Pages

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Insight provided by Roman funerary inscriptions

Roman tombstone (PD)
Roman Funerary inscriptions on tombstones provide invaluable insight into the lives of ordinary Romans. Funerary inscriptions revealed that many women worked. Many of them were doctors. For example:

‘To the departed spirit of Julia Saturnina, 45 years of age, wonderful wife, excellent physician, most blameless woman. Erected by her husband Cassius Philippus out of gratitude. She lies here, and may the earth rest lightly upon her.’

Other professions attested to women’s tombstones included scribe: ‘To Hapate, short-hand writer of Greek. She lived for 25 years. Pittosus erected this monument to his most affectionate wife,’ or merchant: ‘Thymele, Marcella’s dealer in silk’ or actress: ‘Luria Privata, an actress in mime shows, lived 19 years. Bleptus made this monument.’

The epitaphs of men also illustrated a variety of jobs, from humble laborers like ‘Publius Marcius Philodamus, construction worker, freedman of Publius,’ or those with more specialized careers: ‘Here lie the bones of Quintus Tiburtinus Menolavus, freedman of Quintus, who made living slaughtering animals for sacrifices.’

Some men took great pride in their jobs, as in the case of a teacher whose epitaph stated: ‘Having left the famous city of Bithynia Nikaia as a young man, I came to the land of the Italians, and in the sacred city of Rome, I taught mathematics and geometry. This is the monument that I, Basileus, made, having paid for the work by making a living with my mind.’

https://www.thegreatcoursesdaily.com/tombstone-epitaphs-and-the-meaning-of-funerary-inscriptions-in-ancient-rome/

In the free online FutureLearn course, "Hadrian's Wall: Life On The Roman Frontier," I had the opportunity to learn how to decipher some of the abbreviations used on Roman tombstones and dedicated altars.  Such as:

Line 1: D(EO) IN(VICTO) M(ITHRAE) S(ACRUM)
Line 2: AVL(VS) CLVENTIVS
Line 3: HABITVS PRAEF(ECTVS)
Line 4: COH(ORTIS) I
Line 5: BATAVORVUM
Line 6: DOMV VLTI
Line 7: NA COLON(IA)
Line 8: SEPT(IMIA) AVR(ELIA) L(ARINO)
Line 9: V(OTUM) S(OLVIT) L(IBENS) M(ERITO)

Which is transliterated as:

Line 1: SACRED TO THE INVINCIBLE GOD MITHRAS
Line 2: AULUS CLUENTIUS
Line 3: HABITUS, PREFECT
Line 4: OF THE 1ST COHORT
Line 5: OF BATAVIANS,
Line 6: OF THE ULTINIAN VOTING TRIBE
Line 7: FROM COLONIA
Line 8: SEPTIMIA AURELIA LARINUM
Line 9: WILLINGLY AND DESERVEDLY FULFILLED HIS VOW

Professor Ian Haynes points out that often in Roman dedicatory inscriptions more information is given about the dedicant, who is showing the community that he has honored his vow, than about the deity. In this case the text focuses on Aulus Cluentius Habitus, his command and place of origin.  We were given access to a database of Roman funerary inscriptions and provided with the opportunity to translate some sample inscriptions.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/hadrians-wall

The six week course is in progress right now and students can join at any time.   One of FutureLearn's most popular courses, it is also offered multiple times during the year.  The course is free but I paid the extra $69 fee so I could have access to the course materials as long as they remain on FutureLearn's website.  I also received a digital certificate for completion that can be used as evidence for continuing education credits.


No comments: