Sunday, 26 October 2008

Empire and Conflict

British MuseumI couldn't let October slip by without mentioning my illustrious forebear's exhibition at the British Museum in London. Hadrian: Empire and Conflict closed on October 26.

Objects were assembled from 28 museums worldwide, and included the giant sculpture fragments recently unearthed at Sagalassos in Turkey. The Independent trumpeted the "sex, rebellions, wealth and intrigue", while for The Times the exhibition "invites us to speculate on what this most fascinating and complex emperor might really have been like".

British Museum promotional video:

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

What gladiator?


So, the tomb of Marcus Nonius Macrinus has been found at Saxa Rubra, north of Rome.

This is the man hailed as the inspiration for the character of Maximus Decimus Meridius in the movie Gladiator. But, needless to say, no Roman senator ever became a gladiator.

Macrinus' career was already well-known from a long Greek inscription found in the ancient city of Ephesus, where his statue must have stood. Catalogued as no. 8830 in Hermann Dessau's Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae, the inscription lists the succession of posts held by Macrinus, first under Antoninus Pius, and then under Marcus Aurelius: tribune of legion XVII (surely a mistake for XVI), legate of legion XIV Gemina, praetorian governor of Lower Pannonia, consular governor of Upper Pannonia, and finally proconsul of Asia. The inscription pointedly refers to him as "general and companion of the greatest emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus".

The newly discovered inscription is badly damaged and only a fragment has so far come to light. But it clearly records that Macrinus was comes et legatus imperatoris Antonini Augusti, "companion and legate of the emperor Antoninus Augustus".