The salutatio ceremony indicates the act of greeting and, by extension, visiting or offering a gift.
In its simplest meaning, it represents the morning greeting that the dominus or pater familias received from the clientes. The latter generally represented all people of lower rank who exercised a form of reverence towards their patron. The salutatio, uttered with the simple phrase Ave or Ave dominus, was often exercised by the clientes to obtain the benevolence of the master, with a small gift of money or food, the sportula.
The clientes went early in the morning to the domus or the villa of the dominus to pay their salutatio, a token of their respect and act of obedience and submission.
There were also other more solemn forms of greeting and homage, also accompanied by the use of laurel branches, which were addressed to famous figures like our commissioner, for whom the scene is intended.
But the allusion to another occasion has attracted the attention of scholars, who do not rule out the reference to a votorum nuncupatio pro salute imperatoris, still in use in the 4th century AD, an annual and solemn votive offering with prayers for the health of the emperor celebrated in the first three days of the year and included in the New Year celebrations.
The connection with the entrance to the late antiquity residence, which is metaphorically linked to the beginning of the new year, the laurel branches distributed for the occasion as a gift of good wishes and the custom of giving diptychs, are definitely part of this rite, forming the busy calendar of imperial anniversaries.