Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

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Secret Alias
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Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

Post by Secret Alias »

There is a parallel between the two bishops of Rome - one preserved with the Greek name Ανίκητος "unconqered" and the other the Roman name Victor - victorem (nom. victor) "a conqueror." Is there a relationship between the two? Could they be the same person? Or are the two related to the Polycarp martyrdom drama - viz. Polycarp and Herodes Atticus.

There are of course a number of arguments against the proposition. But let's begin by considering that the Greek equivalent of the Latin Victor is νικητής. νικητής resembles ἀνίκητος. The prefix ἀ- or ἀν- a-, an- is added to words to negate them. I don't know. Are we dealing with one and the same person seen from two different one could explain the prefix ἀ- being added by someone who denied that this bishop 'won' historically. But who was this winner/loser?

It is worth noting that first place at the Olympic games warranted the epithet νικητής. It is the most natural use of the terminology in contemporary Greek. I wonder whether Polycarp's struggle with Herodes Atticus is behind the νικητής/νικητής dynamic. Let us revisit the story of Polycarp and Herodes Atticus especially according to my understanding of a relationship between the Passing of Peregrinus and the Martyrdom of Polycarp - ... anger.html (Detering took down my more developed paper; this is all I could find for now).

The Polycarp-Herodes Atticus connection may well be a dead end. I can see obvious difficulties with the hypothesis. So what else is there?

Let's look at the Roman succession list that stands behind Irenaeus and Eusebius - i.e. from Hegesippus. The original list only went as far as Anicetus. At some point it was expanded and Irenaeus shows a list that seems to go on to Soter and Eleutherios. But Irenaeus's list is an expansion of Hegesippus. There are no absolute time markers in Hegesippus's list other than the fact that Irenaeus later used the material. When did Irenaeus's Adversus Haereses achieve its final form? When did the story about Polycarp's encounter with Anicetus which appears in a letter to Florinus attain its final form?

It just seems odd that the two names are so closely related.
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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

Post by perseusomega9 »

I wouldn't even know where to start, but if I was wondering the same I'd want to know the prevalence of the name Anicetus in the contemporary record.
The metric to judge if one is a good exegete: the way he/she deals with Barabbas.

Who disagrees with me on this precise point is by definition an idiot.
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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

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I don't know. I wouldn't think it was that common. ἀνίκητος was a Greek epithet of Dushara, the most important Nabataean deity, who came to be identified with Dionysus and Zeus and Helios. In 45 BCE the senate erected a statue to Caesar as the Θεὸς ἀνίκητος (Cass. Dio xliii. 45. 3) and years earlier the Athenian Assembly similarly debated the erection of a statue of Alexander as θεὸς ἀνίκητος. In the bilingual listing of names for the months of the year during the reign of Commodus we see that it was the equivalent of invictus the epithet of the Sun God = Ἀμαζόνιος Ἀνίκητος Εὐτυχὴς Εὐσεβὴς Λούκιος Αἴλιος Αὐρήλιος Κόμμοδος/Amazonius, Invictus, Felix, Pius, Lucius, Aelius, Aurelius, Commodus ...

[wiki]An inscription of AD 102 records a restoration of a portico of Sol in what is now the Trastevere area of Rome by a certain Gaius Iulius Anicetus.[19] While he may perhaps have had in mind an allusion to his own cognomen, which is the Latinized form of the Greek equivalent of invictus, ἀνίκητος (aniketos),[20] the earliest extant dated inscription that uses invictus as an epithet of Sol is from AD 158.[21] Another, stylistically dated to the 2nd century, is inscribed on a Roman phalera (ornamental disk): inventori lucis soli invicto augusto ("to the contriver of light, sol invictus augustus").[22][23] Augustus is a regular epithet linking deities to the Imperial cult.[/wiki]

The story about Gaius Iulius Anicetus strongly points us in the direction of an uncommonness of having ἀνίκητος as a human appellation. Hijmans (2009, 486, n. 22) is tempted "to link Anicetus' predilection for Sol with his name, the Latinized form of the Greek word ἀνίκητος, which means invictus". That a prominent Christian in Rome existed at the time with a proper name of this description is highly unlikely and should be compared with the uniqueness of many of the other names on the succession list.

It seems to be more of a divine epithet.
Last edited by Secret Alias on Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

Post by Charles Wilson »

SA --

1. Thank you for your comments on another thread.

2. In a minor support role, "Anicetus" is also found in Tacitus, Histories, Book 3:

"A sudden outbreak had been excited in Pontus by a barbarian slave, who had before commanded the royal fleet. This was Anicetus, a freedman of Polemon, once a very powerful personage, who, when the kingdom was converted into a Roman province, ill brooked the change. Accordingly he raised in the name of Vitellius the tribes that border on Pontus..."

You know, "Tacitus, Acts 5, Polemon, Blah, Blah, Blah..."

Anyway, an Anicetus sighting in Tacitus.

Thanx again, SA.

