Roman Republic

Rome in the Early Republic (509 - 241 BC)

Monimentom of Jupiter Jurarius

Church of San Giovanni Calibita and the Ospedale Fatebenefratelli

on the northern part of the Tiber Island

Inscription CIL VI 379

Transcription of CIL VI 379, from F. Marcattili (referenced below, at p. 736)

Samuel Ball Platner (referenced below, at p. 296) recorded that:

  1. “Iuppiter Iurarius (apparently, a shrine) is known only from a dedicatory inscription [CIL VI 379] made of white stones in a pavement of opus signinum that was found in 1854 under the cloister of San Giovanni Calibita in the northern part of the [Tiber Island] ... ”

Unfortunately, although this inscription was transcribed and published at the time of its discovery, it was no longer visible when Maurice Besnier (referenced below) published it again in 1898: on the basis of the earlier publications, he transcribed it (at p. 280) as:


Eric Warmington (referenced below, at p. 84, entry 81) completed this as:

C. Volcaci. C. f. har. de stipe Iovi Iurario [dedit ob m]onimentom

and translated it (at p. 85) to record that a haruspex, C. Volcacius, son of Caius:

  1. “... gave this, for a ‘monimentom’ (memorial), to Jupiter of Oaths; de stipe (from the offertory).”

Hélène Moreau (referenced below, at p. 161 and note 672, citing Alfredo Valvo, referenced below, at p. 268) observed that:

  1. “In the absence of [information on] the precise archeological context [in which the inscription was found], the text has been dated, by both the form of certain terms [such as ‘monimentom’] and the form of the letters, to the 2nd half of the 2nd century BC ...”, (my translation).

Caius Volcacius

As noted above, Volcacius was a haruspex, a priest whose function was the divination of the future from the entrails of sacrificial animals.  According to Marie-Laurence Haack, (referenced below, at loc. 1861):

  1. “The oldest surviving record of a haruspex in Rome, [which dates to the 2nd century BC], relates to a certain C. Volcacius C. f., whose name could be derived from the [Etruscan] ...  velχa family, which seems to have been been one of the great aristocratic families of Perugia ... The haruspex’ links with this family are, however,  difficult to disentangle because [his name is expressed in its Latin form].  The fact that the Volcacii are not attested in Rome before him suggests that the Roman branch of the family was newly-established in Rome: indeed, he might have been the first member of the family to settle the City: perhaps he was one of the Etruscan haruspices who came to live in Rome to advise the Senate.  Although the inscription does not contain explicit information on either the scope of his activity or the identity of the people who consulted him, it does inform us that ... he had obtained the confidence of the followers of Jupiter Jurarius, since he presents himself as having collected their offerings to build or restore a monument to the god”, (my translation).


Tyler Denton (referenced below, at p. 44, note 86) equated the ‘monimentom‘ of CIL VI 379 with the more usual term ‘monumentum’, and his thesis was devoted to an analysis of how Livy and other Roman sources used this term.   He noted (at pp. 43-4) that:

  1. “... monumenta are [usually] structures or other architectural works constructed for a commemorative purpose.  Some of the most common forms of monumenta are: temples; shrines; basilicas; palaces; tombs; statues; porticoes; columns; arches; and other constructions meant to have a set and permanent location.  Generally, these monumenta are constructed to commemorate a certain person or event ...”

Denton noted (at pp. 44-5) that:

  1. “Even when the dedication is to a god:

  2. the person or persons who dedicated, paid for, or built [a monumentum] often had their names attached alongside [that of the god]; and

  3. the monumentum could easily be associated more with the person behind its construction than with the deity being venerated.”

Denton gave Volcacius’ ‘monimetom’ to Jupiter Jurarius as an example of the first of these phenomena and commented (at p. 44, note 86) that:

  1. “... even ... a very minor public figure [could have his name inscribed alongside that of the god. ... In [CIL VI 379], Volcacius’ name takes primacy of place and serves as a bracket of the inscription along with Jupiter [Jurarius].”

He did not comment on what form this monimetom might have taken.  It seems to me that, given the apparent modesty of the pavement and the relatively low status of its commissioner, it was probably a small shrine dedicated to Jupiter Jurarius.  

We should now look again at Denton’s observation above that:

  1. “Generally, [such] monumenta are constructed to commemorate a certain person or event ...”

