Roman Epitaphs to and for Wives

A repost of some translations by Brandon Conley.

  1. AE 1983 0040

D(is) M(anibus). Memoriae Publicies Septimines L(ucius) Sammonius Adiutor coniug(i) pientissim(a)e et animules amantissimes

“To the spirits of the dead. Lucius Sammonius Adiutor (made this) for the memory of Publicia Septimina, his most faithful wife and most loving soul.”

Romancouple

  1. AE 1982 0106

D(is) M(anibus) Iucundis[sim]a Priscia[no con]iugi am[antiss]imo b(ene) [m(erenti) fecit]

“To the spirits of the dead. Iucundissima made this for her well-deserving, most loving husband, Priscianus.”

 

  1. CIL 6.18817

Animae sanctae colendae d(is) m(anibus) s(acrum). Furia Spes L(ucio) Sempronio Firmo coniugi carissimo mihi. Ut cognovi puer puella obligati amori pariter. Cum quo vixi tempori minimo et quo tempore vivere debuimus a manu mala diseparati sumus. Ita peto vos manes sanctissimae commendat[um] habeatis meum ca[ru]m et vellitis huic indulgentissimi esse horis nocturnis ut eum videam et etiam me fato suadere vellit ut et ego possim dulcius et celerius aput eum pervenire.

“To a sacred and worshipped spirit: a sacred thing to the spirits of the dead. Furia Spes (made this) for her dearest husband, Lucius Sempronius Firmus. When we met as boy and girl, we were joined in love equally. I lived with him for a short while, and in a time when we should have lived together, we were separated by an evil hand.

So I ask you, most sacred spirits, to protect my dear husband entrusted to you, and that you be willing to be most accommodating to him in the nightly hours, so I may have a vision of him, and so he might wish that I persuade fate to allow me to come to him more sweetly and quickly.”

adiutor

  1. CIL 3.10501

Clausa iacet lapidi coniunx pia cara Sabina. Artibus edocta superabat sola maritum vox ei grata fuit pulsabat pollice c(h)ordas. Set (sed) cito rapta silpi (silet)…

“My beautiful, faithful wife, Sabina, lies enclosed in stone. Skilled in the arts, she alone surpassed her husband. Her voice was pleasing (as) she plucked the strings with her thumb. But suddenly taken, now she is silent.”

 

  1. CIL 3.00333

Dis Manibus Flaviae Sophene [Ge]nealis Caesaris Aug(usti) [se]rvos verna dispens(ator) [ad] frumentum carae coniugi et amanti bene merenti fecit [vix(it)] an(nis) XXXII m(ensibus) VII

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[Φλ]αβία Σόφη γυνὴ Γενεάλ/[ιος] Καίσαρος δούλου οἰκο/νόμου ἐπὶ τοῦ σείτου / [ζή]σασα κοσμίως ἔτη [λβ] / [μῆ]νας ζ χαῖρε

“To the spirits of the dead. For Flavia Sophe. Genialis, home-born slave of Caesar Augustus, keeper of the grain supply, made this for his loving, dear, well-deserving wife. She lived 32 years, 7 months.”

 

  1. AE 1982 0988.

Iulia Cecilia vicxit annis XLV cui Terensus marit(us) fek(it) dom(um) et(e)r(nalem) f(eci)t

“Julia Caecilia lived 45 years, for whom her husband Terensus made this. He made her an eternal home.”

 

  1. CIL 13.01983 (EDCS-10500938)

D(is) M(anibus) et memoriae aetern(ae) Blandiniae Martiolae puellae innocentissimae quae vixit ann(os) XVIII m(enses) VIIII d(ies) V. Pompeius Catussa cives Sequanus tector coniugi incomparabili et sibi benignissim(a)e quae mecum vixit an(nos) V m(enses) VI d(ies) XVIII sine ul(l)a criminis sorde. Viv(u)s sibi et coniugi ponendum curavit et sub ascia dedicavit. Tu qui legis vade in Apol(l)inis lavari quod ego cum coniuge feci. Vellem si ad(h)uc possem

“To the spirits of the dead and the eternal memory of Blandinia Martiola, a most innocent girl who lived 18 years, 9 months, 5 days. Pompeius Catussa, a Sequani citizen and plasterer, (made this) for his incomparable and most kind wife, who lived with me 5 years, 6 months, 18 days without any transgressions. While alive, he saw to the building and dedicated this, while under construction, to himself and his wife. You who read this, go and bathe in the bath of Apollo, which I did with my wife. I wish I were still able to do it.”

