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Interpreting Funerary Inscriptions from the City of Rome

Interpreting Funerary Inscriptions from the City of Rome 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. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Ancient History de Gruyter

Interpreting Funerary Inscriptions from the City of Rome

Journal of Ancient History , Volume 7 (1): 51 – May 26, 2019

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
ISSN
2324-8114
eISSN
2324-8114
DOI
10.1515/jah-2019-0008
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

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

Journal of Ancient Historyde Gruyter

Published: May 26, 2019

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