PompeiiinPictures

SG6 Pompeii. Tombs at Stabian Gate or Porta Stabia.

Unnamed tomb with 4-metre-long inscription with 7 rows.

Possibly the tomb of Gnaeus Alleius Nigidius Maius.

Excavated 2017.

 

From the studies of Prof. Massimo Osanna supplemented by The History Blog and Wikipedia.

The tomb.

The excavation was connected with the refurbishing of state-owned property in the San Paolino area just outside Porta Stabia.
A crew, restoring the 19th century palazzo planned to become the new library and offices of the archaeological superintendency, came across a fragment of marble while doing depth tests on the foundations.

Marble is very rarely used in Pompeiian funerary monuments, so archaeologists realized immediately that this could be something special and funds were immediately sought for an excavation.

A marble monumental tomb was found, a quadrilateral with concave sides surmounted by a plinth, with the longest funerary epigraph ever found.

The tombstone was made shortly before the eruption that destroyed Pompeii in AD 79, which is why it is preserved in an exceptional way.

The inscription is over 4 metres long, in seven rows. It does not include the deceased's name but describes in detail the life of the man buried within it.
The new Porta Stabia monumental tomb includes an elegy to the deceased and the most important parts of his biography, including his designation as duovir.

 

The inscription.

According to Massimo Osanna, thanks to the citation of events in the deceased's life we have learned very important facts about the history of Pompeii, including in reference to the famous episode narrated by Tacitus that happened in Pompeii in 59 BC, when a brawl broke out in the amphitheatre during a gladiator show that led to an armed clash.

The event drew the attention of Emperor Nero, who ordered the Senate in Rome to investigate the incident.

Following an inquiry by the consuls, reports Tacitus, Pompeii residents were banned from holding gladiator shows for 10 years, illegal associations were dissolved and the organizer of the games - former senator from Rome, Livineio Regulo - and all the others who were found guilty of incitement were exiled.

The inscription complements the information given by Tacitus and refers for the first time to the exile imposed on some magistrates, the duoviri of the city.

The new tomb reveals significant new data on the history of the last decades of Pompeii.
It is a sepulchral inscription in the form of res gestae (that is, describing the major things done in life).

Burial inscriptions, notoriously, contain the name of the deceased, may or may not indicate age, social status, career or other biographical information.

For magistrates, the citation of the activities carried out is summarized in the cursus honorum (the public career). Other references are rather rare.

In this case instead the praise of the deceased is made, of which in Pompeii there is nothing comparable.

It remembers actions and activities carried out during important moments of the life of the deceased:

He hosted a great banquet to celebrate his assumption of the toga virilis (“toga of manhood”) when he was 15-17 years old.

456 triclinia (formal dining rooms) accommodated thousands of members of the public.

An incredible 416 gladiators took part in games, far greater than the normal 30 or less that fought in the regular games in Pompeii.

His wedding which hosted a large banquet.

His largess

Events celebrated with acts of munificence.

Public banquets,

His generous gifts of silver coin to the people

Moneys given in support of magistrates and guilds

and above all great games with fights between gladiators and wild beasts.

The political and religious offices he held

He was one of the duoviri quinquennales (the two heads of the city administration elected every five years with additional powers to update the census)

He was acclaimed by the people as patronus of the city, which he humbly declines in the last line of the inscription because he is unworthy of so great an honour.

All this was widespread practice among property owners to gain prestige and promote their political career.

It is no coincidence that, as the inscription shows, the deceased then held the office of duovir.

 

The amphitheatre riot of AD59.

In the inscription, which completes the information of Tacitus, it refers for the first time to the exile that would hit even the two top magistrates in office, the duoviri of the city.
Before now, the Tacitus passage, a fresco in the house of Actius Anicetus and three graffiti found on walls at Pompeii were the only explicit references to the amphitheatre riot of 59.

The funerary inscription adds a key piece of information about this event.

Thanks to the deceased’s personal relationship with Nero, he was able to persuade him to allow the two duoviri exiled as punishment for the brawl to return to Pompeii.

This is the only reference to the duoviri having been exiled as well as the only reference to the intercessionary role the tomb occupant played.

It opens up the possibility that he was involved in the softening and lifting of the 10-year ban on public events at the amphitheatre.

