Five of the rams so far recovered during the Egadi Islands project bear Latin inscriptions; a sixth carries a Punic text. The Latin inscriptions make reference to named Roman officials (quaestors in four instances; members of a board of six in one case) who approved the rams. The Punic inscription offers a prayer for good fortune to one or more Punic deities. The Latin inscriptions are diverse in both form and content. Latin inscriptions of the third century B.C. are relatively few in number, and inscriptions on metal even less common. The inscriptions are therefore important from a purely epigraphic and paleographic perspective. The variety in their methods of production (engraved or cast) contributes to the historical evaluation of the relationship between the rams. The inscriptions provide some of the earliest evidence for both the quaestorship and the formal process of probatio (i.e. formal contracting on the part of the state), and as such as historically important for the study of the institutional development of the Roman state. This paper will present the inscriptions themselves, evaluate their form, and discuss their direct relevance to ongoing debates regarding the expansion and role of the quaestorship in naval and administrative organization of the expanding Republican empire.
The Battle of the Aegates Islands (241 B.C.)