Medicae: Women Doctors from the Roman Empire

Some more Non-Elite Latin from the tireless Brandon Conley

  1. AE 1937, 0017.
inscription for blog
(Image from EDH)

Hic iacet Sarman/na medica vixit / pl(us) m(inus) an(nos) LXX Pientius / Pientinus fili(us) et / Honorata norus / titolum posuerunt / in pace

“Here lies Sarmana the doctor. She lived around 70 years. Pientius, her son Pientinus, and daughter-in-law Honorata placed this monument. In peace.”


  1. AE 2001, 00263

C(aius) Naevius C(ai) l(ibertus) Phi[lippus] / medicus chirurg(us) / Naevia C(ai) l(iberta) Clara / medica philolog(a) / in fro(nte) ped(es) XI s(emis) / in agr(o) ped(es) XVI

“Gaius Naevius Philippus, freedman of Gaius, doctor and surgeon. Naevia Clara, freedwoman of Gaius, doctor and scholar. (Tomb size) 11.5 feet wide, 16 feet deep.”


  1. CIL 1.497
(Image from Arachne)

D(is) M(anibus) s(acrum) / Iuliae Saturninae / ann(orum) XXXXV / uxori incompara/bili me[dic]ae optimae / mulieri sanctissimae / Cassius Philippus / maritus ob meritis / h(ic) s(ita) e(st) s(it) t(ibi) t(erra) l(evis)

“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.”


  1. CIL 6.09616

D(is) M(anibus) / Terentiae / Niceni Terentiae / Primaes medicas li/bertae fecerunt / Mussius Antiochus / et Mussia Dionysia / fil(ii) m(atri) b(ene) m(erenti)

“To the spirits of the dead. To Terentia of Nicaea, freedwoman of the doctor Terentia Prima. Mussius Antiochus and Mussia Dionysia, her children, made this for their well-deserving mother.”

  1. CIL 13.02019
(Image from EDCS)

Metilia Donata medic[a] / de sua pecunia dedit / l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum)

“Metilia Donata, a doctor, gave this with her own money. This spot was given by decree of the decurions.”

  1. CIL 11.06394

…xia viva fecit / Tutilia Cn(aei) Tutili leib(erta) / Menotia hoc moniment(um) / fecit Octavia[e] Auli l(ibertae) / Artimisiae medicae

…(?) “Tutilia Menotia, freedwoman of Gnaeus Tutilus, made this monument for the doctor Octavia Artemisia, freedwoman of Aulus.”

Memnon’s Speaking Stone: Two Poems by Julia Balbilla

Julia Balbilla is a Roman poet from the time of Hadrian. She composed Greek verse. For more of her poems see Rosenmeyer 2008 below and Brennan 1998 for additional historical context

Julia Balbilla, Two Poems

In Memnonis pede sinistro. C. I. 4727 coll. Add. III p. 1202.

“I, Balbilla, heard from the stone when it spoke
Either the divine voice of Memnon or Phamenoth.
I came here alongside my beautiful queen Sabina,
as the sun kept its course in the first hour.
In the fifteenth year of Hadrian’s reign
When Hathyr had made its twenty-fourth day,
It was on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Hathyr.

῎Εκλυον αὐδάσαντος ἐγὼ ‘πὺ λίθω Βάλβιλλα
φώνας τᾶς θείας Μέμνονος ἢ Φαμένωθ·
ἦνθον ὔμοι δ’ ἐράται βασιλήιδι τυῖδε Σαβίνναι,
ὤρας δὲ πρώτας ἄλιος ἦχε δρόμος,

κοιράνω ᾿Αδριάνω πέμπτωι δεκότωι δ’ ἐνιαύτωι,
φῶτ]α δ’ ἔχεσκεν ῎Αθυρ εἴκοσι καὶ πέσυρα·
εἰκόστωι πέμπτωι δ’ ἄματι μῆνος ῎Αθυρ.

In Memnonis crure sinistro. C. I. 4725 coll. Add. III p. 1201 sq.

“Julia Balbilla [wrote this]
When August Hadrian heard Memnon

I’ve learned that the Egyptian Memnon, bronzed by
The bright sun, sounds out from a Theban stone.
When he gazed upon Hadrian, the kingliest king
He addressed him as much as he could before the light of the sun.

