Doorworks 2: Columna rostrata

Elogium of Gaius Duilius, Rome, Pal. dei Cons, CIL 12.125, 6.1300

The Columna rostrata was originally erected in Rome in 260 BC, commemorating the naval victory of the Roman consul Gaius Duilius over the Carthaginian fleet. The inscription boasted that over two million aes of loot were plundered. Rather than expressing the amount in numeral words, it was written using at least 22 (and possibly as many as 32 – the inscription is fragmentary) repeated Roman numeral signs for 100,000, seen towards the bottom of the inscription. The effect of this ‘conspicuous computation’ was to impress the reader with the vastness of the quantity, serving as an indexical sign of Rome’s military might.

Author: schrisomalis

Anthropologist, Wayne State University. Professional numbers guy. Rare Words: Blog:

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