Height: 73.600 cm
Gift of Sir Philip Malpas de Grey Egerton
Room 49: Roman Britain
Altar to 'Fortune the Home-Bringer, to Aesculapius and to Salus'
Roman Britain, 2nd century AD
From the legionary fortress at Deva (modern Chester)
Dedicated by the household of a Roman legionary commander
This altar was dedicated to 'Fortune the Home-bringer, to Aesculapius and to Salus'. One of the sculptures on the side of the altar is a staff entwined with a snake, the distinctive symbol of Aesculapius who was the greatest Greek and Roman healing god. A similar motif is still used today for medicine and health care. Salus was the goddess of health. Another carving on the side is a rudder, symbol of life's course, which was set by the goddess Fortuna.
The altar was set up by the freedmen and slaves in the household of a Roman officer, perhaps because he was ill. This man, Titus Pomponius Mamilianus Rufus Antistianus Funisulanus Vettonianus, was the legatus (commander) of the 20th legion at Chester, probably around the year AD 100. His unusually long name is similar to that of a friend of the younger Pliny, and they may be one and the same man, or near relatives.
T.W. Potter, Roman Britain, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)