Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum

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The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (abbreviated to CIL ) is the most comprehensive and important systematic collection of ancient Latin inscriptions . As documentation of public and private inscriptions that have been preserved and handed down in the sources, it is an indispensable source for life in the Roman Empire and Roman history.

History of the CIL

The aim of the CIL is to geographically and systematically record all Latin inscriptions from the entire territory of the empire, to comment on them and to make them available to experts. The corpus is continuously updated in new editions and supplements. The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (BBAW) is responsible for its continuation . The CIL is part of the BBAW's Old World Basic Research Center and is funded by the federal and state governments in the academy program (as of 2020).

In 1847, Theodor Mommsen proposed in a memorandum to the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences an organized collection of Latin inscriptions, which had been described piece by piece by hundreds of scholars over the past centuries. Work at the CIL began in 1853 . Mommsen, who had provided a model for the corpus with the publication of the inscriptions of the Kingdom of Naples, remained the driving force of the company for half a century until his death and edited several volumes himself, especially those relating to Italy . The first volume of the CIL appeared as early as 1862. A large part of the work for those involved - epigraphists not only from the Berlin Academy, but also from other European countries - consisted of visiting the sites and monuments personally in order to make copies of as many originals as possible ( Autopsy principle ). In those cases in which the previously described inscriptions could no longer be found, the editors tried to obtain an exact reading by comparing them with the works of earlier authors who had seen the original.

The CIL currently consists of 17 "volumes" in over 70 parts and contains approximately 180,000 inscriptions. 13 supplementary volumes contain tables and special indices. The first volume, in two parts, contains the oldest inscriptions up to the end of the Roman Republic ; Volumes II to XIV are divided geographically; Volume XIII, for example, is dedicated to the inscriptions of the Gallic and Germanic provinces . Volumes XV to XVII contain special types of inscriptions ( Instrumentum domesticum , military diplomas , milestones ). Volume XVIII, which should contain the " Carmina Latina Epigraphica ", is in progress. A Latin Index Numerorum: A finding aid for the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum was published in 2004.

The descriptions and comments consist of a picture of the original inscription (if available), possibly true-to-scale drawings and explanations of abbreviations, missing parts and deviating readings. It is important to classify the individual inscriptions in their overall historical context. The language of the CIL is traditionally Latin.

In addition to Mommsen, the editors included Eugen Bormann , Hermann Dessau , Wilhelm Henzen , Otto Hirschfeld , Emil Hübner , Christian Hülsen and Karl Zangemeister , and later Géza Alföldy (who headed the project from 1992 to 2007), Attilio Degrassi and Hans Krummrey . The scientific director of the project has been Marietta Horster since 2018 , and Ulrike Ehmig is the director of the BBAW office in Berlin .


  • Corpus inscriptionum latinarum (CIL). Consilio et auctoritate Academiae Litterarum Regiae Borussicae editum. 17 volumes in numerous sub-volumes. de Gruyter (until 1925: Reimer), Berlin 1862 ff.
  • Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum. Auctarium. Series nova. Index numerorum. 2 u. 3 vol. De Gruyter, Berlin 2003. ISBN 3-11-017936-9 , ISBN 3-11-015244-4 .
  • Manfred G. Schmidt : Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (PDF). Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences 2007 (brochure on the history of the CIL, with English translation by Orla Mulholland).

Web links

Wikisource: Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Website about the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum ,; accessed July 22, 2020.
  2. ^ Project page on the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum , BBAW; accessed July 22, 2020.
  3. ^ Authors of the CIL. In: CIL website . Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, accessed on July 22, 2020 .
  4. ^ Staff of the CIL. Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, accessed on July 22, 2020 .