 

  1. CIL 06.15346

Hospes quod deico paullum est. Asta ac pellege. Heic est sepulcrum hau(d) pulcrum pulcrai feminae. Nomen parentes nominarunt Claudiam. Suom mareitum corde deilexit souo. Gnatos duos creavit horunc (horum-ce) alterum in terra linquit alium sub terra locat. Sermone lepido tum autem incessu commodo domum servavit lanam fecit dixi abei

“Stranger, what I say is short. Stand and read over it. This is the hardly beautiful tomb of a beautiful woman. Her parents called her Claudia. She loved her husband with all her heart. She had two sons, one of whom she leaves on earth, the other she placed under it. With pleasant conversing but respectable gait she cared for her home and made wool. I have spoken. Move along.”

 

  1. CIL 06.20307

Iulio Timotheo qui vixit p(lus) m(inus) annis XXVIII vitae innocentissim(a)e decepto a latronibus cum alumnis n(umero) VII. Otacilia Narcisa co(n)iugi dulcissimo

“For Julius Timotheus, who lived around 28 years of a most innocent life, cheated by bandits along with his 7 fostered children. Otacilia Narcisa (made this) for her sweetest husband.”

Image result for roman epitaph
This is from the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum

My Sirens, My Words: Two Poems by Erinna

Some accounts make Erinna a contemporary of Sappho

Greek Anthology 7.710

“Columns, and my Sirens, and you, sorrowful urn
Who holds Hades’ small portion of ash—
Say “hello” to those who walk by my grave,
Whether they happen to be citizens or from another town.

Tell them this too so they may know it:
this grave covered me when I was a bride,
My father used to call me Baukis and Tenos was my land
Tell them also that Erinna, my friend,
Etched this poem on my Tomb.”

Στᾶλαι, καὶ Σειρῆνες ἐμαί, καὶ πένθιμε κρωσσέ,
ὅστις ἔχεις Ἀΐδα τὰν ὀλίγαν σποδιάν,
τοῖς ἐμὸν ἐρχομένοισι παρ᾿ ἠρίον εἴπατε χαίρειν,
αἴτ᾿ ἀστοὶ τελέθωντ᾿, αἴθ᾿ ἑτέρας πόλιος·
χὤτι με νύμφαν εὖσαν ἔχει τάφος, εἴπατε καὶ τό·
χὤτι πατήρ μ᾿ ἐκάλει Βαυκίδα, χὤτι γένος
Τηνία, ὡς εἰδῶντι· καὶ ὅττι μοι ἁ συνεταιρὶς
Ἤρινν᾿ ἐν τύμβῳ γράμμ᾿ ἐχάραξε τόδε.

Greek Anthology 6.352

“These outlines come from tender hands: noble Prometheus
There are people whose talent is near to yours!
Whoever drew this girl so truly
If he added a voice, she would be Agatharkhis entirely.”

Ἐξ ἁπαλᾶν χειρῶν τάδε γράμματα· λῷστε Προμαθεῦ,
ἔντι καὶ ἄνθρωποι τὶν ὁμαλοὶ σοφίαν.
ταύταν γοῦν ἐτύμως τὰν παρθένον ὅστις ἔγραψεν,
αἰ καὐδὰν ποτέθηκ᾿, ἦς κ᾿ Ἀγαθαρχὶς ὅλα.

