e. political enemies) and criminals.  Whether or not this was the case, any reprisals against the former were probably minimal: as Josiah Osgood (referenced below, at p. 324) pointed out:

  1. “This time, ... there was no need for dispossessed landowners [in Italy] to take up arms.  To settle the 20,000 time-served men who had been fighting at least since the battle of Mutina [of 43 BC], Octavian .... used public land ... and some plots abandoned in the colonies of 41 BC, ... [while] other veterans were sent [outside Italy], especially to Gaul, a province in his control.”

As noted above, we do not know whether Volsinii had been a centre of the rebellion.  However, whether or not this had been the case, its status as the last Etruscan city to have withstood the original advance of Rome and its ownership of the ex-federal Etruscan sanctuary would surely have made it an attractive centre for any propaganda programme in Etruria thereafter.  Furthermore, we might expect that the famously Etruscan Maecenas would have played a prominent role in any such programme.

Maecenas

According to John Hall (referenced below, at pp. 168-9), Etruscans featured prominently among Octavian’s early supporters, and:

  1. “Approximately [six] of these could be counted among his closest and most influential advisors, with Agrippa and Maecenas ultimately rising to occupy positions of great authority ...”

While there is no evidence (as far as I am aware) that Agrippa, who came from Pisa, attached particular importance to what might have been considered his Etruscan roots, the case of Maecenas, who came from Arretium (Arezzo), is very different.  Stephen Oakley (referenced below, at p. 68) summarised the evidence for his ‘Etruscan’ pretensions:

  1. “... Tacitus [‘Annals’, 6:11:2] refers to him as Cilnius Maecenas. ... it is clear that [the  equestrian Maecenas]  must have been closely related to the [noble and ancient Aretine family of the] Cilnii, and it is often argued that his mother was a Cilnia.  On several occasions, poets refer to [his] descent from [Etruscan] princes ...”

Thus, Propertius referred to:

  1. “Maecenas, Etruscan eques (knight) of royal blood, keen not to rise above your rank ...” (‘Elegies’ 3.9).

Maecenas could thus claim among his ancestors men who might have presided over the annual meetings of original Etruscan Federation, as lucumones (kings of the 12 Etruscan city states) or sacerdotes (the priests who replaced them in this capacity after the regal period).  Any thoughts of reviving the federation would have been premature at this early stage in Octavian’s career.  However, we might reasonably assume that Maecenas would already have appreciated the propaganda value of any measure that associated Octavian with the ex-federal sanctuary.

Caius Calvisius Sabinus

                    
                       
     
                                                     

      Constantine I, recut from a  bust  of Octavian                      Octavian                          C. Calvisius Sabinus

             From the “basilica forense” of Volsinii                                Both from the Roman theatre, Spoleto

               Museo Nazionale Etrusco, Viterbo                                      Both in Museo Archeologico, Spoleto

Sabinus, who was famously one of only two senators who had tried to defend Octavian’s ‘father’, Julius Caesar, when he was murdered in 44 BC, subsequently became an active supporter of Octavian.  He served as consul of 39 BC and then as the admiral of Octavian’s fleet.  Together with Menodorus, who had defected from Sextus to Octavian in 39 BC, he assembled one of the two fleets with which Octavian intended to invade Sicily in 38 BC.  Sabinus and Menodorus duly set sail from Etruria, but were intercepted before they could join up with the second fleet, which was under Octavian’s command and which suffered an outright defeat.  Soon after, what remained of both of fleets was destroyed in a storm.  Thus ended the disaster of 38 BC that was mentioned above.  When Menodorus subsequently deserted again, this time back to Sextus, Octavian relieved Sabinus of his naval responsibilities and appointed Agrippa in his place. 

We next hear of Sabinus after  Octavian’s victory at Naulochus, when, as we have seen, he was charged with the eradication of banditry in Etruria.   I suggested above that Maecenas might well have delegated to him the task of suppressing the revolt in Etruria that had probably broken out in the previous month.  Whether or not this was the case, there is circumstantial evidence that he participated in a subsequent programme designed to reconcile the Etruscans with their erstwhile oppressor.  This is in the form of  bust of Octavian, which was re-cut in ca. 315 AD to represent the Emperor Constantine I (illustrated to the left, above), and which was discovered during excavations of a basilica that stood in the later forum of Volsinii (now the archeological area at Poggio Moscini, Bolsena).  According to Annarena Ambrogi and Ida Caruso (referenced below, 2012 and 2013), the original bust of Octavian had been of the so-called Béziers-Spoleto type, which is dated to ca. 40 BC.   The Spoletan version of this bust (illustrated above, at the centre), which is among the earliest known representations of Octavian, was found during the excavation of the theatre of Spoleto, near a broadly contemporary bust that almost certainly represents Sabinus (illustrated above, on the right): in addition to his posts under Octavian described above, Sabinus was the patron of Spoleto.  Spoleto seems to have supported the rebels during the Perusine War but, as Emilio Gabba (referenced below, at p. 102) pointed out, it escaped serious reprisals thereafter (apart from the transfer of the sanctuary at the source of the Clitumnus to Octavian’s new colony at Hispellum).  Gabba suggested that Spoletium had fared so well because of Sabinus’ patronage.  It seems likely (at least to me) that Sabinus commissioned both:

  1. the Spoletan bust of Octavian, as part of a programme of reconciliation during what seems to have been the rapid and successful pacification of the whole Valle Umbra after the Perusine War; and

  2. the Volsinian bust of Octavian, this time as part of a programme (perhaps directed by Maecenas) to consolidate Octavian’s position in Etruria after the revolt there and in the euphoria that followed the victory at Naulochus.

The original location of the bust in Volsinii is a matter for conjecture (particularly since the forum in which it was found was not established as such until the Flavian period): 

  1. As already noted, the Spoletan prototype was found in the Roman theatre there: the similar bust from Volsinii might also have been in a theatre, assuming that (as discussed below) a permanent theatre existed in the city at this time.

  2. Another possibility is that the Volsinian bust was commissioned for the Temple of Nortia at Campo della Fiera.  This possibility follows from:

  3. the information (cited above) from Appian that, after Naulochus:

  4. Cities joined in placing [Octavian] among their tutelary gods” (‘Civil Wars’, 5:132); and 

  5. a suggestion by Marco Ricci (referenced below, p. 19) in connection with the Augustan revival of the Etruscan Federation:

  6. “It is even possible that initially (as was the case elsewhere), Augustus may have associated himself with an existing cult [presumably the cult to which the revived federation was dedicated]” (my translation).

