The Latin epigraphy (from the Greek ἐπιγράφειν “write down, inscribe”) is a historical auxiliary science that deals with the study, the creation of directories and the translation of ancient Latin inscriptions . The subject matter is essentially all original Latin written documents from Roman times that have been handed down on permanent material. However, inscriptions on non-permanent materials, such as wax tablets ( tabulae ceratae ) or wooden tablets written on with ink, are also included, while coin inscriptions and documents on papyrus or parchment are reserved for specific disciplines.
Meaning, history and publication of the inscriptions
Latin inscriptions are of inestimable source value for all-round exploration of Roman life and history . The best-known examples include the deed report of the Emperor Augustus ( Res gestae divi Augusti ), who was described by Theodor Mommsen as the “Queen of the Latin inscriptions”, the speech of Emperor Claudius in the Senate in 48 on a bronze plaque from Lyon and the funeral oration of one Witwers from Augustan times, the so-called Laudatio Turiae .
The exact period of Latin epigraphy in the Roman world can only be defined more precisely and therefore differently. The largest temporal expansion extends from the earliest evidence from the Roman royal period to the year 711 AD, the date of the Arab conquest of Spain as the westernmost part of the Roman Empire , which thus also marks the end of genuine Roman epigraphy .
Inscriptions on stone can be found on numerous buildings, with an explanatory or commentary titulus . In addition, there are inscriptions on the bases of statues, on sarcophagi ( epitaphs ), on steles , on milestones ( miliaria ) or on bronze tablets with legal texts, e.g. B. the Tabula Clesiana . The study of Roman names , their abbreviations and the titulatures of dignitaries are also part of Latin epigraphy . Numerous inscriptions have been discovered over the centuries. They are brought together in collections such as the Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum , and new finds are recorded annually in L'Année épigraphique .
All documents regulating the state community are regarded as instrumenta publica . This concerns first laws, senate resolutions and imperial edicts ( constitutiones ), then military diplomas and finally patronage boards to confirm the admission of a municipality, a municipality or family association to the clientele of a patron.
Inscriptions with information on the Roman calendar , in particular the dies fasti and nefasti , were used by Roman society for orientation in state, religious and economic life. The Acta fratrum arvalium , the minutes of meetings of the Arval priesthood , whose members were appointed from the highest circles in Rome, also belong to this area . One example is the Carmen Arvale , a cult song from archaic times, which was preserved in the files of the Arval priesthood from AD 218 as an antiquarian copy that was no longer understood at that time.
On dedicatory inscriptions ( tituli sacri ) temples, statues, altars, but also objects of daily use such as weapons, vessels or mere votive tablets have been assigned to one or more deities since early Roman times . This also includes the so-called escape boards ( defixionum tabellae ). These are usually thin, usually rolled up lead sheets, often pierced with a nail. On the inside there are curses of people (thieves, rivals), also of animals (horses in chariot races), often combined with cryptic, magical symbols. The texts are written anonymously, mostly kept buried and, in contrast to inscriptions, are generally not addressed to the public. Addressees, if mentioned at all, are rather chthonic gods like Hecate or the gods of the underworld as a whole.
Honorary inscriptions ( tituli honorarii ) publish the names, offices and honors of a deceased person.
The building inscriptions are characterized by a great variety. This includes first of all the inscriptions on public and private buildings ( tituli operis publici et privati ). The best-known example of the inscription on an ancient building is probably that of the architrave of the Pantheon in Rome:
- M (arcus) Agrippa L (uci) f (ilius) co (n) s (ul) tertium fecit
- Marcus Agrippa , son of Lucius, consul for the third time, had (it) built.
Further examples of building inscriptions are also milestones ( miliaria ). On the viae publicae , the Roman imperial roads , they marked the distance from the starting point of a route. The boundary stones of the city of Rome ( Termini ) are also included.
Grave inscriptions ( tituli sepulcrales ) can be found on ash boxes and urns of larger grave structures, on columbaria , but most often on steles , both on the grave roads of Rome and in the tombs of provincial cities or in the cemeteries of the castles along the Limes . Various types of abbreviations are often used:
- Siglum - Abbreviation symbol consisting of a letter such as L (ucius);
- Nota - parts of a word, such as aed (ilis), l (e) g (io), co (n) s (ul),
- or numbers: DDD NNNN; d (omini) n (ostri) (quattuor).
