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Project Gutenberg's Roman Sepulchral Inscriptions, by John  Kenrick

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Title: Roman Sepulchral Inscriptions
       Their Relation to Archæology, Language, and Religion

Author: John  Kenrick

Release Date: June 1, 2012 [EBook #39894]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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ROMAN SEPULCRAL INSCRIPTIONS.

 

 

LONDON: PRINTED BY WOODFALL AND KINDER,
ANGEL COURT, SKINNER STREET.

 

 

ROMAN
SEPULCRAL INSCRIPTIONS:

THEIR RELATION TO
ARCHÆOLOGY, LANGUAGE, AND RELIGION.

 

DM SIMPLICIAE FLORENTINE
ANIME INNOCENTISSIME
QVE VIXIT MENSES DECEM
FELICIVS SIMPLEX PATER FECIT
LEC VI V

FROM A SARCOPHAGUS IN THE YORK MUSEUM.

 

BY
JOHN KENRICK, M.A., F.S.A.

 

LONDON.
JOHN RUSSELL SMITH, 36, SOHO SQUARE.
YORK:
R. SUNTER, STONEGATE; H. SOTHERAN, CONEY STREET.
M.DCCC.LVIII.

 

 


[Pg v]

This little work originated in two papers, read before the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. They were designed to direct the attention of the members to the monuments preserved in their own Museum, and at the same time to show how the labours of the antiquary connect themselves with the history of manners, institutions, and opinions. The subject, I believe, has not been specially treated of in this country before, and as the remains of antiquity are now studied with more enlarged views than in a former age, it may have an interest for a wider circle than that to which the original papers were addressed.

J. K.

[Pg vi]

 

 


[Pg vii]

CONTENTS.

 PAGE
IMPORTANCE OF SEPULCRAL MONUMENTS AS MATERIALS OF HISTORY 1
GREEK SEPULCRAL INSCRIPTIONS 2
ROMAN INSCRIPTIONS IN BRITAIN, GAUL, SPAIN, AND AFRICA 3
ROMAN SEPULCRES EXTRAMURAL 5
THE USTRINUM 7
ADDRESSES TO TRAVELLERS 8
WARNINGS TO VIOLATORS 9
RIGHT OF INTERMENT 11
PROTESTS AGAINST ALIENATION BY HEIRS 12
APPENDAGES TO SEPULCRES 14
COMMEMORATIVE RITES 15
MENTION OF CAUSES OF DEATH 18
COMPLAINTS OF THE INEFFICACY OF MEDICINE 19
OLD FORMS OF LANGUAGE 20
APPROXIMATION OF LATIN TO ITALIAN 23
RECORD OF TRADES AND PROFESSIONS 24
THEATRICAL PERFORMERS 26
IMPLEMENTS REPRESENTED ON TOMBS 28
AVERAGE LENGTH OF LIFE 30
SIMPLICITY OF ROMAN LAPIDARY STYLE 32
TOPICS OF PRAISE 35
PARENTAL REGRETS 36
FILIAL AFFECTION 38
CONJUGAL AFFECTION 40
[Pg viii]LAW OF DIVORCE 45
INSCRIPTIONS ON FAVOURITE ANIMALS 47
RELIGIOUS FAITH AND SENTIMENT 48
OF CONSOLATION 50
MORAL REFLEXIONS 51
BELIEF IN IMMORTALITY 52
EPICUREAN SENTIMENTS 54
DOUBTFUL HOPES 55
SUPERSTITION AND SCEPTICISM 56
THE OLD RELIGIONS OBSOLETE 57
WORSHIP OF STRANGE GODS 58
CONTRAST OF PAGAN AND CHRISTIAN MONUMENTS 59
WORKS ON INSCRIPTIONS 60
FORGERIES 61
ROMAN BURIAL CLUBS 65

 

 


[Pg 1]

ROMAN SEPULCRAL INSCRIPTIONS.

The memorials of the dead hold a remarkable place among the materials of history. The very existence of nations is in many cases attested only by their sepulcral monuments, which serve to trace the course of their migrations, and yield us a scanty knowledge of their usages, and of the state of civilization among them. Where the art of writing has been unknown, this knowledge must, indeed, be vague and inferential; we may gather the race from the form of the skull, the rank or occupation from the contents of the grave; but we learn nothing of the individual character or social relations of its tenant; he is only one of the countless multitude who

illacrimabiles
Urguentur ignotique longa
Nocte.

Even among nations who have possessed the art of writing, and used it profusely for sepulcral [Pg 2]purposes, we may be disappointed in the hope of gaining any idea of individual character from inscriptions on the dead. From the hieroglyphics with which the Egyptian mummies and funeral tablets are covered we seldom learn more than the state and function of the deceased. The Greek inscriptions are more communicative, but their ἐπιγράμματα ἐπιτύμβια, of which so large a number are preserved in the Anthology, are rather poetical exercises than the expression of genuine, personal sentiment; and those which have come down to us in brass or marble are brief and meagre.

Roman sepulcral monuments of the republican times are rare; but those of the family of Scipio,[1] the earliest with which we are acquainted, exhibit a character entirely different from the Greek. They at once display the genius of the people, and give a picture of strong individuality. The following Saturnian verses are inscribed on the tomb of Publius Scipio, the son of the great Africanus.

Quei apicem, insigne Dialis Flaminis, gesistei
Mors perfecit tua ut tibi essent omnia brevia,
[Pg 3]Honos, fama virtusque, gloria atque ingenium.
Quibus sei in longa licuisset tibi utier vita
Facile facteis superasses gloriam majorum.
Quare lubens te in gremium, Scipio, recipit
Terra, Publi, prognatum Publio, Corneli.

In the imperial times sepulcral inscriptions became very numerous, especially as cremation fell into disuse, and the sarcophagus took the place of the urn, which rarely exhibits any designation of the person whose ashes it contains. They have furnished the philologer, the archæologist, and the historian, with a multitude of materials for their respective branches of study. The site of Eburacum has supplied a considerable number of them, some of which have perished or been removed,[2] while others are contained in the Museum of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. With the exception of one, they are formal and jejune; yet the fact that the Society possesses so many may lead its members to take an interest in an attempt to illustrate the whole subject from the more ample treasures of other collections.

What has been said of the general brevity and dryness of our own inscriptions is true of those found in England generally. There are very few in the collections of Horsley and his successors, which are distinguished either by their execution or their style. For the most part they are a simple[Pg 4] record of the age and status of the deceased, a large proportion being the tombs of military men. The number and character of sepulcral monuments are an index of the population and wealth of a district or country; their language, of the prevalence of the Roman dominion. Rome, of course, has furnished the largest number. The north of Italy, when it ceased to be Gallic, became entirely Roman; and its chief cities, Verona, Milan, Brescia, Padua, have proved more productive of Latin inscriptions than the south, where the Greek language was extensively used. The southern parts of Gaul early became a Roman province; and its cities are full of Roman antiquities, among which inscriptions bear a conspicuous part. Several classics of the Silver age—Seneca, Martial, Quinctilian, Silius Italicus—were born in the southern cities of Spain, and the Spanish inscriptions, though less important than might have been expected from this circumstance, bear testimony to the wide diffusion of the Latin language in that country. Northern Africa was occupied by the Romans, with a temporary interruption during the conquest of the Vandals, for eight centuries. Though the country people retained the old Punic language,[3] the Latin must have been in general use in the cities, for African bishops and writers[Pg 5] were the founders of Latin eloquence in the Christian Church. Since the French possession of Algeria the ancient sites of Roman colonies have been explored, and already a copious harvest of Latin inscriptions has been the result. But Britain was remote and poor, late occupied by the Romans and early abandoned. Even during its occupation they were rather garrisoned in the towns, which they built and fortified, than mingled with the conquered people. We need not wonder, therefore, that our inscriptions are chiefly military, or that when the Romans withdrew they left few traces of their occupancy in the language of Britain.

It was the all but universal practice in the ancient world to inter the bodies or ashes of the dead beyond the limits of the cities. Even in Egypt, where the practice of embalmment might have rendered it safe to retain them in the vicinity of the living, the cemeteries of the great cities were placed on the opposite side of the Nile. Lycurgus, indeed, is said to have ordered interments to be made within the limits of Sparta, with the view of producing familiarity with the aspect of death. The Athenians, on the contrary, devoted the most beautiful suburb of their city, the Ceramicus without the walls, to the interment of their dead, and the space beyond the walls of the Piræus appears to have been occupied with tombs.[4] If the Romans ever buried[Pg 6] within their houses, it must have been at a time when their territory did not extend beyond the walls of the city, for the prohibition of the Twelve Tables is precise; HOMINEM MORTUUM IN URBE NE SEPELITO, NEVE URITO. The principal roads at Rome seem to have been lined with sepulcres for a considerable distance, especially the Appian, the “Regina Viarum,” as it is termed by Statius.[5] Atticus was buried at the fifth milestone from the city on this road, Gallienus at the ninth.[6] No urn or sarcophagus has been found within the walls of Roman York, but the traces of interment begin immediately beyond the gates. On the southern side, which was not included in the fortifications of Eburacum, the ground near the river was occupied by suburban villas, whose site is indicated by the elaborate pavements which have been dug up; but at the Mount, half a mile from the river one of the principal cemeteries of the city began, extending along the road which led to Calcaria. Sepulcral remains have also been found near the other outlets from the city. While we acknowledge that in thus banishing the remains of the dead from the precincts of the living the ancients showed more wisdom than modern nations, we cannot but wonder that they should have allowed the disagreeable process of burning the dead to be carried on so near their habitations.[Pg 7] The site of the ustrinum at York has not been clearly ascertained; if at Clifton, where many urns have been found, it was at a moderate distance from the gate; but at Pompeii it was only about a furlong from the gate on the principal road, and at Aldborough close to the wall.[7] The Romans had, even in their smaller municipia, Boards of Health—such, at least, I take to be the meaning of Novemvir and Triumvir Valetudinarius;[8] and it may seem extraordinary that they did not remove the ustrinum to a greater distance. Its effect could scarcely be neutralized, even by the profusion of odoriferous gums and oils which were employed at funerals.[9] Augustus forbade the burning of bodies within fifteen stadia of the city. The only one whose site has been ascertained in the neighbourhood of Rome is near the fifth milestone on the Appian Way.[10] The ustrinum at Litlington,[11] the only one of its kind, I believe, whose site has been ascertained in England, was a rectangular space enclosed by walls, and not in the vicinity of[Pg 8] any large town. Both here and at Aldborough the ustrinum was also a cemetery. The cemetery of Roman London was in Spital-fields. (Arch. 36, 206.)

The position of the Roman sepulcres along the great thoroughfares explains the frequent apostrophe from the tenant of the tomb to the traveller: SISTE VIATOR; TU QUI VIA FLAMINIA TRANSIS RESTA AC RELEGE; VIATORES SALVETE ET VALETE; forms which have sometimes been copied, not very appropriately, in churchyards and cemeteries. The traveller is frequently addressed with some moral reflexion; VIXI UT VIVIS, MORIERIS UT SUM MORTUUS; occasionally of rather an Epicurean character, as that of Prima Pompeia; FORTUNA SPONDET MULTA MULTIS, PRÆSTAT NEMINI, VIVE IN DIES ET HORAS, NAM PROPRIUM EST NIHIL[12]. The tenant of the tomb sometimes invites the passer-by to offer for him the customary prayer, SIT TIBI TERRA LEVIS (S.T.T.L.).

Prævenere diem vitæ crudelia fata
Et raptam inferna me posuere rate.
Hoc lecto elogio juvenis miserere jacentis,
Et dic discedens, Sit tibi terra levis[13].

