SEG 42:212 Att. — Rhamnous — 4th c. BC — Forteresse, 69
“Death is life’s shared end for everyone. But you leave
Behind you pity for your age and a longing for your wisdom.
Your parents lost you when you were only twenty years old
And when you died they arranged a funeral for you instead of a marriage.”
“Stranger, I am leaving griefs and pains for my father Philiskos
And my pitiful mother, because I went down to Hades’ home—
I lost my life because of a savage bear who violently
Killed me, crushing my flesh with her jaws.
I died at 27 years old. Fate led miserable me
To go to Hades in this way.
My bedchamber is bereft, and I live now
Below the earth, gazing on a dusky bed chamber
Where my wife cannot lie beside me, nor my father
And I don’t look toward hearing my mother’s voice.
A dark cloud covers Timelas.
Ill-fated, I have charged upon this kind of end to life.”
“A sacred rite to the spirits of the dead. To Julia Saturnina, age 45, an incomparable wife, the best doctor, the most noble woman. Gaius Philippus, her husband, (made this) for her merits. She is buried here. May the earth be light on you.”
CIRB 130 from the N. Black Sea ca. 50 BC-50 AD — GVI 1989
“Theophilê Hekataiou gives her greeting.
They were wooing me, Theiophilê the short-lived daughter of
Hekataios, those young men [seeking] a maiden for marriage.
But Hades seized me first, since he was longing for me
When he saw a Persephone better than Persephone.
And when the message is carved on the stone
He weeps for the girl, Theiophilê the Sinopian,
Whose father, Hekataios, gave the torch-holding bride-to-be
To Hades and not a marriage.
Maiden Theiophilê, no marriage awaits you, but a land
With no return; not as the bride of Menophilos,
But as a partner in Persephone’s bed. Your father Hekataios
Now has only the name of the pitiable lost girl.
And as he looks on your shape in stone he sees
The unfulfilled hopes Fate wrongly buried in the ground.
Theiophilê, a girl allotted beauty envied by mortals,
A tenth Muse, a Grace for marriage’s age,
A perfect example of prudence.
Hades did not throw his dark hands around you.
No, Pluto lit the flames for the wedding torches
With his lamp, welcoming a most desired mate.
Parents, stop your laments now, stop your grieving,
Theiophilê has found an immortal bed.”
Hades stole away this pretty girl because of her beauty and form
Suddenly, this girl most desirable to all people alive.
Mattios fathered me and my mother Eutukhia
Nursed me. I have died at twelve years old, unmarried.
My name is Mattia, and now that I have left the light
I lie hidden in the dark chamber of Persephone.
I left a lifetime’s grief for my father and mother
Who will have many tears for the rest of time.”
Once communal latrines were established in the Hellenistic period, the risk of exposure to social gaze while sitting with one’s anachronistic pants down was more acute, albeit the experience perhaps more sanitary.
However, at least in Ephesus in the fourth century AD you may have had the pleasure of the following humorous poem to read in a latrine next to the Baths of Constantine, wishing you a satisfying unburdenment in a Homeric-style which is comically at odds with the wholly-un-Homeric subject matter (Ephesos 2104 [= IEph 456.1]):
Kicking afoot and raising fists ahand
And coughing your heart out and shaking your whole body
Take full pleasure in shitting your brains out, and may your stomach
Never give you pain whenever you come to my house.
A reminder from Martial
Martial, Epigrams 12.61
“Ligurra, you fear that I might compose
Verses against you, a brief, intense poem—
Oh how you long to seem worthy of this fear.
But you fear in vain, in vain you long.
The Libyan lions growl at bulls;
They do not pester butterflies.
I will advise you—if you are in pain to be read,
Find a drunk alley poet who writes
with broken coal or dusty chalk
the poems people read while shitting.
This face of yours can’t be known by my touch.”
Versus et breve vividumque carmen
in te ne faciam times, Ligurra,
et dignus cupis hoc metu videri.
sed frustra metuis cupisque frustra.
in tauros Libyci fremunt leones,
non sunt papilionibus molesti.
quaeras censeo, si legi laboras,
nigri fornicis ebrium poetam,
qui carbone rudi putrique creta
scribit carmina quae legunt cacantes.
frons haec stigmate non meo notanda est
Amy Coker has a PhD in Classics from the University of Manchester, UK. She taught and held research positions in University-land for the best part of a decade after her PhD, before jumping ship to school teaching (11-18 year olds) in 2018. She still manages to find time to think and write about Ancient Greek offensive words, pragmatics, and historical linguistics. She can be found on Twitter at @AECoker.
“Here lies the sweet clown and slave of Clulius
Protogenes, who created many moments of happiness for people with his joking”
Protogenes Cloul[i] | suavis heicei situst | mimus
plouruma que | fecit populo soueis | gaudia nuges.
15 [CIL 1202]
“This monument was erected for Marcus Caecilius
We give you thanks, Friend, since you stopped by this home.
May you have good fortune and be well. Sleep without worry.”
Hoc est factum monumentum | Maarco Caicilio. |
Hospes, gratum est quom apud | meas restitistei seedes. |
Bene rem geras et valeas, | dormias sine qura.
18 [CIL 1211]
“Friend, what is written here is brief—stop and read it all.
This is the unattractive tomb of an attractive woman.
Her parents named her Claudia
She loved her own husband with her whole heart.
She had two sons and leaves one of them
On the earth, but placed the other beneath it.
[She was] charming in conversation; but proper in behavior.
She safeguarded her house. She made wool. I have said it all. Go.”
Hospes, quod deico paullum est; asta ac pellege.
Heic est sepulcrum hau pulcrum pulcrai feminae.
Nomen parentes nominarunt Claudiam.
Suom mareitom corde deilexit souo.
Gnatos duos creavit, horunc alterum
in terra linquit, alium sub terra locat.
Sermone lepido, tum autem incessu commodo.
Domum servavit, lanam fecit. Dixi. Abei.
39 [CIL 1219]
“Here are the bones of Pompeia the first daughter
Fortune promises a lot to many but makes a guarantee for no one.
Live for all days and all hours. For nothing is yours wholly.
Salvius and Heros donated this.”
Primae | Pompeiae | ossua heic.|
Fortuna spondet | multis, praestat nemini;
vive in dies | et horas, nam proprium est nihil. |
Salvius et Heros dant.
“Gasteis and Adeimantos
The children of Khorêgiôn, hail!
Before, when I was alive I Gasteis was living a sweet life,
Leaving behind two children with my spouse.
But now my dear brother follows me to Hades’ home
Leaving a reverent daughter as a possession to his wife.
In imitating the deeds of the wondrous men of our country,
We have both obtained Hades’ pain.”