Double-sided triangular votive bronze tablet dedicated to Jupiter Dolichenus (inscription, 1st and 2nd registers).

Bronze, chasing.
Inv. No. M4.

Vienna, Museum of Art History
(Kunsthistorisches Museum)

Origin:
From a hoard found in Mauer an der Url.
Description:
I(ovi) o(ptimo) m(aximo) D(olicheno) Ti(berius) Vib(ius)
Messinus pr(o) s(alute) v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) m(erito)

To Jupiter Dolichenus Optimus Maximus
(from) Tiberius Vibius Messinus
(who) releases the vow for salvation freely, as is deserved


...what do the terms “soteria” and “salus” really mean in these inscriptions? Moralee very briefly comments in his introduction that “salvation did not last a lifetime, much less for eternity, for this salvation pertained to specific moments of anxiety, sickness, disorder and dislocation”, and he briefly reiterates this view at later points: “the dedicators desired to be snatched from death, cured of terrible illnesses, the restoration, in short, of the wholeness of the body in the present”.

...these brief and scattered remarks do not strike me as a sufficient examination of what people meant when they asked the gods for “soteria” or “salus”, and why we should regard this request as particularly significant. Moreover, in the absence of any such discussion, the translation of these terms by “salvation” seems to me questionable. The English word “salvation” has strong and specific connotations that are surely to some extent misleading in the context of these inscriptions. Moralee does not explain his choice of translation, which is by no means inevitable: “preservation”, “safety”, and “well-being” are obvious options. I can imagine various advantages to the translation “salvation”: it perhaps was equally appropriate to both the Greek and the Latin words; perhaps its semantic range was wide enough to cover connotations of “soteria” and “salus” in pagan, Christian, and Jewish contexts.
From a review by James B. Rives (York University) of “For Salvation’s Sake” by Jason Moralee.

Literature:
Jason Moralee, "For Salvation’s Sake": Provincial Loyalty, Personal Religion, and Epigraphic Production in the Roman and Late Antique Near East. New York and London: Routledge, 2004.
Credits:
© 2012. Photo: Ilya Shurygin.

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THE GALLERY OF ANCIENT ART
Keywords: triangular votive tablet tabella bronze ex-voto Castor Pollux Dioscuri Jupiter Dolichenus Juno Dolichena bull standard signum signa militaria vexillum double axe thunderbolt wreath horses Sun Moon eagle aquila Inv Iovi optimo maximo Dolicheno Tiberius Vibius Messinus pro salute votum solvit libens merito No M 4 M4 Mauer an der Url
HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME