AbstractThe thousands of funerary inscriptions from the city of Rome published in CIL VI are a rich source of demographic data but are also the subject of serious debate regarding the epigraphic habit of the Romans. Do the inscriptions represent a cross-section of Roman society or are they largely the creation of the lower classes? Fixing the milieu from which the inscriptions come is difficult, because the exact status of more than 50 % of the commemorating population is unstated. The first section of the paper lays out the criteria according to which individuals, both those of certain status and those of uncertain status, may be classified as freeborn, freed or servile. The second section tabulates the results and argues that the practice of commemoration by modest titulus was overwhelmingly a phenomenon of the milieu of the freed. Since this is not a self-perpetuating population (the children of freedmen being freeborn), the prevalence of freedmen in the tituli shows it was among those families in transition from slavery to liberty that titular commemoration was most common. The freed drew attention to their own freedom, and even more proudly advertised the freeborn status of their children.
Journal of Ancient History – de Gruyter
Published: May 26, 2019