Monumenti altinati da Torcello. 1. L’urna cineraria di Cusonia Posilla

Lorenzo Calvelli

pp. 93-106, Figg. 6

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This article focuses on an inscribed funerary urn kept in the deposits of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The monument was first seen at Torcello, in the northern Venetian lagoon, in the second half of the 15th century and is likely to come from the nearby Roman site of Altinum. This is confirmed by stylistic analysis, as well as by the epigraphic evidence. It is one of the few limestone urns from this region for which both the square base and the half-round lid (topped by a small reclining dog) are preserved. The inscription records that the monument was erected by order of a woman, named Cusonia Posilla (daughter of Marcus Cusonius), for herself, her mother Passena Enoclia (daughter of Ostus), and a freedwoman simply named Cusonia. Onomastic analysis reveals a complex geographic background for these individuals. While most names appear to be of local (either Venetic or Celtic) origin, the Passeni (or Passieni) are mainly attested in central Italy (Umbria and Rome). The overall features of the urn suggest a date in the Augustan/Tiberian period. The second part of the article reconstructs the stages of the long journey that brought the object to its current location. After being seen in the bishop’s palace at Torcello in the last decades of the 15th century, the urn reappears in Venice in the early 18th century. At that time it belonged to the patrician family of the Gussoni, who claimed to descend from the Roman Cusonii. At the end of the 18th century the monument was acquired by Tommaso Obizzi for his antiquarian collection in the celebrated Cataio castle in the Euganean hills. In the 19th century the building came into possession of the Habsburgs, who eventually transferred the funerary urn to Vienna, along with the greater part of the treasures formerly owned by the Obizzi.