Clearly, Volcacius did not build his ‘monimentom’ (at least overtly) to commemorate himself.  Thus, it presumably commemorated a  significant public event that had taken place in this  location, one in which both he and Jupiter Jurarius had played a part.  Of course, we can only speculate about the likely nature of this event.  For example. Hélène Moreau (referenced below, at pp. 161-2) reasoned that Volcacius’ intervention in the construction of the ‘monimentom’ suggests:

  1. “...  an event that  ... required a ‘reading’ by a haruspex, occurred [here. ... As we shall see below], the epithet Jurarius ... indicates a Jupiter who was invoked during the taking of an oath ... Thus, the inscription could commemorate ... [an act of] atonement [here], following an oath that had not been fulfilled, [in which] Volcasius intervened in [his capacity as haruspex]”, (my abridgement and translation).

It is certainly possible that Volcacius had ascertained from the entrails that Jupiter Jurarius required the construction of a sanctuary on this spot, quite possibly as an act of propitiation for the sacrilegious violation of an oath that had been taken in his name.  There are, of course other possibilities.  However, the important point is that the building of the ‘monimentom’ here in the 2nd half of the 2nd century BC does not necessarily indicate the prior existence on cult of Jupiter Jurarius on the island.

De Stipe

Varro explained that:

  1. “... even now, when people give money to the gods, placing it in thesauri [collection boxes], they call it stips” , (‘On the Latin Language’, 5: 182, translation from Michael Crawford, referenced below, in para. 7).

Daniela Muscianese Claudiani (referenced below, at p. 15) gave three examples of this usage, two of which came from the Tiber Island:

  1. CIL VI 379: stipe Iovi Iurario; and

  2. CIL VI 39803: stips Aesculapii (see below).

Michael Crawford (as above) cited these as the first two of:

  1. “... a whole series of inscriptions that refer to the use of the stips or pecunia of a deity ....”;

and suggested that, on the basis of Varro’s testimony:

  1. “... the archaic word was perhaps stips, [later] replaced by pecunia ...”

Gil Renberg (referenced below, at p. 138, entry 4) analysed the now-lost inscription CIL VI 39803: mentioned above, which recorded the use of funds from the “stipe Aesculapi” by an aedile (possibly L. Valerius Flaccus, who perhaps served as aedile in 66 BC).  He suggested that:

  1. “While this inscription was found at San Bartolomeo, the medieval church believed to occupy the site of the [Temple of Aesculapius], it could have originated somewhere on the island beyond the sanctuary's perimeter, where money from the god's stips might also have been used for construction.”

He noted (at p. 103, note 59) that:

  1. “... the stips from which the funds for [the ‘monimentom’ of CIL VI 379]  were [taken] may have been that of Asclepius, referred to in [CIL VI 38803], although this is uncertain.”

It seems to me that the phrase ‘de stipe Iovi Iurario’ in CIL VI 379 probably indicates the prior existence on the cult of Jupiter Jurarius in Rome, although not necessarily on the island.

Cult of Jupiter Jurarius

Scholars generally accept that the epithet Jurarius derives from the verb jurare (to swear).  This verb was often used in the context of oaths sworn ‘by Jupiter’ or, ‘by Jupiter’s stone’: for example, according to Polybius, when the Romans agreed a treaty with the Carthaginians in 279 BC:

  1. “... the Carthaginians swore by their ancestral gods and the Romans, following an old custom, [swore] by Jupiter Lapis”, (‘Histories’, 3: 25: 6).

John Rich (referenced below, at p. 194 and note 35) discussed a number of examples of the use of the expression:

  1. “.... iurare Iouem lapidem, [which probably means] to swear an oath by Jupiter with a stone.”

For example, in a letter to Trebatius Testa in 53 BC, Cicero joked:

  1. “How will you think it proper to swear by Jupiter Stone, when you know that Jupiter cannot get angry with anybody?”, (‘Letters to Friends’, 7:13. translated as letter 35 by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2000, at p. 211).

In the light of:

  1. this usage of the verb jurare in association with Jupiter; and

  2. the evidence of CIL VI 379 for a shrine dedicated to him on the island;

we can reasonably assume the existence of a Roman cult of Jupiter Jurarius, who guaranteed the efficacy of oaths sworn in his name.

