Sunday, March 13, 2016


Loyalty to an Obscure Goddess

Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 13.581 = Carmina Latina Epigraphica 871 Buecheler (from Bordeaux, stone now lost; my translation):
I'm a wanderer, I'm constantly carried around the whole world,
relying on the protection of Onuava's godhead,
but the remoteness of a distant world doesn't force me
to pay my vows to the name of another god, bound as I am.
Sure faith in the truth carried me to Tibur's citadel,        5
but Onuava's godhead also brings hope and strength.
Wherefore, o mother goddess, my solemn vows to you
I'm pleased to pay in the Ausonian land.

sum vagus assidue toto circum[feror orbe]
[tutela fretus] numinis Onuavae
nec me diversi cogit distan[t]ia mundi
alterius titulo subdere vota r[e]um.
veri ce[r]ta fides Tiburni vexit in arce[m],        5
[spes] etiam Onuavae numen o[p]e[sque g]erit.
quare o diva parens [tibi quae sollemnia vovi],
Ausonia in terra [reddere vota libet].
Other supplements from Buecheler's Carmina Latina Epigraphica:
2 [indigetis cultor]
7 [meritae tibi, cum procul absim]
8 [solvere vota decet]
On vota reum in line 4, cf. Vergil, Aeneid 5.237 voti reus, with the comment of Macrobius, Saturnalia 3.2.6 (tr. Robert A. Kaster, with his note):
This is the technical language of sacred rites: the person who incurs an obligation to divine powers by undertaking a vow is said to be "answerable" [reus] for it, the person who now discharges the vow he promised is said to have been "condemned" to do so.6

6Cf. E. 5. 80 (to the deified Daphnis), "You too will condemn (damnabis) men with their vows," on which Serv. says: "That is, when as a god you have begun to benefit humankind, you will oblige them to pay their vows, which keep people bound and, as it were, condemned (damnatos) until they are paid." For reus cf. Fest. p. 336.5–6; M. uses Virgil’s phrase, voti reus, at 1.12.31.

haec vox propria sacrorum est, ut reus vocetur qui suscepto voto se numinibus obligat, damnatus autem qui promissa vota iam solvit.
Line 5: Did the author of the inscription go to Tibur to consult the Sibyl? See Lactantius, Divine Institutes 1.6 (list of the Sibyls; tr. William Fletcher):
the tenth of Tibur, by name Albunea, who is worshipped at Tibur as a goddess, near the banks of the river Anio, in the depths of which her statue is said to have been found, holding in her hand a book.

decimam Tiburtem, nomine Albuneam, quae Tiburi colitur ut dea, iuxta ripas amnis Anienis, cuius in gurgite simulacrum eius inventum esse dicitur, tenens in manu librum.
The inscription is number 29 in Louis Maurin and Milagros Navarro Caballero, Inscriptions latines d'Aquitaine (ILA): Bordeaux (Pessac: Ausonius, 2010), which I haven't seen (I think the inscription is discussed on pp. 199-201).

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