  7. A slightly later example of this practice might be found at the temple of Fortuna Augusta at Pompeii, the cella of which contained a cult statue of Fortuna (a Roman equivalent of Nortia), and also statues of Augustus and other members of the imperial family in the side niches.  Ittai Gradel (referenced below, at pp 103-5) stressed that the addition of the adjective ‘Augusta’ (rather than the genitive ‘Augusti’) to Fortuna’s name associated Augustus with Fortuna without transforming her cult here in any fundamental way: Augustus’ image here was not a cult image but simply an image that was located in Fortuna’s temple in order to demonstrate his association with her cult.  Thus, it is possible that Sabinus (perhaps directed by Maecenas) associated Octavian in a similar manner with the cult of Nortia at Campo della Fiera.

Divus Julius Bronzes in the Thesaurus at Campo della Fiera


CAESAR DIVI·F/ DIVOS IVLIVS (RRC 535/1)

This brings us to the significance of the ritual deposition of coins in the thesaurus in the sacred area of Temple A in ca. 38 BC.  The presence of the 18 divus Julius bronzes from this period in the thesaurus, nine of which were in the ritually deposited layer and nine of which were deposited thereafter (as described above), is intriguing.   Given their preponderance, it seems likely that they had particular significance for the ritual itself, presumably because of their iconography, which asserted Octavian’s descent from the deified Julius Caesar. 

Coins with this iconography appeared in a number of issues in the short period between the Perusine War and the Battle of Naulochus:

  1. Coins using this iconography had been minted for the first time by Ti Sempronius Gracchus and  Q. Voconius Vitulus in 40 BC.

  2. The iconography made its second appearance in coins from military mints in 38-7  BC, during the wars with Sextus.  These issues comprised:

  3. three by Agrippa as consul designate in 38 BC (RRC 534/1, 534/2 and 534/3); and

  4. two by Octavian at about this time (RRC 535/1 and 535/2), the first of which was the issue represented in the thesaurus.

  5. The iconography was used again in the military issue of 36 BC (RRC 540/1 and 540/2), at the time of the victory at Naulochus. 

As noted above, coins from only one of the five military issues of 38-7 BC (i.e. RRC 535/1) were found in the thesaurus, and some if not all of these were ‘imitations’: presumably this issue was replicated locally in order to pay the soldiers who were fighting in Etruria:

  1. The precise date of the official issue (and of the closely-related RRC 535/2) is still debated.  Luis Amela Valverde (referenced below, at pp. 34-5) pointed out that the coins do not identify Octavian as a triumvir: he therefore proposed a date between December 38 BC (when the triumvirs’ first five year term ended) and the summer of 37 BC (when the second five year term was ratified and probably backdated to the start of the year). 

  2. It is possible that the ‘imitations’ found in the thesaurus were minted in Etruria at a later date, quite possibly during the revolt here in August 36 BC. 

Samuele Ranucci (referenced below, 2009, at pp. 123-5) suggested an Augustan date for the ritual deposition of the coins (including the nine divus Julius bronzes) in the lower stratum of the thesaurus:

  1. “The chronological indications provided by the coins help to narrow down the time of deposition of most of them, and of the remains of piaculum, to the period  between: 

  2. -39 BC, the secure terminus post quem provided by the denarius of Mark Antony; and 

  3. -the Augustan age [i.e. 15 BC], at which date  the last asses were inserted into the container.

  4. However, the presence of numerous - and moderately worn - imitations of divus Julius  bronzes in the main core of coins and among those found on the upper part of the container and under its lid seems to argue for a later date for the votive deposition.  The dating to the Augustan age of:

  5. -the deposition of the coins with the remains of piaculum; and

  6. -perhaps also the placing of the thesaurus itself;

  7. seems more likely and could be related to the important restoration of the sanctuary between the late Republic and early principate.  In this period, in fact, the pavement of the temple was renewed and the first wall in opus reticulatum that delimited the central area of the walled temenos was erected" (my translation)

However, I think that the fact that all the bronzes belonged to a single issue, and thus (as noted above) had probably been minted locally for soldiers engaged in suppressing the revolt, argues in favour of a earlier date within this possible period.  I also think that the iconography of these coins would have lost its significance by the latter part of the period.  I would like to suggest that the ritual deposition occurred during a ceremony at Temple A that celebrated Octavian’s victory at Naulochus (September, 36 BC) and the end of the Etruscan revolt, and that it took place in 36 BC or shortly thereafter.  [Note, however, that the fact that the divus Julius bronzes were worn when they were deposited could point a later date.]

As noted above, Samuele Ranucci thought that any such deposition could have represented an act of atonement of some kind.  However, he also made another interesting observation: in his paper of 2011 (referenced below, at p. 957) he observed that:

  1. “Many aspects of the function of thesauri in sanctuaries still need to be clarified ...  [However], one piece [of evidence] in particular comes to mind, from the ‘Commentarii of Fratres Arvales’:

  2. ... item foras ad aram reversi thesauros dederunt

  3. It has been argued [that this] could describe, as late of the beginning of the 3rd century AD, the practice of giving thesauri [or the coins offered in them] to the altar.  The relationship between the altar and thesaurus is particularly evident at Volsinii.”

I wonder whether the ceremony posited above, in which coins including nine divus Julius bronzes were ritually deposited in a thesaurus next to the altar, was associated with the re-dedication of the altar itself to divus Julius. 


IMP CAESAR DIVI F III·VIR ITER R P C/ DIVO IVL - COS ITER ET TER DESIG (RRC 540/1)

It is perhaps significant in this context that the coins RRC 540/1 and 540/2 from 36 BC (the last in the list of divus Julius coins discussed above, and one of the issues that was NOT represented in the thesaurus) had obverse designs that featured:

  1. the Temple of Divus Julius in Rome (clearly designated on the coins by the words “DIVO IVL” on the architrave), which was planned but not actually built by this time; and

  2. the altar to divus Julius that had been erected on the site in the forum in 44 BC to mark his cremation (shown to the left of the planned temple). 

David Sear (referenced below, at p. 192), whose book is an invaluable source on the coinage of the period, observed that:

  1. “The bearded Octavian makes his final appearance [in these coins].  With the defeat of the last Pompeians [whose army included the last of the erstwhile adherents of Caesar’s assassins, Octavian] reverted to being clean-shaven, a sure sign that [Caesar’s murder] had at last been avenged ...”

The putative re-dedication of the altar in front of Temple A at Volsinii to divus Julius might have been another expression of the exaltation that followed the victory at Naulochus, which would have been shared by both Octavian and his army.