Image result for erinna greek poet
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene by Simeon Solomon

Words of Mourning: Some Poems of Anyte of Tegea

The following epigrams are attributed to the poet Anyte of Tegea, one of a handful of Hellenistic women preserved in the Greek Anthology.

Gr. Anth. 7.490

“I mourn for the virgin Antibia, to whose father’s home
Many suitors came longing to marry,
Thanks to the fame of her beauty and wisdom.
But ruinous fate made all their hopes turn in the dust.”

Παρθένον Ἀντιβίαν κατοδύρομαι, ἇς ἐπὶ πολλοὶ
νυμφίοι ἱέμενοι πατρὸς ἵκοντο δόμον,
κάλλευς καὶ πινυτᾶτος ἀνὰ κλέος· ἀλλ᾿ ἐπὶ πάντων
ἐλπίδας οὐλομένα Μοῖρ᾿ ἐκύλισε πρόσω.

7.208

“Dâmis built this grave for his battle-fierce but dead
Horse, after murderous Ares pierce his chest.
The blood spurted black from his thick-hided skin
And he dyed the earth with his painful life’s blood.”

Μνᾶμα τόδε φθιμένου μενεδαΐου εἵσατο Δᾶμις
ἵππου, ἐπεὶ στέρνον τοῦδε δαφοινὸς Ἄρης
τύψε· μέλαν δέ οἱ αἷμα ταλαυρίνου διὰ χρωτὸς
ζέσσ᾿, ἐπὶ δ᾿ ἀργαλέᾳ βῶλον ἔδευσε φονᾷ.

7.724

“Your courage, Proarkhos, killed you in the fight and dying
You put the home of your father Pheidias into dark grief.
Yet this rock above you sings out a noble song:
That you died in a struggle for your dear homeland.”

Ἦ ῥα μένος σε, Πρόαρχ᾿, ὄλεσ᾿ ἐν δαΐ, δῶμά τε πατρὸς
Φειδία ἐν δνοφερῷ πένθει ἔθου φθίμενος·
ἀλλὰ καλόν τοι ὕπερθεν ἔπος τόδε πέτρος ἀείδει,
ὡς ἔθανες πρὸ φίλας μαρνάμενος πατρίδος.

7.538

“When he was alive this man was once Manês.
But now that’s dead, he can be equal to great Dareios.”

Μάνης οὗτος ἀνὴρ ἦν ζῶν ποτέ· νῦν δὲ τεθνηκὼς
ἶσον Δαρείῳ τῷ μεγάλῳ δύναται.

Image result for Ancient tegea
Tegea from Wikipedia

The Tomb of Hygeia, Untouched by Marriage and Offspring

IG V,1 726 Lakonia and Messenia (IG V,1) : Lakonike (From the PHI Website)

“I am the tomb of a mother’s daughter and son–
They were allotted a swift passage to Hades.

The first of them used to be called Aleksanôr among the boys,
But the girl, Hygeia, died before marriage.

The Muse graced her young son with education;
and jealous Hades robbed her away as he grew.

So the mother has two children, but now she weeps
Three times as much for one untouched of mate and offspring.”

μητρὸς καὶ θυγατρὸς παιδός τ’ ἔτι τύμβος ὅδ̣’ εἰμί,
οἳ λάχον ὠκίστην ἀτραπὸν εἰς Ἀΐδην.

ὧν ὁ μὲν ἐν κούροισιν Ἀλεξάνωρ ἐκαλεῖτο,
ἡ δ’ Ὑγίεια, γάμου πρόσθεν ἀποφθιμένη·

ἄρρενι δ’ ἠϊθέῳ παιδείην ὤπασε Μοῦσα,
ἣν Ἀΐδης φθονερὸς νόσφισεν α̣ὐξομένου.

καὶ μήτηρ μὲν ἔχει παῖδας δύο, τρισσὰ δὲ πένθη
νῦν κλαίει γαμέτης ἄμμιγα καὶ γενέτη̣[ς].