The traveller is called upon from the interior of the tomb to halt and refresh himself, and give a portion to the deceased in the form of a funeral libation; MISCE, BIBE, DA MIHI. Being[Pg 9] placed beside public roads, monuments were liable to pollutions of various kinds, which the Manes deprecate, sometimes threatening vengeance on the offenders. One of the most frequent of these violators was the writer on the wall, to whom the side of a sepulcral monument offered a tempting field for the exercise of his vocation. SCRIPTOR PARCE HOC OPUS is not the address of an author to his critic, but of a husband to the wall-scribbler, entreating him not to disfigure the monument of his wife.[14] As a frequent purpose of these placards was to recommend candidates for office, success is promised, on condition that the monument should not be written upon. ITA CANDIDATUS FIAT HONORATUS TUUS, ET TU FELIX SCRIPTOR, SI HIC NON SCRIPSERIS. INSCRIPTOR ROGO TE UT TRANSEAS HOC MONUMENTUM. QOIUS CANDIDATI NOMEN INSCRIPTUM FUERIT, REPULSAM FERAT, NEQUE HONOREM ULLUM GERAT.[15]

In an early state of society there would be little danger that the site on which interments had taken place should be converted to ordinary purposes. The violation of a sepulcre was severely punished by the Roman law, and is deprecated on grounds of humanity in some inscriptions, threatened with divine vengeance in others. Fabius Augurinus offers[Pg 10] this wish for him who should spare the tomb of his wife and child;[16] SIC NUNQUAM DOLEAS ATQUE TRISTE SUSPIRES QUANTUM DOLORIS TITULUS ISTE TESTATUR. Another pleads,[17]

Sacratam cunctis sedem ne læde viator.
Hanc tibi nascenti fata dedere domum.

Another[18] utters the awful imprecation, QUISQUIS HOC SUSTULERIT AUT LÆSERIT, ULTIMUS SUORUM MORIATUR. The act of dedication is often recorded on the tomb with the addition “Sub ascia,” and the figure of an adze or hatchet[19]. But Roman burial places had no legal sanctity, like that which our churchyards enjoy; they were taken from out the fields and gardens which bordered the highway, and the temptation was great on the part of the heir to re-annex the ground to his property. The inscriptions on Roman sepulcres indicate the care which those who caused them to be erected took, to prevent their being either alienated to other purposes, or taken possession of by others than those for whom they were designed. The area which the tomb and its appurtenances should occupy, is carefully defined; HIC LOCUS PATET IN FRONTEM PEDES XX.; IN AGRUM PEDES XXV.; occasionally we meet with[Pg 11] much larger dimensions. If the ground had been granted by another for this purpose, the words of the grant were sometimes inscribed on the monument. The right of using the sepulcre for placing sarcophagi, or urns, is defined commonly by the words, SIBI SUISQUE FECIT; frequently permission is given for the interment of freedmen and freedwomen with their master. Sometimes leave is given to introduce into the columbarium a limited number of ollæ, or funeral urns,[20] or, on the other hand, an individual is prohibited by name from sharing or even approaching the sepulcre; EXCEPTO HERMETE LIBERTO QUEM VOLO PROPTER DELICTA SUA ADITUM, AMBITUM NEC ULLUM ACCESSUM HABEAT IN HOC MONUMENTO. In another inscription, SECUNDINA LIBERTA, IMPIA IN PATRONUM SUUM, is forbidden to be interred in his tomb.[21] The churlish declaration, IN HOC MONUMENTO SOCIUM HABEO NULLUM is a rare exception, and in general the sepulcral inscriptions give a pleasing idea of the relation between masters and their households. The collection of Gruter contains many pages of inscriptions expressive of the reciprocal feelings of masters and patrons, slaves and freedmen; and an equally copious and pleasing[Pg 12] record of the feelings of slaves and freedmen towards their fellows.

The heir was the object of especial jealousy; HOC MONUMENTUM HÆREDEM NON SEQUITUR (H.M.H.N.S.) is a regular formula; the contrary stipulation, that the monument should go to the heir is most uncommon.[22] The prohibition to alienate is expressed with all the fulness of legal phraseology; HOC MONUMENTUM, CUM ÆDIFICIO SUPERPOSITO NEQUE MUTABITUR, NEQUE VÆNIET, NEQUE DONABITUR, NEQUE PIGNORI OBLIGABITUR, NEQUE ULLO MODO ABALIENABITUR, NE DE NOMINE EXEAT FAMILIÆ SUÆ,[23] and is sometimes enforced by a fine to the municipality, to the Roman people or the vestal virgins and the Pontifices, to secure the exaction of which one-fourth is to go to the informer. Legal chicanery was greatly dreaded as the means of defeating the purpose of the builder of the monument: hence we often find the protestation, HUIC MONUMENTO DOLUS MALUS ABESTO; sometimes with the addition ET JURISCONSULTUS, a combination which, in countries where the civil law is practised, is a standing jest against the jurisconsults.[24] To preclude one source of cavil we find a man protesting on his tomb, in an inscription by which he directs a statue to be erected to him, that[Pg 13] when he made his will, he had “a sound and disposing mind;” SANUS, SANA QUOQUE MENTE INTEGROQUE CONSILIO, MEMOR CONDITIONIS HUMANÆ, TESTAMENTUM FECI.[25] It is recorded on the pyramid of C. Cestius that the monument had been erected in 330 days, “arbitratu Pontii Cl. Melæ heredis et Pothi liberti,” the heir not having been trusted alone with the execution. So in Horace (Sat. 2, 5, 105),

——Sepulcrum
Permissum arbitrio sine sordibus extrue.

In one inscription, it is made the condition of inheritance, that the monument should be begun in three days after the testator’s death, and its model is prescribed. A son apologizes to his father for having erected a humble monument to him on the ground of the smallness of the inheritance; “Si major auctoritas patrimoni mei fuisset, ampliori titulo te prosecutus fuissem, piissime pater.”[26] With this distrust of posterity, it was natural that men should erect their monuments in their own lifetime, leaving to their heirs only the duty of inserting the years of their age; for the year of the decease, which the Romans marked by the Consuls, is rarely given. Sibi vivus fecit (sometimes se vivo, se vivis even me vivus, se vivus) is often found, as on the sarcophagus of M. Diogenes Verecundus, formerly in York. Mindus Zosimus Senior tells us[Pg 14] plainly on his tomb his reason for not leaving the choice to his heir; he was afraid of his discharging the duty in a shabby way.

Vivus mi feci, ne post me lentius heres
Conderet exiguo busta suprema rogo.[27]

A body once placed in a tomb could not be transferred to another without the permission of the pontiffs, nor could the tomb even be repaired, if the reparation involved the moving of the remains, without the sanction of the authorities. We find on the tomb of a freedman a copy of the petition which he had presented to be allowed to remove the bodies of his wife and son, which he had temporarily placed in an obruendarium, or sarcophagus of clay, to a monument of marble, “ut quando ego esse desiero, pariter cum iis ponar.”[28]

Besides the monument itself, various appendages to it are mentioned in the Roman sepulcral inscriptions. The area was occupied by buildings designed to be used in the annual commemorations of the deceased for which his will provided. We read of a diæta, or summer-house; a solarium, or open balcony; an accumbitorium, or entertaining room; an apparitorium, in which the tables and benches used[Pg 15] by the guests were kept. The ground annexed to the monument frequently contained a well, a cistern or a piscina, whence water for the funeral rites might be drawn, and a grove, whence wood might be cut for a sacrifice. If situated in a garden, the monument was called cepotaphium. A building was erected, sometimes a permanent ædificium, sometimes a simple nubilare or shed, to receive the person who guarded the tomb (locus habitationis tutelæ causa), and this office was generally entrusted to a freedman, who was called ædituus[29]. The inscriptions often record the sum which the deceased has bequeathed for an annual celebration at his tomb, commonly on his birthday. This was variously performed; sometimes by libations of wine and milk (profusiones), or by the scattering of roses on the tomb (rosalia), accompanied by a feast. L. OGIUS PATROCLUS, HORTOS CUM ÆDIFICIO HUIC SEPULCRO JUNCTO VIVUS DONAVIT, UT EX REDITU EORUM LARGIUS ROSÆ ET ESCÆ PATRONO SUO ET QUANDOQUE SIBI PONERENTUR.[30] We find a testator directing that an annual feast, for which he leaves 125 denarii, should be held by the pagani, or rural inhabitants of the district, on his birthday, or, if this condition were neglected, that the building and[Pg 16] the legacy should go to the College of Physicians, and to his freedmen, that they might feast on that day. QUOD SI FACTUM NON ERIT, TUM HIC LOCUS, UT SUPRA SCRIPTUM EST CUM ANNUIS CXXV. (denariis) IN PERPETUUM AD COLLEGIUM MEDICORUM ET AD LIBERTOS MEOS PERTINEAT, UT DIE NATALE MEO EPULENTUR.[31] We must not attach ideas of too great dignity to the “College of Physicians.” Every legal incorporation among the Romans was a college, and the medical body included practitioners of every grade, even to the veterinary surgeon and the midwife.[32]

Another tribute of honour for which we find testators making provision is the lighting a lamp in the monument, or feeding it with oil. All who have explored the remains of Roman antiquities are aware how frequently lamps are found in connection with sepulcral monuments. The following inscription invites passers-by to perform this service:[33]

Quisquis huic tumulo posuit ardente lucernam
Illius cineres aurea terra tegat.

[Pg 17]In order that these rites might be duly performed, the monument carefully secures the right “puteum adeundi, hauriendi, coronandi, sacrificandi, ligna sumendi, mortuos mortuasve inferendi;” as well as of “itus, actus, aditus, introitus, ambitus.” Law delighted then, as now, in exhaustive enumerations. To secure the perpetual celebration of these funeral honours was one object for which the alienation of the ground was so strictly forbidden. Titus Ælius, a freedman of Augustus, leaves the monument which he and his wife had erected, to his freedmen, freedwomen, and their descendants, ITA UT NE DE NOMINE SUO AUT FAMILIA EXEAT; UT POSSIT MEMORIÆ SUÆ QUAM DIUTISSIME SACRIFICARI.[34] To these annual commemorative offerings allusion is made in a poetical inscription by a husband to his wife, snatched away in youth.[35]

Lac tibi sit Cybeles, sint et rosa grata Diones,
Et flores grati Nymphis et lilia serta.
Sintque precor, meritæ qui nostra parent tibi dona
Annua, et hic manes placida tibi nocte quiescant,
Et super in nido Marathonia cantet aëdon.

It is not common to find in Roman sepulcral inscriptions specific mention of the cause of death. A father thus records his son’s early death by the falling in of a well:[36]

[Pg 18] Parva sub hoc titulo Festi sunt ossa Papiri
Quæ mœrens fato condidit ipse pater.
Qui si vixisset domini jam nomina ferret.
Hunc casus putei detulit ad cineres.[37]

The following inscription records the death of a male and female slave, crushed by a crowd in the Capitol, who had, perhaps, come together to see British captives led in chains, in a triumphal procession:[38]

Ummidiæ Manes tumulus tegit iste simulque
Primigeni vernæ, quos tulit una dies.
Nam Capitolinæ compressi examine turbæ
Supremum fati competiere diem.

Ælius Proculinus, on the tomb of his wife, bestows an imprecation on those who had shortened her life by magic incantations. CARMINIBUS DEFIXA JACUIT PER TEMPORA MUTA, UT EJUS SPIRITUS, VI EXTORQUERETUR QUAM NATURÆ REDDERETUR. CUJUS ADMISSI VEL MANES VEL DI CŒLESTES ERUNT SCELERIS VINDICES.[39]

The wounded affections had their victims. P. L. Modestus raises a monument to Telesinia Crispinilla, CONJUGI SANCTISSIMÆ, QUÆ OB DESIDERIUM [Pg 19] FILI SUI PIISSIMI VIVERE ABOMINAVIT ET POST DIES XV FATI EJUS ANIMO DESPONDIT.[40] Of a similar excess of maternal grief, causing the death of his wife, Cerialius Calistio gently complains; DUM NIMIS PIA FUIT FACTA EST IMPIA.[41] Communis and Casia inscribe a monument to the memory of a daughter who died at the age of fifteen, and of a son, QUI POST DESIDERIUM SORORIS SUÆ UNA DIE SUPERVIXIT.[42] The following distich records the death of Antonia Maura from her attendance on her sick husband:—

Itala me rapuit crudeli funere tellus,
Dum foveo nimia sedulitate virum.

