Fasti Ostienses

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A fragment of the Fasti Ostienses that mentions Pharasmanes II of Iberia

The Fasti Ostienses was a fragmentary calendar (fasti) from Ostia, a principal seaport and the harbour city of Rome, dating from 49 BC to 175 AD. The most likely public space for displaying the Fasti Ostienses was the Temple of Vulcanus, the chief god of the town. Most of the variation of events that were recorded provide information on religion, the eras of the Republic and Roman Empire, and the Roman magistrate.[1]

The slabs on which the fasti was inscribed were dismantled and used for other purposes such as thresholds, perhaps in late antiquity under Christian rule, or even earlier, during the Severan dynasty.[2]

Ostian origins of the fasti[edit]

An incomplete fragment of the Fasti Ostienses from the Imperial period.[3]

A[nco ---]
Mar[cio ---]
re[gi ---]
quarto [a R]omul[o ---]
qui ab urb[e c]ondit[a ---]
[pri]mum colon[iam ---]
[---] dedux[it ---]

The Fasti Ostienses was one of the few epigraphic documents of historical memory among ancient Rome that had survived. With the discretion of local authorities of the colonia, the first record keeping of annual events within Ostia commenced. These records were inscribed, in Latin, on fine marble slabs and were exhibited for its citizens to observe.[4]

The oldest recovered fragment of the Fasti Ostienses dates to the mid 1st century BC; however, it is evident that this period was not the start of the list. The construction of these fragments may have began during the time Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix was appointed dictator by the Senate in 82-81 BC. The preservation of the Fasti Ostienses was likely one of the duties performed by the pontifex Vulcani et aedium sacrarum, a title held by the sacerdos of Ostia and was the equivalent position of the pontifex maximus in Rome. The fragments themselves would be displayed as cladding on the walls of the Temple of Vulcanus.[1]


The Fasti Ostienses offered components of historiography on not only Ostian events but Roman as well given the harbour city's close connection with Rome; however, these fragmentary slabs predominantly emphasized more extensively on the latter.[4] Inscriptions of Ostian events were seldom recorded, and there were years when no local entries were found at all. The reasoning of such neglect is unknown, though there is certainty that representative selections of its public events were present.[5]

Ostian records[edit]

For each year, the appointed consuls were listed on the Fasti Ostienses, which commonly served as a method of timekeeping in that their names were used to distinguish the years.[6] What followed were key events of national importance, then the local duoviri, and lastly its own local entries.[2] Notes on public events regarding the city of Ostia included festivals, plays, donation of congiaria and various feasts.[2] Moreover, Ostia's businesses of grain importation, elections for the priesthood of the pontifex Vulcani et aedium sacrarum, the city's personal contribution to spectacles, and information on public ceremonies that stress on the importance of fortifying local cohesion, were inscribed.

Roman records[edit]

Entries of Rome's events on the fasti included the passing and births within imperial families, triumphs of military victories, official meetings (curia), religious activities in Roman temples, and ludi. Given this vast amount of historical documentation, the entries were assumed to be recorded but not officially inscribed on the fragments until the end of each year. A source of information for the Fasti Ostienses may have been collected from the daily gazette of political and social events known as Acta Diurna, the first "newspapers" for Roman citizens. These news of events, similar to the fasti, were inscribed on metal or stone and were posted in areas of great publicity such as the Roman Forum.[1]

The remains of the Fasti Ostienses are scarce due to their destruction that occurred likely in the time of late antiquity. and finding those that include Ostian events are much rarer. The following entries provide several years worth of inscriptions:

Date (all are CE) Description
2 The body of L. Caesar arriving from Massilia landed in Ostia, and was solemnly received by thousands of citizens and the local magistrates.[2]
20 Nero to[g(am)] sumpsit.[7]
31 Records of the death of Sejanus, his children, and his lover's (Livi(ll)a) suicide on 26.[8]
33 compl[ures in s]calis [Gemoniis iacuer(unt) (regarding the executions of Sejanus's allies).[7]
36 Massive fire partially burned the Circo Massimo on the Aventine side, sweeping through nearby shops and eventually throughout most of the city.[9]
37 The death of Antonia Minor, daughter of Mark Antony and Octavia Minor.[10]
38 (horrea) Aemiliana arserunt.[7]
91 in [fundo?] Volusiano / arb[os ful]/mine icta; cond[itum per] / aedilicios.[2]
94 The Crypta Terentiana was restored.[2]
96 M. Cocceius N[erva] imperator appellatu[s est].[7]
103 Afranius Dexter cos. in domo sua exanimis inventus.[7]
112 aedis Volkani vetustate corrupta / [restituta or]nato opere dedicata est.[2]
115 incendium ortum in v[ico? ---] / et praedia complura deusta sun[t].[2]
127 templum Sarapi quod [-] Caltilius P[? ---] sua pecunia exstruxit dedicatum [es]t.[2]
140 sta[tua M. Aurel]i Ca[esaris ---] / publice po[sita ---].[2]
146 Aufidius Fortis, p(atronus) p(erpetuus) c(oloniae) paid for games: ob dedicatione statuarum argent(earum) / [Ho]noris et Virtutis ludos per triduum sua pec(unia) edidit.[2]
150/155 Mentions the reign of Antoninus Pius. Recording was also placed in the Circus Flaminius.[11]
152 The most extensive narrative appears in 152: a private citizen, whose name has not been preserved, dedicated a basilica, and on this occasion also offered a munus gladiatorium with a venatio legitima, and he dedicated two statues, apparently of the Genius and the Fortuna populi Ostiensis, quas pos(uit) s(ua) p(ecunia) in [foro].[2]


  1. ^ a b c Bernhard (Tübingen) Brehmer, “Fasti Ostienses," Brill’s New Pauly, 2006,
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ritual Dynamics and Religious Change in the Roman Empire: Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Heidelberg, July 5–7, 2007), (2009), p.135-136
  3. ^ “The Late Republican Period: 267 BC - Octavianus,” Ostia Antica,
  4. ^ a b Urban Dreams and Realities in Antiquity: Remains and Representations of the Ancient City, (2015), p. 353-354.
  5. ^ Ritual Dynamics and Religious Change in the Roman Empire: Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Heidelberg, July 5–7, 2007), (2009), p.136
  6. ^ Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia (2004), p.241-244.
  7. ^ a b c d e Ritual Dynamics and Religious Change in the Roman Empire: Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Heidelberg, July 5–7, 2007), (2009), p.135
  8. ^ The Art of Forgetting: Disgrace and Oblivion in Roman Political Culture, (2006), p.173.
  9. ^ Roman Circuses: Arenas for Chariot Racing, (1986), p.100.
  10. ^ Notizie degli Svaci, vol. XIV, (1917), p.182, lines 21-22.
  11. ^ Roman Circuses: Arenas for Chariot Racing, (1986), p.544.


  • Aldrete, Gregory S. Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2004.
  • Bruun, Christer. Ritual Dynamics and Religious Change in the Roman Empire. Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop of the International Network Impact of Empire (Heidelberg, July 5–7, 2007). Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2009.


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