But as Titan was driving through the sky on white horses
Holding the second part of the day in shadow,
Memnon’s voice rang out again like struck bronze,
High-pitched: and he let loose a third sound greeting.

And then Lord Hadrian hailed Memnon in return
And left on this column for future generations to see
Inscribed verses telling of everything he saw and heard.
And it was clear to everyone how much the gods love him.

᾿Ιουλίας Βαλβίλλης, ὅτε ἤκουσε τοῦ Μέμνονος ὁ σεβαστὸς

Μέμνονα πυνθανόμαν Αἰγύπτιον, ἀλίω αὔγαι
αἰθόμενον, φώνην Θηβαίκω ‘πὺ λίθω·
᾿Αδρίανον δ’ ἐςίδων, τὸν παμβασίληα πρὶν αὐγὰς
ἀελίω χαίρην εἶπέ [v]οι ὠς δύνοτον·

Τίταν δ’ ὄττ’ ἐλάων λεύκοισι δι’ αἴθερος ἴπποις
ἐ]ν σκίαι ὠράων δεύτερον ἦχε μέτρον,
ὠς χάλκοιο τυπέντος ἴη Μέμνων πάλιν αὔδαν
ὀξύτονον· χαίρων καὶ τρίτον ἆχον ἴη.

κοίρανος ᾿Αδρίανος χ[ήρ]αις δ’ ἀσπάσσατο καὖτος
Μέμνονα. κἀ[πιθέμαν] καλλ[ιλό]γοισι πόνοις
γρόππατα σαμαίνο[ν]τά τ’ ὄσ’ εὔιδε κὤσσ’ ἐςάκουσε·
δᾶλον παῖσι δ’ ἔγε[ν]τ’ ὤς [v]ε φίλ[ε]ισι θέοι.

Antonio Beato, Colosses de Memnon

Rosenmeyer, P. (2008). Greek Verse Inscriptions in Roman Egypt: Julia Balbilla’s Sapphic Voice. Classical Antiquity, 27(2), 334-358.

Brennan, T. (1998). “The Poets Julia Balbilla and Damo at the Colossus of Memnon”. Classical World, 91(4), 215.

Plant, I., & Plant, Ian Michael. (2004). Women writers of ancient Greece and Rome : An anthology (University of Oklahoma Press ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.


Hades’ Newest Bride: A Remarkable Epitaph

This poem actually inspired me to type “just wow” when I was looking through the PHI Epigraphic Database.

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.”

1           Θεοφίλη Ἑκαταίου, / χαῖρε.
Θειοφίλην με θύγατρα μινυνθαδίην Ἑκαταίου
ἐμνώοντο, γάμωι παρθένον ἠΐθεοι,
5 ἔφθασε δ’ ἁρπάξας Ἀΐδης, ἠράσσατο γάρ μευ,
Φερσεφόνας ἐσιδὼν κρέσσονα Φερσεφόναν.
6a ———

7 καὶ γράμμα πέτρης ἐκγλυφὲν στηλίτιδος
κόρην δακρύει Θεοφίλην Σινωπίδα
τὰς μελλονύμφους ἧς πατὴρ δαιδουχίας
10   Ἑκαταῖος Ἅιδηι καὶ οὐ γάμωι συνάρμοσεν.
10a ———

11 παρθένε Θειοφίλα, σὲ μὲν οὐ γάμος, ἀλλ’ ἀδίαυλος
χῶρος ἔχει νύμφη δ’ οὐκέτι Μηνοφίλου,
[ἀ]λλὰ Κόρης σύλλεκτρος· ὁ δὲ σπείρας Ἑκαταῖος
οὔνομα δυστήνου μοῦνον ἔχει φθιμένης,
15 [μ]ορφὰν δ’ ἐν πέτραι λεύ<σ>σει σέο τὰς δ’ ἀτελέστους
ἐλπίδας οὐχ ὁσίη Μοῖρα κατεχθόνισεν.

τὴν κάλλος ζηλωτὸν ἐνὶ θνατοῖσι λαχοῦσαν
Θειοφίλην, Μουσῶν τὴν δεκάτην, Χάριτα,
πρὸς γάμον ὡραίαν, τὴν σωφροσύνης ὑπόδειγμα,
20   οὐκ Ἀΐδας ζοφεραῖς ἀμφέβαλεν παλάμαις,

Πλούτων δ’ εἰς θαλάμους τὰ γαμήλια λαμπάδι φέγγη
ἇψε, ποθεινοτάτην δεξάμενος γαμέτιν.
[ὦ γ]ονέες, θρήνων νῦν λήξατε, παύετ’ ὀδυρμῶν·
Θειοφίλη λέκτρων ἀθανάτων ἔτυχεν.