Having said that, a formal cult of Jupiter Jurarius was unattested in the surviving sources before the discovery of CIL VI 379.  However, Maurice Besnier (referenced below, at p. 285) pointed out that a second inscription (ILS 3037) that was discovered in 1885 at Cividate Camuno (Roman Civitas Camunnorum) seemed to support the existence of this cult.  This second inscription (ILS 3037 = AE 1898, 131), which is now in the Museo della Città at Brescia reads:


and is completed as:

I(oui) O(ptimo) M(aximo)/Iur(ario)/ L(ucius) G(---) S(---)

Hélène Moreau (referenced below, at p. 161) observed that the restitution of ‘IVR’ as Iurarius depended on CIL VI 379.  Nevertheless, Gian Luca Gregori (referenced below), for example, accepted it: he observed (at p. 31) that:

  1. “... dedications have been found [at Cividate Comuno] to: Bona Dea; Dii et Deae; Fortuna; Isis;  Iuppiter Optimus Maximus Iurarius; Mater Deum; Mercurius; Sarapis; [and] Silvanus (2); generally [dating to] the first two centuries of the Empire.”

However, it is important to bear in mind that the entire corpus of evidence for the existence of a formal cult to Jupiter Jurarius contains only these two inscriptions:

  1. CIL V1 379, from the Tiber Island, which indicates:

  2. the construction of ‘monimetom’ (probably a relatively small sanctuary) to Jupiter Jurarius in the 2nd half of the 2nd century BC, on a site that is now under the cloister of San Giovanni Calibita; and

  3. the existence at this time of a ‘stipe Iovi Iurario’, which probably referred to donations that had been made to Jupiter Jurarius in a thesaurus that was housed in a larger shrine or perhaps a temple to him, which obviously pre-dated Volcacius’ ‘monimentom’ and was possibly, but not certainly, on the island; and

  4. ILS 3037, from Civitas Camunnorum (modern Cividate Comuno], near Brescia), which:

  5. probably records a dedication to Jupiter Optimus Maximus Jurarius; and

  6. was made in the the 1st or 2nd century AD by a now-unknown individual who was identified only by his initials (LGS).

Besnier on the Temple of Vediovis on Tiber Island

As noted above, Maurice Besnier (referenced below) published a major paper on this inscription in 1898.  He argued (as p. 284), citing Livy, Vitruvius and Ovid, that:

  1. “It was known before 1854 that there was a temple of Jupiter on the Tiber island; but no source revealed its precise dedication. ... Livy recorded that [L. Furius Purpurio] had vowed a temple to Jupiter .... [The discovery of CIL VI 379 in 1854] fixes with certainty the precise location of the building, and we now know that it was dedicated [to Jupiter Jurarius]”, (my abridgement and translation).

To support these conclusions, Besnier argued (at pp. 285-6) that:

  1. “... the city [near] which [ILS 3037] was found is significant: Brescia, the ancient [Gallic city that the Romans called] Brixia, ... [was] not far from [the Latin colony of] Cremona, ....[where Furius] vowed  ...  a temple to Jupiter (sic) [in 200 BC]. ... [Thus];

  2. the inscription of 1888 indicates that Jupiter Jurarius (or, better, a Gaulish god whose names were translated into Latin as Jupiter Jurarius) was honoured at Brixia; [and] 

  3. the inscription of 1854 proves that [Furius’] temple on the Tiber island had been dedicated to precisely this Jupiter Jurarius.  

  4. In accordance with ancient ideas, [Furius] had made his vow to the god of Brixia and of the [Gallic] Cenomani (that is, to the god of the enemy) ... : therefore, in the eyes of the Romans, Jupiter Jurarius was peregrinus deus [a foreign god]”, (my translation).

Besnier accepted (at p, 287) that, while  Ovid had identified 1st January as the dies natales of temples of Aesculapius and Jupiter on the Tiber Island, the fasti Praenestini:

  1. “... gives Jupiter the archaic name of Vediovis”, (my translation).

He observed that Furius had:

  1. “... built a temple of Vediovis on the Capitol and one of Jupiter Jurarius on the island at the same time, as if he regarded Vediovis, the old Italic deity, as corresponding in Rome to Jupiter lurarius of the Gauls”, (my translation).