The complaint that “physicians were in vain” is of ancient date.[43]

Ussere ardentes intus mea viscera morbi,
Vincere quos medicæ non potuere manus.

Pliny has not preserved the name of the unhappy man whose monument declared TURBA MEDICORUM SE PERIISSE,[44] that he had died of a multitude of doctors. Nor do the surgeons escape reproach for their want of skill. MEDICI MALE MEMBRA SECARUNT; CORPORI QUOD SUPER EST TUMULUM TIBI FECI appears to be the address of a master to his gladiator,[Pg 20] who, though mangled, had gained the victory, but lost his life from unskilful treatment of his wounds.[45]


Inscriptions are curious to the scholar, as a record of the changes which the Latin language underwent in successive ages. Manuscripts imperfectly answer this purpose, because transcribers were very apt, either from habit or a desire to render their labours more saleable, to change old forms for new, especially in orthography. Sepulcral inscriptions, being commonly the work of private individuals, represent more exactly the language of common life than public monuments. They serve the same purpose to the philologer, as provincial dialects, in which the old language of a country is often preserved, when obliterated in correct and fashionable speech. From the inscriptions in the tomb of the Scipios in the beginning of the third century, B.C., down to the establishment of Christianity, after which a cessation of Pagan formulæ gradually takes place, we have a succession of about six centuries. I will mention a few instances, collected from funeral inscriptions, which either throw light on the history of the Latin language, or illustrate that vulgar idiom and pronunciation, which has influenced the formation of the modern Italian.

The analogy of the Greek, and the form [Pg 21]paterfamilias, would lead to the conclusion that the genitive of the first declension had been originally formed in s, next deprived of its final letter and becoming , and finally contracted into æ.[46] I have not observed in the sepulcral inscriptions any genitives of common nouns of this declension formed in s, but we find Faustines, Bellones, Midaes, as genitives of proper names, which, according to grammatical rule, would be formed in æ. The dative feminine in abus is allowed by grammarians in cases where ambiguity of sex would arise from the use of is, as in deabus, filiabus, libertabus; but we find it used in inscriptions where no such ambiguity exists, as in nymphabus, fatabus, and even horabus. What is more remarkable is the extension of this formation of the dative to the second declension, in such words as diibus and amicibus. Some departures from ordinary usage may, no doubt, be accounted for by the circumstance that in Italy, as in England, the Muse of the cemetery was an “unlettered Muse.” “Hic jacit[47] in a Latin inscription no more proves that there was no distinction between the neuter and the active verb, than “here lays” in an English churchyard. Nor can we argue from such constructions as “cum quam bene vixi,”[Pg 22] “ab ædem,” that cum and ab governed the accusative; or from such a concord as hunc collegium, that nouns in um were once masculine. But in many instances what seem at first only vulgar solecisms will be found to have a warrant in analogy. Dua as a neuter for duo[48] is called a barbarism by Quinctilian (1, 5, 15); yet he acknowledges that every one said duapondo, and that Messala maintained it to be correct. Evento for eventui, spirito for spiritui, show that the double mode of declension was not confined to domus. Solo for soli has the authority of Cato, who used soli for solius, and of Terence, who used solæ for the same case.[49] “Fatus suus” on a monument might seem a blunder, but malus fatus occurs in Petronius Arbiter (p. 270). We find in an inscription[50]

Diva, precor, Tellus alvo complectere sancta
Ossua quorum in hoc nomina sunt lapide.

and ossuarium, the vase which received the burnt bones, shows that ossua was a legitimate form. The use of carere with an accusative[51] (“Filios duos caruit:” “Dulcem carui lucem, cum te amisi ego conjunx”) has a parallel in Plautus. The usual construction of compos is with a genitive, but it is not a solecism, when L. Statius Diodorus inscribes a tablet to God, “Quod se precibus compotem[Pg 23] fecisset;” for Livy (3, 35) uses it with an ablative. The use of susum for sursum explains the Latin sus (in susque deque) and the Italian su. Meses for menses, senu for sinu, laguna for lacuna, longitia (lunghezza) for longitudo, so for sum, all occurring in sepulcral inscriptions, show the inclination of the Latin language towards the Italian.

The Italian prefixes an i to a word which begins with s and a consonant, when it follows one ending with a consonant, as iscambio, iscoglio, ispirito; and we find in inscriptions iscribit, ispiritus.[52] “Poor letter H” was treated with the same barbarous caprice of old as now, being omitted where it should stand, and interpolated where it should not. Thus we meet with ora, ortulus, omo, ospitium, onestus; and on the other hand, hædiculus, helephantus, horiundus, hordini, Hosiris, and post hobitum. Those who omit the aspirate, however, are always more numerous than those who insert it; in Italy they ultimately gained the ascendancy, and it is banished in pronunciation from modern Italian, which follows in this respect the usage of the old Romans, who said ædos and ircos.[53] The frequent substitution of b for v on later monuments, bibi for vivi, bixit for vixit, lebo for levo, habe for ave, was caused by b being pronounced both in Greek and Latin with a slight[Pg 24] aspiration,[54] whence we find Greek writers representing Varro by Βάῥῤων, and Flavius by Φλάβιος.


The record of the trades and professions of the deceased, which the Roman sepulcral inscriptions contain, often afford a curious insight into the differences of manners and customs between the ancient and the modern world. They supply the deficiencies of the notices in books, or explain obscure and solitary passages in the classics. One difference is obvious. There was no false shame in acknowledging the humble station which the deceased had filled in life. The dealer in pigs is recorded as a “negotiator suarius;” the female greengrocer as a “negotiatrix frumentaria et leguminaria,” who kept a stall beside one of the flights of steps descending to the Tiber.[55] It would not be[Pg 25] mentioned now on the tomb of a medical practitioner, that he had begun by practising his art in many market-places “fora multa secutus.”[56] Perhaps the most remarkable instance of the difference between ancient and modern ideas in this respect is furnished by the tomb of Æmilia Irene, whose husband calls himself “stupidus gregis urbani,” the clown of the city company of mountebanks.[57] The profession still finds candidates, but their vocation would hardly be recorded on their funeral monuments. The difference of feeling in ancient times may, perhaps, be accounted for from the circumstance, that these mountebanks exhibited at festivals in honour of the gods, and so acquired a certain respectability. The Christian writer, Arnobius, reproaches the Pagans with this practice. “Mimis dei delectantur stupidorum capitibus rasis, factis et dictis turpibus, fascinorum ingentium rubore.”[58] L. Cornelius Januarius is recorded on his monument to have been the fanaticus of the temples of Isis, Serapis, and Bellona, that is, one of those who were hired by the priests to stimulate the zeal of votaries by wild and frantic gestures, supposed[Pg 26] to indicate the inspiration of the divinity.[59] The Grex Romanus inscribe a monument to the actor of pantomimes, Pylades, who first brought the Ion and Troades of Euripides on the Roman stage, and for his admirable acting had received the compliment of decurional ornaments from the most considerable cities of Italy.[60] The sepulcral inscriptions bear testimony to the minute subdivisions of the arts of public amusement. We owe to one of them the knowledge, that when Greek mimes (farces) were performed to the populace at Rome, a vivâ voce explanation in the Latin language answered the purpose of a translated libretto.[61] Ursus Togatus glorifies himself in his inscription, as the first who had exhibited feats of graceful dexterity with a ball of glass, for the amusement of those who frequented the baths of Trajan, Agrippa, Titus, and Nero.[62] The ancient sleight-of-hand men appear to have at least rivalled the Indian jugglers. One of them has even been thought worthy of commemoration by the Byzantine historian, Nicephorus Gregoras.[63] He could throw up a glass-ball into the air and catch it as it fell on the[Pg 27] point of his finger-nail, the end of his elbow, and other parts of his body. Another inscription boasts that the subject of it could transfix an arrow in its flight with another arrow. Instances are recorded of early proficiency in theatrical arts. Eucharis, who died at the age of fourteen, declares herself on her tomb to have been

Docta, erodita pæne Musarum manu;
Quæ modo nobilium ludos decoravi choro
Et Græca in scena prima populo apparui.

A still more remarkable instance of precocity is that of L. Valerius, who in his thirteenth year was crowned in the Capitol in a contest of Latin poetry.[64] The theatrical inscriptions, which generally relate to Greeks, are of a boastful character, foreign to the genius of the Romans. The death of Vitalis, an actor and mimic, must have been a public calamity, “eclipsing the gaiety of nations,” if we believe his epitaph.

Me viso rabidi subito cecidere furores;
Ridebat summus me veniente dolor.
Non licuit quenquam mordacibus urere curis,
Nec rerum incerta mobilitate trahi.
Vincebat cunctos præsentia nostra timores,
Et mecum felix quælibet hora fuit.
Fingebam vultus, habitus ac verba loquentum
Ut plures uno crederes ore loqui.
Ipse etiam, quem nostra oculis geminabat imago,
Horruit in vultu se magis esse meo.

i. e. the person imitated was startled to find the[Pg 28] imitation look more like him than himself![65] One instance, however, of a different kind we may quote, which for its expressive simplicity might be placed on the monument of a Macready. INGENUUM COMŒDUM, PROPTER SINGULAREM ARTIS PRUDENTIAM ET MORUM PROBITATEM. The latter quality appears to have been rare among theatrical performers, and we can forgive the fierce zeal of the Christian Fathers against the stage, when we read on the tomb of a girl who was training for pantomime,—

Cujus in octava lascivia surgere messe
Cœperat, et dulces fingere nequitias.[66]

Before leaving what may be called the external peculiarities of Roman sepulcral inscriptions, we may notice the custom of placing on the tomb representations of the implements employed by the deceased in his occupation. The tomb of a baker, discovered a few years since near the Porta Maggiore at Rome, was constructed in the form of an[Pg 29] oven, and sculptured on it were the loaves, the kneading trough, and the mill worked by an ass.[67] From the tomb of Cossutius, a carpenter, we learn the form of the square, plumb-line, compasses, callipers, and chisel, the last being exactly in the form of the celt, about which antiquaries have learnedly written. The ornatrix, or tirewoman, announces her vocation in life by a mirror, with a phial of perfume; the tabellarius, or postman, by a theca graphiaria, or pen-and-ink case; the mensor ædificiorum, by a decempeda, or ten-foot rule; the cultrarius, or cutler, by knives. The occurrence of these emblems on Christian tombs is said to have given rise to the reputation of unauthorized martyrdoms, the cutler being supposed to have been flayed alive, the wool-carder to have been torn to pieces with iron combs, the blacksmith to have been tortured with the forceps, the carpenter to have been sawn in two.[68] This custom continued in the middle ages. A tombstone in the museum of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society has a bell and a melting-pot engraved upon it, indicating that it covered the tomb of a bell-founder, and similar emblems have been found in Bakewell Church and[Pg 30] elsewhere.[69] At the present day military and naval monuments alone display professional emblems.

It does not appear possible from the inscriptions on tomb-stones to deduce any inference respecting the average length of human life in the centuries which they embrace. They usually record with exactness the age of the deceased; often with the mention of the months, days, and hours; but they are only fragments of the record of mortality as it originally existed, and that record was itself very imperfect. Vast numbers were, of course, burnt or buried, to whom no monument was raised. There were pits without the Esquiline Gate, in which the common people were buried promiscuously. According to the statement of Ulpian, who wrote in the reign of Alexander Severus, registers of population, age, sex, disease and death had been kept with exactness by the censors for ten centuries, and from observations grounded on these, according to Dr. Bissett Hawkins’s Medical Statistics,[70] from which I quote, the expectation or mean term of human life among the Romans was thirty years; while that of England, according to Mr. Finlaison, is fifty for the easy classes of society, and forty-five for the whole population. I do not put much faith in bills of mortality of the time of Servius Tullius, considering the rarity even of historical documents in the early[Pg 31] ages of Rome. The monuments, too, are, in a large proportion of cases, to military men, who appear to have been cut off at very early ages. But many reasons may be given why the average of life should be shorter than in England. There was no provision for the poor among them, unless the irregular profusion of congiaria can be called so; there were no public hospitals; the city was in many parts unhealthy; their clothing not favourable to cleanliness, though remedied, in some measure, by the bath; and life was often shortened by suicide, which was regarded as venial if not meritorious. The average yielded by the inscriptions would certainly be low; I have noticed one death at 102 years,[71] 90 of which were passed without disease, and one at 100,[72] one at 92,[73] but these are rare. Valerius Julianus inscribes a monument to his son, who was three years old, and his mother (mammulæ), who was 80.