In my page on the Perusine War, I described the allegation (made by both Cassius Dio and Suetonius) that, after Perusia surrendered in 40 BC, some 300 captured senators and knights were sacrificed on the ides of March on one or more altars dedicated to divus Julius.  Although there are doubts about the number of executions and about whether those that took place had a ritual character (as discussed in the link above), the story persisted: almost a century later, Seneca would include the arae Perusinae (altars of Perugia) among examples of the viciousness of Octavian.  Whether or not the allegation was true, it probably captured the spirit of vengeance that animated both Octavian and his army at that time.   This spirit was most unlikely to have permeated the atmosphere at Volsinii some four years later:  if I am correct in suggesting that the altar outside Temple A was rededicated to divus Julius, this would have symbolised the end of the era of vengeance for Caesar’s murder and the promise of a new era of peace, security and prosperity.

Conclusions

On the basis of the analysis above, I suggest that, after the victory at Naulochus and the end of the Etrurian revolt, the Volsinian sanctuary at Campo della Fiera became one of the centres of a propaganda programme organised by Maecenas and Sabinus that aimed to establish a newly-benign image of Octavian in Etruria.  The surviving circumstantial evidence for this comprises:

  1. the bust of Octavian found at Volsinii , which was probably commissioned by Sabinus and which was possibly used initially to associate Octavian with the cult of Nortia at Campo della Fiera; and

  2. the ritual deposition in 36 BC or shortly thereafter of votive coins  in the thesaurus of one of the altars in the sacred area of the Temple of Nortia there (evidenced by the votive offering of coins that included 18 divus Julius bronzes), at which point the altar itself was possibly rededicated to divus Julius.

Phase II: Ceremony of ca. 15 BC and the Emperor Augustus


CAESAR AVGVSTVS TRIBVNIC POTEST/ SC: CN PISO CN F IIIVIR A A A F F (RIC I (Rome) 382)

As noted above, the slit in the lid of the thesaurus in the sacred area of Temple A was open for monetary offerings throughout the period from the time of the ritual deposition of ca. 36 BC until ca. 15 BC, when it was blocked by the ash of a sacrifice.  Each of the 18 coins deposited in this period belonged to one of the two following categories:

  1. eight of them were divus Julius bronzes (as above); and

  2. ten of them were asses (RIC I: 373; 376; 379; 382; 386; and 389) produced by the tresviri (the colleges of three moneyers) of ca. 16 and 15 BC, an example of which, from the second of these colleges, is illustrated above).

The ash that covered the slot contained a number of coins, the latest of which also belonged to this second category.  I would like to suggest that the presence of such a restricted range of coins indicates that the thesaurus was not in use on a continuous basis throughout this period.  Rather:

  1. the eight divus Julius bronzes were probably donated soon after the original ritual deposition; and

  2. the ten Augustan asses were probably donated during a second important ceremony in ca. 15 BC.

All of these asses had the same iconography:

  1. their obverses depicted the head of Augustus, with the legend

  2. CAESAR AVGVSTVS TRIBVNIC POTEST; and

  3. their reverses had a legend identifying the moneyer of the issue in question, which surrounded the letters ‘S C’ (senatus consultum).

As noted above, the moneyers in question belonged to two consecutive colleges.  These comprised:

  1. C. Asinius Gallus Saloninus; C. Cassius Celer; and  C. Gallius Lupercus; and

  2. Cn. (Calpurnius) Piso; L. Naevius Surdinus; and C. Plotius Rufus.

While most scholars follow RIC in attributing these colleges  to the years 16 and 15 BC respectively, Cornelis Pannekeet (referenced below) gave a year later in each case. (i.e. 15 and 14 BC). 

C. H.V. Sutherland (referenced below, at p. 105) established that the asses in these issues formed part of series in three denominations by each moneyer that commemorated the fact that the Senate had conferred particular honours on Augustus: in particular, the asses in these series commemorated the Senate’s conferral of perpetual tribunician power on him in 23 BC.  According to Tacitus:

  1. “... the tribunician power..., a phrase for the supreme dignity, was invented by Augustus, who was reluctant to take the style of king or dictator but [who was nevertheless] desirous of a title that indicated his pre-eminence over all other authorities” (‘Annals’, 3:56).

Ronald Syme (referenced below, at p. 336) described this power as:

  1. “... a formidable and indefinite instrument of government ... [which would] compensate in part for [Augustus’ abdication from] the consulate and fulfil the functions (without bearing the name) of an extraordinary magistracy.  From 1st July 23 BC [see below], Augustus dated his tenure of the [tribunician power] and added the name to his titulature.  This was [Tacitus’ ‘phrase for the supreme dignity’] invented by the founder of a legitimate monarchy.”

John Rich (referenced below, pp. 67-8) had a similar view of the significance of Augustus’ perpetual tribunician power:

  1. “Down to 23 BC, Augustus [had] accepted annual election to the consulship, no doubt invariably professing reluctance.  For this to continue would have been manifestly ‘unrepublican’ ...; accordingly, in June or July 23 BC, during his absence from Rome at the Latin Festival, he resigned the consulship, enabling consequent adjustments to his powers to be put in place [through the award of perpetual tribunician power] before his return to the city.”

Syme had dated the award of these powers to 1st July 23 BC.  However, as Rich pointed out (at note 79):

  1. “The resignation [of the consulship in 23 BC] is reported by the fasti of the Latin Festival, but a lacuna leaves the date open in the period 14 June to 14 July.”

Although Rich did not address Syme’s date for the subsequent award of the tribunician power, he noted (again at note 79) that:

  1. “There is no warrant for the common view that Augustus assumed the tribunician power on 26 June [23 BC], the date on which he adopted Tiberius in 4 AD.”

Adrian Goldsworthy (referenced below, at p. 270) observed that:

  1. “In later years, great stress would be laid on [Augustus’] tribunician power, and his reign would be dated according to the number of years that he had held it, a pattern followed by his successors.”

In fact, while the practice continued unchanged in most respects after Augustus’ death in 14 AD, the date of the annual renewal changed:

  1. -for the rest of the century, emperors renewed their tribunician power on the anniversaries of their respective dates of accession; and

  2. -thereafter, most emperors renewed it each 10th December.

Returning now to the thesaurus at Campo della Fiera, it seems to me to be extremely significant that all of the coins that were deposited in it after the initial ritual deposition of ca. 36 BC, apart from 9 divus Julius bronzes, shared the TRIBVNIC POTEST/ SC iconography:

  1. most of these:

  2. 10 of the 18 coins that were deposited it through the hole in its lid in this period (as well as the most recent of the coins in the ash that covered the lid); and

  3. 4 of the 6 that were pushed under the lid thereafter;

  4. were asses from the ‘moneyer issues’ of ca. 16-5 BC (RIC I: 373; 376; 379; 382; 386; and 389; and

  5. another of the 6 coins pushed under the lid, which was an as (RIC I 436) issued by M. Maecilius Tullus in 7 BC, had the same iconography, albeit that its obverse also commemorated Augustus as pontifex maximus (the priesthood he took over on the death of Lepidus in 13 BC).