Example of an epitaph
The inscription on the gravestone of Marcus Valerius Celerinus, which was found in Cologne and can be viewed there in the Roman-Germanic Museum , has been preserved. The following text can be read on the inscription:
- M VAL CELERINVS
- PAPIRIA ASTIGI
- CIVES AGRIPPINE
- VET LEG XGPF
- VIVOS FECIT SIBI
- ET MARCIAE PRO
- CVL VXORI
If you dissolve the abbreviations of the inscription, you get the following text. For a better overview, the additions and the two corrections for CIVES and VIVOS have been added in italics and with small letters:
- M arcus VAL erius CELERINVS
- PAPIRIA ASTIGI
- CIV i S AGRIPPINE nsis
- VET eranus LEG ionis XG eminae P iae F idelis
- VIV u S FECIT SIBI
- ET MARCIAE PRO
- CVL ae VXORI
- Marcus Valerius Celerinus from the district (the tribus ) Papiria, from the village of Astigis, citizen of Cologne, veteran of the tenth legion , the dutiful, loyal twin legion , made [this stone] for himself and Marcia Procula, his wife, during their lifetime.
Dipinti, graffiti and small inscriptions
Finally, those testimonies are to be cited that were not intended for eternity from the start, but are due to chance of tradition and thus give us an insight into everyday life in ancient times. These include Dipinti ( tituli picti , often in the form of election calls) and Graffiti ( tituli scarifati ), most of which are in Pompeii , Herculaneum and Stabiae were discovered - the cities, in 79 AD in the ashes of the.. Vesuvius had perished .
A last category, numerous and diverse like no other, is summarized as small inscriptions ( instrumentum domesticum ) and can be found stamped, scratched or painted on objects of everyday use.
Common abbreviations (selection)
- A = annus year ; asses aces
- AN [XXXII semissis] = annorum [Triginta duorum semissis] at the age of [32.5] years
- AVG = Augustus ; augur
- BRPN = bono rei publicae natus born for the benefit of the state
- BTOQ = bene tua ossa quiescant may your bones rest in peace
- B VIX = bene vixit lived well
- CAES = Caesar
- COS (S) = Consule (Consulibus) in the year of the consulate of ... (and ...)
- CV = clarissimus vir highly respected man
- DM = Dis Manibus to the gods of the underworld (consecrated)
- F = Filius son ; Fastus ; fecit, fecerunt He / she had (s) made
- HSE = Hic situs est He lies here (buried)
- ID = Idibus An den Iden (on 13./15.)
- IS = infra scriptus below
- IOM = Iovi Optimo Maximo the best and greatest Jupiter
- KAL [IVL] = Kalendis [Iuliis] on July 1st
- L = Libertus freedman (or Roman name Lucius )
- LEG [X] = Legionis [Decimae] of the [tenth] legion
- MIL = Miles soldier
- NON = Nonis An den Nonen (on 5./7.)