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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

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As a divine epithet or name

Phrygian hermaphroditic deity; Alexiares and Anicetus (Αλεξιαρης and Ανικητος), twin sons of Heracles who presided over the defence of fortified towns ... os&f=false


Silver tetradrachm of king Philoxenus.
Obv: Helmetted, diademed and draped bust of Philoxenus. Greek legend BASILEOS ANIKETOU PHILOXENOU "Of the Invincible King Philoxenus"
Rev: King on prancing horse in military dress. Kharoshti legend MAHARAJASA APADIHATASA PHILASINASA "Undefeatable King Philoxenus"
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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

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Franz Cumont on Mithras:

Thus, the invincible Sun (Ἥλιος ἀνίκητος), identified with Mithra, was during the Alexandrian period generally considered as the dispenser of the Hvarenô that gives victory. The monarch upon whom this divine grace descended was lifted above ordinary mortals and revered by his subjects as a peer of the gods. After the downfall of the Asiatic principalities, the veneration of which their dynasties had been the object was transferred to the Roman emperors. The Orientals forthwith saluted in the persons of these rulers the elect of God, to whom the Fortune of kings had given omnipotent power.
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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

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ANICETVS SOL from Greek ἀνίκητος, used at Hadrian’s Wall instead of the Latin SOL INVICTVS
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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

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Epiphanius, _Haeres._ li. p. 483, Dind., sets forth that the 25th December, the birthday of Christ, had already been festally observed after an analogous manner at Rome in the festival of the Saturnalia, at Alexandria in the festival (mentioned also in the decree of Canopus) of the Kikellia, and in other heathen worships. “This takes place in Alexandria at the so-called Virgin’s shrine (Κόριον) ... and if we ask people what this mystery means, they answer and say that to-day at this hour the Virgin has given birth to the Eternal (τὸν αἰῶνα). This takes place in like manner at Petra, the capital of Arabia, in the temple there, and in the Arabic language they sing the praise of the Virgin, whom they call in Arabic Chaamu, that is the maiden, and Him born of her Dusares, that is the Only-begotten of the Lord.” The name Chaamu is perhaps akin to the Aumu or Aumos of the Greek inscriptions of this region, who is compared with Ζεὺς ἀνίκητος Ἥλιος (Waddington, 2392-2395, 2441, 2445, 2456).
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Re: Victor and Anicetus: Is there a relationship?

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A Temple of Sol Trans Tiberim?

The three previous temples are all mentioned by ancient literary sources, however briefly, and their existence has been undisputed; only the nature and continuity of the cult or cults they serve has been debated. A fourth temple or shrine for Sol in Rome is known to us only through inscriptions, and has only recently been the object of scholarly scrutiny. There are two substantial studies concerning this fourth temple, one by Palmer (1981) and the other by Chausson (1995).

Both proceed from the now discredited premiss that the cult of the sun in Rome was of Syrian origin, and both conclude that this Syrian solar cult had a significant sanctuary of some sort from the late 1 c. AD onwards in the southern section of Trastevere, roughly on the site of the present st Piazza Ippolito Nievo.18 This cult centre deserves our particular attention because of its apparent date, and because it may be the provenance of a small number of votive reliefs in our catalogue. We shall see that there was indeed probably a sanctuary of Sol in this part of Trastevere, but that there is no reason to postulate that in this sanctuary Sol was Syrian, rather than Roman.

The clearest evidence for some sort of sanctuary of Sol in this general area is provided by two inscriptions of C. Iulius Anicetus, discovered in the 19 century in the “vigna Bonelli” just th
South of the Porta Portese in Trastevere. The one commemorates the restoration of a porticus Solis dedicated on May 25 , AD 102. The other is a plea “ex imperio Solis” to refrain from th 20 defacing the walls with graffiti. Anicetus’ connections with the cult of Sol are further confirmed 21 by an altar dedicated to Sol Divinus now at the church of S. Cecilia, about 1 km North of the site.22

Also likely to be from this shrine is a votive relief dedicated by Eumolpos - a freedman of Nero - and his daughter Claudia Pallas to Sol and Luna. This relief is now in Florence (C2b.1)
but was in the Mattei collection in Rome in the late 15 century, and was probably found in Rome. Bergmann points out that Iulius Anicetus was almost certainly the son-in-law of
Eumolpus, and believes that both were members of the circle of Sol worshippers in Rome associated with this shrine in Trastevere.23

The evidence of these inscriptions is clear. There was, in Trastevere, a porticus Solis, and by AD 102 it was in need of restoration, which means that it must have been built at least some
decades earlier. That gives the complex a terminus ante quem of roughly the third quarter of the 1 century AD, and of course it may have been much older. This is all we know with certainty, for no physical traces of this portico or any other part of the complex to which it belonged have been identified. However, both Palmer and Chausson argue that the portico was one component of a more extensive sanctuary. They do so by adding a substantial number of inscriptions and reliefs to the ones of Anicetus and Eumolpus, all of which they believe came from the same “vigna Crescenzi/Bonelli/Mangani” in Trastevere. They argue furthermore that these 24 inscriptions form such a cohesive group that they must all come from the same sanctuary, of which this porticus Solis was merely a part. Given the Syrian and, in particular, Palmyrene character of the inscriptions they adduce they conclude that there was a major Syrian sanctuary to solar cult(s) somewhere in the area of the vigna Bonelli.25

Palmer and Chausson are not the first to suggest there was a sanctuary to Eastern solar cults here, but their studies are by far the most extensive. The case they make hinges on two 26
assumptions: that all the inscriptions they adduce do indeed come from the same area in Trastevere, and that in that area there was one temple where they were all displayed. Their
evidence for these assumptions consists of three groups of inscriptions: 1. A number of inscriptions discovered in the 19 c. in the vigna Bonelli; 2. Inscriptions from the “old Mattei th
collection” on display in the giardini Mattei in the late 15 century; 3. Various other inscriptions from Trastevere or of unknown provenance which one may add by analogy. These
are the inscriptions they adduce:28