Here’s what the inscription looks like in before being split up into couplets. I am pretty unsure about the third couplet.
1 μητρὸς καὶ θυγατρὸς παιδός τ’ ἔτι τύμβος ὅδ̣’ εἰμί, ❦ οἳ λάχον ὠκίστην ἀτραπὸν εἰς Ἀΐδην. ❦ ὧν ὁ μὲν ἐν κούρο<ι>-σιν Ἀλεξάνωρ ἐκαλεῖτο, ❦ ἡ δ’ Ὑγίεια, γάμου πρόσθεν ἀποφθιμένη· ❦ ἄρρενι δ’ ἠϊθέῳ παιδείην ὤπασε Μοῦσα, ❦ ἣν Ἀΐδης φθονερὸς νόσφισεν α̣ὐξομένου. ❦ καὶ μήτηρ μὲν ἔχει παῖδας δύο, τρισσὰ δὲ πένθη ❦ νῦν κλαίει γαμέτης ἄμμιγα καὶ γενέτη̣[ς].

Image result for funerary inscription Greek attica
Marble Grave Stele of Mnesagora and Nikochares (siblings) from Vari, Attica. 420-410 BC. NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF ATHENS.

A Woman’s Party Invitation and a Girl’s Epitaph: Some Documentary Latin

Some more non-elite Latin provided by Brandon Conley.

A birthday invitation, excerpt (Vindolanda, Britain, 1st cent. CE)

Claudia Severa invites her friend Sulpicia Lepidina (wife of the prefect at Vindolanda) to a birthday party. Despite the use of soror, the two women are not believed to be sisters. With part of the document written by Severa herself, this (and the accompanying notes) is believed to be the earliest-known Latin written by a woman.

Side I

Cl(audia) · Seuerá Lepidinae [suae
[sa]l[u]tem
iii Idus Septembr[e]s soror ad diem
sollemnem natalem meum rogó
libenter faciás ut uenias
ad nos iucundiorem mihi

Side II

[diem] interuentú tuo facturá si
…s
Cerial[em t]uum salutá Aelius meus .[
et filiolus salutant …
… sperabo te soror
uale soror anima
mea ita ualeam
karissima et haue
 

(The italicized text was written by Severa herself)

“Claudia Severa to her Lepidina, greetings. On September 11, sister, for my birthday celebration, I ask you sincerely to make sure you come to (join) us, to make the day more fun for me by your arrival…Say hello to your Cerialis. My Aelius and little boy say hello. I await you, sister. Be well, sister, my dearest soul, so I may be well too. Hail.”

A Jewish child at Rome (Rome, c. 400 CE)

A sad text. Also a good one to use in class, it utilizes both Latin and Hebrew, and goes well with a discussion of diversity in the city and empire. It is also one of the latest dated texts in this document.

(H)Ic iacet Gaudi=
osa infantula
qui bissit annoru=
m plus minu(s) tre=
s requiebit in
pacem. שלום

“Here lies the child Gaudiosa, who lived around three years. She will rest in peace. Shalom (in Hebrew)

Tablet 291 leaf 1 (front) - click to launch image zooming viewer

A Tomb instead of a Marriage: The Phrasikleia Inscription

The following inscription appears on the front of a Kore statue.
IG I³ 1261 (Here’s the PHI Link)

“I am the grave of Phrasikleia.
I will be called a girl forever.
I drew this name from the gods
as my lot instead of marriage.”

[on the back] “Aristion the Parian made me”

σε͂μα Φρασικλείας·
κόρε κεκλέσομαι
αἰεί, / ἀντὶ γάμο
παρὰ θεο͂ν τοῦτο
5 λαχο͂σ’ ὄνομα.

II.1 Ἀριστίον ∶ Πάρι[ός μ’ ἐπ]ο[ίε]σ̣ε.

Here is the way it is presented in the Appendix to the Greek Anthology (69.2):

Σῆμα Φρασικλέας· κούρη κεκ[όρευ]μαι ῎Αρηι,
ἀντὶ γάμου παρὰ θεῶν τοῦτο λαχοῦσ’ ὄνομα.

