- Museum number
Roman marble altar dedicated to Hercules by Primigenius Iuvencianus, an official involved in the marble trade under Vespasian. On the front, Hercules' club and lion skin are depicted in relief.
- Production date
- 69-79 (Flavian)
Height: 72 centimetres
Thickness: 30 centimetres
Width: 46 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The altar is said to have been found at the Marmorata in Rome in 1739. This was the area where the ancient Roman river port, the emporium, was located.
Primigenius Iuvencianus was an administrative official (tabularius), involved in the marble trade under Vespasian. Archaeologists have discovered extensive evidence for marble stores and workshops in this area. It appears that following the great Neronian fire of AD 64, this was where the marble imported into Rome from the throughout Empire was stored and processed. Under Domitian, further marble warehouses and workshops developed on the Campus Martius, and from Trajan and Hadrian on also in Portus on the coast.
The inscription is recorded on the actual object that was dedicated to the god: a large altar. However, it was expected that frequent offerings would follow after the dedication. We learn who the dedicant was – Primigenius, a clerk in the marble trade of Rome. He was either a slave of the emperor (implied by the name of the emperor following in the genitive) or, more likely, one of his freedmen (he has at least two names and the means to dedicate an expensive altar).
The marble that Primigenius oversaw coming into Rome was probably destined for imperially funded projects. Given that he worked under Vespasian, Primigenius may have overseen the import of marble necessary
for buildings such as the Colosseum. The relief on the altar shows a club and a lion skin, the attributes of Hercules, the god to whom the altar is dedicated.
(Booms 2016, 84-85)
- Booms, D. (2016) Latin Inscriptions, BMP: 84-5.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2013 – 2014, 21 September - 5 January, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Empire – Roman Power & People
2014, 25 January - 27 April, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Empire – Roman Power & People
2014, 17 May - 31 August, Coventry, The Herbert, Empire – Roman Power & People
2014 – 2015, 20 September - 4 January, Leeds City Museum, Empire – Roman Power & People
2015, 24 January - 10 May, Dundee, The McManus, Empire – Roman Power & People
2015, 30 May - 13 September, Newcastle, Segedunum Roman Fort, Empire – Roman Power & People
2018 23 Feb – 22 Apr, Nashville, Frist Art Museum, 'Rome; City &Empire'
2018-2019 20 Sep-04 Feb, Canberra, National Museum of Australia, 'Rome; City &Empire'
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number