Dispara damna lege Parcarum et stamina dispara;
Hæc ridenda mihi est, hic lacrymandus erit.
Hæc namque emeritos bis quadraginta per annos
Vixit; at hic tertio Consule natus obit.
Cur modo tam præceps, iterum tam sera fuisti
Funeris amborum dic rea Persephone.
[Pg 32]Vix lucem vidisse satis qui vivere posset;
Vivere quæ nollet vix potuisse mori.[74]

We now approach a more interesting inquiry. What light do the Roman sepulcral inscriptions throw upon the social relations, the domestic affections, the religious belief of the people from whom they originate? The voice of nature speaks more truly from the tomb than anywhere else; and if monumental phrases at last become formulary and unmeaning, in their origin at least they carry with them a deep significance, and express a genuine sentiment. We feel curious to know how a people so different from ourselves in manners and religion expressed themselves, in reference to the most solemn event of human existence. For what qualities did they praise their departed friends? Whether true or false, in reference to the individual, the monumental panegyric will, at all events, teach us what was the standard of virtue in the conceptions of the times. In what language did they express their affection or regret? With what hopes respecting the future did they bid them farewell?

The Roman lapidary style was well adapted to express feeling or describe character with energetic conciseness, and in this respect stands in striking contrast[Pg 33] with the diffuse and overloaded epitaphs in which the moderns delight. A loquacious or boastful epitaph in Latin excites the suspicion of the critic of inscriptions, unless it is evidently of the latest age of heathenism.[75] The use of the Latin language has been of no avail in checking the prolixity of modern composers; the Italians alone have caught the true spirit of classical antiquity, and can compress much meaning into a few words. The language of genuine sorrow is simple and concise. What could convey to the heart the feeling of a mother’s grief and affection more forcibly, than the apostrophe, AVE LUCI, PRÆREPTE MATRI! or FILI BENE QUIESCAS! MATER TUA ROGAT TE UT ME AD TE RECIPIAS. The inscription of the sarcophagus in our Museum,[Pg 34] D. M. SIMPLICIÆ FLORENTINÆ, ANIMÆ INNOCENTISSIMÆ, QUÆ VIXIT MENSES X., SIMPLICIUS PATER FECIT, would have gained nothing in pathos by the elaborate description of a father’s sorrow. Neither would the inscription placed by her parents on Cornelia Anniana, who died just when her prattle was beginning to delight their ears. FILIÆ DULCISSIMÆ, JAM GARRULÆ, BIMULÆ NONDUM.[76] The great majority of records of the dead content themselves with the mention of the name, station, and age, or with such a brief and modest encomium as is expressed in the words HOMINI OPTIMO ET SINGULARIS EXEMPLI.

We sometimes, indeed, find in epitaphs a play upon a name, hardly consistent with our notions of the true style of such compositions. Yet a genuine sorrow might be struck with the relation between the name and the character, such as the second of these inscriptions notices, or find relief in the playful allusion in the third. On the tomb of Aper[77] was inscribed this distich:—

Innocuus Aper ecce jaces, non Virginis ira
Nec Meleager atrox perfodit viscera ferro.

And on the tomb of Glyconis,[78]

Hoc jacet in tumulo secura Glyconis honesto.
Dulcis nomine erat, anima quoque dulcior usque.

[Pg 35]On that of Floridus, inscribed, it should seem, with a flower,[79]

Quod vixi, flos est. Servat lapis hoc mihi nomen.
Noli Deos Manes; flos satis est titulo.

What our writers on heraldry call canting and the French, armes parlantes, i. e. figures allusive to family names, was not unknown to the Romans; it is found on their coins; as a steer (vitulus) on the denarius of Q. Voconius Vitulus; a murex, on that of Furius Purpureo; a foot, on that of Crassipes, and a flower on that of Aquillius Florus.[80]

In those inscriptions which enter into a fuller enumeration of public services, one difference is striking to a person accustomed to modern ones, namely, the absence in the former of all mention of acts of social benevolence. It is true that the erection of a fountain, the construction of a road, the dedication of a temple, the exhibition of gladiatorial and floral games, the bequest of a legacy for an annual feast, and similar acts of popular munificence, are often commemorated, as titles of honour; but I do not remember to have met with a record, originating in pagan times, of a life devoted to the alleviation of misery, to the relief of indigence, to the removal of ignorance and vice. Such virtues belong especially to the school of Christianity. The[Pg 36] following inscription would be proved by its tenor to relate to a Christian woman, even if the date did not fix it to the middle of the fifth century of our æra. DEO FIDELIS, DULCIS MARITO, NUTRIX FAMILLÆ, CUNCTIS HUMILIS, PLACATO PURO CORDE, AMATRIX PAUPERUM.[81]

When parents erect a funeral monument to their children, the inscription very frequently embodies the sentiment of Cato the elder, in Cicero de Senectute (c. 23), the inversion of the order of nature which the performance of such a duty by the parent involves. “Catonem, cujus a me corpus crematum est; quod contra decuit ab illo meum.” Thus in an inscription at Naples by Calvidius to his son, who had died at the age of 20; QUOD FILIUS PATRI FACERE DEBUIT PATER FECIT FILIO; and in another; QUOD FILIA PATRI FACERE DEBUERAT MORS IMMATURA FECIT UT FACERET PATER. The sentiment is concisely expressed in the following distich:—

Quod decuit natam patri præstare sepulto
Hoc contra natæ præstitit ipse pater.[82]

A mother, burying her son, who died at the age of 35, complains, HUNC LEGES LETI PRÆPOSTERÆ ERIPUERE MATRI, QUÆ UT ANNIS MORTE QUOQUE ESSET PRIOR. Parents not only call themselves infelicissimi, for the loss of their children, but impii and crudeles, because they survive them.

[Pg 37]Children from their premature grave endeavour to moderate their parents’ grief, by laying the blame upon the Fates.

Nec tibi nec nobis æternum vivere cessit:
Quod pueri occipimus Fata querenda putes.[83]

A father justifies himself to his daughter, for not having died and mingled his ashes with hers, by his duty to his surviving children.

Quæ tibi cunque mei potuerunt pignora amoris
Nata, dari, populo sunt lacrumante data.
Et volui majora nimis; sed cura meorum
Fida tui prohibet me cinerem esse rogi.[84]

Mothers regret, under the loss of their children, that they had ever become mothers.

Cernis ut orba meis, hospes monumenta locavi,
Et tristis senior natos miseranda requiro.
Exemplis referenda mea est deserta senectus,
Ut steriles vere possint gaudere maritæ.[85]

Hæc quæcunque legis, devoto pectore, mater
Da lacrimas, et me sic peperisse dole.
Hic jacet, extinctus crudeli funere, natus
Ultima vivendi qui mihi causa fuit.[86]

The sentiment of the following inscription frequently occurs on monuments, and has been imitated in modern times. MATER MONUMENTUM FECIT [Pg 38] MŒRENS FILIO, EX QUO NIHIL UNQUAM DOLUIT, NISI CUM IS NON FUIT.[87]

We learn from the sepulcral inscriptions that the Romans had the same familiar substitutes as ourselves for the formal appellations of father and mother, mamma and tata. The following inscription is found at Rome: D.M. ZETHO CORINTHUS TATA EJUS ET NICE MAMMA. VIXIT. ANN. I. D. VI.[88] These again had their affectionate diminutives, mammula and tatula. It is probable, however, that the use of them was confined to freedmen, and to that class of society. In one instance[89] a man erects a monument to his aged bonne, NONNÆ SUÆ. The word is not found in classical Latinity; but it is the undoubted original of nun, and may suggest that conventual vows were originally taken chiefly by aged females. In Italy at the present day it is the familiar name for grandmother.

The inscriptions of children on the tombs of their parents, as might be expected, are more brief and general, expressive of gratitude and filial piety: MATRI DULCISSIMÆ, PIENTISSIMÆ, or PIISSIMÆ, CARISSIMÆ, OPTIMÆ; PATRI AMABILI, OPTIMO; or conjointly PARENTIBUS OPTIMIS, is the usual style[Pg 39] of these inscriptions. The monument of Meia records that she was the mother of seven sons who had joined in raising a monument of Parian marble to her memory.

Meia fui, felix septem circumdata natis;
Dum vixi adstabat turba tenella mihi.
Ut mihi grata vicem natorum turba referret
Hoc mihi de Pario marmore struxit opus.[90]

I must observe here, by way of caution, that the authors of fictitious inscriptions have been nowhere more active than in producing sentimental inscriptions. That on Julia Alpinula was received as genuine by Johannes Müller, the historian of Switzerland and pronounced by Lord Byron to be the most pathetic of human compositions. JULIA ALPINULA HIC JACEO. INFELICIS PATRIS INFELIX PROLES DEÆ AVENTICÆ SACERDOS. EXORARE PATRIS NECEM NON POTUI. MALE MORI IN FATIS ILLI ERAT. VIXI ANN. XXIII. The hint was taken from Tacitus (Hist. 1, 68), where Cæcina is said to have put Julius Alpinus, the chief man of Aventicum, to death. It was sent by Paulus Gulielmus, a notorious literary impostor, to Lipsius, but the original has never been seen, and it is now universally admitted to be a forgery. Not a few of the poetical inscriptions in Burmann’s “Anthologia” are of the [Pg 40]sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It was certainly, however, by no fraud of the author that the beautiful lines in Jortin’s “Lusus Poetici” beginning,—

Quæ te tam tenera rapuerunt Pœta juventa,

have been received into collections as ancient.

Among the sepulcral inscriptions arising out of the relations of life, those of husbands and wives are naturally the most common. The celebrated speech of Metellus Numidicus the Censor, when exhorting the Romans to marriage, does not indicate a high appreciation of the female sex. “If,” said he, “O Quirites, we could do without wives, we should all like to be free from the annoyance; but since nature has so arranged things that we can neither live comfortably with them nor at all without them, we should put up with a temporary inconvenience for the sake of a permanent benefit.” Gellius, who reports the speech, naturally remarks that this was no very powerful recommendation of matrimony, and that he should rather have said that in general marriage had no troubles; that if they sometimes seem to occur, they were few and light and easy to be borne, and were thrown into the shade by greater pleasures and advantages; and that the troubles which did arise did not happen to all, nor by the fault of nature, but from the fault and injustice of husbands. Castricius, on the other hand, vindicated Metellus, and maintained that as[Pg 41] Censor he was bound to tell the whole truth, known to himself and admitted by every one else.[91] On such a subject it is not fair to take the evidence of books, in which, in ancient times at least, only one side is heard; or of satirists, who are, one and all, caricaturists, and very generally ill-tempered men; or of poets, whose own lives were flagrantly licentious; nor to draw conclusions respecting the character of Roman women generally from a few notorious examples of vice in elevated stations. I believe that we may obtain a truer as well as a more favourable conception of the conjugal relation in the imperial times, from the sepulcral inscriptions. They proceed from the middle classes, who give its moral character to a community; they are very numerous, and I cannot but believe the testimony which they bear to the general happiness of the married state.

The few inscriptions on women which have come down to us from the times of the republic, show what were the practical, unostentatious, and home-keeping qualities which were prized in the Roman matron, yet not without those gifts of pleasant speech and graceful carriage which set off the more solid virtues of female character.