1. Vigna Bonelli
a. CIL VI, 50 = IGUR 117 = Chausson p. 668, inscr. D
Pro salute Imp(eratoris) [Caesaris Traiani Augusti] / C(aius) Licinius N[3 et Heliodorus] /
Palmyrenus [aedem Belo Iaribolo Malachbelo] / constitu[erunt 3] // ´Çëéüäùñïò C
[Ðáëìõñçí ò êá Ã(Üéïò) Ëéêßíéïò Í— —] / ô í íá í C ÂÞ[ë Éáñéâþë
Ìáëá÷âÞë èåï ò] / Ðáëìõñçí[ï ò ê ô í äßùí íÝèçêáí].
A dedication of a temple to Bel, Iarhibol, and Malakbel by the Palmyrene Heliodorus and a
certain Gaius Licinius. The Latin states that it is for the well-being of the emperor Trajan, AD
b. CIL VI, 51 = IGUR 118 = Chausson p. 668, inscr. E.
[Pro salute Imp(eratoris) Caesaris Traiani Augusti] / [C(aius) Licinius N 3 et Heliodorus
Palmyrenus] / [ae]dem Belo Iar[ibolo Malachbelo] // [´Ç]ëéüäù[ñïò] / [
Ðáëìõñçí] ò êá ÃÜ(éïò) Ëéêßíéïò [Í— — ÂÞë ] / [ Éáñéâþë ] Ìáëá÷âÞë
èå[ï ò Ðáëìõñçíï ò] / L(ucio) Lamia [Sex(to) Carminio co(n)ss(ulibus)].

Dated to AD 116. The provenance of this inscription is unknown, but it is closely similar to the graffiti. An unrelated inscription on the reverse.

d. CIL VI, 2185 = 31034 = Chausson p. 664, inscr. A
[3] Iulius / [3 A]nicetus / [3 vo]to suscepto / [3] primam porticum / [3 S]olis cum
marmoribus / [3] opere novo ampliato / [3]ntis inchoatis sua / [pecuni]a a solo restituit /
[perm]issu ka[l]atorum pontificum et / [fl]aminum / [P(ubli) C]orneli Ialissi / [M(arci)
A]tili Eutychi / [D(ecimi)] Valeri Alexandri / [A(uli) L]appi Thalli / [P(ubli) D]uceni
Euprepes / [T(iti) Tet]tieni [Felicis] / [P(ubli) Calvisi] Trophimi / [L(uci) Ceioni H]esperi
/ [L(uci) Corneli] Heli / [L(uci) Corneli] Blasti / [C(ai) Asini H]ieracis / [L(uci) Ciarti
Do]ryphori / [M(arci) Rutili A]dmeti / [3] Amurcan // M(arci) Anni [3]fidi / Q(uinti)
Pomponi Xu[t]hi / [L(uci)] Iavoleni Phoebi / Ser(vi) Iuli Paederotis / L(uci) Calventi
Eunomi / Ap(pi) Anni Falerni / M(arci) Iuni Epaphroditi / M(arci) Licini Comici /
Ti(beri) Cla(udi) Diotimi / A(uli) Corneli Herae / Sex(ti) Atti Iusti / M(arci) Asini
Silvestri / L(uci) Baebi Polybi // [dedi]cavit VIIII K(alendas) Iunias / [C(aio) Iulio Urso
S]erviano II L(ucio) Licinio Sura II c[o]n)s(ulibus).

Dated to May 25 , 102. This inscription was discovered in two parts, the bottom half in 1860, the upper part in 1885. In it Gaius Iulius Anicetus commemorates the refurbishment of a portico of Sol at his own expense and in accordance with a vow he had made. The inscription is damaged and other parts of a temple-complex may also have been mentioned. Quite remarkable is the recorded permission of the kalatores of the pontifices and the flamines. We know very little about the tasks and activities of the kalatores, but their position of assistants to the pontifices and flamines links them firmly to public Roman cult.29

e. IGUR 120 = Chausson p. 669, inscr. F
(Palmyrene and Greek; Latin translation of the Palmyrene by Chabot)
“ôï ò Bêl, Iarhibôl et Aglibôl fecerunt Maqqai, filius Malê, (filii) Lišam]š, et So’adu,
filius Taimê, (filii) Lišamšai, et obtulerunt."
èåï ò ðáôñ ïéò ÂÞëùé Éáñéâþ[ëùé êá Áãëéâþëùé — — — — — — — — —]
/ íÝèçêáí Ìáêêá ïò Ìáë ô[ï ËéóÜìóïõ êá Óüáäïò Èáßìïõ ôï
An inscription commemorating a donation for Bel, Iarhibol and Aglibol, gods of their fatherland,
by Maqqai and So’adu.
f. IGUR 122 = Chausson p. 670. inscr. G
ð ñ C ô ò C óùôçñßáò / Á ôïêñÜôïñïò / Êáßóáñïò C Ôñáéáíï / ´Áäñéáíï C /