Furthermore, the college of moneyers of ca. 15 BC produced seven other issues of asses (RIC I: 390-6) with the TRIBVNIC POTEST legend - but with the the head of Numa Pompilius instead of  “SC” on their reverses - and none of these was represented in the thesaurus I believe that, given this evidence, we can reasonably assume that the ceremony of ca. 15 BC specifically celebrated the Senate’s conferral of perpetual tribunician power on Augustus in June or July 23 BC. 

More specifically, I would like to suggest that the ten asses that were deposited in the thesaurus before the sacrifice that effectively closed it commemorated ten full years of Augustus’ tribunician power.  On that basis, the ceremony can be more precisely dated to June or July 14 BC.

Rite of the Clavus Annalis at Temple A ?


Bronze nails from Campo della Fiera, now in the Museo Archeologico, Orvieto

Simonetta Stopponi (referenced below, at p. 635) reported the discovery of a number of bronze nails, some of which appeared to have been unused, along the southern wall of Temple A and gave the following assessment of their significance:

  1. “The most likely interpretation of [these] nails is for [the fixing of] architectural terracottas, but the presence of such a large number of specimens raises the appeal to the Volsinian tradition of the clavus annalis [annual nail], which was [originally] affixed to the temple of the goddess Nortia, recognised by some in the Orvietan Belvedere Temple.”

The significance of this ancient rite as it was practiced in Rome was summarised by Verrius Flaccus and epitomised by Festus:

  1. “The ‘clavus annalis’ [annual nail] was so called because it was fixed into the walls of the [Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus] every year, so that the number of years could be reckoned ...” (‘De verborum significatu’, 49 Lindsay).

The existence of the rite at Volsinii was recorded by Livy, who relied on:

  1. “Cincius, a careful writer on such [inscriptions or monuments], [who] asserts that there were seen at Volsinii also nails fixed in the temple of Nortia, an Etruscan goddess, as indices of the number of years” (‘Roman History’, 7:3).

In my page on the Etruscan Federation, I suggested that, although (as many scholars have suggested) the rite probably had its roots in the annual meetings of the original Etruscan Federation at the fanum Voltumnae, Cincius was more probably describing the celebration of the rite at Temple A (now rededicated to Nortia) by the people of the ‘new’ Volsinii from 264 BC.  

There is no way of knowing whether the  rite continued to be held here into the triumviral and early imperial periods.  However, I would like to suggest that it was either adapted or revived from June or July 13 BC.  On this model:

  1. the ritual deposition of the 10 coins in the thesaurus in June or July 14 BC commemorated the first 10 years of Augustus’ tribunician power (as discussed above); and

  2. thereafter, nails of the type illustrated above were driven at Temple A to record the annual renewal of the tribunician power of Augustus and then (from his death in 14 AD) of his successors.

Maecenas (again)

Augustus was in Gaul in the period 16-13 BC, the period in which this second ceremony at Campo della Fiera took place.  Cassius Dio described his (alleged) motivation for this absence and (less contentiously) the arrangements that he had made for the administration of Italy in his absence:

  1. “[In the summer of 16 BC, Augustus] set out for Gaul ..., making the wars that had arisen in that region his excuse.  For, since he had become [unpopular in Rome] ..., he decided to leave the country, somewhat after the manner of Solon.  Some even suspected that he had gone away on account of Terentia, the wife of Maecenas, and intended ... to live with her abroad free from all gossip.   ... [He] committed the management of [Rome] and the rest of Italy to [Titus Statilius Taurus], since he had sent Agrippa again to Syria, and since he no longer looked with equal favour upon Maecenas, because of the latter's wife ...” (‘Roman History’, 54:19:3).

We need not believe all of this gossip about Augustus and Terentia, but it is certainly true that, for whatever reason, Maecenas was no longer involved in public affairs in the way that he had been at the time of the Etruscan revolt (above).  According to Kenneth Reckford (referenced below, at p. 198):

  1. “The [few] facts that we do possess point to one simple and unromantic conclusion: Maecenas went into voluntary semi-retirement after 29 BC.  [The most important reason was that], as early as 29 or 28 BC, Maecenas was a very sick man [albeit that he did not die until 8 BC].”

Semi-retirement and ill health need not have precluded Maecenas’ promotion of the ceremony at Campo della Fiera  in 14 BC, especially if (as I suggested above) he had been instrumental in the cult activity here some twenty years earlier.  We might identify his possible agent in this second endeavour as Lucius Seius Strabo.

Lucius Seius Strabo

Strabo was born in Volsinii in ca. 46 BC and was of equestrian rank.  He is first mentioned in our sources by Tacitus, in a passage that described the events that followed the death of Augustus in 14 AD:

  1. “The consuls, Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Appuleius, first took the oath of allegiance to Tiberius Caesar [Augustus’ successor].  It was [then] taken ... by Seius Strabo and Caius Turranius, chiefs respectively of the praetorian cohorts and the corn department” (‘Annals’, 1:7).

We do not know when Strabo secured the post of Pratorian Prefect (head of the imperial bodyguard), which was introduced in 2 BC.  However, its importance is clear from the career of his son, Sejanus, who succeeded him in the post and who used it to dominate Rome until his assassination in 31 AD:

  1. Tacitus recorded that Sejanus first shared the post with his father:

  2. “The commandant of the household troops, [Sejanus], who held the office jointly with his father Strabo and who exercised a remarkable influence over Tiberius, went [with the army to Pannonia in 15 AD] ... ” (‘Annals’, 1:24). 

  3. Cassius Dio recorded that Strabo was then promoted:

  4. “... Sejanus ... had shared for a time his father's command of the Pretorians; but, when his father had been sent to Egypt, ... he had obtained sole command over them ...” (‘Roman History’ 57:19).

Thus, Strabo ultimately became Prefect of Egypt, which was the pinnacle of an equestrian career.  According to Robert Rogers (referenced below, at p. 369):

  1. “Strabo appears to have died in [this] office ... [his tenure had extended from] ca. 15 until 16 or 17 AD.”

Strabo is almost certainly commemorated in two inscriptions from Volsinii.  Both of these inscriptions have been mutilated, and neither preserves (or at least fully preserves) the name of the man commemorated: we might reasonably assume that this mutilation took place after the assassination of Sejanus in 31 AD.  The surviving fragments read:

  1. CIL  XI 2707; EDR 079089 , from an unknown location at Volsinii and now lost, read:

[...]

[...]aboni

[pra]efecto

[pra]etori

  1. We might reasonably assume that the Praetorian Prefect [...]aboni was L. Seius Strabo, and that the inscription pre-dated his appointment as Prefect of Egypt in 15 AD.