Hospes quod deico paullum est: asta ac pellige.
Heic est sepulcrum pulcrum pulcrai feminæ.
[Pg 42]Nomen parentes nominarunt Claudiam.
Suom mareitom corde dilexit souo.
Gnatos duo creavit: horunc alterum
In terra linquit, alium sub terra locat.
Sermone lepido, tum autem incessu commodo,
Domum servavit, lanam fecit. Dixi. Abei.[92]

The same qualities are predominant in an inscription of later date. HIC SITA EST AMYMONE MARCI OPTIMA ET PULCHERRIMA, LANIFICA, PIA, PUDICA, FRUGI, CASTA, DOMISEDA.[93] Intellectual accomplishments, however, were not overlooked. JULIÆ LUC. FILIÆ TYRANNIÆ VIXIT ANN. XX.M.VIII. QUÆ MORIBUS PARITER ET DISCIPLINA CŒTERIS FEMINIS EXEMPLO FUIT, AUTARCIUS NURUI. LAURENTIUS UCSORI.[94] The married life of the Romans appears to have been remarkably free from those domestic differences which Paley, according to a well-known anecdote, considered to be a useful corrective of its dulness. CONJUX INCOMPARABILIS, CUM QUA VIXI XXX ANNOS SINE QUERELA; SINE JURGIO; SINE DISSIDIO; SINE ÆMULATIONE; SINE ULLA ANIMI LÆSIONE, are testimonies constantly occurring on the part of husbands to their wives. The collection of Fabretti contains several inscriptions, declaring that this harmony had continued during half a century of married life.[95] The monuments erected by wives to their husbands are less numerous, but they bear the same[Pg 43] testimony to conjugal harmony. D.M. D. JUNI PRIMIGENIO QUI VIXIT ANNIS XXXV JUNIA PALLAS FECIT, CONJUGI KARISSIMO ET PIENTISSIMO DE SE BENEMERENTI, CUM QUO VIXIT ANNIS XV MENSES VI DULCITER SINE QUERELA.[96] We find a husband recording on the tomb of his wife his vow never to contract a second marriage. TEMPIUS HERMEROS CONJUGI CARISSIMÆ FECIT CON (sic) QUA VIXIT ANNOS XVIII SINE QUERELA. CUJUS DESIDERIO JURATUS EST SE POST EAM UXOREM NON HABITURUM.[97] It is not an unfrequent sentiment, that the death of the wife was the very first cause of sorrow that she had given to her husband, as in the following example at Rome. T. FL. CAPITO CONJUGI CASTISSIMÆ PIISSIMÆ ET DE SE OPTIME MERITÆ, DE QUA NULLUM DOLOREM NISI ACERBISSIMÆ MORTIS EJUS ACCEPERAT.[98]

One inscription might seem to indicate a different feeling, a husband saying of his wife on her monument, CUJUS IN DIE MORTIS GRATIAS MAXIMAS EGI APUD DEOS ET APUD HOMINES; and the editor, Orelli, remarks upon it “mirum dicterium!”—a strange sarcasm. It would, indeed, be not only strange, but brutal, in the sense which he attributes to it, but it surely admits the more candid construction that the husband had seen his wife[Pg 44] suffering long and was grateful for her release. It may be illustrated by another. OMIDIA BASILISSA VIXIT ANNOS XXV. QUÆ POST LONGAS ET VARIAS INFIRMITATES HOMINIBUS EXEMPTA EST. MISERA VALE. MACEDO MARITUS.[99] Such too, was the import of the consolation which C. Publicius addresses to his parents.

Tempera jam genitor lacrimis, tuque, O optima mater,
Desine jam flere: pœnam non sentio mortis.
Pœna fuit vita; requies mihi morte parata est.[100]

Death sometimes came speedily to blight the prospects of happiness. D. M. L. ARULENUS SOSIMUS FECIT CLODIÆ CHARIDI SUÆ CONJUGI DULCISSIMÆ, QUÆ SI AD VITÆ METAM PERVENISSET, NON HOMINIBUS NEQUE DIS INVIDISSET; SET VIX SECUM VIXIT DIES XV.[101] The following inscription beautifully expresses the wish that the harmony in which P. Manlius Surus and his wife had lived might be prolonged in the joint resting-place of their remains; UT CONCORS VIVORUM ANIMUS STETIT, ITA CONCORS MORTUORUM CINIS HIC JACEAT.[102] It is sometimes recorded on the tombs of mothers by their husbands or their children, that they had fulfilled the duty which the[Pg 45] philosopher Favorinus urged on the Roman matrons,[103] and Tansillo and Roscoe on the women of Italy and England, that of being nurse as well as mother. GRATIÆ ALEXANDRIÆ, INSIGNIS EXEMPLI AC PUDICITIÆ, QUÆ ETIAM FILIOS SUOS PROPRIIS UBERIBUS EDUCAVIT, PUDENS MARITUS. LICINIÆ PROCESSÆ, MATRI PIÆ NUTRICI DULCISSIMÆ, CRESCENS FECIT.[104]

We find traces, however, of the effects of the facility of divorce. Northern superstition has represented a mother as disquieted in her grave by the ill-usage of her children, and coming in nightly visions to terrify their stepmother into better treatment of them; but a Roman mother lived to record on the tomb of her son that he had been poisoned by his stepmother. D. M. L. HOSTILI TER SILVANI ANN. XXIV. M. II. D. XV. MATER FILIO PIISSIMO. MISERA ET IN LUCTU ÆTERNALI BENEFICIO (VENEFICIO) NOVERCÆ.[105] Another conjugal tribute discloses a singular result of the same state of the law. T. Sentius Januarius and L. Terentius Trophimus jointly raise a memorial to Hostilia Capriola.[106] She must have been[Pg 46] married to the one after having been divorced from the other; and as they agree in calling her CONJUGI BENE MERENTI, we must suppose the first marriage to have been dissolved without criminality on her part. Such an association would seem strange, even in those continental countries, where a divorced wife may sit at table between her first and second husband.

I will conclude this subject of the “affectus conjugum” by the quotation of a beautiful inscription, said to have been found on a monument at Rome, which is figured in Gruter.[107] It purports to be a dialogue between Atimetus, a freedman of Tiberius Cæsar, and his deceased wife (collibertæ et contubernali) Claudia Homonœa, the husband professing his desire to die and rejoin his wife; the wife expressing her hope, that what had been taken from her own life might be added to his. It has not escaped suspicion, though the majority of critics admit its genuineness. If genuine, it proceeds from the golden age of Latin literature; if the work of a scholar of the sixteenth century, it will still have an interest for the reader of taste.

Tu qui secura procedis mente parumper
Siste gradum quæso, verbaque pauca lege.

HOMONŒA.
Illa ego quæ claris fueram prælata puellis
Hoc Homonœa brevi condita sum tumulo.
[Pg 47]Cui formam Paphie, Charites tribuere decorem;
Quam Pallas cunctis artibus erudiit.
Nondum bis denos ætas mea viderat annos:
Injecere manus invida fata mihi.
Nec pro me queror hoc, morte est mihi tristior ipsa
Mœror Atimeti conjugis ille mei.

ATIMETUS.
Si pensare animas sinerent crudelia fata
Et posset redimi morte aliena salus,
Quantulacumque meæ debentur tempora vitæ
Pensarem pro te, cara Homonœa libens.
At nunc, quod possum, fugiam lucemque deosque
Ut te matura per Styga morte sequar.

HOMONŒA.
Parce tuam conjux, fletu quassare juventam,
Fataque mœrendo sollicitare mea.
Nil prosunt lacrimæ, nec possunt fata moveri:
Viximus: hic omnes exitus unus habet.
Parce: ita non unquam similem experiare dolorem,
Et faveant votis numina cuncta tuis.
Quodque mihi eripuit more immatura juventæ
Id tibi victuro proroget ulterius.

We know from the Latin poets that favourite animals were honoured by a monument (“Lusciniæ tumulum si Thelesina dedit,” Martial, 7, 86). The following inscription on a pet greyhound is found in the “Anthologia:”—

Docta per incertas audax discurrere silvas
Collibus hirsutas atque agitare feras;
Non gravibus vinclis unquam consueta teneri,
Verbera nec niveo corpore sæva pati.
Molli namque sinu domini dominæque jacebam,
Et noram in strato lassa cubare toro.
[Pg 48]Et plus quam licuit muto canis ore loquebar;
Nulli latratus pertimuere meos.[108]

D. M. is even prefixed to the epitaph on a Barbary mare (equa Gætulica), named Speudusa (σπευδούσα), who is declared to be fleet as the wind, “flabris compar.” After the example of the Greeks, the Romans gave significant names to their race and chariot horses, several of which are preserved on the monument of Diodes, the driver of the Red Faction.[109]


There still remains the most interesting of all the subjects of inquiry which the Roman sepulcral inscriptions suggest, what was the state of religious feeling and belief among the people with whom they originated? The natural affections, springing from sources which exist in every human breast, will express themselves with a certain similarity in all ages and countries. But there is a wide difference in the religious faith and sentiment with which the bereavements of life are met, and which find their record on the funeral monument. One remarkable contrast strikes us on comparing ancient with modern, Heathen with Christian inscriptions—the entire absence in the former of anything like resignation to the will of a superior Power, or any acknowledgment of a benevolent purpose in a painful dispensation. If the gods are alluded to it[Pg 49] is in the way of complaint. MANUS LEBO (levo) CONTRA DEUM QUI ME INNOCENTEM SUSTULIT,[110] is a bold defiance of Providence. Cornelius Victor, who died at the age of thirty-one, complains that his virtues had not secured him a longer life. VIXI SEMPER BENE UT VOLUI. NEMINEM LÆSI. CUR MORTUUS SIM NESCIO;[111] while Marsilia Stabilis regrets that her eminent piety could not purchase exemption from the common destiny.

Si pietate aliquam redimi fatale fuisset,
Marsilia Stabilis prima redemta forem.[112]

If such a feeling of impatience and complaint could be allowed, we might sympathize with T. Claudius Hermes, who inscribes a monument, MERULÆ UXORI BENE DE SE MERENTI ET CAMPILIO ALBUNO INFANTI DULCISSIMO QUOS DII IRATI UNO DIE ÆTERNO SOMNO DEDERUNT.[113] Antinous and Panthea, who placed on the tomb of their infant daughter Isiatis the sentiment, QUAM DI AMAVERUNT HAC MORITUR INFAS, appear from their names to have been Greeks, and to have copied the Greek poet Menander.[114]

Nor does the deceased speak from the tomb with[Pg 50] any words of consolation to those who are left behind, except that cold comfort, the “solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.” C. Gavius Primigenius, who died at the age of seven, thus addresses his mother:—

Desine jam mater lacrimis renovare querelas
Namque dolor talis non tibi contigit uni.[115]

The possibility that longer life might have been vicious or unhappy is urged as a motive to abstain from grief, as in the inscription on Lucia Toreuma, who died at the age of nineteen:—

Exiguo, vitæ spacio feliciter acto
Effugi crimen longa senecta tuum.[116]

There would be no difficulty in deciding between the two following inscriptions, in each of which a deceased mother addresses her surviving husband and children, which of them proceeded from a Heathen and which from a Christian source:—

Care marite mihi, dulcissima nata valete,
Et memores nostris semper date justa sepulcris.[117]

Parcite vos lacrimis dulces cum conjuge natæ
Viventemque Deo credits flere nefas.[118]

Nor are inscriptions wanting which declare the[Pg 51] vanity of human wishes, and the fallaciousness of human hopes;—

Decipimur votis et tempore fallimur, et mors
Deridet curas; anxia vita nihil,

is a distich which frequently occurs.[119] VIVE LÆTUS QUIQUE (quicunque) VIVIS. VITA PARVUM MUNUS EST MOX EXORTA EST SENSIM VIGESCIT DEINDE SENSIM DEFICIT, expresses a similar sentiment. The sentiment on the tomb of Vettius Hermes, MATER GENUIT ME, MATER RECEPIT, is not very different from that of Scripture, “Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.” The inscription, C. POMPEIUS EUPHROSYNUS ET JUNIA GEMELLA UXOR EJUS EX OMNIBUS BONIS SUIS HOC SIBI SUMPSERUNT, that the grave in which they lay was all they had retained of their possessions, reminds us of the passage, “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can take nothing out.”