Image result for hades persephone grave relief
A relief of Persephone and Hades from the Hierapolis Archaeological Museum

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 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

This Unforgetting Stone (Another Epitaph)

Iscr. di Cos (Fun.) EF 518  From Kos, 2nd/1st Century BCE

“Previously Homeric grooves [arrows] were sounding out
The master-loving habit of Eumaios on golden tablets,
But now this stone, repeating the unforgetting word,
Will sing your wise wit even into Hades, Inakhos.

Philoskos, who reveres your home, will always increase
The fine gifts and honor you both among the living and the dead—
Along with your wife who honors your son who is weeping,
A young child who draws deep from the spring of her breasts.

O, inescapable Hades, why do you hoard this kind of blessing,
Taking away the famous son of Kleumakhis?”

1 π̣ρὶν μ̣ὲν Ὁμήρειο[ι γλυφί]δες φιλ[οδέσποτ]ο̣ν̣ ἦ̣θ̣[ο]ς
Εὐμαίου χρ̣υσέαις̣ ἔ̣κλαγον ἐν σ̣ε̣λίσ̣ι̣ν̣·
σεῦ δὲ καὶ εἰν Ἀΐδαο σαόφρονα μῆτιν ἀείσει
Ἴν̣αχ̣’ ἀείμνηστον γ̣ρ̣άμ̣μ̣α λαλεῦσ̣α̣ πέ̣τρ̣η·
5 καί σε πρὸς εὐσεβέ̣ων δ̣όμ̣ον ἄξ̣ε̣ται ἐσθλὰ Φ̣ιλίσκος̣
δῶρα καὶ ἐν ζῳοῖς κἂμ φθιμένοισι τίνων·
σήν τ̣’ ἄλοχ̣ον κλείουντ’ αὐτόν σοι παῖδα τίο̣υσαν
π̣ηγῆς ἧς μασ̣τ̣ῶν ε̣ἴ̣λ̣κυ̣σ̣ε νηπίαχο̣ς̣.
[ὦ] δυσάλικτ’ Ἀΐδα, τὶ τὸ τηλίκον ἔσχ̣ες ὄνειαρ̣,
10 κλεινὸν Κλευμαχίδο̣ς̣ κοῦρον ἀειρ̣ά̣μενο̣ς̣;

Image result for ancient greek arrows

Why Weep Without Reason? All Mortals Die

IMT Kyz Kapu Dağ 1694  [= Greek Anthology 7.334] (Cyzicos, 2/3 Century CE)

“Pitiless god, why did you show me the light
Only for a brief number of few years?
Is it because you wanted to afflict my poor mother
With tears and laments through my short life?

She bore me and raised me and paid much more
Mind to my education than my father.
For he left me as a small orphan in this home
While she endured every kind of labor for me.

It would have been dear for me to have had success
Before our respected leaders with speeches in the law courts.
But the adolescent bloom of lovely youth did not
Reach my face. There was no marriage, no torches.

She did not sing the famous marriage song for me,
And the ill-fated woman never saw a child, a remnant
Of our much-lamented family. And it hurts me even when dead
My mother Polittê’s still growing grief
In her mourning thoughts over Phronto, the child she bore
Swift-fated, the empty pride of a dear country.

B. “Pôlittê, endure your grief, rein in your tears.
Many mothers have seen dead sons.
But they were not like him in their ways and life,
They were not so reverent toward their mother’s sweet face.
But why mourn so uselessly? Why weep without purpose?
All mortals will go to Hades in common.”

