Venus Cloacina


L. Mussidius Longus. 42 BC. AR Denarius (18mm, 3.96 g, 11h). Rome mint. Shrine of Venus Cloacina: Circular platform surmounted by two statues of the goddess, each resting right hand on cippus, the platform inscribed CLOACIN and ornamented with trellis-pattern balustrade, flight of steps and portico on left; L • MVSSIDIVS • LONGVS around above. Crawford 494/43a

Pliny 15.119: At the time of the foundation of Rome myrtles grew on the present site of the city, as tradition says that the Romans and Sabines, after having wanted to fight a battle because of the carrying off of the maidens, laid down their arms and purified themselves with sprigs of myrtle, at the place now occupied by the statues (signa) of Venus Cluacina, cluere being the old word meaning ‘to cleanse.’ And a kind of incense for fumigation is also contained in this tree, which was selected for the purpose on the occasion referred to because Venus the guardian spirit of the tree also presides over unions, and I rather think that it was actually the first of all trees to be planted in public places at Rome… (Latin)


Nice images of remains and reconstruction on Wikipedia.

I rather think the left hand statue looked something like the reverse image of Caesar’s coinage:


In just a few specimens you can actually see the wings of Victory



Symbolic Uses of the Pileus

I’ve ended up talking to my former PhD student about the pileus quite a bit over the past year.  I’m creating this post to have place to store references.

Livy 38.55; 187BCE: Ser. Sulpicius next consulted the senate as to who was to conduct the inquiry, and they fixed upon Q. Terentius Culleo. There are some writers who assert that this praetor was so attached to the family of the Cornelii that at the funeral – they say he died and was buried in Rome – he preceded the bier wearing a cap of liberty, just as though he were marching in a triumphal procession, and at the Porta Capena he distributed wine sweetened with honey to those who followed the body, because amongst the other captives in Africa he had been delivered by Scipio.

Speeches as Historical Evidence

Livy 38.56: There are many other details in which writers differ, especially as regards his closing years, his impeachment, his death, his funeral, and his tomb, so that I cannot decide what traditions or documents to follow. There is no agreement as to the prosecutors. . Some say that M. Naevius, others that the Petillii, initiated the proceedings; nor as to the date when they began, nor the year in which he died, nor where he was buried. Some say that he died and was buried in Rome; others say in Liternum. In both places his monument and statues are shown. At Liternum there was a monument surmounted by a statue which we have seen lately, and which was overthrown by a storm. At Rome there are three statues above the monument of the Scipios; two are said to be those of Publius and Lucius; the third that of the poet Q. Ennius.

Nor is it only the chroniclers who differ; even the speeches, if they are really those of the men whose they are said to be, viz., P. Scipio and Tiberius Gracchus, cannot be brought into agreement. The title of Scipio’s speech gives the prosecutor’s name as M. Naevius; in the speech itself the name does not appear; sometimes he describes him as a knave, sometimes as a trifler. Even the speech of Gracchus makes no mention of the Petillii as the prosecutors of Africanus, nor of the actual proceedings.

Handling a Heavy Reading Load

This blog post was inspired by an exchange on twitter with a new grad student (not my own).

Reading in grad school is not about preparing for a test; it is about learning and then applying what you’ve learned.

Basic Advice:

  1. Get organized and make a list.
  2. Set aside an hour or two early in the week and skim the first and last few paragraphs of articles, or intros and conclusions for books. Note: A good intro and conclusion should contain the following information:
    • Main thesis or theses
    • Key Evidence
    • Basic Structure of the Argument

Once you’ve deduced this you can move on to the next book/article.

3. Based on that skimming go back to your list, prioritize, evaluate degree of reading difficulty, and also your level of interest.

4.  Create a reading schedule that always puts difficulty/boring reading that is a priority at the start of every study day/period. Leave the interesting/easier reads for later.

Additional tips:

  • Book reviews are your friends! If you’re assigned whole books, get in the habit of reading two reviews in top journals for each.  This is a good alternative for step no. 2 above and can get your through in a pinch if you run out of time to read properly.
  • What is your active note taking strategy? Do you highlight or underline (I do with a mechanical pencil and also may notes in the margins)?  Or do you write out notes in a note book.  Book flags and post-it notes are another great strategy.  As is a blog!  (Or even tweeting your reading.) The point of note-taking isn’t really the notes themselves, it’s to improve your retention and to keep yourself engaged with the text.
  • Reading with no fixed purpose is the easiest way to lose your concentration. Always keep a question in mind when you read.  You can make up a question for each work OR use one question/lens for everything.  (g. what would the Marxist perspective on this be? Or, what is the nature of evidence used?)
  • Set a time limit for each work you’re assigned and also for each class. Once you reach the limit move on to the next work/class.  This in conjunction with step no. 2 will ensure even if you don’t read everything you will have enough so as to keep your head above water for your seminar discussions.

Time management:

To maximize your work days create some variation of a schedule like this for yourself:

8-9am: prepare for day/domestic stuff

9-11am: read

11-11.30am: break, drink tea, a little social media, walk around the block eat something

11.30am-1 pm: read

1-2pm: lunch (high protein, low carb), a little social media, walk around the block, domestic stuff

2-3.30pm:  over ice water or coffee, read again.  Be sure to work on highlighting and note taking.  (Most people start to flag at this point in the day!)

3.30-4pm: answer all professional emails

4-4.30pm: break, drink tea, a little social media, walk around the block eat something

4.30-6pm: read

6 pm-8pm: domestic stuff, dinner

8-10pm: read

10-11pm: wind down for the day: don’t read, try not to look at a screen, instead take a walk or talk to friends/family, or make lunch for the day.

11pm: bed.

DON’T WORK IN THE BREAKS!  This is nine solid hours of work in which no block of time longer than 2 hours.  It is sustainable.  And it also used even when you lose any one, or two, or even three of the five study periods to other commitments.  Time management is the key to grad school.

Winged Helmets

The soldier sculpted on the base represents a mythological personage: the face of the sacrifant is idealized, his beard is unusual for this period, and although armed, he is shown barefoot. In this case the figure probably represents Romulus rather than Aeneas, for the patron deity of the latter, Venus, is secondary to Mars, whose towering figure dominates the composition. He probably derives from a freestanding Roman prototype adapted to relief. The original sculpture was evidently a late Classical Greek type laden with specifically Italic attributes: he wears an anatomical cuirass without lappets (pteryges), and his winged helmet is of an Italic type. It crops up in southern Italian vases on a metope fragment of Sullan date from Orvinio in Sabina, and was used, significantly, for some images of Roma on Republican coins.


Holliday 2005: 97-98.