- Q = Treasurer
- PRO (COS) = proconsul / pro consule proconsul / for the consul
- SC = Senatus consultum Senate resolution
- STIP [XXV] = stipendiorum [Viginta quinque] After  years of war
- VET = Veteranus Veteran (retired soldier)
- V IL = Vir illustris outstanding man
- VS [L] LM = Votum solvit [laetus] libens merito he / she honored the vow [happy,] gladly and for a fee
Names (Common Abbreviations)
The most common male first names:
- A (ulus)
- C (aius)
- CN (aeus)
- D (ecimus)
- K (aeso)
- L (ucius)
- M ' (anius)
- M (arcus)
- P (ublius)
- Q (uintus)
- S (purius)
- SER (vius)
- SEX (tus)
- T (itus)
- TIB (erius), also abbreviated to TI
- Name of the dead: mostly in the nominative or dative
- Founder: mostly in the nominative (possibly with information about the relationship to the deceased: e.g. frater)
- Filiation: z. B. MF: son of Marcus
- Company status: z. BM Terenti L: Freedman of Marcus Terentus
- Origin: mostly in the ablative: e.g. B. Ara (from Cologne), Bononia (from Bonn)
- Profession / military rank: e.g. B. miles, centurio, prefectus
- Period of service: stipendiorum (XV)
- Age: annorum (XXX)
- Consecration for a deity: in the dative: z. B. Dis Manibus, IOM, Deae Fortunae, Deo Mithrae
- Consecration / foundation formula: z. B. VSLLM / faciendum curavit / fecit
- Grave formula: z. B. Hic situs est, Hic iacet
- de suo / de suis: from one's own property
Example of an epigraphic text
- Imp (eratori) Caes (ari) Lucio Septimio M (arci) fil (io) Severo Pio Pertinaci Aug (usto) patri patriae Parthico Arabico et | Parthico Adiabenico pontific (i) maximo tribvnic (ia) potest (ate) XI imp (eratori) XI, co (n) s (uli) III proco (n) s (uli) et | imp (eratori) Caes (ari) M (arco) Aurelio L (ucii) fil (io) Antonino Aug (usto) Pio Felici tribvnic (ia) potest (ate) VI co (n) s (uli) proco (n) s (uli) [p (atri) p (atriae) | optimis fortissimisqve principibvs] | ob rem pvblicam restitvtam imperivmque popvli Romani propagatvm | insignibvs virtvtibus eorvm domi forisqve S (enatus) P (opulus) Q (ue) R (omanus).
- The Emperor Caesar Septimius Severus, the son of Marcus, Pius, Pertinax, Augustus, father of the fatherland , the conqueror of the Parthians, the Arabs and the Parthian Adiabene , the Pontifex Maximus , the eleventh time bearer of the power of a tribune, for the eleventh Appointed emperor for the first time, consul and proconsul for the third time; and the emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelianus Antoninus, son of Lucius, Augustus, Pius, Felix, who for the sixth time has the power of a tribune, the consul, proconsul, father of the fatherland; the best and strongest principes , for the salvation of the state and the extension of the domain of the Roman people and for their extraordinary achievements at home and abroad. The Senate and the People of Rome.
- Giancarlo Susini: Epigrafia romana (= Guide allo studio della civiltà romana. Volume 10.1, ISBN 88-780-1017-0 . ). Jouvence, Rome 1982,
- Leonhard Schumacher : Roman inscriptions. Philipp Reclam, Stuttgart 1988, ISBN 3-15-008512-8 .
- Knud Paasch Almar: Inscriptiones Latinae. An illustrated introduction to Latin epigraphy (= Odense University classical studies. Volume 14). Odense University Press, Odense 1990, ISBN 877-492701-9 .
- John Bodel: Epigraphic Evidence. Ancient history from Inscriptions. Routledge, London / New York 2001, ISBN 0-415-11623-6 .
- Jean-Marie Lassère: Manuel d'épigraphie romaine (= Antiquité, Synthèses. Volume 8,1–2). 2 volumes (Volume 1: L'individu - la cité. Volume 2: L'état - index. ). Picard, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-7084-0732-5 .
- Manfred G. Schmidt : Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd, reviewed and bibliographically updated edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, ISBN 978-3-534-23642-8 .
- Alison Cooley: The Cambridge manual of Latin epigraphy. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2012, ISBN 978-0-521-54954-7 .
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2011, p. 1.
- CIL 13, 1668 ; Wikisource ; fr.WP: Table claudienne .
- CIL 6, 1527 ( Figures ( page no longer available , search in web archives ) Info: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ).
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, p. 2.
- CIL 5, 5050 .
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, pp. 31–43.
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, pp. 27–30.
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, pp. 44–49.
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, p. 50.
- CIL 6, 896
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2011, pp. 57–64.
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2011, p. 65.
- The inscription is now in the Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne, a photo of the inscription is here to find.
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, pp. 73–74.
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, p. 76.
- Manfred G. Schmidt: Introduction to Latin epigraphy. 2nd Edition. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2011, pp. 85–86.