Doorworks 2: Columna rostrata

Elogium of Gaius Duilius, Rome, Pal. dei Cons, CIL 12.125, 6.1300

The Columna rostrata was originally erected in Rome in 260 BC, commemorating the naval victory of the Roman consul Gaius Duilius over the Carthaginian fleet. The inscription boasted that over two million aes of loot were plundered. Rather than expressing the amount in numeral words, it was written using at least 22 (and possibly as many as 32 – the inscription is fragmentary) repeated Roman numeral signs for 100,000, seen towards the bottom of the inscription. The effect of this ‘conspicuous computation’ was to impress the reader with the vastness of the quantity, serving as an indexical sign of Rome’s military might.


1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Current Epigraphy » Thoughts on the Columna rostrata

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s