It’s known that some combat spectacles like animal hunts took place during the first three years of the ban, and it was lifted entirely in 62 A.D. to celebrate the restoration of the amphitheatre after the earthquake.

The inscription therefore provides unpublished data on an important moment in Pompeii's political and institutional history, confirming the scenario of a nasty intrigue only outlined by Tacitus.

 

Gladiator relief in Naples Museum.

Another remarkable thing, the discovery allows us to recontextualize an important piece, a gladiator relief with hunt scenes, kept at the Naples Archaeological Museum since the middle of the nineteenth century.

In view of what remains and the visible traces, as well as archive research that is still ongoing, it is more than likely that the top of the tomb, damaged by the construction of the San Paolino building in the nineteenth century, was completed with the preserved gladiator relief.

Given the role that the Gladiator shows and hunts have in praising, it can be assumed that the well-known relief was therein placed.

The relief is in fact compatible with the monument, as its length is about 4 metres long, and would respond well in the theme to the role of the deceased as an extraordinary game organizer.

Moreover, the relief, discovered by the superintendent Avellino in the 1840s, was found out of place (by the damage evidently suffered by the monument in the construction of San Paolino), precisely in the area of ​​Porta Stabia.

 

SG6 Pompeii. Gladiatorial relief with hunting scenes from a tomb at Porta Stabia. 
Now in Naples archaeological Museum. Inventory number 6704.
According to Emmerson, this relief measures more than 4 metres long and 1.5 metres high.
See Emmerson A., 2010. Reconstructing the Funerary Landscape at Pompeii's Porta Stabia: Rivista di Studi Pompeiani 21, pp. 78, fig. 1.
According to Osanna, the relief is in fact compatible with the monument, as its length is about 4 metres long and it was found out of place, precisely in the area of Porta Stabia.

SG6 Pompeii. Gladiatorial relief with hunting scenes from a tomb at Porta Stabia.

Now in Naples archaeological Museum. Inventory number 6704.

According to Emmerson, this relief measures more than 4 metres long and 1.5 metres high.

See Emmerson A., 2010. Reconstructing the Funerary Landscape at Pompeii's Porta Stabia: Rivista di Studi Pompeiani 21, pp. 78, fig. 1.

According to Osanna, the relief is in fact compatible with the monument, as its length is about 4 metres long and it was found out of place, precisely in the area of ​​Porta Stabia.

 

Possible name of the tomb occupant?

The inscription, unfortunately, is devoid of a name, which was probably placed in the top of the tomb, no longer preserved.

Given the type of the tomb, a quadrilateral with concave sides surmounted by a plinth, in fact, it could well be on a separate block, in larger characters.
An indication of name could be provided by the location of the tomb near the one already discovered for M. Alleius Minius, an older schola tomb on the same side as this.

To the Alleii family belongs Cn. Alleius Nigidius Maius, one of the most prominent characters of the Nero-Flavian era.

Nigidius is an exponent of that new ruling class affirmed in the Nero-Flavian age, and is repeatedly acclaimed in Pompeii as a prolific provider of games, indeed he can be said to have been the best-known among the gladiatorial impresarios of the city.

He was a freedman, the leading exponent of the ruling class of the last decades of the city's life, popular - thanks to the extreme social mobility of those years - thanks to the adoption by the important Alleii family.

 

His mother was Pomponia Decharis and he was adopted at a relatively early age into the gens Alleii, his original family name being Maius, and it is possible that his mother was a freedwoman.

His mother was buried in the tomb of Eumachia, a wealthy and influential woman in the town, which suggests a close connection between the Alleii and Eumachia family.

The inscription on the herm was

 

POMPONIA DECH

ARCIS (Decharcis) ALLEI NOBILIS

ALLEI MAI MATER.

 

Pomponia Decharcis, wife of Alleius Nobilis, mother of Alleius Maius.

 

See D’Ambrosio, A. and De Caro, S., 1983. Un Impegno per Pompei: Fotopiano e documentazione della Necropoli di Porta Nocera. Milano: Touring Club Italiano. (11OS).

See Cooley, A. and M.G.L., 2004. Pompeii: A Sourcebook. London: Routledge, G17, p. 143.

