Saint NameCastulus, martyr of Rome : S01405
Saint Name in SourceCastulus
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Literary - Poems
Evidence not before375
Evidence not after400
Activity not before375
Activity not after400
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSuburban catacombs and cemeteries
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Suburban catacombs and cemeteries
Major author/Major anonymous workDamasan and pseudo-Damasan poems
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Cult Activities - MiraclesMiraculous protection - of people and their property
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
SourceThe inscription is known only through the manuscript tradition. The text is preserved in two slightly different versions in two codices of the Sylloge Turonensis. The version from the codex Closterneoburgensis 723 first appeared in print in 1831, in Scriptorum veterum nova collectio by Angelo Mai, based on the transcription of Giuseppe Garampi, transmitted by Luigi Gaetano Marini. An edition using both codices (Closterneoburgensis 723 and Goettweihensis 64) was first published by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1888, in the old series of the Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae. Further comments and corrections to the text as preserved by the manuscripts were offered by Maximilian Ihm (1895) and Antonio Ferrua (1975).
The manuscripts do not give the location of the inscription. It is, however, widely accepted that it was displayed in the cemetery of Castulus on the via Labicana, Rome. This is because line 3 contains a clear invocation of the martyr Castulus, and the inscription is presented in the manuscripts between the texts from the cemetery inter duas lauros on the Via Labicana, and the texts from the via Latina.
Marini wondered if the poem could have been a work of Pope Damasus. This was questioned by later editors. Ihm included the inscription among pseudo-Damasan poems, while Ferrua dropped it entirely from his edition of the Damasan epigrams.
DiscussionThe inscription, composed in four hexameters, commemorates an offering to the martyr Castulus, by a certain Venerius who personally experienced the protection of the saint in his life. Sadly, we know no details of the circumstances that led Venerius to set up this inscription, and he is not known from other sources; but from the wording, he was perhaps a military man, granted success in battle by Castulus (unless 'the enemy' is a metaphor for the Devil).
Castulus is a supporting figure in the Martyrdom of Sebastianus and Companions (see E02512 and Lapidge 2018, ch. III), after whom a cemetery on the via Labicana was named. According to the Martyrdom, Castulus was a house-steward of the imperial palace (zetarius palatii) in Rome, martyred under the emperor Diocletian. In the Martyrologium Hieronymianum his feast (natale) is recorded as celebrated in the cemetery named after him on the via Labicana on 26 March (E04750).
Dating: The inscription is difficult to date. Carlo Carletti dates it to the late 4th c., probably as a work inspired by the Damasan programme of monumental dedications to the Roman saints.
Epigraphic Database Bari, nos. EDB6068, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/6068
De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.), Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 6: Coemeteria viis Latina, Labicana et Praenestina (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1975), no. 15894.
Ihm, M., Damasi Epigrammata: accedunt Pseudodamasiana aliaque ad Damasiana inlustranda idonea (Lipsiae: in aedibus B. G. Teubneri, 1895), no. 81.
De Rossi, G. B., Inscriptiones christianae Urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores, vol. 2.1 (Rome: Ex Officina Libraria Pontificia, 1888), 64, no. 14 (from the codex Closterneoburgensis 723, and the codex Goettweihensis 64).
Luigi Gaetano Marini through a copy by Giuseppe Garampi in: Angelo Mai, Scriptorum veterum nova collectio e Vaticanis codicibus edita, vol. 5 (Rome: Typis Vaticanis, 1831), 195, no. 4 (from the codex Closterneoburgensis 723).
Amore, A., I martiri di Roma (Ricerche di archeologia e antichità cristiane 4, Todi: Antonianum, 2013, 2nd ed. revised by A. Bonfiglio), 113–114.
Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs: Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford: OUP, 2018), chapter III (St Sebastian and Companions).
Pergola, P., Barbini, P.M., Le catacombe romane. Storia e topografia (Rome: Carocci, 1997), 160–161.