A.1 νηλεὲς ὦ δαῖμων, τί δέ μοι καὶ φέγγος ἔδειξας
εἰς ὀλίγων ἐτέων μέτρα μινυνθάδια;
ἦ ἵνα λυπήσῃς δι’ ἐμὴν βιότοιο τελευτήν
μητέρα δειλαίην δάκρυσι καὶ στοναχαῖς,
5 ἥ μ’ ἔτεχ’, ἥ μ’ ἀτίτηλε καὶ ἣ πολὺ μείζονα πατρός
φροντίδα παιδείης ἤνυσεν ἡμετέρης;
ὃς μὲν γὰρ τυτθόν τε καὶ ὀρφανὸν ἐν μεγάροισι
κάλλιπεν, ἣ δ’ ἐπ’ ἐμοὶ πάντας ἔτλη καμάτους·
ἦ μὲν ἐμοὶ φίλον ἦεν ἐφ’ ἁγνῶν ἡγεμονήων
10  ἐμπρεπέμεν μύθοις ἀμφὶ δικασπολίαις·
ἀλλά μοι οὐ γενύων ὑπεδέξατο κούριμον ἄνθος
ἡλικίης ἐρατῆς, οὐ γάμον, οὐ δαΐδας·
οὐχ ὑμέναιον ἄεισε περικλυτόν, οὐ τέκος εἶδε
δύσποτμος, ἐκ γενεῆς λείψανον ἡμετέρης
15 τῆς πολυθρηνήτου· λυπεῖ δέ με καὶ τεθνεῶτα
μητρὸς Πωλίττης πένθος ἀεξόμενον
Φρόντωνος γοεραῖς ἐπὶ φροντίσιν, ἣ τέκε παῖδα
ὠκύμορον, κενεὸν χάρμα φίλης πατρίδος.

B.19 Πωλίττα, τλῆθι πένθος, εὔνασον δάκρυ·
20 πολλαὶ θανόντας εἶδον υἱεῖς μητέρες· ——
ἀλλ’ οὐ τοιούτους τὸν τρόπον καὶ τὸν βίον,
οὐ μητέρων σέβοντας ἡδίστην θέαν· ——
τί περισσὰ θρηνεῖς, τί δὲ μάτην ὀδύρεαι;
εἰς κοινὸν Ἅιδην πάντες ἥξουσι βροτοί.

Image result for cyzicus ruins greece
Ruins at Cyzicos

A Contract for a Slave Purchase

For more non-elite Latin, go to the list here.

AE 1922, 0135. 151 (CE, Fayoum, Egypt)

This is a contract written on a wax tablet for the sale of a Marmarian slave girl to Titus Memmius Montanus, a sailor in the praetorian fleet stationed at Ravenna. The girl is described as ‘veteranae’ (βετρανε), meaning she has been enslaved for some time. We don’t know what happened to her after this moment, but, as this contract was found in Egypt, there is good reason to believe that Titus Memmius was there at some point.

The writer of the contract was likely a native Greek speaker who was unfamiliar with the Latin alphabet, employing Greek morphology (nominative -ος, , genitive -ου/-ης, accusative -ους, etc.), phonetic tendencies (-αρουν for -arum), and vocabulary (πεντηρω) in an otherwise formulaic document. It also displays several spellings reflective of Latin speech, such as the merging of /b/ and /w/ to /β/, and the monophthongization of /ae/ to /ɛ/.

For more on the language, see Adams (2003) Bilingualism and the Latin Language.

BC 1
Enslaved captives. (image: The History Project)



Γαιω Κουρτιω Ιουστω Ιουλιω Ναυτωνε / κωνσουλιβους σεξστουμ νωνας οκτωβρης / Αισχινης Αισχινου Φλαουιανος Μιλησιος σκρι/ψι μη ακκεπισσε α Τιτω Μεμμιω Μοντανω / μιλιτε πεντηρω Αυγιστι δηναριους σεσκεν/τους βιγεντι κινκυε πρετιουμ πουελλαι Μαρ/μαριαι βετρανε κουαμ ει δουπλα οπτιμισ κον/δικιωνιβους βενδιδιτ ετ τραδιδι εξ εντερρο/γατιωνε φακτα ταβελλαρουν σιγναταρουμ / ακτουμ καστρις κλασσης πραιτωριαι Ραβεν/νατους

Idem cosulubus aeadem diem Domitius The/ophilus scrisi me in veditionem puellae Marma/riae supra scriptae pro Aescine Aescine phi/lium Flavianum secundum auctorem ex/stitise acctum

“In the consulships of Gaius Curtius Iustus and Julius Nauto (151 CE), October 2nd. I, Aeschines Flavianus, a Milesian, son of Aeschines, wrote that I received from Titus Memmius Montanus, soldier on the quinquireme Augustus, 625 denarii as the price of the Marmarian girl, a long-serving (‘veteran’) slave, whom I sold to him at double repayment (i.e. on default) under the best terms and handed over after the finished inspection of the signed tablets. Completed at the camp of the praetorian fleet at Ravenna.