  2. CIL  XI 7285; EDR 079090  from Poggio Moscini, now in the Museo Archeologico, Florence, reads:

[.....]

praefectus Aegypt[i et]

Terentia A(uli) f(ilia) mater eiu[s et]

Cosconia Lentulii(!) Malug[inensis f(ilia)]

Gallitta uxor eius ae[dificiis]

emptis et ad solum de[iectis]

balneum cum omn[i ornatu]

[Volsiniens]ibus ded[erunt]

[ob publ]ica co[mmoda]

  1. This inscription records the fact that a now-anonymous Prefect of Egypt, together with his mother and his wife, had built and decorated a ‘balneum’ (bath house) for public use.  Some scholars have doubted that this Prefect of Egypt was Strabo (see for example, Pierre Gros,referenced below, 2013, at p. 95), but this view seems to be losing ground.  For example, Francis Cairns (referenced below, at p. 21, note 109) observed that:

  2. “[Ronald] Syme [referenced below, at pp. 301-4] convincingly recovers CIL  XI 7285 for L. Seius Strabo.”

  3. If this is correct, then the inscription dates to ca. 15 AD and reveals the following:

  4. Strabo’s wife (perhaps his second wife) was Cosconia Gallitta, the daughter of Cornelius Lentulus Maluginensis, the suffect consul of 10 AD.

  5. More importantly for our present purposes, his mother, Terentia, was the daughter of ‘Aulus’:

  6. -this was probably Aulus Terentius Varro Murena, whom Augustus executed for treason in 24 BC (see, for example, Ronald Syme, referenced below, at p. 301);

  7. -in which case, Strabo’s mother was the niece of another Terentia - the sister of the executed Murena and the apparently wayward wife of Maecenas.

Despite the family’s success in Rome, its Etruscan roots and its continuing links to  the Volsinian goddess Nortia is suggested in a poem by Juvenal, in which he muses on the behaviour of the Roman mob following the disgrace and murder of Sejanus:

  1. “But what of the Roman mob?

  2. They follow Fortune, as always, and hate whomever she condemns. 

  3. If Nortia, as the Etruscans called [Fortuna], had favoured Etruscan Sejanus;

  4. If the old Emperor [Tiberius] had been surreptitiously smothered [to clear the way for him];

  5. That same crowd ... would have hailed [Sejanus as] their new Augustus” (‘The Vanity of Human Wishes’ - search this link on ‘Nortia’).

The material presented here provides only circumstantial evidence for the possible involvement of Seius Strabo in the events at Campo della Fiera  of 14 BC.  Nevertheless, I find it tempting to ‘implicate’ him, because of: the apparent rapidity of his rise under Augustus; his family connection to Maecenas; the fact that he came from Volsinii and seems to have been one of its most prominent citizens; and the fact that his family (or at least his son) was closely associated in Rome with both Etruria and Nortia. 

Conclusions

In the section above (headed ‘Phase I’), I suggested that, after Octavian’s victory at Naulochus in 36 BC, the Volsinian sanctuary at Campo della Fiera became one of the centres of a propaganda programme organised by Maecenas and Sabinus that aimed to establish a newly-benign image of Octavian in Etruria.  In particular, I suggested that:

  1. Octavian was formally associated with the cult of Nortia at at Temple A; and

  2. the altar in the sacred enclosure of the temple that hosted the thesaurus described above had been rededicated to his deified ‘father’, divus Julius.

In the section here (Phase II), I discussed a second ceremony that also involved the thesaurus at Campo della Fiera, this time in June or July 14 BC, by which time the triumvir Octavian had become the Emperor Augustus.  I suggested that Maecenas had once again been the instigator of this ceremony, this time in association with the Volsinian Lucius Seius Strabo.  In particular, I suggested that:

  1. the 10 coins that were deposited through the lid of the thesaurus at this time commemorated the first 10 years of Augustus’ tribunician power; and

  2. the rite of the clavus annalis at the nearby Temple A was either adapted or revived so that, thereafter, nails were driven there to record the annual renewal of the tribunician power of Augustus and (from 14 AD) of his successors.

In what follows, I suggest that this second ceremony at the sanctuary at Campo della Fiera coincided with the revival there of the Etruscan Federation.

Revival of the Etruscan Federation

Enrico Zuddas (referenced below) suggested that the temple at Volsinii dedicated to Nortia (wherever was its precise location) might have adopted the rite of the clavus annalis after the revival of the federation.  Specifically, he drew attention (at p. 226) to the anonymous praetor Etruriae from Volsinii in  the mid 3rd century AD who was commemorated in CIL XI 7287 (above), and pointed out that this man had also held the post of:

  1. “ ... ‘curator templi deae Nortiae’  (responsible for the maintenance, decoration and restoration of [a temple of Nortia]: this, of course, does not necessarily mean that he undertook this activity [in his capacity] as praetor ...)  He has been identified as a member of the gens of the Rufi Festi, which was particularly devoted to [Nortia]” (my translation).

Zuddas noted that:

  1. according to Mario Torelli [reference to follow], Nortia had probably ‘taken over’ from Veltumna after the destruction of the federal sanctuary at Volsinii in 264 BC; and

  2. Livy, following Cincius, had attested the rite of the clavus annalis in honour of this goddess at Volsinii.

On the basis of these observations, he suggested (at p. 227) that this rite:

  1. “... could have been reprised by the praetor Etruriae [of the revived federation], with reference to the function of the ancient presidents of the [original] Etruscan league” (my translation).

If I am correct in placing the annual meetings of the revived federation at Campo della Fiera, then we might reasonably assume that:

  1. the anonymous from Volsinii who was commemorated as the ‘curator templi deae Nortiae’ in the 3rd century AD was actually the curator of Temple A; and

  2. he presided over the rite of the clavus annalis there in the year that he held the priesthood of praetor Etruriae (albeit that, as Zuddas reasonably pointed out, the two posts were not necessarily held concurrently).

On the basis of Zuddas’ suggestion and the other material above, I would like to suggest that:

  1. the ceremony at Campo della Fiera that took place in June or July 14 BC marked both:

  2. the 10th annual renewal of Augustus’ tribunician power (as discussed above); and 

  3. the revival of the Etruscan Federation; and

  4. thereafter, each newly-elected Praetor Etruriae (XV Populorum) presided over the annual meetings of the federation there, during which he drove the annual nail to mark:

  5. the annual renewal of the tribunician power of the ruling emperor (as discussed above); and

  6. the start of his own year in office (as had apparently been the case for the sacerdotes of the original federation).

