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Rome: Tomb of Quintus Sulpicius Celsus


`Inscription of the tomb of Sulpicius Celsus. Musei Capitolini, Roma (Italy). Photo Jasper Oorthuys / RAT.
Inscription of the tomb of Sulpicius Celsus (Musei Capitolini, Rome); photo Jasper Oorthuys.
The sarcophagus of Quintus Sulpicius Celsus, which can be seen in the Capitoline Museums, is not Antiquity's most famous or most beautiful work of art, nor is it the tomb of someone particularly important. Yet, the small monument contains nice representations of military standards and decorations. Because the man's voting district is mentioned, the tomb can be dated to the first half of the first century; he was officer in several units -first prefect of the engineers (perhaps a honorific post), then prefect of an auxiliary unit, and finally commander of an unidentified unit- and was decorated with a mural crown and a torque.

The two last lines of the inscription are incomprehensible. Sulpicius' last prefecture was mentioned: he probably ended his career as a praefectus equitum alae, commander of a cavalry unit. The last words of the inscription must have referred to the person who buried the dead officer. Perhaps the letters te belong to frater, "brother", although Sulpicius may have been buried by his wife as well. It is also possible that te was part of an abbreviation like ex tes (ex testamento).

The inscription is known as CIL 6.32934:

Qvinto  SVLPICIO  Quinti  Filio
QVIRina  CELSO
PRAEFECTO  FABRVM
PRAEFecto  COHORtis  VII
LVSITANORVM  PRAEFecto
.......
... IA ... TE .....

To Quintus Sulpicius Celsus, son of Quintus, of the Quirinian voting district, prefect of the engineers, prefect of the Seventh Lusitanian Cohort, prefect of [incomprehensible].
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Right-hand side of the tomb of Sulpicius Celsus. Musei Capitolini, Roma (Italy). Photo Marco Prins. Left-hand side of the tomb of Sulpicius Celsus. Musei Capitolini, Roma (Italy). Photo Marco Prins.
The right-hand side of the tomb shows Sulpicius' armor and his decorations: a torque and a mural crown. On the left-hand side an eagle standard, decorated with a mural crown and the ruler's image, and a banner (vexilatio).
Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2009
Revision: 3 Jan. 2010
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