 

His father was Alleius Nobilis, a freedman who had made a fortune and had no bones about spending it on massively oversized celebrations to get his son started on a political career that would be largely based on throwing the biggest and best games in town.

 

His humble beginnings were no deterrent to Maius’ ascent, he became a priest of Caesar Augustus, became a personal friend to the emperor Nero and is referred to in Pompeian inscriptions as leader of the colony and the leading games-giver.

To him belonged the Insula Arriana Polliana (insula of the house of Pansa) of which he rented out tabernae cum pergulis suis et cenacula equestria et domus, as is reported in another epigraph referred to him (CIL IV 138).

According to Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss/Slaby (See www.manfredclauss.de) this read

 

Insula Arriana

Polliana Gn(aei!) Al<le=IF>i Nigidi Mai

locantur ex <K=I>(alendis) Iuli(i)s primis tabernae

cum pergulis suis et c{o}enacula

equestria et domus conductor(is)

convenito Primum Gn(aei) Al<le=IF>i

Nigidi Mai ser(vum)      [CIL IV 138]

 

According to Wikipedia this translates as

To let from July 1.

In the insula Arriana Polliana, property of Cnaius Alleius Nigidius Maius,

commercial/residential units with mezzanines, quality upper floor apartments and houses.

Agent: Primus, slave of Cnaius Alleius Nigidius Maius.

 

No Pompeiian is better documented in the archaeological record.

His name appears in 17 inscriptions, graffiti and edicts painted on the walls on the city.

Cn. Alleius Nigidius Maius died a year before the cataclysmic eruption of Vesuvius that buried Pompeii in 79 A.D.

The tombstone was made shortly before the eruption that destroyed Pompeii in 79 A.D., which is why it is preserved in an exceptional way.

If this character identification is correct, we have for the first time a monumental title since his career so far was known only through the inscriptions painted on the walls.

 

See Details by Massimo Osanna on SAP website

See The History Blog

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alleius_Nigidius_Maius

 

SG6 Pompeii. Unnamed tomb with 4-metre-long inscription next to building in San Paolino area near Porta Stabia.
The top of the tomb is damaged, which was evidently suffered in the construction of San Paolino.

SG6 Pompeii. Unnamed tomb with 4-metre-long inscription next to building in San Paolino area near Porta Stabia.

The top of the tomb is damaged, which was evidently suffered in the construction of San Paolino.

 

SG6 Pompeii. Unnamed tomb with 4 metre long inscription, curved west side.

SG6 Pompeii. Unnamed tomb with 4 metre long inscription, curved west side.

 

SG6 Pompeii. 4 metre long inscription on north side with cornice above and damaged top area.

SG6 Pompeii. 4 metre long inscription on north side with cornice above and damaged top area.

 

SG6 Pompeii. Looking north-east across damaged top of tomb, towards Porta Stabia and other tombs.
The damage was evidently suffered in the construction of San Paolino.

SG6 Pompeii. Looking north-east across damaged top of tomb, towards Porta Stabia and other tombs.

The damage was evidently suffered in the construction of San Paolino.

 

SG6 Pompeii. Skeletons found south of unnamed tomb. Photo courtesy of La Gazzetta Italiana.
During the excavation, there were also found visible traces of the Pompeiians fleeing from the famous eruption of 79 A.D. 
Above the layer of over two metres of the lapilli that covered this part of the ancient city, were visible traces of ruts and furrows of wagons. 
This may be connected to the discovery of skeletons not far away from there.
See http://www.lagazzettaitaliana.com/history-culture/8557-a-new-discovery-in-pompeii-an-italy-that-keeps-surprising

SG6 Pompeii. Skeletons found south of unnamed tomb. Photo courtesy of La Gazzetta Italiana.

During the excavation, there were also found visible traces of the Pompeiians fleeing from the famous eruption of 79 A.D.

Above the layer of over two metres of the lapilli that covered this part of the ancient city, were visible traces of ruts and furrows of wagons.

This may be connected to the discovery of skeletons not far away from there.

See http://www.lagazzettaitaliana.com/history-culture/8557-a-new-discovery-in-pompeii-an-italy-that-keeps-surprising

 

 

 

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Ultimo aggiornamento - Last updated: 03-Dec-2018 0:17