These and similar sentiments express truths forced everywhere on man’s notice, and which may be looked for in many countries, and under many religions. The inquiry, to which we might especially expect that the sepulcral inscriptions would furnish a full reply, is, what was the belief of the Romans, in the ages to which these memorials belong, respecting the condition of man after death.[Pg 52] The almost universal commencement of epitaphs with Diis Manibus, or the abbreviation D. M., might seem to indicate an universal belief in the continued existence of the spiritual part of his nature. For “the divine Manes” were the disembodied spirits of men, waiting, according to those who believed in the transmigration of souls, for reunion with another body; or, according to a more popular conception, lingering around the tomb, acutely sensitive to any violation or neglect, and gratified by the tokens of remembrance and affection; or in a still different view, the presiding deities of the world of spirits exercising a control over its inhabitants. Such must have been the conception of Furia Spes, when in the inscription upon her husband’s tomb she addresses a prayer to the Manes, that she might be permitted to see him in her nightly dreams. PETO VOS MANES SANCTISSIMÆ, COMMENDATUM HABEATIS MEUM CONJUGEM ET VELITIS HUIC INDULGENTISSIMI ESSE, HORIS NOCTURNIS UT EUM VIDEAM. ET ETIAM ME FATO SUO ADDERE VELIT, UT ET EGO DULCIUS ET CELERIUS APUD EUM PERVENIRE POSSIM.[120] How far the formulary mention of the Dii Manes on sepulcres may be taken as a proof of the continued existence of the belief in which it undoubtedly originated is a question very difficult to decide. Pliny, while he[Pg 53] ridicules the superstition, acknowledges the existence of the belief.[121] Juvenal, on the contrary, declares that the belief in the Manes did not extend beyond the nursery:—

Esse aliquid Manes et subterranea regna——
Nec pueri credunt nisi qui nondum ære lavantur.
Sat. 2, 149.

I should receive with caution the testimony of a poetical censor of his age, who naturally fixes his eye on those circumstances only which justify his fierce indignation. Nor do I draw any inference unfavourable to the belief in a future existence from such expressions as “domus æterna,” “quies æterna,” and others of the same kind. They are found on Christian sepulcres, and may have a reference to the body, which it was hoped might never be disturbed in its peaceful resting-place. It is natural also to regard the grave as a place of repose from the toils, the pains, and the troubles of life, without believing it to be the “be-all and the end-all” of man’s history. Even the inscription, D. M. ET SOMNO ÆTERNALI. SECURITATI MEMORIÆQUE [Pg 54] PERPETUÆ ÆLIÆ FLAVIÆ MELITANÆ,[122] may not involve that disbelief which the words “eternal sleep” seem to us to imply. From the list of doubters, at all events, must be excluded T. Claudius Panoptes, who erects a monument to his two daughters, in obedience to a vision (ex viso), and placed this challenge to sceptics on their tomb. TU QUI LEGES ET DUBITAS MANES ESSE, SPONSIONE FACTA INVOCA NOS ET INTELLIGES.[123] On the other hand, it is not to be denied that many inscriptions breathe a very Epicurean spirit. AMICI DUM VIVIMUS VIVAMUS, was an exhortation rather to the enjoyment than the improvement of life. The inscription on the tomb of Publius Clodius, QUOD COMEDI ET EBIBI TANTUM MEUM EST, seems copied from that of Sardanapalus.[124] Such sentiments, openly professed, revolt our moral taste. The most determined modern votary of luxury and pleasure would not imitate Claudius Secundus, in declaring, HIC SECUM HABET OMNIA. BALNEA VINA VENUS CORRUMPUNT CORPORA NOSTRA. SED VITAM FACIUNT BALNEA VINA VENUS.[125] Public opinion, and, indeed, public authority, now impose restraints on the profession of irreligious or immoral sentiments, which were [Pg 55]unknown to the more free-spoken Romans. In truth, at the time to which our inscriptions belong, though there was a national cultus, there cannot be said to have been a national religion.

Even when their epitaphs imply a hope of a future existence, it is of that doubtful and hypothetical kind, with the expression of which Tacitus closes his life of Agricola. “Si quis piorum Manibus locus; si, ut sapientibus placet, non cum corpore extinguuntur magnæ animæ, placide quiescas.”

Suscipe nunc conjunx, si quis post funera sensus,
Debita sacratis Manibus officia.[126]

The expression of a more confident hope, as in the two following inscriptions, does not exclude the suspicion that there it may be rather poetical imagery than religious faith. Atilia Marcella thus speaks in the name of her deceased husband Fabatus:—

Terrenum corpus, cœlestis spiritus in me;
Quo repetente sedem suam nunc vivimus illic,
Et fruitur superis æterna in luce Fabatus.[127]

The mother of Theodote thus consoles herself for the loss of her daughter, who was hardly five years old.

Virginis hic teneræ, lector miserere sepultæ;
Unius huic lustri vix fuit acta dies.
O quam longinquæ fuerat dignissima vitæ
Heu! cujus vivit nunc sine fine dolor—
[Pg 56]Sola tamen tanti restant solatia luctus
Quod tales animæ protinus astra petunt.[128]

Upon the whole the evidence, negative even more than positive, of the Roman sepulcral inscriptions, abundantly confirms the testimony of heathen as well as Christian writers, to the absence of any definite and practical belief in a future state, in the three or four first centuries after the Christian æra. Yet few would be able tranquilly to acquiesce in the doctrine of annihilation. They sought in other sources for that assurance which neither religion nor philosophy could afford them. Never was the practice of magic, incantations, necromancy, and mysteries more prevalent than during the period in which Christianity was slowly supplanting the ancient superstitions. It was evident that the fulness of the times was come, and that if the world were not to be divided between the victims of religious imposture and the disciples of Epicurus, light from on high must visit the earth.

Other inscriptions, not properly sepulcral, afford the same proof of the loss of all vital power in the old religion. Among all the religious monuments which the Museum of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society contains, there is not one to Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, or any of the great gods of the popular creed. There is one to Hercules—a hero, not a[Pg 57] god; one to Fortune—a deified personification; one to the Genius of the place—an elegant creation of poetry; one to the fictitious deity of the Emperor. The gods of the barbarians have evidently dethroned those of Greece and Rome. The legate of a Roman Legion records that he has rebuilt from the foundation a temple of the Egyptian Serapis. A Roman commander must have constructed the cave in which the mystic rites of the Asiatic Mithras were performed. We have an altar to the tutelary goddess of Brigantia; to Viterineus, a local deity of the neighbourhood of Hadrian’s Wall; and, lastly, to the god Arciacon, wholly unknown but from this unique inscription. It is evident that the popular religion was altogether “a creed outworn.” Art had familiarized men with the human representations of their deities; and even by the perfection of its visible and material works had destroyed the belief in their spiritual existence and invisible power. Philosophy had exposed the folly of an anthropomorphic polytheism; poetry and the stage had made the gods contemptible. Nothing was left which could awaken reverence or love: instead of aiding, the popular religion checked the impulse of the mind to connect the ideas of infinitude and deity. But in the gods of the barbarous nations, who had remained without art, and without a mythology converting gods into men, there was something obscure,[Pg 58] mysterious, and indefinite; something on which imagination could fasten, and which it could readily invest with supernatural attributes. He who looked on the Apollo of the Belvedere with no other feeling than that he beheld the triumph of the sculptor’s art in action and expression, was overcome with a religious awe when he gazed on the unmeaning faces and half-bestial forms of Egyptian deities. The genius of Rome was tolerant of all religions but the true; a hearty belief in the gods of his own Pantheon would not have prevented a Roman soldier from doing homage to those of the country in which he was quartered, and seeking thus to gain their favour or avert their displeasure. But this will not account for the extensive diffusion of the worship of Phrygia and Thrace, Persia and Egypt, throughout the Roman empire. It was certainly an indication of a restless longing for something that could supply nourishment to the craving for religious faith which exists in the heart of man, and feeds itself on superstition when it can find no purer aliment.

Among the sights of modern Rome there is none more interesting than that long gallery of the Vatican called Delle Lapidi. On the right-hand wall are encased the sepulcral and other monuments of emperors, consuls and commanders of legions, with their numerous and pompous titles;[Pg 59] inscriptions to the gods and their priests. The elaborate and tasteful ornaments, the finely-cut letters, the classical Latinity—all indicate the rank and station of those by whom or in whose honour they were raised. On the left are the Christian monuments, chiefly supplied by the Catacombs, which, during the ages of the obscurity and persecution of the Church, served the Christians for sanctuary and cemetery, and even for a temporary dwelling-place. The slabs from their tombs are of coarse material—not Parian, or Carrara marble, or Egyptian porphyry; the letters are rudely made, the spelling and the syntax betray the humble rank and imperfect literary attainments of those who supplied them. No mention is made of ample space allotted to the tomb, no anxious care is expressed to perpetuate the inheritance or provide for a long succession of occupants. The Christian perhaps fell asleep in the expectation that the second coming of his Lord, to call the tenants of the tomb to judgment, would not be delayed beyond a few years. The Roman of family had three names; the Christian had no gens with which to claim affinity; he was a proletarian, a mere unit amidst the millions. One simple name served to identify him; his sepulcre might even be nameless—a circumstance of most rare occurrence in regard[Pg 60] to Pagan tombs.[129] How strikingly does the contrast confirm the declaration of the Apostle, that “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble were called.”[130] But to this contrast there is another side. The heathen monuments represent a decayed and dying superstition; the Christian, a living and triumphant faith—“the weak things of the world chosen to confound the strong.” Their inscriptions speak of resignation, peace, and confidence; their emblems, the Good Shepherd, the Dove, the Anchor, the Ark of Noah, all breathe the same peaceful, humble, and yet hopeful spirit.


The literature of what the Germans call Epigraphik, that branch of archæology which treats of inscriptions, is uncommonly rich—so rich, indeed, as to be embarrassing. The scholars of Italy, with Muratori and Maffei at their head, have been pre-eminent in their labours, which alone would form a library. The inscriptions of Gaul and Helvetia, and of the Roman settlements on the Rhine and Danube, have been illustrated in special works. Those of our country may be found in Horsley’s “Britannia Illustrata,” in the later work of Lysons,[Pg 61] in Dr. Bruce’s “Roman Wall,” and Stuart’s “Caledonia Illustrata.” The great repository, in which all that was known at the commencement of the eighteenth century has been collected, is the “Inscriptiones Antiquæ totius orbis Romani,” four volumes, folio, begun by Joseph Scaliger, and enlarged by the successive labours of Gruter and Grævius. These, with the folios of Fabretti and Reinesius, are indispensable in the library of an archæologist, who devotes himself to the study of inscriptions. The general scholar will find an admirable selection in the work of Orelli, to which a supplemental volume has been lately added by Henzen.[131] The monuments are carefully classified; they are illustrated, without being overwhelmed with notes, and more care is taken than in any previous collection, to separate the spurious from the genuine inscriptions. Nowhere has mischievous ingenuity been more actively at work than in the forgery of Latin inscriptions, especially in the sixteenth century, when the revival of classical studies gave value to every relic of antiquity, and the infancy of archæological science rendered imposture easy. Among those who have deserved the reprobation of scholars by their forgeries, Pyrrhus Ligorius stands [Pg 62]pre-eminent. Ligorio was a Neapolitan by birth, a skilful artist and architect, who, with considerable taste for antiquities, but little knowledge, employed himself in making collections of drawings of ancient buildings, and copies of inscriptions and medals, which, when bound in volumes, he sold at high prices to the munificent patrons of learning who then abounded in Italy. Thirty-five of these volumes, in imperial folio, are in the Royal Library of Turin, and others are, or were, in the Library of the Vatican, and of the princely families of Rome. The temptation of gain was too strong for his honesty, and finding invention easier than research and discovery, he began to forge inscriptions in order to make up his volumes. He is said to have been ignorant of the Latin language, but either this must be a mistake, or he was aided by some one of superior attainments to his own: for many of his forgeries prove the skill with which they were made, by the currency which they have obtained. He has frequently combined fragments of different inscriptions; or taken names from the “Consular Fasti,” and inserted them so as to give his patchwork an air of genuineness. There can be no doubt that he really copied many inscriptions; but his bad faith has cast a shade over everything which rests on his sole authority. He is by no means the only one who has brought on himself the malison of [Pg 63]antiquaries and historians, by thus corrupting the sources of historical evidence. The greatest caution is necessary in citing an inscription, of which the alleged original no longer exists, if it be not vouched by unexceptionable authority. On the other hand, some reputations which had been tarnished by the suspicion of the forgery of ancient inscriptions, have been vindicated by Time. The name of Cyriac of Ancona was once a bye-word among scholars for a shameless impostor, who had passed his own inventions on the world as genuine remains of antiquity. Yet he is now admitted to have acted with good faith,[132] although through haste and ignorance he may have copied inaccurately and been imposed upon by others. It is ascertained that the collection of Spanish inscriptions which has passed under his name, and which has given rise to the heaviest imputations against him, was fraudulently put forth and attributed to him.

