Manfred G. Schmidt
Latin verse inscriptions, the so-called carmina epigraphica, are among the treasures of our epigraphic heritage. They are especially demanding because of their metrical form, length, and sophisticated textual content. Depending on the writer’s intentions, they are related to epideictic literary genres such as encomium and biography, scoptic epigram, lament and consolation, hymn and prayer, as well as ecphrasis. The chapter provides a brief history of the study of verse inscriptions and by means of examples ranging from the third century BCE to late Antiquity presents a typology of this genre of Latin inscriptions, c. 80% of which are funerary texts.
This chapter shows how epigraphy can enhance our understanding of the city of Rome, which has produced a vast variety of inscriptions that are unparalleled in other cities of the Roman world. It focuses equally on the imperial elite and on the ordinary people of the city, as well as on popular associations and on urban administration. Insights gained from Rome, which has preserved by far the greatest epigraphic patrimony of any place or region in the Roman world, helps us understand Roman society and culture in a wider sense.
Due to the size of the Roman Empire, communication routes, whether by land or water, were crucial to its functioning. The road system was a characteristic feature of Roman imperial rule and symbolized Roman power in a ubiquitous and visible way. Inscriptions are fundamental for understanding certain key aspects of transport and communication: roads and road building, milestones, the development and regulations of the cursus publicus, communication practices, and mobility and connectivity in the Roman empire .
This article introduces the different types of source material for the study of Jewish daily life in Roman Palestine. These include the literary, epigraphic, and papyrological sources. The article also discusses the methodological issues that concern the interdisciplinary cultural-historical study of the material.
It has been estimated that of all surviving Latin and Greek inscriptions, between two thirds and three quarters are epitaphs. The chapter discusses the typology, chronology, and regional variation of Roman funerary inscriptions in the physical context of the tombs of which they originally formed a part. It also emphasizes the light that epitaphs throw on self-representation, status and rank, and demography, concluding with a discussion of legal aspects of burial and views of the afterlife as revealed in funerary inscriptions .
Many types of inscriptions throw light on numerous aspects of economic production, distribution, and consumption in the Roman Empire. This chapter concentrates on agriculture, animal husbandry and pastoralism, and the production and exchange of cash-crops such as wine, olive-oil, and fish sauces. It also illuminates the interaction between private individuals and the Roman state in mining operations, as well as the administrative and legal issues related to such activities .
Christer Bruun and Jonathan Edmondson
This chapter introduces the reader to how an epigrapher works with inscriptions. It uses Hans-Georg Pflaum’s publication of an inscription from North Africa honouring Suetonius as a model for how students and scholars should proceed in editing, dating, and interpreting an inscription. Information is also given on how to use twenty-first century aids, such as digital photography .
Greek and Latin inscriptions—epitaphs, dedications, manumission records, lists of members of voluntary associations, laws, treaties, decrees, cult regulations, stamps on bricks and pottery, graffiti, and honorary inscriptions for masters and patrons—provide evidence concerning the terminology of unfree labour, attitudes towards slavery, and the origins, life, feelings, occupations, price, and legal conditions of slaves especially in urban areas from roughly the sixth century BC (Greece) and the third century BC (Italy) to Late Antiquity. Certain conventions—for example, regarding indicators of an individual’s status—mean that the use of epigraphic material for studying the complexities of slavery requires careful consideration of contexts: time, space, local traditions, addressees, language, and epigraphic habits.
This chapter provides a history of epigraphic research, dating back to the earliest manuscript tradition. It highlights the contributions of the most important antiquarians, humanists, and enlightenment scholars, from the ninth to the eighteenth centuries. The chapter demonstrates the importance of consulting manuscripts even today, especially in case of inscriptions that have now been lost, and explains why this is one of the most vibrant fields of epigraphy today.
Epigraphy is traditionally defined as the study of inscriptions – a term, according to one authoritative opinion, that could properly be applied to any form of writing produced in a given culture with writing instruments and on surfaces other than those normally used in day-to-day life. In practice, however, the territory it conventionally covers includes all modes of writing that are not regularly employed for the production of literary texts. The significance of inscriptions for determining general levels of literacy in the ancient world is a matter of controversy, but it is clear that basic literacy in the Roman Empire meant some form of epigraphic literacy, in the sense that whatever reading ability a Roman possessed probably included the capacity to decipher public monumental lettering, and whatever writing skills he or she may have exercised were more likely to have been practised in the forms conventionally defined as epigraphic than in any other. The Pompeian couplet addressed to a wall burdened with graffiti has often been invoked to suggest the pervasiveness of writing at Pompeii.