About this object

Rectangular ash chest, decorated on three sides, the back is smooth. There are deep rectangular clamp holes at the top centre of both sides, the interior cavity is smooth. The inscription reads: DIS MANIBVS, SACRV
TI.CLAVDIO, ONESIMO
ACTES.LIB.CLAVDIA
FELICVLA.CONIVGI.SVO
BENE MERENTI.FECIT
VIXIT.CVM.EO.ANNIS.XXXI Ti.
Dis Manibus sacru (m)/Tib(erio) Claudio Onesimo/ Actes lib( erto). Claudia Felicula coniugi suo/nbene merenti fecit/Vixit cum eo annis XXXI. Sacred to the Shades. To Tiberius Claudius Onesimus, freedman of Acte, Claudia Felicular made this for her well deserving husband. She lived with him for 31 years.
Claudius Onesimus, named on the inscription is a freedman of Acte. It is plausible that his wife who dedicated the ash chest, also an Acteand an imperial freedwoman, is the one famour for being the mistress of the emperor Nero. In a similar inscription mentioning the freedwoman of Acte, the term Aug lib follows after her name, suggesting that it was indeed the mistress of Nero. In this example the term may had been omitted because of the lack of space. Onesimum's wife who dedicated this chest to her husband would also have been a freedwoman of the imperial household. Instead of the age Onesimus lived the years he lived together with his wife are mentioned. It is not often to mention the length of the relationships in inscriptions. It could well be that Claudia felt that the years they have been together was a significant period.
The front and sides of the field of the chest have a frame of plain moulding of outer fascia and inner cyma. The frame of the sides has a large rosette with four petals. The inscription panel at the front is inside the frame in a way that a narrow strip of the background is visible all round it. The inscription panel has a moulded frame that is more elaborate than the one at the front: apart from the cyma there is band of twisted or spiral design between two narrow fasciae. the corners of the frame have a diagonal groove. The execution of the decoration is good but not as precise.
Dating precisely simple ash chests like this is difficult. From the inscription we can make that Claudius Onesimus died some time later than the middle of the 1st century, in Neronian or Flavian times, that is the third quarter of the 1st century AD.

Object specifics

  • Type
    Religion
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    1st Century AD (Neronian - Flavian) mid - 1st Century AD (Neronian - Flavian) late
  • Materials
    Marble
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
    1789
  • Measurements
    255 mm x 330 mm x 295 mm
  • Note
    Davies (2007) trans. The ahs chest compares well to ash chest of C. Cassius Dionysius in the Museo Nazionale Romano from the mid 1st century AD. It was acquired from the Mattei collections, the inscription was known from the 17th century and it was included in the Monumenta Matthaeiana but in the illustration it appears in a different chest but this could have been a mistake of the engraver. The lid it is currently kept with may not belong to the chest.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Antonio d'Este ( Previous owner); Ferdinando Lisandroni ( Previous owner); Giuseppe Mattei ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related

Publications

  • Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Michaelis, A

    Author: Michaelis, A
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Date: 1882
    Description:

  • Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

    Author:
    Publisher: Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften
    Date:
    Description:

  • Roman Cineraria in 'Monumenta Mattheiana' and the Collection of Henry Blundell at Ince

    Davies, G

    Author: Davies, G
    Publisher:
    Date: 1990
    Description:

  • The Ince Blundell Collection of Classical Sculpture. Volume 2 - The Ash Chests and other Funerary Reliefs

    Davies, Glenys

    Author: Davies, Glenys
    Publisher: Verlag Philipp von Zabern
    Date: 2007
    Description:

  • The Inscriptions on the Ash Chests of the Ince Blundell Hall Collection: Ancient and Modern

    Davies, Glenys

    Author: Davies, Glenys
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Date: 2000
    Description:

Ownership

Previous owners

  • Joseph William Col Sir Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: 1789
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Ferdinando Lisandroni

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1789
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Antonio d'Este

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1789
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Giuseppe Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Humanities
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