As I pointed out above, Maecenas could claim among his ancestors men who had probably attended and possibly presided over the annual meetings of original Etruscan Federation.  I also argued above that he had probably choreographed both ceremonies at Campo della Fiera:

  1. In 36 BC or shortly thereafter, any thoughts of reviving the Etruscan Federation would have been premature.

  2. However, in 14 BC, Octavian was now the Emperor Augustus and the political climate had been transformed.  In my view, it entirely possible that, in the context of the second ceremony at Campo della Fiera, he master-minded the revival of the Etruscan Federation and instituted the practice by which its annual meetings there would commemorate the annual renewals of Augustus’ tribunician power.

Annual Games and Theatrical Performances


Aerial view, with modern Bolsena (at the lower left )

The original forum of Volsinii was at Mercatello, the later the site of the Flavian amphitheatre

The site of the ‘Flavian’ forum is now the Archeological Area at Poggio Moscini

Livy recorded that, when the king of Veii had appealed to the other members of the original Etruscan Federation against Rome in 403 BC, they refused, in part because he had caused offence when, on an earlier occasion, he had:

  1. “... violently broken off the performance of some annual games (the omission of which was deemed an impiety) ... because another had been preferred to him as a priest by the votes of the 12 states: ... in the middle of the performance, he suddenly carried off the performers, most of whom were his own slaves. ” (‘Roman History’, 5:1).

From this, we learn (inter alia) that the annual meetings of the original federation involved annual games and theatrical performances.   We can therefore reasonably assume that these were also characteristic of the annual meetings of the revived federation.

However, as Enrico Zuddas (referenced below, at p. 227) pointed out:

  1. “... archaeological investigations [at Campo della Fiera] have not revealed ... facilities [for games and theatrical performances], although the wide open spaces there would have accommodated them” (my translation).

This is perhaps unsurprising in relation to the situation before 264 BC, when the facilities in question might well have been temporary structures.  However, had Campo della Fiera hosted the annual pan-Etruscan games and theatrical performances of the revived federation from the early imperial period, one might have expected to find evidence of monumentalised facilities of the kind found, for example, at the colony of Hispellum (which Augustus, then the triumvir Octavian, had established in ca. 40 BC).  I would like to suggest that there were, in fact, two loci for the meetings of the revived federation:

  1. the ritual of the federation, including the consecration to the annually elected praetor, took place at the sanctuary at Campo della Fiera; and

  2. the games and theatrical performances took place at Volsinii itself.

As noted above, these two locations were linked by the ancient road, part of which is highlighted in the aerial view of the site of Campo della Fiera.

The evidence for a theatre and amphitheatre at Volsinii is set out in my pages on Orvieto: Volsinii in the Early Empire and in the Imperial Period).  Briefly:

  1. An inscription (CIL XI 2710, EDR 127700) from località Mercatello (the site of the original forum, at the upper right in the aerial view above) reveals the existence of a theatre of some kind in the 1st century BC, albeit that no undisputed evidence exists for tits status or location.

  2. The forum was moved towards Lake Bolsena in the Flavian period (to the site marked at the centre left in the aerial view above), at which point the terrace at Mercatello was used for a new and impressive amphitheatre, the remains of which survive.

It is possible that a theatre and amphitheatre of some kind were established on the site of the original forum at the time that the federation was revived. 

  1. The amphitheatre that was built here in the Flavian period might well have served the revived federation. 

  2. The theatre that is known from the inscription here might have been demolished to make way for this new amphitheatre and rebuilt in an unknown (but possibly nearby) location. 

Thus, it is entirely possible that the ancient ‘umbilical cord’ mentioned above linked Temple A, the putative Temple of Nortia at Campo della Fiera, to the amphitheatre and theatre of Volsinii, and that, from 14 BC, this complex served the ritual needs of the revived federation.

Revived Federation and the Imperial Cult

Marco Ricci (referenced below, at p. 19) observed that:

  1. “It does not seem absurd to connect the post [of praetor Etruria], more or less directly, with the imperial cult; in favour of this hypothesis [are the following]:

  2. attestations [of the priesthood and the imperial cult ?] continued into the 4th century AD;

  3. the early holders of this office (as with provincial priesthoods of the imperial cult) had municipal backgrounds; and

  4. above all, Augustus was not reluctant to accept, even in Italy, the cult of his person, as evidenced by an Etruscan city such as Perugia [where sacred groves were dedicated to him during his lifetime, as mentioned below]” (my translation).

In this context, Ricci noted (at pp 18-19 and note 57) that two praetores Etruriae also held priesthoods that are securely linked to the imperial cult:

  1. Aulus Vicirius of Saena was a flamen augustale; and

  2. Caius Betuus Cilo of Perusia was a ‘sacerdozio trium lucorum’, a priest of three groves at Perusia that were sacred to Augustus [mentioned above]. 

He might have added that:

  1. the inscription commemorating the anonymous of Rusellae came from the so-called  ‘Vano delle Statue’, a room of that had also housed a number of Julio-Claudian statues and which had probably served as the municipal Augusteum; and

  2. the relief from Caere (illustrated at the top of the page) was found (again, near a number of Julio-Claudian statues) in what seems to have been a meeting place for the Augustales.

Marco Ricci touched on the circumstances in which the revival might have taken place: he pointed out (p. 19) that the two earliest known praetores Etruriae:

  1. Sextus Valerius Proculus, commemorated in two inscriptions from Vettona (early 1st century AD); and

  2. [Caius ?] Metellius, one of two men of this name commemorated on an inscription from Cortona (first half of the 1st century AD;

came from cities that had been:

  1. “... affected by the Perusine War [of 41-40 BC] and the viritane settlement of the triumviral and Augustan periods.  [This] suggests that the reconstituted federation was based, at least initially, on the support of the new municipal élites that had been imposed by [Octavian], which were therefore well disposed to the worship of his person” (my translation).

The scenario that I have developed above is obviously consistent with these observations.  However, I have a difference of emphasis in two main respects:

  1. I assume a more pro-active role for Octavian/ Augustus, driven by Maecenas; and

  2. I suggested that the revived federation was linked to the imperial cult by having its annual meetings celebrate the annual renewal of imperial power. 

The context for this second proposition is usefully provided by Duncan Fishwick (referenced below), who recently outlined the development of the imperial cult under Augustus.  This had begun in the east, soon after his victory over Mark Antony at Actium in 31 BC, when the koiná (ethnically-based associations of cities) of both Asia and Bithinia requested and received permission for the construction of sacred precincts for Roma and Augustus at Pergamum (Asia) and at Nicomedia (Bithinia).   Things were more complex in the west, where there was no established tradition of ruler cults: indeed, it is possible that Julius Caesar had died as a result of his attempts to move too quickly in this direction.  As Fishwick summarised in his abstract (at p. 47), Augustus, in fact, had to address three very different ‘audiences’:

  1. “Faced with the worship of the ruler in the Greek east, Augustus could do little more than regulate [and adapt] a practice that had already existed over three centuries [beginning in Asia and Bithnia, as described above].” 