In the same consulships and on the same day, I, Domitius Theophilus, wrote that I was present as a witness on behalf of Aeschines Flavianus, son of Aeschines, for the sale of the Marmarian girl, described above. Completed.”

Should anyone else want to use this in a Latin class (I’m incorporating it into a course reading), I’ve adapted a somewhat standardized version in the Latin alphabet:

Gaio Curtio Iusto (et) Iulio Nautone consulibus, sextum nonas Octobres, Aeschines Aeschinae (filius) Flavianus Milesius scripsi me accepisse a Tito Memmio Montano, milite quinquiremis Augusti, denarios sescentos viginti quinque pretium puellae Marmariae veteranae, quam ei dupla optimis condicionibus vendidit (vendidi) et tradidi ex interrogatione facta tabellarum signatarum, actum castris classis praetoriae Ravennae.

Idem consulibus eadem die, Domitius Theophilus scripsi me in venditione puellae Marmariae, supra scriptae, pro Aeschine Aeschinae filio Flaviano secundum auctorem exstitisse. Actum.

Roman Slave Collar
Roman slave collar (image: University of Colorado-Boulder)

A Curse from Teos For One of Our National Disasters: Woe for the Drug-Makers!

SGDI 15632 (Teos, c. 475 BCE; from Buck, Greek Dialects: Ionic Inscriptions, 3)

“Whoever should make deadly drugs for the Teian community or for an individual, destroy him and his family. Whoever stops the importation of grain into the Teian land or repels it as it is being imported either with skill or device and on sea or on land, destroy him and his family.”


Here’s the inscription from PHI Greek Inscriptions, Teos 261

ὅστις ∶ φάρμακα ∶ δηλητήρια ∶ ποιοῖ ∶ ἐπὶ Τηΐοισιν ∶ τὸ ξυνὸν ∶ ἢ ἐπ’ ἰδιώτηι, ∶ κε͂νον ∶ ἀπόλλυσθαι ∶ καὶ αὐτὸν ∶ καὶ γένος ∶ τὸ κένο ∶ ὅστις ∶ ἐς γῆν ∶ τὴν Τηΐην ∶ κωλύοι ∶ σῖτον ∶ ἐσάγεσθαι ∶ἢ τέχνηι ∶ ἢ μηχανῆι ∶ ἢ κατὰ θάλασσαν ∶ ἢ κατ’ ἤπειρον ∶ ἢ ἐσαχθέντα ∶ ἀνωθεοίη, ∶ ἀπόλλυσθαι ∶ καὶ αὐτὸν ∶ καὶ γένος ∶ τὸ κένο.


Aristotle (On Plants) and Galen (varia) define deleterious medicines (δηλητήρια φάρμακα) as those that are fatal to human beings, such as poisonous venom or substances coming from hemlock (or concentrations of opium, henbane etc.). Of course, such things are weaponized fairly early in human history as this threatening inscription above from Teos illustrates.

Early medical authors understood the moral obligations of physicians and pharmacologists:

Galen, Method of Medicine 816k

“There is, therefore, a safe limit of medical treatment for one struggling admirably according to the practice of medicine against a sickness—and it is also the safeguard of ability for the one who is trying to soothe the pain. Beyond this is the work of a poor doctor, resulting in the end of the patient’s life with the sickness.

It is a flatterer’s act to try to please the patient, because this places pleasure not health as the primary aim. Practitioners descend into these kinds of extremes in many ways but especially in different types of treatments among which are chiefly the so-called anodyne medicines which are made from the poppy or seed of henbane, the root of mandrake, the storax or any other kind of thing.

Doctors who yield to the sick and use too much of these sorts of drugs destroy their patients with the pains as much as those who give them at the wrong time, in the wrong measure, or not at all.