Inscriptions have also been rejected on grounds of taste by critics, who did not sufficiently reflect, that in an age when all other style had been corrupted by affectation and bombast, the lapidary style could hardly have retained its original character of modesty, conciseness, and simplicity.

Many sepulcral inscriptions, some of which have[Pg 64] been quoted in the preceding pages, are preserved in MS. collections, and have been introduced into the “Anthologia Latina,” which was begun by Scaliger, and continued by Pithœus; and attained its most complete form in the hands of Peter Burmann.[133] About 400 sepulcral inscriptions are included in it, extending from the time of the Scipios, even down to the twelfth century after the birth of Christ, and including of course many which are the production of Christian authors. Some of more recent composition have found their way into these collections; but the majority attest their own genuineness by their unrefined phraseology, and their violation of the laws of prosody—faults which no modern scholar would have allowed himself to commit.

 

 


[Pg 65]

ADDENDUM TO PAGE 7, NOTE 2.

As I have not seen the existence of burial clubs among the Romans noticed in any work on Roman antiquities, I will give some extracts from the monument referred to. It was found at Lanuvium, a town of ancient fame for the worship of Juno Sospita, about nineteen miles from Rome on the Via Appia. The inhabitants of this town appear, out of flattery towards the Emperor Hadrian, in whose reign the marble was erected, to have formed themselves into a college for paying divine honours to Diana and Antinous; a singular combination, which shows at once the degraded condition of the people, and the heartless formality of the established religion, which could be prostituted to such a purpose. The privilege of forming a college—or as we should say a body corporate—was most sparingly conceded, and most jealously restricted under the Emperors, who dreaded all secret associations as nurseries of treason. With this primary object of[Pg 66] forming a college of the “Cultores Dianæ et Antinoi” they combined that of a burial club, not forgetting the festivities which formed so important a part of all acts of religion among the Romans. To prevent disputes, the laws of the association were inscribed on marble, and probably set up in the temple of the two deities.

An amphora of good wine was to be presented to the club by a new member; the sum of one hundred sesterces to be paid as entrance-money, and five asses per month as subscription. Their meetings were not to take place oftener than once a month. If any one omitted payment for ... months (the marble is here mutilated) no claim could be made, even though he had directed it by will. In case of the death of one who had paid his subscription regularly, three hundred sesterces were allotted for his funeral expenses, out of which, however, fifty were to be set apart for distribution at the cremation of the body. The funeral was to be a walking one. If any one died more than twenty miles from Lanuvium, and his death was announced, three delegates from the college were to repair to the place where he had died to perform his funeral, and render an account to the people. Fraud was to be punished by a fourfold fine. Twenty sesterces each were to be allowed the delegates for travelling expenses, going[Pg 67] and returning. If the death had taken place more than twenty miles from Lanuvium, and no notice had been sent, the person who had performed the funeral was to send a sealed certificate, attested by seven Roman citizens, on the production of which the usual sum for the expenses was to be granted. If a member of the college had left a will, only the heir named in it could claim anything. If he died intestate, the quinquennales, or magistrates of the municipium, and the people generally, were to direct how the funeral should take place. If any member of the college in the condition of a slave should die, and his body, through the unjust conduct of his master or mistress, should not be given up for burial, his funeral should be celebrated by his bust being carried in procession. No funeral of a suicide was to take place. There are many other rules tending to preserve order and promote good fellowship, but these are all which relate to the burial club. I subjoin extracts from the original. The purpose of the incorporation of the college is thus declared:—

COLLEGIUM SALUTARE DIANÆ ET ANTINOI CONSTITUTUM EX SENATUS POPULIQUE ROMANI DECRETO QUIBUS COIRE CONVENIRE COLLEGIUMQUE HABERE LICEAT. QUI STIPEM MENSTRUAM CONFERRE VOLEAT IN FUNERA, IN ID COLLEGIUM COEANT, NEQUE SUB SPECIE EJUS COLLEGII NISI SEMEL IN[Pg 68] MENSE COEANT, CONFERENDI CAUSA UNDE DEFUNCTI SEPELIANTUR.

TU QUI NOVOS (NOVUS) IN HOC COLLEGIO INTRARE VOLES, PRIUS LEGEM PERLEGE ET SIC INTRA, NE POSTMODUM QUERARIS, AUT HEREDI TUO CONTROVERSIAM RELINQUAS.

LEX COLLEGI PLACUIT UNIVERSIS, UT QUISQUIS IN HOC COLLEGIUM INTRARE VOLUERIT, DABIT KAPITULARI NOMINE H̅.S̅. (SESTERTIOS) C. NUMMOS, ET VINI BONI AMPHORAM, ITEM IN MENSES SING. ASSES V.

ITEM PLACUIT UT QUISQUIS MENSIBUS CONTINUIS   NON PARIAVERIT, ET EI HUMANITUS ACCIDERIT, EJUS RATIO FUNERIS NON HABEBITUR, ETIAM SI TESTAMENTUM FACTUM HABUERIT.

ITEM PLACUIT UT QUISQUIS EX HOC CORPORE NUMMOS PARIATUS DECESSERIT EUM SEQUENTUR EX ARCA H̅.S̅. CCC NUMMI, EX QUA SUMMA DECEDENT EXEQUIARI NOMINE H̅.S̅. L. NUMMI, QUI AD ROGUS (ROGOS) DIVIDENTUR, EXEQUIÆ AUTEM PEDIBUS FUNGENTUR.

ITEM PLACUIT QUISQUIS A MUNICIPIO ULTRA MILLIARIA XX DECESSERIT, ET NUNTIATUM FUERIT, EO EXIRE DEBEBUNT ELECTI EX CORPORE NOSTRO HOMINES TRES, QUI FUNERIS EJUS CURAM AGANT ET RATIONEM POPULO REDDERE DEBEBUNT SINE DOLO MALO, ET SI QUIT (QUID) IN EIS FRAUDIS CAUSA INVENTUM FUERIT EIS MULTA ESTO[Pg 69] QUADRUPLUM QUIBUS (FUNERATICIUM) EJUS DABITUR. HOC AMPLIUS VIATICI NOMINE, ULTRO CITRO, SINGULIS H̅.S̅. XX NUMMI.

QUOD SI LONGIUS A MUNICIPIO SUPRA MILLIARIA XX DECESSERIT ET NUNTIARI NON POTUERIT, TUM IS QUI EUM FUNERAVERIT TESTATOR REM TABULIS SIGNATIS SIGILLIS CIVIUM ROMANORUM VII ET PROBATA CAUSA FUNERATICIUM EJUS SATISDATO.

NEQUE PATRONO NEQUE PATRONÆ NEQUE DOMINO NEQUE DOMINÆ NEQUE CREDITORI EX HOC COLLEGIO ULLA PETITIO ESTO NISI SI QUIS TESTAMENTO HERES NOMINATUS ERIT. SI QUIS INTESTATUS DECESSERIT IS ARBITRIO QUINQUENNALIUM ET POPULI FUNERABITUR.

ITEM PLACUIT QUISQUIS EX HOC COLLEGIO SERVUS DEFUNCTUS FUERIT, ET CORPUS EJUS A DOMINO DOMINAVE INIQUITATE SEPULTURÆ DATUM NON FUERIT, NEQUE TABELLAS FECERIT, EI FUNUS IMAGINARIUM FIET.

ITEM PLACUIT QUISQUIS EX QUACUMQUE CAUSA MORTEM SIBI ADSCIVERIT EJUS RATIO FUNERIS NON HABEBITUR.

ITEM PLACUIT UT QUISQUIS SERVUS EX HOC COLLEGIO LIBER FACTUS FUERIT, IS DARE DEBEBIT VINI BONI AMPHORAM.

This curious document affords an additional proof how much ancient life is found to resemble the[Pg 70] modern, when we gain an insight into its interior through the medium of its monuments. By this means institutions and customs which have been thought peculiar to recent or mediæval times may be traced upwards, through Rome and Greece, even to the fountains of civilization in Egypt and the East.

 

THE END.

 

Woodfall and Kinder, Printers, Angel Court, Skinner Street, London.

 

 


The ground on which the Museum, Library, and Lecture-Theatre, with the Botanic Garden and Observatory, of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society stand, was originally covered by the monastic buildings of the abbey of St. Mary. In a portion of the same buildings was established the court and palace of the Lord President of the Council of the North. The tyrannical proceedings of this Council, especially under the presidency of the Earl of Strafford, had a great share in bringing about the fate both of the Earl himself and his royal master. This remarkable succession of occupancy suggested the following inscription, in which it may be observed that it is to monkery, not to the religion of the Middle Ages universally, that the epithet in the ninth line is applied.

QUO· PRIMUM· LOCO
CŒNOBIUM· BEATÆ· VIRGINIS· MARIÆ
DEINDE· PROCURATORIS· REGII· PALATIUM· STETIT
COMITATUS EBORACENSIS
HAS· ÆDES· COLLATA· PECUNIA· EXSTRUCTAS
OMNIUM· DISCIPLINARUM· STUDIIS· DICAVIT.

TU· QUI· LEGIS· AGNOSCE
NOSTRI· SÆCULI· FELICITATEM
QUO· ANIMIS· HOMINUM· SUPERSTITIONE· LIBERATIS
TYRANNORUM· VIOLENTIA· LEGIBUS· FRÆNATA
HARUM· IPSIS· IN· SEDIBUS· LICUIT· PHILOSOPHIÆ
DOMICILIUM· SUUM· COLLOCARE.

 

 


PUBLICATIONS BY THE REV. JOHN KENRICK.

AN ESSAY ON PRIMÆVAL HISTORY.

Price 5s.

Ambagibus ævi
Obtegitur densa caligine mersa vetustas.
Silius Italicus.

 

ANCIENT EGYPT UNDER THE PHARAOHS.

2 Vols. 8vo. Price 30s.

Ἀριπρεπέων γένος ἀνδρῶν,
Οἳ πρῶτοι βιότοιο διεστήσαντο κελεύθους,
Πρῶτοι δ’ ἱμερόεντος ἐπειρήσαντο ἀρότρου,
Πρῶτοι δὲ γραμμῇσι πόλον διεμετρήσαντο,
Θυμῷ φρασσάμενοι λοξὸν δρόμον ἠελίοιο.
Dionysii Periegesis, 232.

 

PHŒNICIA.

1 Vol. With Maps and Illustrative Plates. Price 16s.

Phœnices, solers hominum genus et ad belli pacisque munia eximium; literas et literarum opera aliasque etiam artes, maria navibus adire, classe confligere, imperitare gentibus commenti.—Pomp. Mela, I. 12.

 

LONDON:

T. FELLOWES, LUDGATE STREET.

 

 


Footnotes:

[1] The tomb of the Scipios on the Appian Way was discovered in the year 1780, and its inscriptions have been illustrated by the two Viscontis. They are now in the Vatican. The oldest of them, that of L. C. Scipio Barbatus, is of the beginning of the third century B.C.

[2] See Proceedings of Yorkshire Philos. Society, vol. i. p. 53.

[3] Hieronym. ad Es. 7, 14. Augustin Tract. 15 in Evang. Joann.

[4] Kirchmann de Funer. Rom. c. 20, 21. Dodwell, 1, 428.

[5] Sylv. 2, 2, 13.

