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 .
This chapter examines the processes through which slaves in ancient Greek communities exited slavery, as well as their status and condition as freed people. It examines the nature of the existing evidence for manumission and freed people and its implications for studying the topic; it explores the forms of manumission and the processes through which slaves managed to gain their freedom; finally, it discusses the meanings that freedom had for freed people in the various conditions in which they found themselves after exiting slavery. The chapter places particular attention on the significance of the master–slave, free–slave, and community formation dialectics for manumission and for life after slavery. It also engages with fruitful comparisons between different areas and communities of the Greek world, as well as between Greek and Roman manumission and freed people.
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.
This chapter deals with the role of legal epigraphy within the study of Roman law and Roman society. After an introductory definition of this discipline, in which some of its peculiarities are stressed, it follows a brief description of the different types of epigraphic legal documents, to finish then with a florilegium of this kind of documents. The aim of the work is to stress, through the analysis of a few sources (but not only through well-known sources), the essential contribution, that inscriptions offer us to gain a more complete and more nuanced view of the system of Roman law in all its complexity.
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.
Epigraphy is a discipline that deals with all kinds of inscriptions other than those in manuscripts. Greece and other ancient cities produced a large number of inscriptions that have revolutionized our knowledge of antiquity. The number of preserved inscriptions declined considerably in Late Antiquity, while the traditional categories, except for the agonistic, survived until about 600
P. J. Rhodes
Many questions on classical antiquity turn on the approach to the primary evidence that, on the face it, provides the most direct contact with the ancients and grounds the claim to be able to answer them as questions about the Greeks. This article holds that among such evidence, epigraphy has a special place, since its material is often rooted in a particular geographical site, linked to a particular historical event, and self-consciously intended to record both for posterity. It examines inscription in antiquity, the modern study of inscriptions, and inscriptions as evidence.
Elizabeth A. Meyer
This article studies how epigraphy was used as a form of communication. Epigraphs were usually stone inscriptions, although some were occasionally found etched on clay, plaster, and metals. Epigraphs were found at the center of the Roman communicative system, and included many sub-genres of monumental inscription that had its own peculiar characteristics. It studies the monumental inscriptions of the Roman Empire, which were classified and categorized by place of origin, language, and type. It then looks at the memories found in the epigraphy of the emperors and discusses the habit of inscribing, which only became widespread during the time of Emperor Augustus.
In the last fifteen years digital resources have become essential to a number of key tasks in the realm of epigraphy. Whether one needs comparanda for a new text one is editing, images and translations for the classroom, or evidence to consider for a broad-ranging thematic or historical study, digital resources can significantly speed up research and improve completeness. This chapter covers the proliferation of digital resources and provides guidance on locating and using such resources that are likely to survive the passage of time. No attempt is made here to grapple with the history of digital epigraphy or to list pre-web resources that are no longer available.
Silvia Orlandi, Maria Letizia Caldelli, and Gian Luca Gregori
The issue of epigraphic forgeries is closely connected not only to the history of epigraphy, but also to the rediscovery and reuse of antiquity in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance and Baroque Period. This chapter analyzes the concepts of “forgery,” addresses the theme of fakes in epigraphy, a relatively new field, and studies the modes of transmission (on paper or stone) of such artefacts. It also analyzes the forgerers’ intentions and the conditions under which historical and documentary forgeries were created, especially in Italy.
This chapter considers how a Roman acquired an inscription and how Roman stonecutters went about producing the inscriptions that met this demand. Attention is paid to the layout (ordinatio) and carving of epigraphic texts, including letter forms, errors, modifications, and aids to visibility and legibility.
The study of ancient reading and writing practices must begin with inscriptions. This chapter charts the recent debates about the concept of literacy in the Roman world. Setting out from the archaic period, it shows how inscriptions have a key role to play in any assessment of the difficult question of levels of literacy, while at the same time highlighting some of the methodological problems involved in such enquiries. The chapter concludes with a brief exploration of topics ripe for further study .
David S. Potter
This chapter offers an analysis of how inscriptions can complement the narratives of Roman history from the third century BCE to the third century CE provided in literary sources. They reveal certain historical events or details that would otherwise be unknown, and they supplement the information offered by the surviving Roman historians .