  2. “His problem in Rome ... was to adapt the cult of the ruler ... to the usage of the Republic in such as way as to distance himself from Caesar ...  The system he hit upon was to emphasise republican forms, key abstractions, and the worship of state gods closely connected with his rule: in other words to establish the cult of the emperor by other than direct means.” 

  3. “In the Latin west [by which he means the western provinces], ... he was free to shape the ruler cult as he chose [since there were no earlier traditions of this kind in these regions].  His principal contribution here was to establish regional centres at Lugdunum and elsewhere for the worship of Roma and Augustus, a prescription originally laid down for non-Romans in the Greek east [as described above].”

Federal Altar at Lugdunum


CAESAR PONT MAX/ ROM ET AVG (RIC Augustus 230)

Before we consider Augustus’ options in Etruria, we might usefully start at Lugdunum (modern Lyon).  An entry in the ‘Periochae’ of Livy that relates to 12 BC reads:

  1. “The Germanic tribes living on this side of the Rhine and across the Rhine were attacked by Drusus, and the uprising in Gaul, caused by the census, was suppressed.  An altar was dedicated to the divine Caesar at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône, and a priest was appointed, Gaius Julius Vercondaridubnus” (‘Periochae’, 139)

Suetonius seems to give a slightly later date:

  1. “[The future Emperor] Claudius was born at Lugdunum on the Kalends of Augustus in the consulship of Iullus Antonius and Fabius Africanus [i.e. in 10 BC], the very day when an altar was first dedicated to Augustus in that town ...” (‘Life of Claudius’, 2)

However, most scholars follow Duncan Fishwick, who  suggested (at pp.18-9) that the altar was dedicated in 12 BC, and that Claudius had probably been born two years later, on the dies natalis of the altar.  The dedication was marked by the issue of two coins from the mint at Lugdunum:

  1. a sestertius (RIC Augustus 229) and

  2. an as (RIC Augustus 230).

Both denominations had the same obverse and reverse designs:

  1. the obverse legend ‘CAESAR PONT MAX’ indicates that they post-date 6th March 12 BC, when Augustus became Pontifex Maximus; and 

  2. the reverse motif suggests that the altar was decorated with the corona civica and laurels and was flanked by figures of victory.

As Fishwick succinctly explained (at pp. 54-5):

  1. “The key event in the Augustan extension of the ruler cult in the west was the establishment of an altar that served as the focal point of the federal centre a kilometre or so upstream from the colony of Lugdunum ... [This cult site] served a region rather than a province, in this case the administrative units of Lugdunensis, Aquitania and Belgica.  ... The principal features of the altar [there] ... are familiar from coins, as is the historical context of its foundation, an attempt by Drusus [Augustus’ son-in-law, who was his legate in Gaul in 13-9 BC] to counter local discontent over the census.  As [Cassius] Dio confirms, the initiative came from the Roman side, its purpose presumably served by the prospect of the formation of a council chaired by the holder of the priesthood of the Three Gauls and attended by delegates from the three regions, who now had a central meeting place to air their grievances, praise or blame the provincial governor, and compete for the prestigious post of high priest.  The number of delegates is uncertain, since some of the 64 Gallic tribes appear to have sent more than one delegate, but a number between 100 and 300 seems a reasonable estimate. ... The date of dedication of the altar is generally taken to have been 12 BC, from which time delegates to the [annual] concilium under the presidency of the High Priest paid cult to Roma and Augustus ad aram [at the altar], just as Octavian [shortly before he became Augustus] had originally prescribed in the east.  As luck would have it, epigraphical testimony to the federal cult has survived in abundance, with the names of over 40 high priests preserved in inscriptions.”

In Etruria (and, indeed, in Italy generally), Augustus faced a situation closer to that in Rome than to that in the provinces of the west.  Thus, there are no known regional altars to Augustus in Italy that pre-date his death and formal deification (albeit that things were more relaxed in the municipal context).  Nevertheless, the revived Etruscan Federation shared important characteristics with the association of Gallic tribes based on Lugdunum:

  1. both associations were ethnically based (comprising, respectively, 15 Etruscan cities and 64 Gallic tribes);

  2. each annually selected a priest (praetor Etruriae (XV populorum) in Etruria; sacerdos (Romae et Augusti) in Gaul) from one of its constituent cities/tribes;

  3. this priest presided over an annual concilium at a federal cult site; and

  4. on the hypothesis above,  the two associations were established at about the same time (14 BC at Volsinii, ca. 12 BC at Lugdunum).

We might reasonably assume that a number of other characteristics of the ethnicly-based association at Lugdunum also applied to revived Etruscan Federation at Volsinii:

  1. that the initiative for its establishment (or rather, in this case, its revival) came from Rome;

  2. that it was closely associated with the emerging imperial cult in order to provide a ‘virtual’ imperial presence in the region; and

  3. that its other primary purpose was to create a means by which members of the local élite could gain prestige and represent the region through a direct channel of  communications with Rome.

However, an altar dedicated to Augustus himself (or even to Augustus and Roma) at the sanctuary at Volsinii would have been a step too far.  We should thus return to Fishwick’s summary of Augustus’ approach in Rome:

  1. “The system he hit upon [there] was to emphasise republican forms, key abstractions, and the worship of state gods closely connected with his rule: in other words to establish the cult of the emperor by other than direct means.”

I suggested above that:

  1. Augustus (while still Octavian) had already established an altar to divus Julius outside the Temple of Nortia at the ex-federal sanctuary at Volsinii, and that he was possibly formally associated with her cult there;

  2. he revived or adapted the rite of the clavus annalis at this temple in 14 BC, so that it now commemorated the allegedly ‘republican’ annual renewal of his tribunician powers; and

  3. he revived the Etruscan Federation at this time, replete with annually elected praetores who would (inter alia) drive the annual nail. 

If these hypotheses are correct, then Augustus arguably achieved at Volsinii what he would very shortly achieve at Lugdunum, albeit that, at Volsinii, he effectively established the imperial cult for Etruria by Fishwick’s “other than direct means”. 



