Dominating the terrace are a statue of M. Nonius Balbus,
together with a memorial altar set up in his honour. A native of Nuceria, M. Nonius Balbus was praetor and proconsul of
the provinces of Crete and Cyrene, tribune of the plebes in 32 BC and
partisan of Octavian, probably better known as Augustus.
The equestrian statue (pictured above) was erected in front of the Basilica and was rediscovered during the Bourbon excavations. It can be seen at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
The statue of the Senator, set on a marble base next to the altar, was erected by his freedman Nonius Volusianus. It was considerably damaged by the effects of the eruption and what we see today is a partial restoration. The head was found during excavations led by Maiuri while a large segment of the trunk was recovered in 1981.
The Terrace of Marcus Nonius Balbus lies at the foot of the ramp from
Cardo IV. The entrance (a) opens onto a rectangular area which gives access to the Suburban Thermae (b) at its eastern end.
Balbus was the city's major benefactor restoring and
building many public buildings. On his death he was made patron
and feted with many honours, detailed in the
long inscription on his funeral altar.
The inscription reads:
view of the proposal of Marcus Ofillius Celer, twice duumvir, that the
dignity of the township required recognition of the merits of Marcus
Nonius Balbus, the Council resolved the following:
that Marcus Nonius Balbus, so long as he lived here showed a parental
disposition of extraordinary generosity to individuals and the
community, the councillors decided that an equestrian statue be erected
to him at public expense in the most frequented spot with the
Marcus Nonius Balbus, praetor, proconsul, patron, (from) the entire
Council of the people of Herculaneum in recognition of his merits.'
Further, at the spot where his ashes are laid a marble altar should be made and erected, and publicly inscribed:
'To Marcus Nonius Balbus son of Marcus'
that the procession of Parentalia should part from this spot, and that
at the customary athletic games one day should be dedicated to his
honour, and on the occasion of performances at the theatre a seat should
be placed for him.