[6] C. Nep. Att. 22. Vict. Epit. 60.

[7] H. E. Smith, Reliquiæ Isurianæ.

[8] Morcelli de Stylo Inscr. Lat. p. 363. Orelli, Inscr. 3998, 9. The Romans had also their Burial Clubs. See the regulations of one, Henzen, 6086.

[9] Plin. N. H. 1241. Periti rerum asseverant non ferre Arabiam tantum annuo fœtu, quantum Nero novissimo Poppææ suæ die concremaverit. Juv. Sat. 4, 108. “Matutino sudans Crispinus amomo, Quantum vix redolent duo funera.”

[10] Fabretti, p. 230.

[11] Archæologia, vol. 26, p. 270.

[12] Gruter, p. 898. Orelli, 6237.

[13] Anthol. 4, 271.

[14] Mommsen, Inscr. Neap. 4135.

[15] Henzen, Suppl. ad Orell. 6976, 7.

[16] Fabretti, p. 612.

[17] Orelli, 4859.

[18] Reines, p. 1000.

[19] The various and unsatisfactory conjectures of the learned respecting this phrase may be seen in Facciolati s. v. Ascia. It occurs especially on monuments in Lyons and Southern Gaul.

[20] Reines, p. 763.

[21] Gruter, pp. 844, 862. Augustus forbade his daughter Julia to be interred in his monument.—Sueton. Octavianus, c. 101.

[22] Orelli, 4397. Fabretti p. 91.

[23] Gruter, p. 762, 5.

[24] Orelli, 4390.

[25] Orelli, 4360.

[26] Morcelli, de Stilo Inscr. p. 103.

[27] Meyer, Anthol. Lat. 1178. Singular is the inscription, “Semiramiæ Licinianæ, quam loco filiæ diligo, ob merita ejus vivus vivæ feci.”—Orelli, 4676.

[28] Gruter, p. 607, 1.

[29] Reines, p. 388, 53. We find (Gruter, p. 399, 1) ten jugera of land bequeathed “tutelæ nomine.”

[30] Orelli, 4070.

[31] Fabretti, p. 232.

[32] Medicus jumentarius. Orelli, 4229, 4231. Valeria Verecunda is called on her monument “Iatromeia (physician-midwife) regionis suæ prima.”—Grut. p. 1110.

[33] Gruter, p. 1148, Petron. Arb. p. 388. I have printed these lines as hexameter and pentameter, for which they appear to have been intended, though the author was “ill at these numbers.” Faults of prosody are very common in the poetical inscriptions, and prose and verse are sometimes singularly intermixed.

[34] Fabretti, p. 715.

[35] Anthol. Lat. 4, 155.

[36] Meyer Anthol. 1438.

[37] Orelli, 2990.

[38] Anthol. 4, 101.

[39] From a monument recently discovered at Lambæsa, in Northern Africa. The ellipsis of magis before quam is found in Latin authors, especially Tacitus.—See Germ. 7. Cedere loco consilii quam formidinis arbitrantur. A similar complaint of death by magic occurs on the grave of a boy of four years old at Verona.—Maffei, Mus. Veron. 170.

[40] Mommsen, Inscr. Neap. 4870.

[41] Gruter, p. 831, 6.

[42] Orelli, 4600.

[43] Gruter, p. 340.

[44] Nat. Hist. 29, 1.

[45] Orelli, 4944.

[46] See Priscian, vi. 1, who quotes from old Latin authors, monetas for monetæ; escas for escæ; and vias for viæ.

[47] Orelli, 2778. He observes, “jacit est etiam in aliis Britannicis.”

[48] Orelli, 4544. Dua obrendaria.

[49] Prisc. vi. 1.

[50] Anthol. Meyer, 1424.

[51] Gruter, p. 572.

[52] Fabretti, pp. 113, 575.

[53] Quinct. 1, 5, 20.

[54] B nec penitus caret aspiratione, nec eam plene possidet. Prisc. 1, 5, 26.

[55] Ab scala Mediana. Orelli, 3093. The grammarians condemn the use of scala in the singular as a solecism. (Quinct. 1, 5, 16). M. Abudius Luminaris, who raises this monument, had married his own freedwoman; “Patronus idemque conjux.” There are inscriptions by freedmen to patronæ, who were also their wives. Such marriages were forbidden by Severus, unless under the sanction of a judge; and when the patrona was of such humble rank, “ut ei honestæ sint vel liberti sui nuptiæ.” Fabretti, p. 290. Anicia Glycera (Orell. 4649) records her gratitude to her husband, “qui ex imo ordine ad summum me perduxit honorem,” as from a slave he had made her his wife. The Greek slave would often be, in manners and culture, superior to the Roman master.

[56] Spon. Misc. p. 143. There has been a great controversy respecting the medical men of Rome—whether they were slaves; the monuments show them to have been commonly Greek freedmen.

[57] Orelli, 2645.

[58] P. 239. Juv. 5, 170. An imitation of the caput rasum appears to be still the professional costume of the clown.

[59] Grut. p. 312, 7. Juv. 2, 112. Quinct. 11, 3.

[60] See in Smith’s Dictionary, s. v. Bathyllus, an account of the furore of the Romans for the pantomimic representations and their vicissitudes of imperial favour or prohibition.

[61] L. Marius Austus Enuntiator ab scæna Græca. Orelli, 2614.

[62] Grut. p. 637, 1.

[63] Hist. 8, 10.

[64] Grut. p. 332. The contest took place A.D. 110.

[65] Mai Auct. Class 5, p. 414.

[66] Anthol. iv. 357. Lucian, περὶ ὀρχήσεως—Κάθησαι καταυλούμενος θηλυδρίαν ἄνθρωπον ὀρῶν, ἐσθῆσι μαλακᾶις καὶ ἄσμασιν ἀκολάστοις ἐναβρυνόμενον, καὶ μιμούμενον ἐρωτικὰ γύναια τῶν πάλαι τὰς μαχλοτάτας, Φαίδρας καὶ Παρθενόπας καὶ ’Ροδόπας τινάς. A truer representation, it is to be feared, of what pantomime actually was, than the semi-serious defence of Lucian, who makes the theatre a school of self-knowledge and self-control, and the education of the dancer a course of mythological and poetical learning.

[67] Bulletino dell Istit. Arch. 1838, p. 165. The inscription is, “Fuit Atistia uxor mihei, femina opituma, quoius corporis reliquiæ quod superant sunt in hoc panario.”—Henzen, 7268.

[68] Maitland on the Catacombs, p. 138.

[69] Archæol. Journal, 4, 55.

[70] P. 6.

[71] Gruter, p. 926-8.

[72] Gruter, p. 904.

[73] Fabretti, p. 560, who observes, “In tanto inscriptionum sepulcralium numero rari admodum reperiuntur qui longam senectutem expleverint.”

[74] Orelli, 4849.

[75] Such is that otherwise elegant epitaph on Fl. Merobaudes, of the year 435 A.D. “Æque forti et docto viro, tam facere laudanda quam aliorum facta laudare præcipuo. Castrensi experientia claro, facundia vol otiosorum studia supergresso, cui a crepundiis par virtutis et eloquentiæ cura. Ingenium ita fortitudini ut doctrinæ natum, stilo et gladio pariter exercuit, nec in umbra vel latebris mentis vigorem torpere passus. Inter arma literis militabat et in Alpibus acuebat eloquium. Ideo illi cessit in prœmium non verbena vilis nec otiosa hedera, honor capitis Heliconius, sed imago ære formata, quo rari exempli viros, seu in castris probatos, seu optimos vatum, antiquitas honorabat.” This inscription was engraved on the base of a statue dug out of the Forum Ulpii at Rome, in the beginning of the present century. Fragments of the poetry of Merobaudes, and his Panegyric on the consulship of Aëtius have been found by Niebuhr in a MS. at St. Gal, and are published in the Corp. Script. Hist. Byzant. vol. xxiv. The Christianity of Merobaudes, like that of Boethius, is ambiguous.

[76] Henzen, 7374.

[77] Gruter, p. 624.

[78] Gruter, p. 654.

[79] Anthol. Meyer, 1228.

[80] Eckhel, Doctr. Num. pl. II. vol. v. p. 90.

[81] Orelli, 4657.

[82] Anthol. iv. 231.

[83] Gruter, p. 718.

[84] Gruter, p. 1000. Anthol. iv. 222.

[85] Anthol. iv. 265.

[86] Anthol. ii. 466.

[87] Orelli, 4609.

[88] Orelli, 2813. Several examples may be seen in Gruter, p. 663. Tata, for father, is still in use among the lower classes in Rome. See Bunsen, Philosophy of Universal History, vol. i. p. 103.

[89] Orelli, 2815.

[90] Gruter, p. 733, 9. More correctly in Meyer, Anthol. 1403.

[91] Noctes Att. 1, 6.

[92] Gruter, p. 769, 9.

[93] Fabretti, p. 252.

[94] Orelli, 4658.

[95] Fabretti, p. 267.

[96] Gruter, p. 797.

[97] Orelli, 4623.

[98] Fabretti, p. 275, where many similar examples are collected.

[99] Gruter, p. 813, 3.

[100] Gruter, p. 1036, 2. Liberties are taken with prosody in this as in other poetical epitaphs.

[101] Gruter, p. 758, 4.

[102] Gruter, p. 435, 2.

[103] See his exhortation in Gellius, Noct. Att. 12, 1.

[104] Fabretti, p. 187. That feeding by hand was also common among the Romans is evident from the occurrence of earthen bottles used for this purpose. The Museum of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society contains several specimens of them. See also the Abbé Cochet’s Normandie Souterraine, p. 130.

[105] Orelli, 4604.

[106] Orelli, 2660.

[107] Gruter, p. 607. Meyer, Anthologia, 1274.

[108] Antholog. iv. 402.

[109] Gruter, p. 337. Comp. Gibbon, c. xl. 2.

[110] Gruter, p. 820. The hands uplifted in protest are sculptured on the monument.

[111] Gruter, p. 908.

[112] Reines, p. 709.

[113] Orelli, 4796.

[114] Ον οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν ἀποθνήσκει νέος. Menander, Δὶς ’Εξαπατῶντος. Gruter, p. 688.

[115] Orelli, 4829.

[116] Ibid., 4852.

[117] Ibid., 5070.

[118] Maitland on the Catacombs. Its date is A.D. 472.

[119] Gruter, p. 677, 12. Orelli, 4845.

[120] Gruter, p. 786, 5.

[121] Post sepulturam variæ Manium ambages. Omnibus a suprema die eadem quæ ante primum, nec magis a morte sensus ullus aut corpori aut animæ, quam ante natalem. Eadem enim vanitas in futurum etiam se propagat et in mortis quoque tempora ipsa sibi vitam mentitur, alias immortalitatem animæ, alias transfigurationem, alias sensum inferis dando, et Manes colendo, et Deum faciendo qui jam etiam homo esse desierit, 7, 55.

[122] Gruter, p. 751, 3.

[123] Orelli, 7346.

[124] Cic. Tusc. v. 35. A similar inscription is given by Morcelli, p. 431. D. M. T. Flavius Martialis H. S. E. Quod edi bibi, mecum habeo; quod reliqui perdidi.

[125] Gruter, p. 615, 11.

[126] Fabretti, p. 80.

[127] Gruter, p. 772, 8.

[128] Anthol. iv. 131.

[129] Fabretti, p. 545.

[130] Maitland, Church in the Catacombs, p. 10.

[131] Inscriptionum Latinarum selectarum amplissima collectio. Edidit Jo. Casp. Orellius. 2 voll. Turici, 1828. Vol. tertium, edidit Gulielmus Henzen. Turici, 1856.

[132] See Orelli, vol. I, p. 35, who quotes Tiraboschi Storia della Litteratura Italiana, T. VI. P. I. p. 263. Ed. di Milano.

[133] A useful and critical edition has been published under the following title:—Anthologia Veterum Latinorum Epigrammatum et Poematum. Editionem Burmannianam digessit et auxit Henricus Meyerus, Turicensis. Tom II. 8. Lipsiæ, 1835.






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