Member of the seviri Augustales

Augusta Raurica - Sevir Augustalis - drawing Bernard Reymond, Yverdon

“My name is Lucius Ciltius Cossus; my family has lived in this area “forever”. As you can see from the inscription, my father’s name was Celtillus. He was of Celtic origin, but I am sure you have already guessed that. My three-part name tells you that I am a Roman citizen. I hold the office of sevir Augustalis and belong to a group of men who ensure that the imperial cult is performed both reliably and according to custom. Unlike me, most of my colleagues are freedmen; the office of sevir Augustalis is one of only a few prestigious offices that does not require the holder to have Roman citizenship. You do have to be wealthy, however, to apply for the office!”

The sevir Augustalis is known from an inscription

Augusta Raurica - Inscription on a building block reused in the foundations of the Castrum Rauracense (Kaiseraugst). Height: 57 cm; AD 50-150. Foto Ortlof Harl




LI F(ilius) QVIRINA (tribu) COS

SVS IIIIII VIR AVG(ustalis) L(ocus) D(atus) D(ecreto) D(ecurionum)

Dedicated to Mercurius Augustus. Lucius Ciltius Cossus, son of Celtillus, of the Quirinal tribe, member of the Seviri Augustales. The place (for the inscription) was provided by resolution of the city council.

A peek into the clothes chest

The sevir Augustalis is wearing a tunic with two red stripes. These stripes, or clavi were a status symbol originally reserved for members of the highest social classes, i.e. the equites (knights) and senators in Rome. Over his tunic, Lucius Ciltius Cossus is wearing a white woollen toga and closed leather boots (calcei). He has a box in his hands with incense used in religious sacrifices. The box fittings and the finger-ring were found at Augusta Raurica.