He suggested (at p. 288) that:

  1. “In order to reconcile the fasti Praenestini, Ovid's ‘Fasti’, Livy’s testimony and [CIL VI 379], one might hypothesise that:

  2. Furius brought together, at the same time but in two different places, [the related deities] ... of Vediovis and Jupiter Jurarius;

  3. they became more closely associated with each other over time; and

  4. the cult of Vediovis was [subsequently ?] added to that of Jupiter Jurarius on the island and [eventually ?] confused with his”, (my translation).

Samuel Ball Platner, writing in 1929 (in this page reproduced on the website LacusCurtius) explicitly rejected Besnier’s hypothesis: as we saw above, for him, Volcacius’ ‘monimentom’ was:

  1. “.... apparently, a shrine, ... known only from a dedicatory inscription ...”

I agree with his rejection of Besnier’s hypothesis for the following reasons:

  1. There is no evidence that any of the Roman cults that Gian Luca Gregori identified at Civitas Civitas Camunnorum in the early Empire (see above), including the putative cult of Jupiter Optimus Maximus Jurarius, had a Gallic precursor;

  2. CIL VI 379 indicates only:

  3. the construction of a relatively modest ‘monimentom’ on the island that was dedicated to Jupiter Jurarius in the second half of the 2nd century BC; and

  4. the probable existence of this cult in Rome (although not necessarily on the island) before that time.

  5. None of our surviving sources record a temple on the island that was dedicated to Jupiter Jurarius.

  6. As set out on my page on the Temples of Vediovis, although the the surviving literary sources are inconsistent, the likelihood is that Furius’ temple on the island was (like his temple on the Capitol) dedicated to Vediovis (as recorded, for example, in the fasti Praenestini). 

Read more: 

Denton T., “Monumenta and Historiographical Method in Livy's Ab Urbe Condita”, (2019) thesis of the University of Colorado 

Marcattili F., “Inversione della Norma ed Integrazione Sociale:per un' Interpretazione dei Templi a Cella Trasversale”, Atti della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia: Rendiconti, 89 (2016-7 ) 705-44

Moreau H., “Entre Deux Rives- Entre Deux Ponts: l’ Île Tibérine de la RomeAantique: Histoire, Archéologie, Urbanisme des Origines au Vè Siècle après J.C”, (2014) thesis of Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille

Muscianese Claudiani D., "Depositi Votivi e Luoghi di Culto dell'Abruzzo Italico e Romano: Quattro Casi di Studio", (2011/12) thesis of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore,  Milan

Rich J., “The Fetiales and Roman International Relations”, in

  1. Richardson J. H. and Santangelo F. (editors), “Priests and State in the Roman World”, (2011) Stuttgart , at pp 185-240

Renberg G., “Public and Private Places of Worship in the Cult of Asclepius at Rome”, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome, 51/52 (2006/7), 87-172

Gregori G. L., “Da Civitas a Res Publica: la Comunità Camuna in Età Romana”, in: 

  1. Mariotti V. (editor), “Il Teatro e l' Anfiteatro di Cividate Camuno: Scavo, Restauro e Allestimento di un Parco Archeologico” (2004) Florence, at pp. 19-36

Crawford M., “Thesauri, Hoards and Votive Deposits”, in

  1. De Cazanove O. and Scheid J. (editors), “Sanctuaires et Sources dans l'Antiquité: Les Sources Documentaires et Leurs Limites dans la Description des Lieux de Culte”, (2003) Naples, at pp. 69-84

Haack M., “Les Haruspices dans le Monde Romain”, (2003) Bordeaux

Shackleton Bailey D. R.(translator), “Cicero. Letters to Friends, Volume I: Letters 1-113”, (2001) Cambridge (MA)

Valvo A., “L' Iscrizione a luppiter lurarius dell' Isola Tiberina”, Rendiconti: Istituto Lombardo: Accademia di Scienze e Lettere, 123 (1989) 263-77 

Warmington E. H.(translator), “Remains of Old Latin, Volume IV: Archaic Inscriptions”, ( 1940) Cambridge, MA

Platner (S. B. completed and revised by T. Ashby), “A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome”, (1929), London

Besnier M., “Jupiter Jurarius”, Mélanges de l' École Française de Rome, 18 (1898) 281-9

Besnier M., “L' Íle Tibérine dans l' Antiquité”, (1902) Paris 

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