previous so that it is assumed to be from the vigna Bonelli as well.
c. CIL VI 52 = Chausson p. 665, inscr. B
C(aius) Iulius Anicetus / ex imperio Solis / rogat ne quis velit / parietes aut triclias / Óåâáóôï / Ëïýêéïò C Ëéêßíéïò / ´Åñìßáò / Áñ C èå C ðáôñ / ðçêü C
íÝèçêåí / ôïõò C åìõ C ìçí ò / Îáíäéêï ç.
The inscription is dated according to the Seleucid calendar to AD 134 and commemorates a
votive set up by Lucius Licinius Hermias for his ancestral god Ares.
g. IGUR 123 = Chausson p. 671, inscr. H
[ ð ñ ô ò óùôçñßáò Á ôïêñÜôïñïò Êáßó]áñïò Ôßôïõ Á ëßïõ ´Áä[ñéáíï
Áíôùíåßíïõ] / [Óåâáóôï Å óåâï ò ó í ðáíô êü]æì Êüúíôïò Éïýëéïò C[—
— — íÝèçêåí].
A very fragmentary inscription on the central part of an entablature, probably dating to the reign
of Antoninus Pius. Chausson, citing Moretti, states that Quintus Iulius is “probably Palmyrene”
and states that the zeta instead of sigma in êüæì also points to a Syrian background.
To these we must add another inscription found in the vigna and published by Visconti (1860,
448-50) but not deemed relevant by either Palmer or Chausson:
h. CIL VI, 642
[Imp(eratore) Ne]rva Caesa[re Au]/[gusto III] L(ucio) Vergin[io Ru]/[fo I]II
co(n)s(ulibus) IX K[al(endas) 3] / [Silvano] sancto d[endrophori(?)] / [3]us Felix e[t 3] /
[3]s Paris imm[unes] / [c]ollegi idem [cu]/[rat]ores aedic[ulam] / [3] a solo
ampli[ficavit(?) 3] / [3]o qui sunt cult[o]/[res] Silvani d[endrophori(?)].
This inscription is dated to AD 97 and mentions a certain Felix and Paris, dendrophori of
Silvanus, who refurbished or enlarged an aedicula dedicated to Silvanus.
2. Giardini Mattei
The following inscriptions were reported in the garden of the Mattei in Trastevere in the late 15th
or early 16 century.
a. CIL VI, 115 = Chausson p. 672, inscr. I.
P(ublius) Acilius Felix / d(onum) d(edit) dia(e!) Suriae cum suis.
A votive inscription to Dea Syria erected by Publius Acilius Felix.
b. CIL VI, 116 = Chausson p. 672, inscr. J.
Deae Suriae sacr(um) / voto suscept(o) pro / salute / [[------]] / [[------]] / Aug(usti)
Germanici / pontificis maximi tr(ibunicia) pot(estate) / D(ecimus) Veturius Antigonus /
D(ecimus) Veturius Sp(urii) f(ilius) Philo / D(ecimus) Veturius Albanus / pater cum
fili(i)s posuit.
Inscription on the base of a statue of the seated Dea Syria. The date of the inscription is not

