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123‑124 A.D.: Hadrian Restores the Flaminia

This inscription of Hadrian's (CIL XI.6619 ILS 5857) can now be seen embedded in the archway of the medieval gate of Massa Martana:


[image ALT: A stone plaque set into a stone wall; on it are inscribed 11 lines of text in Roman capitals. It is an ancient Roman inscription recording the repair of part of the Via Flaminia near Massa Martana, Umbria (central Italy); it is transcribed, translated, and commented on this webpage.]

It can be read clearly on
this larger photo (400K)
in my Do‑it-yourself Epigraphy section.

Transcribed and expanded:

1



5

[image ALT: a blank space]
[image ALT: a blank space]

10
IMPERATOR CAESAR
DIVI TRAIA
NI PARTHICI FILIVS
DIVI NERVAE NEPOS
TRAIANVS HADRI
ANVS AVGVSTVS PONTIFEX
MAXIMVS TRIBVNICIA POTESTATE VIII
CONSVL III PROCOS VI
AM PROLAPSAM
NOVA SVBSTRVCTIONE
RESTAVRAVIT

Translated:

1
2‑3
4
5‑6
6‑7
7
8
11
9
10
The Emperor Caesar
son of the deified Trajan victor of the Parthians,
grandson of the deified Nerva,
Trajan Hadrian Augustus,
Chief Priest,
vested with the tribunician power for the 8th time,
three times consul, proconsul,
restored
the road that had subsided
by providing it with a new foundation.

You avoided the temptation to read PROCOS VI as "proconsul for the 6th time", I hope! Not only that would have been nonsense, but the numbers have bars over them: VI is the beginning of VIAM, road.

The date is easy: Hadrian's eighth tribunician term was from Dec. 10, 123 to Dec. 9, 124.

The road in question can pretty much only be the Flaminia, the only substantial Roman road anywhere near here, pursuing a due northerly course from Narni on its way to Bevagna, where it will angle eastwards to follow the valley of the Topino. I interpret prolapsa and substructio to mean not that there was a sharp cave-in at some point which required a single substructure, but rather a general subsidence of the roadbed which required relaying all of it over some unspecified distance. Now the inscription was moved here from where it was found, "at S. Giacomo, 1½ miles from Massa Martana as you go towards Viepri [N of Massa], about 80 paces below [the road], where it was buried below ground, in a retaining wall for the repair of the road".

I've walked much of the area and it doesn't look particularly swampy, not now at least, and less so north than south of Massa, where an area of flat plain will collect runoff from the surrounding hills; in it, and less than 3 km away, on the Flaminia, large pieces of a Roman building now incorporated in the church of S. Maria in Pantano — where the Italian word pantano does mean "marsh" — part of the largest set of Roman remains to be found in the immediate area, with excavations underway.

The ancient Via Flaminia can be nicely seen here as a more or less straight line. From S to N:


[image ALT: A map marker.]
	 The Roman way-station of Vicus ad Martis, now S. Maria in Pantano.


[image ALT: A map marker.]
	 Massa, where the inscription is currently located.


[image ALT: A map marker.]
	 approximate place where the inscription was found. (Switch from "Terrain" to "Hybrid" view and zoom in two or three notches, to see a very straight path along the E edge of a wooded area marked on topographical maps as "Bosco di S. Giacomo".)


[image ALT: A map marker.]
	 Viepri: a medieval, rather than a Roman town.

Zooming out a few notches, you can trace the course of the Flaminia from other 
[image ALT: A map marker.]
	 Roman sites.

[and if you need it, here's help in using the map,
including my own symbols & added information.]

    See also the Sep. 11, 1998 entry of my diary.


[image ALT: Link to a help screen on how to use clickmaps of Roman roads on my site.]
	
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Page updated: 24 Aug 12