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Where have all the fabri tign(u)arii gone? CIL XIV 4365 & 4382, a reassessment of the fabri tign(u)arii in Rome and Ostia in the early 4th century CE.

John Fabiano

University of Toronto

Where have all the fabri tign(u)arii gone?

CIL XIV 4365 & 4382, a reassessment of the fabri tign(u)arii in Rome and Ostia in the early 4th century CE

              In the early twentieth century two large halves of what turned out to be a single architrave block were found spread out along the decumanus in Ostia. The topographic discontinuity of their find spots and the content of their individual inscriptions appeared, for a long time, to preclude their association. In 1971, however, Fausto Zevi examined both of the blocks and their accompanying inscriptions and determined that the two belonged together. The complete block now rests on the remains of a wall near the theater and is visible to anyone walking along the decumanus. It bears the following inscription:

Divo Pio [P]ertinaci Au[g(usto) patri]/ colleg(ium) fabr(um) [[ [tign]ar(iorum) O[st(iensium) ]]/ curam agentibus C(aio) Plotio Ca[---] Salinatore Ianuario L(ucio) Faianio Olympo mag(istris) q(uin)q(ennalibus) lust(ri) X[XVIII]. 

Zevi concluded that the complete block likely constituted the architrave to the entrance of the collegiate temple of the fabri tignuarii at Ostia, which he argued was dedicated to Pertinax and Septimius Severus around 195 CE (Zevi 1971, 476). Subsequently, this interpretation has been accepted and, save for the addition of patri after the Augusto (Bollman 1998, 343), Zevi’s reconstruction has remained the communis opinio. Curiously no one has attempted to adequately explain what appears to be a blatant erasure of the seemingly innocuous tignariorum. In fact, Zevi, in his original publication, confined his opinion to a footnote, writing that the explanation for the erasure need not be damnatio memoriae, but that the groove was perhaps a product of the block’s reuse as a threshold (Zevi 1971, 473 fn. 68). Since then no one has questioned this explanation, nor has it been elaborated outside of this brief footnote. Given the recent interest in the collegia at Rome and Ostia this understudied aspect of the inscription seems ripe for reevaluation.

            This paper offers an alternative explanation for this erasure and, consequently, engages with some boarder historical questions about the collegium fabrum tign(u)ariorum. This is approached through a review of the juridical and epigraphic corpora. The former reveals that under Constantine certain administrative measures were taken to reorganize the Urbs and a system of hereditary compulsory service was introduced into the collegia. It has been argued, however, that the roots of the system of compelled service took hold much earlier, perhaps in the late third or earlier fourth century (Sirks 1991, 291-294 & 325-330). An assessment of the epigraphic evidence suggests that these changes also affected the fabri tignarii. The collegium fabrum tign(u)ariorum disappear from the epigraphic record at both Rome and Ostia in the early fourth century CE (CIL VI 31901a & CIL XIV 128 represent the last attestations in each place respectively), while alba of the tignarii dated to the Severan period were reused as spolia in the Forum Romanum already under Maxentius. Both points demonstrate that the collegium fabrum tignariorum at Rome seem to have undergone serious re-organization, which presumably included the annexation of other collegia to the tignarii and perhaps was accompanied by an alteration to their name. The process of annexation of other collegia to the more broadly conceived fabri is one recorded in a later law, dated to 329 CE (CTh 14.8.1), but the precedent for this seems to have developed earlier, much like that of compelled service. Finally, it is argued that the collegium fabrum tignuariorum at Ostia underwent the same processes as at Rome, and it is reasonably concluded that the erasure on the aforementioned architrave block was a corollary of the reorganization of the collegium fabrum tign(u)ariorum at Rome and Ostia in the very early fourth century CE.

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Political and Social Relations

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