inscribere aut / scariphare // P(ublius) Scantius Suru / sibi et cognatis s[uis] /
D(ecimus) Folius Succe[ssus].
A request by Gaius Iulius Anicetus, at the behest of Sol, to refrain from defacing the walls with certain. Some argue that the emperor whose name is erased was Maximinus, others Nero.
c. CIL VI, 117 = Chausson p. 673, inscr. K.
I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) sacr(um) / voto suscept(o) pro salute / [[------]] / [[------]] /
Aug(usti) Germanici / pontificis maximi tr(ibunicia) pot(estate) / D(ecimus) Veturius
Antigonus / D(ecimus) Veturius Sp(uri) f(ilius) Philo / D(ecimus) Veturius Albanus /
pater cum fili(i)s posuit.
Inscription on the base of a statue of Jupiter which stood next to the previous statue.
d. CIL VI, 429 = Chausson p. 674, inscr. L.
Iovi Sabaz(io) / C(aius) Nunnius / Alexander / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito)
Votive altar decorated with garlands and rams’ heads, dedicated by Gaius Nunnius Alexander 30 31
to Jupiter Sabazius. According to Lane it dates to the Flavian era.
e. CIL VI, 430 = Chausson p. 674, inscr. M.
<<C(aius) Nunnius>> / Alexander / donum dedit / Iovi Sabazio.
A second dedicatory inscription to Jupiter Sabazius by the same Nunnius Alexander. It is on a
small base of white marble.
f. CIL VI, 708 = Chausson p. 679, inscr. Q.
Aquila / Soli / Alagabalo / Iulius Balbillus.
Inscription on a small base which presumably supported the eagle which, the inscription states,
Julius Balbillus dedicated to Sol Elagabal. The inscription itself does not survive and its
transmission, in Renaissance manuscripts, is not without problems. The nominative case for
Aquila is puzzling and the spelling of Alagabalo is so uncommon that it is suspect, the more so
because the same spelling was also reported for a second inscription connected with Balbillus
(below, 2j). In the latter case the transmission proved to be incorrect when that inscription was
rediscovered in the 1890s, the correct reading being simply Elagabalo. If our fifteenth and
sixteenth century sources could misspell Elagabalo once, it is quite possible they did so twice.
g. CIL VI, 710 = Chausson p. 675, inscr. N = C2q.1.
Soli Sanctissimo sacrum / Ti(berius) Claudius Felix et / Claudia Helpis et / Ti(berius)
Claudius Alypus fil(ius) eorum / votum solverunt liben(te)s merito / Calbienses de coh(orte) III // L(ucius) Umbricius / Priscus / libens animo / d(onum) d(edit). //
Palmyrene inscription: This is the altar that Tiberius Claudius Felix and the Palmyrenes
have offered to Malakbel and to the gods of Palmyra. To their gods: peace!33
A magnificent votive altar dating to the late first century AD. For a full description see our
catalogue C2q.1.
h. CIL VI, 1603 = Chausson p. 679, inscr. S.
Cl(audio) Iuliano p(erfectissimo) v(iro) / praef(ecto) annon(ae) / Ti(berius) Iul(ius)
Balbillus / s(acerdos) sol(is) ded(icavit) XIII Kal(endas) / Feb(ruarias) L(ucio) Annio
Fabian[o] / M(arco) Noni[o] Mucian[o] c[o(n)]s(ulibus),
Inscription on a small marble base, dated to January 20 , 201. The abbreviations in line 4 have th
also been read as s(acra) sol(e) ded(icata), but this reading strikes me as less likely in view of the
other inscriptions on which Balbillus identifies himself as sacerdos Solis. The inscription
commemorates a dedication to Claudius Iulianus, the prefect of the annonae, by Tiberius Iulius
Balbillus, priest of the sun.34
i. CIL VI, 2130 = Chausson p. 680, inscr. T.
Terentiae Fla/volae v(irgini) V(estali) ma/ximae Aurel(ius) / Iulius Balbil/lus sac(erdos)
Sol(is) ob / plura eius in se merita // D(e)d(icata) / pr(idie) Non(as) April(es) / Laeto II et
Ceriale / co(n)s(ulibus).
Inscription on a marble base dating to AD 215. For the first line of the second part of the
inscription, which is on the left side of the base, Chausson reads D(onum) D(edit) rather than
D(e)d(icata), but in view of the wording of the closely similar inscription CIL VI, 2129 below
(3j), dedicata seems the preferable choice. The inscription was erected by Iulius Balbillus, a
priest of the sun, in honour of the Vestal Virgin Terentia Flavola.
j. CIL VI, 2269 = 32456 = Chausson p. 679, inscr. R.
Ti(to) Iulio Balbillo / s(acerdoti) Sol(is) [[Elagabali]] / Eudemon lib(ertus) / patrono
A small, square marble base, probably erected during the reign of Heliogabalus (218-222), by the
freedman Eudemon in honour of his patron Titus Iulius Balbillus, here identified as priest of Sol
Elagabal, although Elagabali was later erased. Jucundus saw the base in the Mattei gardens in the