Read more:

E. Zuddas, “La Praetura Etruriae Tardoantica”, in

  1. G. A. Cecconi et al. (Eds), “Epigrafia e Società dell’ Etruria Romana (Firenze, 23- 24 ottobre 2015)”, (2017) Rome, pp. 217-35

A. Goldsworthy, “Augustus: From Revolutionary to Emperor”, (2015) London

D. Fishwick, “Augustus and the Cult of the Emperor”, Studia Historica, Historia Antigua

32 (2014) 47-60

M. Ricci, “Praetores Etruriae XV Populorum: Revisione e Aggiunte all’ Opera di Bernard Liou”, Bollettino della Deputazione di Storia Patria per l’Umbria, 111:1 (2014) 5-30

A. Ambrogi and I. Caruso, “Arte di Età Imperiale: i Ritratti di Costantino e di Domizia Longina”, in:

  1. G. della Fina and E. Pellegrini (Eds), “Da Orvieto a Bolsena: un Percorso tra Etruschi e Romani”, (2013 ) Pisa, pp 326-8

P. Gros, “La Nuova Volsinii: Cenno Storico sulla Città”, in:

  1. G. della Fina and E. Pellegrini (Eds), “Da Orvieto a Bolsena: un Percorso tra Etruschi e Romani”, (2013 ) Pisa, pp. 88-105

P. Liverani and P. Santoro, “Le Théâtre et le Cycle Julio-Claudien de Cerveteri”, in:

  1. Les Étrusques et la Méditerranée: La Cité de Cerveteri”, (2013) Paris, pp. 324-8

C. G. J. Pannekeet, “The Moneyers’ Issues under Augustus”, (2013) Slootdorp

S. Stopponi (2013a), “La Ricerca del Fanum Voltumnae: gli Scavi in Località Campo della Fiera”, in:

  1. G. della Fina and E. Pellegrini (Eds), “Da Orvieto a Bolsena: un Percorso tra Etruschi e Romani”, (2013) Pisa, pp. 136-47

S. Stopponi (2013b), “Orvieto, Campo della Fiera: Fanum Voltumnae ”, in:

  1. J. Macintosh Turfa (Ed.), “The Etruscan World”, (2013 ) Oxford, pp. 632-54

A. Ambrogi,Ritratto di Augusto-Costantino”, in

  1. A. Bravi (Ed.), “Aurea Umbria: Una Regione dell’ Impero nell’ Era di Costantino”, Bollettino per i Beni Culturali dell’ Umbria, (2012) pp 128-30

A. Frascarelli, “Un Donario Monumentale a Campo della Fiera”, in:

  1. G. della Fina (Ed.), “Il Fanum Voltumnae e i Santuari Comunitari dell’ Italia Antica”, (2012) Orvieto, pp 131-60

J. Rich, “Making the Emergency Permanent: Auctoritas, Potestas and the Evolution of the Principate of Augustus”, in:

  1. Y. Rivière (Ed), “Des Réformes Augustéennes”, Collection de l'École Française de Rome 458 (2012) 37-121

S. Ranucci, “A Stone Thesaurus with a Votive Coin Deposit Recently Found in the Sanctuary of Campo della Fiera, Orvieto (Volsinii), Proceedings of the XIV International Numismatic Congress), (2011) Glasgow, pp. 954-9

C. Giontella. “Pavimenti in ‘Signino’ (cementizio) a Campo della Fiera, Orvieto”, in:

  1. C. Angelelli, (Ed.), “Atti del XIV Colloquio AISCOM: Spoleto, 7-9 febbraio 2008”, (2009)   Tivoli, pp. 111-8

S. Ranucci, “Il Thesaurus di Campo della Fiera, Orvieto (Volsinii)”, Annali Istituto Italiano Numismatica, 55 (2009) 103-39

J. Osgood, “Caesar’s Legacy”, (2006) Cambridge

F. Cairns, “Sextus Propertius: The Augustan Elegist”, (2006) Cambridge

S. P. Oakley, “A Commentary on Livy, Books VI-X: Volume IV, Book X”, (2005 ) Oxford

J. Scheid, “Augustus and Roman Religion: Continuity, Conservatism and Innovation”, in

  1. K. Galinsky (Ed.), “Cambridge Companion to the Age of Augustus”, (2005) Cambridge, pp. 175-96

L. Amela Valverde, “La Emisión Divos Iulius (RRC 535/1–2)”, Iberia, 6 (2003) 5–40

I. Gradel, “Emperor Worship and Roman Religion”, (2002) Oxford 

P. Tamburini, “Bolsena: Emergenze Archeologiche a Valle della Città Romana”, in

  1. G. della Fina (Ed.), “Perugia Etrusca”, Annali della Fondazione per il Museo ‘Claudio Faina’, 9 (2002) pp 541-80

L. Sensi, “In Margine al Rescritto Costantiniano di Hispellum” in

  1. Volsinii e il suo Territorio”, Annali della Fondazione per il Museo ‘Claudio Faina’,

  2. 6 (1999) 365-71

D. Sear, “History and Coinage of the Roman Imperators 49-27 BC”, (1998) London 

J. Hall, “From Tarquins to Caesars: Etruscan Governance at Rome , in:

  1. J. Hall (Ed.), “ Etruscan Italy: Etruscan Influences on the Civilizations of Italy from Antiquity to the Modern Era”, (1996) Provo, Utah, pp. 149-90

M. Torelli, “Studies in the Romanisation of Italy” (1995) Edmonton (English translation)

  1. Chapter 4, “Towards the History of Etruria in the Imperial Period”, corrects and comments on the paper by Bernard Liou referenced below.

A. J. M. Watson, “Maecenas’ Administration of Rome and Italy”, Akroterion, 39 (1994) 98-104

F. Tassaux, “Pour une Histoire Économique et Sociale de Bolsena et de son

Territoire”, Mélanges de l'Ecole Française de Rome: Antiquité , 99:2 (1987) 535-61

J. Thuillier, “Les Édifices de Spectacle de Bolsena: Ludi et Munera”, Mélanges de l'Ecole Française de Rome, Antiquité,  99:2 ( 1987) 595-608

E. Gabba, “Trasformazioni Politiche e Socio-Economiche dell' Umbria dopo il Bellum Perusinum” in

  1. G. Catanzaro and F. Santucci (Eds.), “Bimillenario della Morte di Properzio: Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi Properziani”, (1986) Assisi, pp 95-104

P. Gros, “Bolsena I: Scavi della Scuola Francese di Roma a Bolsena (Poggio Moscini): Guida agli Scavi”, Mélanges d' Archéologie et d' Histoire, 6 (1981)

W. Harris, “Rome in Etruria and Umbria”, (1971) Oxford

S. Weinstock, “Divus Julius”, (1971) Oxford

B. Liou, “Praetores Etruriae XV Populorum”, (1969) Brussels 

C. H.V. Sutherland, “The Symbolism of the Early Aes Coinages under Augustus”, Revue Numismatique, (6th series), 7 (1965) 94-109

K. J. Reckford, “Horace and Maecenas”, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 90 (1959) 195-208

R. S. Rogers, “The Prefects of Egypt under Tiberius”, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 72 (1941), 365-71

R. Syme, “The Roman Revolution” (1939, latest edition 2002) Oxford


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