Nathalie Scott has a nice write up of this piece online.

Here’s a picture of the Phrasikleia sculpture (the epigraph is on it):

Image result for color picture phrasikleia sculpture

Here is a polychromatic version:

File:Oxford. Ashmolean Museum. Gods in Colour. Grave statue of Phrasikleia.jpg
Wikicommons from the Asmolean Museum

Christos Tsagalis talks about inscriptions like this in his 2008 Inscribing Sorrow : Fourth-Century Attic Funerary Epigrams, (Trends in Classics. Suppl. Vol., 1) 2008, although his claim that the ἀντὶ γάμου is “especially suitable for young girls” (280) probably needs a little more nuance (I have found it in inscriptions for many young men too cf. e.g. SEG 42:212).

There are, of course, other expressions for the same idea. For instance, from nearly seven centuries later, the first half of IGBulg V 5930 (The PHI link):

“Look at this grave marker, friend, and ask “who made this”?
Hermogenes made me in longing, seeking to honor his own daughter
Well-tressed Theklê, whom strong fate stole away
Before she saw a marriage, before she joined a husband in bed,
Before she suffered anything in her soul, she went unpolluted to god.”

δέρκεο σῆμα, φέριστε, καὶ εἴρεο τίς κάμε τοῦτο.
Ἑρμογένης ποθέων με, χαριζόμενος δ’ ἕο παιδὶ
Θέκληι εὐπλοκάμ<ῳ> γ’ ἣν ἥρπασε Μοῖρα κραταιὴ
πρὶν γάμον εἰσιδέειν, πρὶν ἀνέρι λέκτρα συνάψαι,
πρὶν ψυχὴν παθέειν τι, ἀκήρατος ἐς θεὸν ἦλθεν.

A Funerary Inscription for a Twelve-Year Old Girl

This inscription is from Attica, dating to around 350 BCE.

SEG 25:298 (SEG 23.166 Peek: Greek from the PHI Website)

“Traveler, weep for the age of this dead girl—
For she left when she was only twelve, causing her friends much grief
And leaving behind immortal pain. The rest of it
This memorial announces to everyone who passes by.

Much-wept Hades, why did you take Kleoptolemê when she
Was still a girl, at an ill-fated age? Didn’t you feel any shame?
You left for her dear mother Mnêsô everlasting grief
In exchange for mortal misfortune.

Dear Mother and sisters and Meidotelês who fathered you
As a source of pain for himself, Kleoptolemê,–
They look forward only to grief, and not your bed-chamber, now that you’ve died,
but a lament instead of a husband, a funeral instead of a marriage.”

ἡλικίαν δάκ[ρυσον, ὁδοιπόρε, τῆσδε θανούσης]·
δωδεκέτις [γὰρ ἐοῦσ’ ὤιχετο, πολλὰ φίλοις]
στερχθεῖσ’, ἀθά[νατον δὲ λιποῦσ’ ἄλγος· τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ]
πᾶσι τόδ’ ἀγγέλλει [μνῆμα παρε]ρ[χομένοις]·

ὦ πολύκλαυθ’ Ἅιδη, τ[ί Κλεοπτολ]έμη[ν ἔτι κούραν]
ἥρπασας ἡλικίας δύσ̣[μορον; οὐ] σέ[βεαι];
μητρὶ δὲ τεῖ μελέαι πένθ[ο]ς Μνη[σοῖ προλέλοι]πας
ἀθάνατον θνητῆς εἵνεκα συν[τυχία]ς

ὦ μελέα μῆτερ καὶ ὁμαίμονες ὅς τέ σ’ ἔφυσεν
Μειδοτέλης αὑτῶι πῆμα, Κλεοπτολέμη·
οἳ γόον, οὐ θάλαμον τὸν σὸν προσορῶσι θανούσης,
θρῆνόν τε ἀντ’ ἀνδρὸς καὶ τάφον ἀντὶ γάμου.

Image result for funerary inscription Greek attica
Grave Relief for Naiskos of Sime at the Getty