late 15 century. It subsequently disappeared and the first publication in the CIL was based on th
fifteenth and sixteenth century reports. Most of these misspelled Elagabali as Alagabali (the
spelling initially accepted by the CIL) and did not mention that the name was later erased. Near
the end of the 19 century the inscription was rediscovered in the palazzo Rossi-Ferraioli on the piazza d’Aracoeli during the restoration of a wall in which the (damaged) inscription had been
inserted as a building block. Gatti studied the inscription and reported the correct spelling and the
erasure of Elagabali. Chausson overlooked Gatti’s corrections and builds a substantial 35
argument on the assumption that Alagabali is the correct reading.
k. CIL VI, 3719 = 310331 = C2b.1.
Eumolpus Caesaris / a supellectile domus / aureae et Claudia Pallas f(ilia) / Soli et Lunae
donum posuerunt.
A marble altar erected by Eumolpus, an imperial slave responsible for the furniture in Nero’s
Golden House and his daughter Claudia Pallas in honour of Sol and Luna. Chausson does not
include this altar in his list, but Palmer does as it certainly formed part of the Mattei collection.37
l. (IGUR 119 = Chausson p. 677, inscr. O)
This is a bilingual inscription in Greek and Palmyrene commemorating the dedication of a silver
statue to Aglibol and Malachbel. Although Chausson lists it here it is unclear whether it stood in
the Mattei collection. See 3m. 38
m. (IGUR 124 = Chausson p. 678, inscr. P).
´Çëß íéêÞô / ÂÜëâéëëïò ïõïêÜôïò / î äÜôùí óùèå ò / äáôá íåíêá
ëÝïíôé / ð ÂÜóóïõ åñÝùò
This was a Greek inscription on a small base in the Mattei gardens. It is now lost and the
manuscript copies made of it differ substantially from each other. It is generally read as a thanksoffering
of Balbillus to Helios Aniketos (Sol Invictus) who was “saved from the water” and who
made an offering of water “to the lion” during the priesthood of Bassus. Whether this is correct is
difficult to say because the actual text is not clear.
3. Other
a. CIL VI, 399 (Palmer only)
Iovi O(ptimo) M(aximo) / et deae Suriae / et Genio venalici(i) / C(aius) Granius Hilarus /
cum Lissia Sabina / u(ti) v(overant).
This inscription is listed by Palmer because it is dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Dea
Syria, and the Genius of the slave market. He sees an analogy with CIL VI 115-7 (2a-c) in the
giardini Mattei, but there is a closer analogy, in my opinion, with CIL VI, 396 I(ovi) O(ptimo)
M(aximo) et Genio / venalic(ii) (...), CIL VI, 397 I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) et / Genio p(opuli)
R(omani) et venalici(i) (...), or to CIL VI, 398: I(ovi) O(ptimo) M(aximo) / et Soli Divino / et
Genio / venalici(i) (...) dated to respectively AD 60, AD 63, and AD 86.
b. CIL VI, 405 = 30757 (Palmer only)
Iovi Optimo / Maxim(o) Damasceno / T(itus) Cassius Myron / veteranus Augg(ustorum) /
d(onum) d(edit)
Palmer argues that this inscription - a dedication to Jupiter Optimus Maximus Damascenus is
relevant because it is currently at the S. Maria in Trastevere.
c. CIL VI, 699 = Chausson p. 684, inscr. Vbis.
Domino Soli v(otum) s(olvit) Ti(berius) Cl(audius) / Amerimnus lictor curiatus.
Palmer does not mention this inscription but Chausson lists it on the grounds that it was in the
house of the Porcari. This family also owned an inscription dedicated to a second Vestal Virgin
by Balbillus (CIL VI, 2129 - 3j) and closely similar to CIL VI, 2130 (2i) which was in the
giardini Mattei. Both inscriptions must come from the same location he feels, making it likely
that the Porcari also acquired other inscriptions from that site - i.e. the vigna Bonelli. Chausson’s
reasoning on this is somewhat confusing as he states that the inscription was later acquired by
Paolo de Alexiis and then reacquired by the Porcari (it is now lost), for which he quotes
Lanciani. In fact, Lanciani merely states that it was Giulio Porcari who acquired at least 14 39
pieces from Paolo de Alexiis in, or shortly before, 1521. He gives no indication that the Alexii 40
had acquired some or all of these pieces from the Porcari previously, nor that they were found in
Trastevere (cf. CIL VI, 728 - 3f). On the other hand, Giulio Porcari senior was married to
Girolama Mattei, and Giulio Porcari junior to Faustina Mattei, so that it is conceivable that some
of the inscriptions in the Mattei collection, such as CIL 2130 (2i), were acquired from the Alexii
and given to the Mattei by the Porcari. Speculation, of course, which simply shows how
problematic the line of reasoning is that Palmer and Chausson take.

