Tabula Valeria

Richardson, L. jr

Tabula Valeria: a picture representing the battle in which M' . Valerius Maximus Messala defeated the Carthaginians and Hiero, which was hung on the flank of the Curia Hostilia in 264 B.C. (Pliny HN 35.22). This was the first such picture to be displayed in Rome. It is twice mentioned in Cicero, once in a letter to Terentia during his exile in 58 (Cicero Fam. 14.2.2) in which he laments that she has been subjected to the humiliation of being escorted from the Temple of Vesta to the Tabula Valeria, and once in his attack on Vatinius (Cicero In Vatin. 21) when he uses it as a metaphor for the headquarters of the tribuni plebis. Plutarch (Plutarch Cato Min. 5.1) tells us that the tribunes were accustomed to transact their business in the Basilica Porcia. Because the Basilica Porcia (q.v.) stood just west of the Curia Hostilia and was evidently a comparatively small building, we may presume either that when it was built the Tabula Valeria was moved into it, because otherwise it would have been to all intents and purposes hidden by the new building, or that Plutarch means that the tribunes had their headquarters adjacent to the basilica, in an ell, as it were, between the two buildings. Plutarch (Plutarch Cato Min. 5.1) says that they wanted to move, or remove, one of the pillars of the basilica that they regarded as in the way of their seats and that Cato prevented them from doing this. This is not apt to have been one of the central supports of the nave, as those could not have been tampered with without jeopardizing the stability of the building, so it was probably one of the pillars of an outer aisle. One can imagine a tribunal fitted into a forward corner here, where the tribunes could enjoy access to both the Curia and the basilica, the two having their major axes perpendicular to each other.

© The Johns Hopkins University Press