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p469 Semo Sancusa

Articles on pp469‑470 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.


Semo Sancus: a statue of Semo Sancus Dius Fidius on the island in the Tiber, where an inscription of the second century was found in 1574 (CIL VI.567). The marble base on which this inscription is placed supported a statue which, because of the similarity of names, the early Christians mistook for one of Simon Magus (Justin Mart. Apol. pr. 25, 56; Iren. contra haeres. i.23; Tert. adv. gent. 13; Cyrill. Hierosol. Catechesis 6; Euseb. Hist. eccles. ii.13, 14). There is no evidence for the existence of any shrine or altar here, and the cult of Semo Sancus may well have been connected with that of Iupiter Iurarius (q.v.), and this statue may have stood at or near his temple (HJ 636; Besnier 273‑279, 286‑289; Rosch. IV.318‑319; RE I. A. 2255).

Semo Sancus, aedes: a temple on the Quirinal of this deity under his full name, Semo Sancus Dius Fidius,1 or its variants, Semo Sancus Fidius, Deus or Dius Fidius (Ov. Fast. VI.213‑216; Varro, LL V.52, 66). This Sabine cult is said to have been introduced into Rome by Titus Tatius (Tert. ad nat. II.9; Ov. Fast. VI.217‑218; Prop. IV.9.74), but the construction of the temple is generally ascribed to the last Tarquin, although it was dedicated by Sp. Postumius many years later, 5th June, 466 B.C. (Dionys. IX.60; Ov. Fast. VI.213; Fast. Ven. ad Non. Iun., CIL I2 p220, 319; Fast. Ant. ap. NS 1921, 98). It contained a bronze statue of Tanaquil, her distaff and spindle (Plut. q. Rom. 30; Plin. NH VIII.194), and a wooden shield covered with ox-hide, which was a memorial of the league between Rome and Gabii (Dionys. IV.58), and, after the destruction of Privernum in 329 B.C., bronze wheels made of the proceeds of the confiscated property of Vitruvius (Liv. VIII.20.8).

Besides aedes (Grk. ἱερὸν), the temple was called templum (Pliny), fanum (Tert.) and sacellum (Livy). Although small aedes were sometimes called sacella, the use of this term by Livy may perhaps be explained on the hypothesis that the shrine of this deity was open to the sky (cf. Varro v.66; Becker, Top. 576). It stood on the Collis Mucialis (p437), near and probably a little north of the porta Sanqualis, which was named from the temple (Fest. 345: Sanqualis porta appellatur proxima aedi Sanci2), on the ridge of the hill (Ov. Fast. VI.218; Liv. VIII.20.8: versus aedem Quirini). This site lies in the angle between the modern Vie Nazionale and Quirinale, where, in the gardens of S. Silvestro degli Arcioni, was found in the sixteenth century a travertine base dedicated to Semo Sancus (CIL VI.568; cf. 30994, of unknown provenance),3 and near by p470in more recent times, some lead pipes inscribed with the name of the same collegium4 that dedicated the base (BC 1887, 8). Three fragments of concrete foundations have also been found that may belong to this temple (RhM 1894, 409; BC 1881, 5; Mitt. 1889, 274; see in general HJ 400‑402; Gilb. I.275‑280; III.370‑371; Rosch. IV.317‑318; Besnier 279‑282; WR 130‑132; Mem. Am. Acad. II.61‑62; RE I. A. 2254).


The Authors' Notes:

1 WR cit. gives reasons for refusing to differentiate Semo Sancus from Dius Fidius: and Warde Fowler (Roman Festivals, 135‑142) agrees.

2 Sancus, Lindsay.

3 Loewy has pointed out that the statue which stands on this base does not belong to it, and is really an archaic Apollo (DAP 2.xi.199; SR II.148: cf. HF 351).

4 The decuria sacerdotum bidentalium (CIL XV.7253).


Thayer's Note:

a For Lanciani's much fuller account of the excavations of the shrine of Sancus on the Quirinal, complete with details about the god himself and his cult, as well as an engraving of a statue of him that may have been found there in 1881 and its inscribed base, see this section of Pagan and Christian Rome. The statue is of unknown provenance like the one mentioned by Platner as having been found on Tiber Island in 1574, and may be the same one, but it's very unclear.


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