d. CIL VI, 709 = Chausson p. 667, inscr. C
] / C(aius) Iulius Anicetus / aram sacratam Soli Divino / voto suscepto animo libens
d(onum) d(edit).
An inscription now incorporated in the 18 -century portico of the S. Cecilia in Trastevere. It
commemorates the offering of an altar to Sol Divinus by Iulius Anicetus. This is most likely the
same Anicetus of whom inscriptions were found in the vigna Bonelli (CIL VI, 52 and 2185 - 1cd),
and hence it is included by both Chausson and Palmer.
e. CIL VI, 712 = Chausson p. 666, inscr. Bbis = C2a.4.
D[eo] / Soli Vi[ctori] / Q(uintus) Octavius Daphnicu / negotia(n)s vinarius a sei[3] /
tricliam fec(it) a solo inpe[sa] / sua permissu kalator(um) pon[tif(icum)] / et flaminum cui
immunitas / data est ab eis sacrum faciend.
An altar erected by Quintus Octavius Daphnicus commemorating that he built a triclia for Sol
Victor with permission of the kalatores, who also allowed him to perform a sacrifice. The triclia
is interpreted as a gazebo (trichila) by Palmer and is taken to be short for triclinium (dining
room) by Chausson. The mention of the tricliam recalls the triclias of CIL VI, 52 (1c) while the 41
reference to the kalatores is closely similar to CIL VI 2185/31034 (1d) which makes it all but
certain that Daphnicus’ building activities coincided with those of Anicetus. This is in line with
the most likely date for the inscription (see C2a.4). A range of readings has been proposed for a
sei[3]; none are convincing, but the reading a sep[tem Caesaribus] preferred by Palmer must be
rejected. It is either too long for the available space or requires highly unusual abbreviations. This
votive altar was found "fuori posto" in the vigna Velli.42
f. CIL VI, 728 = Chausson p. 684, inscr. Vquater.
Soli Invicto / sacrum / Cornelius Maximus / (centurio) coh(ortis) X pr(aetoriae) ex voto.
This inscription, not included by Palmer, is already mentioned by Cola di Rienzo in his sylloge of
inscriptions written between 1344 and 1347. He indicates that it was found on the Quirinal near
the church of S. Susanna. It is mentioned by Chausson because it came into the Alexii
collection and was acquired from them by the Porcari in or before 1521 (see above). The
inscription is a dedication to Sol Invictus by a centurion Cornelius Maximus.
g. CIL VI, 739 = Chausson p. 684, inscr. Vter.
Deo / Soli Invicto / P(ublius) Pomponius / Clitus / ex voto. salute?..] / [......]liae / [....]niv[...].
This inscription, a dedication to Sol Invictus Malachbel, was found in the Tiber near the Ponte
m. (IGUR 119 = Chausson p. 677, inscr. O)
Chausson and Palmer locate this inscription in the Mattei collection, but that is not certain; cf.
Inscription 2l.
n. IGUR 121 = Chausson p. 670, inscr. Fbis.
A fragment of an inscription consisting only of the name Astarte.
o. IGUR 125.45
An inscription for Helios Mithras Astrobrontos.
The evidence: How many temples?
Do these votive reliefs, inscriptions and family connections amount to convincing evidence for a
small group of Sol-worshippers in the milieu of oriental freedmen in Rome centred on a Syrian
shrine? There are a number of reasons for caution. In the first place the very concept of “Sol- 46
adherent” is problematic in the context of Roman religion. Bergmann characterizes Eumolpus
(Cat C2b.1) as an “echten Anhänger des Sonnenkultes” whose votive relief was not a
“Gelegenheitsweihung” but was rooted in his longstanding membership of a congregation of
worshippers connected with the solar cult(s) attested in Trastevere. In particular her use of the 47
word Gemeinde for that “congregation” gives this whole concept strong Christianizing overtones,
no doubt unintended, but introducing an element into the discussion for which we have no
evidence. The inscriptions and reliefs that we have certainly indicate interest variously in Sol or
some regional deity such as Malakbel assimilated with Sol. But they do not give any indication of
a “congregation of Sol worshippers”.
But christianizing assumptions aside, there are more fundamental reasons for caution. In
my opinion Palmer and Chausson over-interpret the scattered evidence they have gathered. I see
no evidence to support their contention that all these inscriptions come from the vigna Bonelli
area, and even if they do I do not see why we must assume that they also then come from one
ancient sanctuary with dedicants and deities who are uniformly oriental, Syrian in particular, and
to a large degree Palmyrene.
That most of the inscriptions come from the either the vigna Bonelli or the Giardini
Mattei seems fairly certain, but neither Palmer nor Chausson offer any evidence for their
assertion - fundamental to their whole argument - that the two provenances are essentially the This is another inscription from the house of the Alexii that later came into the possession of the
Porcari. It too is not included by Palmer. The inscription is a dedication to Sol Invictus by
Publius Pomponius Clitus.
h. CIL VI, 755.
Soli Invic/to et Lunae / Aeternae / C(ai) Vetti Ger/mani lib(erti) / duo Para/tus et Her/mes
Chausson does not include this inscription, but Palmer does as it was found near the S. Cecilia in
Trastevere. It is a dedication to Sol Invictus and Luna Aeterna by two freedmen of Gaius Vettius
Germanus, Paratus and Hermes.
i. CIL VI, 1027 = Chausson p. 683, inscr. V.
Imp(eratori) Caes(ari) L(ucio) Septimio / Severo Pio Invic(to) / Aug(usto) Iul(ius)
Balbillus / sac(erdos) Sol(is) ded(icata) prid(ie) / Non(as) Ap(riles) Anullino II / et
Frontone co(n)s(ulibus).
A small base with an inscription dated to AD 199. It too stood in the house of the Porcari, but
was lost when the collection was dispersed in the early 17 century after the death of Francesco th
Porcari. It is a dedication by Balbillus, priest of Sol, to Septimius Severus. 44
j. CIL VI, 2129 = Chausson p. 683, inscr. U.
Numisiae Ma/ximillae v(irgini) V(estali) / max(imae) Ti(tus) Iul(ius) Bal/billus
s(acerdos) Solis / ded(icata) Idib(us) Ian(uariis) / L(ucio) Annio Fabiano / M(arco) Nonio
Muciano co(n)s(ulibus).
This inscription, dated to AD 201, is closely similar to CIL 2130 (2i) of AD 215. However, it
stood in the house of the Porcari rather than in the garden of the Mattei. It is dedicated to the
Vestal Virgin Numisia Maximilla by Iulius Balbillus, priest of Sol.
k. CIL VI, 2270 = Chausson p. 682 Tbis.
Ti(to) Iul(io) Balbillo sac(erdoti) Solis / Eutyches Augg(ustorum) lib(ertus) of(f)ici/nator
a statuis amico / optimo dedic(ata) Kal(endis) Ian(uariis) / P(ublio) Cornelio Anullino II /
et M(arco) Aufidio Frontone co(n)s(ulibus).
Dated to AD 199, this inscription was set up by Eutyches, an imperial freedman, for his excellent
friend Iulius Balbillus, priest of Sol. This inscription was not found in Trastevere and was not
part of either the Mattei or the Porcari collection.
l. CIL VI, 31036 = Chausson p. 679, Pbis.
[D]eo Soli Inv[icto] / Malachibe[lo] / Aelius Long[...] / (centurio) frument(arius) / pr[o
