Philosophical Transactions. For the months of November and December, 1715. - Part VI.

By Nicole Renee

Ⅵ. An account of a book. Guilhelmi Musgrave Reg. Societ. Utriusque Socii, Geta Britannicus. Accedit Domus Severianæ Synopsis Chronologica; & de Icuncula Quondam M. Regis Ælfredi dissertatio. 8vo. Iscae Dumnoniorum. MDCCXV.

The author, having some1 years since publish'd a comment on Julius Vitalis his epitaph, which, (together with his monument) is to be seen at bath; does not present the publick with another volume of Belgic Antiquities; intending hereby, to illustrate part of a statue, which was found likewise near that city, and is at this time immured near the monument aforesaid, at the Eastern end of the Abby-Church, looking toward the grove.
This fragment of an Equestrian statue, is in Basse Releise; the rider has in his right hand a Hasta pura, and a parma in his left; as in Fig. I. of the book. It appears from2 Dio that Caius and Lucius, Cæsars, (the nephews, and adopted sons of Augustus) had each of them a Parma and an Hasta given him; and there being no instance of this honour paid to any of an inferiour rank among the Romans, but only to such as were of very great quality; if not to Casars only; we are from hence be a'lowed to think, that this statue represented some person of that quality.
But to discover the particular person, (if it might be done) the author compared a very good draught he had procured of this horseman, which such Roman Coyns, as he could meet with. This comparison shewed a great resemblance between the face in the statue, and that in two of Geta's coyns.
This argument, drawn from the similitude of faces (of great force to determine the reader's judgement in favour of Geta) is farther confirmed by the horse; a creature of which Geta was very fond; insomuch, as that he affected to be represented under the figure of Castor, (as the Roman Emperors often were under the figures of their Gods) of whom it is said, Castor gaudet Equis; — of this figure there is in3 Oiselius, a coyn of Geta's, very much to this purpose; represented Tab. IV. Fig. 5. of this book.
These things bring to mind, the authority which Geta had in South-Britain; where (as4 Herodian affirms) all matters were under his administration, during the stay which Severus and Caracalla made in the North; which was a year, or more. In this time, Geta had it in his power, to do many things, in favour of cities and countreys, here in the South. The great generosity of his mind prompted him to publick works; such as are, to this day, attested by5 inscriptions, with his name in them; and it is highly probable, [That this statue was erected to Geta on some such account.]
If this be granted, (as from the concurrence of so much, and so good testimony, it seems highly probable) here is a large and pleasant view opened into antiquity; not of late taken notice of by any writer; it shews, that Geta was a great benefactor to old Bath; either by laying, in a perfect morass, the foundation of that town; or by preserving the hot-springs, entire, from the influx of other waters; or both; works of great Munisicence, and becoming Geta's spirit. By these, or some such ways, it is probable, this people was obliged to Geta; but no one is more probable, than that of preserving the Aqua Calida; which were in those days so famous, as to give a denomination to the place. It is well know, that Rome had her Therma Severiana and Antoniniana, so called from their respective founders; the former being built by Severus, the father; the latter by Antoninus, the brother of Geta; so that to take care of baths, was a sort of greatness, that family seemed to delight in; and Geta may reasonably be supposed,to have his share of this delight.
From the great probability of this opinion, the author has, out of love to his native country, and the honour due to Geta, collected and put together, what he can meet with relating to that Emperor. He has made a new edition of Geta's Life, from the Historia Augusta Scriptores; restoring it to its true author, Julius Capitolinus; and explaining it, with the notes of Casaubon, Gruter, and Salmasius; to which he has added some of his own. He has reprinted all the inscriptions he can meet with, of Geta's, and many of his coyns; with short notes on both.
After all this, he is not so far engaged in his opinion, but that if, (by any inscription on the basis of this statue, or any other testimony) it shall hereafter appear, that this fragment deserves another explication, he shall readily comply with any such clearer testimony; being no way disposed, to give farther credit to this broken monument, than shall answer the imperfect condition it is now in.
To this dissertation, de Geta Britannico, he has added the chronology of his illustrious house; shewing, how his Father, Severus, from a private gentleman in Africa came by degrees to be Emperor of Rome; and indeed one of the greatest, that ever Rome had; how he, with his two sons, Bassiamus and Geta, (three Roman Emperors) resided, at one and the same time, here in Britain) and from hence sent their imperial edicts, orders, and dispatches, into all parts of the empire; and after an amazing greatness of about twenty four years, and a course of almost all virtues and vices, at length tumbled down; submitting to the accidents and fate of other men; and were all buried at Rome, in the Septizodium built by Severus.
To these Memoirs of Geta, the author has subjoyned a discourse, concerning that curious cimclium, which was, some years since, found at Athelney in Somerset. It did belong to K. Ælfred, and is now in the possession of Col. Palmer of Fairfield, in that country. Beside the critical use made of it, by the learned6 Dr. Hickes, our author writes of it, as an undeniable instance of the use of images, coming from the heathens into the Christian Church.
The book is adorned with several cuts, of the broken statue at Bath, of two of Geta's silver-coyns, of the Septizodium Severi, (out of Perac) and three sides of the philotrans2 Ælfredi.

A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 385).

  1. philo-trans-13 []
  2. philo-trans-23 []
  3. philo-trans-31 []
  4. philo-trans-41 []
  5. philo-trans-51 []
  6. philo-trans-61 []

Leave a Reply