Therefore, just as in everything else in life—in habits and actions—here the appropriate guideline to take is “nothing in excess”. The appropriate marker is the health of the sick…”

ὅρος οὖν ἐπὶ καμνόντων τῷ κατὰ τὸν λόγον τῆς τέχνης ἀγωνιζομένῳ γενναίως πρὸς τὸ νόσημα τὸ τῆς Kἰάσεως | ἀσφαλές· ὥσπερ γε καὶ τῷ πραΰνοντι τὰς ὀδύνας ἡ τῆς δυνάμεως φυλακή. τὸ δ᾿ ἐπέκεινα τῶνδε σκαιοῦ μὲν ἀνδρὸς ἔργον ἐστίν, ἅμα τῷ νοσήματι καὶ τὴν ζωὴν ἀφελέσθαι τὸν ἄνθρωπον· κόλακος δὲ τὸ χαρίζεσθαι τῷ νοσοῦντι, σκοπὸν ὧν πράττει θέμενον ἡδονήν, οὐχ ὑγείαν. ἐμπίπτουσι δ᾿ εἰς τὰς τοιαύτας ὑπερβολὰς ἐν πολλαῖς μὲν καὶ ἄλλαις ὕλαις βοηθημάτων οἱ ἰατροί, μάλιστα δ᾿ ἐν τοῖς καλουμένοις ἀνωδύνοις φαρμάκοις, ὅσα δι᾿ ὀποῦ μήκωνος, ἢ ὑοσκυάμουσπέρματος, ἢ μανδραγόρου ῥίζης, ἢ στύρακος, ἤ τινος τοιούτου συντιθέασιν. οἵ τε γὰρ χαριζόμενοι τοῖς νοσοῦσι πλεονάζουσιν ἐν τῇ χρήσει τῶν τοιούτων φαρμάκων, οἵ τ᾿ ἀκαίρως καὶ ἀμέτρως γενναῖοι μηδ᾿ ὅλως χρώμενοι διαφθείρουσιν ὀδύναις τοὺς κάμνοντας. ὥσπερ οὖν ἐν ἁπάσαις ταῖς καθ᾿ ὅλον τὸν βίον ἕξεσί τε καὶ πράξεσιν, οὕτω κἀνταῦθα τὸ μηδὲν ἄγαν αἱρετέον, ὅρον ἔχοντα τὴν ὠφέλειαν τοῦ κάμνοντος.

Scholia bT ad Il. 1.594

“[The Sintian men]: Philokhoros says that because they were Pelasgians they were called this because after they sailed to Brauron they kidnapped the women who were carrying baskets. For they call “harming” [to blaptein] sinesthai.

But Eratosthenes says that they have this name because they are wizards who discovered deadly drugs. Porphyry says that they were the first people to make weapons, the things which bring harm to men. Or, because they were the first to discover piracy.”

Σίντιες ἄνδρες] Φιλόχορός φησι Πελασγοὺς αὐτοὺς ὄντας οὕτω προσαγορευθῆναι, ἐπεὶ πλεύσαντες εἰς Βραυρῶνα κανηφόρους παρθένους ἥρπασαν· σίνεσθαι δὲ τὸ βλάπτειν λέγουσιν. ᾽Ερατοσθένης δέ, ἐπεὶ γόητες ὄντες εὗρον δηλητήρια φάρμακα. ὁ δὲ Πορφύριος, ἐπεὶ πρῶτοι τὰ πολεμιστήρια ἐδημιούργησαν ὅπλα, ἃ πρὸς βλάβην ἀνθρώπων συντελεῖ· ἢ ἐπεὶ πρῶτοι ληιστήρια ἐξεῦρον.

Herodian, 3. 5

“He also gave them some deadly drugs to give to him in secret if they were able to persuade some of the cooks or waiters, even though [Albinus’] friends were suspicious and advising him to safeguard himself against a deceptively clever adversary.”

ἔδωκε δὲ αὐτοῖς καὶ δηλητήρια φάρμακα, ὅπως τινὰς πείσαιεν, εἰ δυνηθεῖεν, ἢ τῶν ὀψοποιῶν ἢ τῶν πρὸς ταῖς κύλιξι, λαθεῖν καὶ ἐπιδοῦναι αὐτῷ <καίτοι> ὑποπτευόντων τῶν περὶ αὐτὸν φίλων καὶ4 συμβουλευόντων αὐτῷ φυλάττεσθαι ἄνδρα 6ἀπατεῶνα σοφόν τε πρὸς ἐπιβουλήν·

Image result for ancient greek Teos
A coin from Teos