same. The location of the 19 c. vigna at site of the Piazza Ippolito Nievo a few hundred metres th
South of the Porta Portese, is secure. But Chausson thinks that the vigna Bonelli is also the site of
the fifteenth century Giardini Mattei, stating baldly that these gardens were “dans le Trastévère
au delà de la Porta Portese, vers le sud”. That could coincide with the Vigna Bonelli, but 48
Chausson is frustratingly vague and gives no source for this statement. He also states explicitly 49
that the garden of Battista Giacomo Mattei where 15 century witnesses report that the th
inscriptions were displayed must coincide with the place where they were found - i.e. outside the
Porta Portese. Judging by the (unnamed) “anciens recueils” cited by Chausson himself he is 50
mistaken on both counts, for the lost inscription IGUR 124 is placed “in imo horto domus
Matheiorum Transtiburtinae”, and that garden is also described as a “small garden by the bridge
to the Tiber island. This domus of the Mattei was their 15 century residence at the Piazza in 52 th
Piscinula, up by the Tiber island about 1.5 km north of the Piazza Nievo.
The giardini Mattei, then, were not south of the Porta Portese, but quite a distance north
of it and hence their location does not support the hypothesis that the Mattei inscriptions must
come from the general area of the vigna Bonelli. Of course, it is still possible that the Mattei
found the inscriptions in the area of the vigna Bonelli and carried them off to their palazzo. This
is what Lanciani thought, but he did so solely because he believed that these inscriptions of “culti
superstiziosi” form a cohesive group and therefore must have been found together, with the
Vigna Bonelli being the closest likely provenance. Coarelli rejects this with good reason,
pointing out that basically the antiquities in that garden could have been found anywhere. Even 53
if we limit ourselves to Trastevere, the vigna Bonelli area is not the only likely place whence the
Mattei could have acquired inscriptions of this nature. For despite the fact that, as Palmer (1981,
372-3) himself emphasizes, our archaeological knowledge of this corner of Rome is relatively
superficial and quite confused, we know of at least one other Syrian sanctuary only about 200 m
from the vigna Bonelli, namely the one in the Lucus Furrinae on the grounds of the Villa Sciarra. The presence of a second Syrian shrine - unknown to Lanciani - so close to the one 54
postulated by Chausson and Palmer makes it impossible to maintain that all the inscriptions in
15 c. garden of the domus Mattheiorum must have come from only the one sanctuary - namely th
the one they locate in the vigna Bonelli - rather than a number of different shrines including, for
example, the one higher up the slopes of the Janiculum at the Lucus Furrinae.
As for the inscriptions found in the 19 c. in the vigna Bonelli. Chausson and Palmer both th
take for granted that they all come from a single sanctuary. To argue this one must show that they
were found more or less in situ, and fairly close together. Neither Chausson nor Palmer provides
such evidence and Palmer acknowledges that the area from which these inscriptions derive was
“extensive”. The fact is that as far as the precise provenance of the inscriptions from within that 55
extensive area is concerned, what evidence we have paints a rather muddled picture. One
inscription - Anicetus’ plea to refrain from defacing the walls with graffiti (CIL VI, 52 - 1c) - has
an unrelated inscription on the reverse side, suggesting re-use before it was deposited, though
which side is oldest is not clear. The two surviving parts of Anicetus’ other inscription from the
vigna - CIL VI, 2185 (1d), commemorating his restoration of the porticus Solis - were found
separately, in 1859 and 1887. The two similar but very fragmentary, bilingual Latin/Greek
inscriptions commemorating the dedication of an aedes to Bel (CIL 50, 51 - 1a-b) were also
found on separate occasions. A fragment of a relief with Astarte (IGUR 121 - 3n) that was long
deemed to be the upper corner of the bilingual Palmyrene/Greek inscription and relief (IGUR 120
- 1e) from the vigna Bonelli, actually does not belong to it at all, although it too was found in the
vigna. To these we should add the Greek dedication of AD 134 to Ares Theos Patroios (IGUR 56
122 - 1f), a fragment of a Greek inscription of the mid second c. AD on the remains of an
entablature of a building (IGUR 123 - 1g), and, finally, CIL VI, 642 (1h) commemorating the
expansion of an aedicula for Silvanus.
There is no unity in this group either of date, of language, of deity, or of inscription,
which makes it all the more necessary for Palmer and Chausson to provide some other form of
firm evidence that the inscriptions were found in clear relation to one another. Given the degree
of damage the inscriptions had suffered it is possible that they were not found in situ, and ss
Palmer and Chausson themselves affirm, inscriptions can travel, for they argue that Anicetus’
votive inscription to Sol Divinus, incorporated in the 18 c. porch of the S. Cecilia, probably also th
originated from the same area as Anicetus’ other two inscriptions, in their view the vigna Bonelli
a kilometer south of the church. Fair enough, but then we must also admit the possibility that
other inscriptions travelled to the vigna. The fact that Anicetus’ most famous inscription,
recording the permission of the kalatores for the refurbishment of the portico of Sol, was found
in two pieces surely indicates that it was not foud in situ. Is it not possible that some of the Syrian
inscriptions found their way downhill from the Syrian sanctuary in the Lucus Furrinae, on much
higher ground and a mere 200 metres away? It is worth noting that the higher sanctuary yielded
fragments of a lintel with scant remains of an inscription tentatively restored as B]ELO
[Pal]M[yreno3] / [3] Auc[ // [3]M[. It also yielded a relief of Atargatis , a triangular altar with 57 58
busts of Sol and Luna (C2b.3), a fragment of an inscription dedicating a bronze Fortuna to, 59
possibly, Iarhibol , and the like. On that evidence at least some of the inscriptions found in the 60 61
vigna Bonelli would not have been out of place further up-slope in the Lucus Furrinae area.
But even if none of the vigna Bonelli inscriptions “travelled” there, one still need not
postulate only one shrine on the extensive site. Visconti certanly did not believe that. He noted
the presence of an aedicula of Silvanus in the same area (inscr. 1h), as well as an unidentified
temple, and there is no reason why there cannot have been more sanctuaries. Closely clustered
shrines and temples to a variety of deities were hardly a rarity in the Roman world.63
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote
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