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Collections / Sections / The Epigraphic Collection

Aedicula stela of the Cornelii

This monumental stela, in the form of a small stylized temple, contains three full-figure portraits in a frontal position. The abbreviated inscription carved on the epistyle identifies the figures.

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The elderly man on the left, C. Cornelius Hermia, a freedman of Caius, is wearing a toga, and the two women next to him, Fullonia Officiosa, a freedwoman of Salvius, and Cornelia Prisca, a freedwoman of Caius, don a tunic and a large cloak, referred to as a palla, that also covers the head of the middle figure. Carved by each figure are the letters V (the first letter of vivus = alive) and Θ (the Greek letter that is the initial of thanatos = death, also referred to as littera nigra), indicating that when the stela was made the man and one of the women were alive, but the third was already dead. When this important funerary monument was discovered in 1533, it was embedded in the masonry face of the Basilica of San Petronio. In 1796 French soldiers chiselled off the scene of the tympanum, as they thought it was a noble coat of arms.


Provenance: Gavaseto (San Pietro in Casale - Bologna)
Datation: Second half of the 1st century BC–late 1st century AD
Material: Limestone
Dimensions: height cm 278; width cm 142
Inventory #: 19008

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