Orazio Marucchi.

Christian epigraphy online

. (page 1 of 25)
Online LibraryOrazio MarucchiChristian epigraphy → online text (page 1 of 25)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

^.n-^' ni-xc,^-^










C. F. CLAY, Manager

vfrDinburgl): loo PRINCES STRP:ET



i^cixi ©ork: G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

Bombag airt iCalcutta : MACMILLAN AND CO., Ltd.

All rights reserved

Cbristian ]£pigiapb^














Few words are needed to introduce Dr. Marucchi's
Ma?ij(al of Christian Epigraphy to the English
reader. Issued originally as one of the well-known
series of Hoepli's Mafii/ali, it is the work of one of
the great De Rossi's most distinguished disciples.
It is primarily concerned with the inscriptions of
Rome, though important monuments from else-
where find a place in it. The author's plan has
been to select from the bewildering mass of extant
material sufficient specimens of all the main classes
of Christian inscriptions to familiarise the reader
with the current formulae, and, by the help of
special chapters — e.g. on the Consular Fasti and
the Calendar — to interpret methods of dating and
to appreciate the bearing of the monuments upon
history. Under such guidance it becomes possible
to realise the importance, the interest, and the
beauty of these early documents, and to cope with
their frequent obscurities and their sometimes
baffling barbarisms. Dr. Marucchi writes from
the Roman Catholic standpoint, and makes his
Biblical quotations normally from the Latin


Camkridge, October 191 1.


My purpose in compiling this Manual of Chrisfia/i
Epigi'aphy has been to supply students with some
general information concerning this important
branch of Christian archaeology, and at the same
time to provide them with a classified collection
of inscriptions which may be useful to them
for the illustration of lectures. In forming this
collection I have made use principally of Roman
inscriptions, as the oldest, the most numerous,
and the most important ; but I have not omitted
to quote here and there inscriptions from other
parts of the ancient world.

The book being intended specially for educa-
tional purposes, and not as a "Corpus Inscrip-
tionum " proper, I have thought it needless to give
the bibliography of each inscription, contenting
myself with noting whether the inscription quoted
still exists or not : in the former case I indicate
the place where it is now preserved ; in the latter,
the source from which the text of it has come
down to us.

So, also, when quoting any inscription of which

viii Christian EpigrapJiy

the original is in fragments, for the sake of some
name or some phrase which it contains, I have
contented myself with referring to a portion of
the inscription only.

I hope that this work may prove especially
useful to young students who are taking up
archaeology ; and I trust also that I may have
thus satisfied the desire expressed at the second
Congress of Christian Archaeology held in Rome
in 1900, for the issue of an elementary Manual
of Christian Epigraphy.

I owe my special thanks to two young and
able students of archaeology, scholars of my own,
MM. George Schneider and Henry Josi, for their
kind assistance in the compilation of this Manual.


'RO'i.i'e., January 19 10.


Prefatory Notk .......

Pkelimi.nary Notick ......

Introduction' — General Information :

General Characteristics of Ancient Roman Inscription
The Nomen and Cognomen
Commonest Praenomens .
Less Common Praenomens
The Cognomen of Females
Of Gentile Names
Of the Status of Individuals
Of Slaves and Freedmen .
The Social Classes and the Occupations of Ancient

Rome .....
Sepulchral Inscriptions
Addenda to the Introduction










I. Preliminary Xotes on the Original Sources of the
Study of Ancient Christian Epigraphy and on the
Bibliography concerning it ...

Principal Collections of Christian Inscriptions exist
ing in Rome ......

II. General Facts concerning Cliristian Inscriptions

III. Of Symbols

Interpunctuation ......

I\'. Metrical Inscriptions .....





CJiristiaii Epigraphy





I. Primitive Inscriptions, with Primitive Formulae . 75
II. Doctrinal Inscriptions (General Features) . . 86

§ I. On the Unity of God .... 87
§ 2. On the Divinity of Christ, the Holy Spirit,

and the Trinity . . . . .91

III. Inscriptions bearing on Sacraments . . . 103

§ I. Baptism and Confirmation . . . 103

§ 2. The Eucharist . . . . .119

IV. Inscriptions relating to the Doctrine of the " Com-

munion of Saints " . . . . . .136

§ I. As to the Prayers of the Faithful for the

Departed . . . . . .136

§ 2. Prayers addressed to the Dead for their

Intercession on behalf of the Living . 151
§ 3. As to the Cult of Saints . . . .157

§ 4. On the Titles " Sanctus " and "Martyr"

in Ancient Christian Inscriptions . .182

V. Inscriptions bearing on the Organisation of the

Early Christian Society . . . . .191

§ I. Inscriptions of Popes and Bishops . .192

§ 2. Inscriptions of Priests .... 199
§ 3. Inscriptions of Deacons and Subdeacons . 206
§ 4. Inscriptions of Inferior Church Officers . 211
§ 5. Inscriptions of the various Classes of

Christian .Society . . . .215

(a) Virgins 215

[b) Widows . . . . . .218

(<:) The Faithful 219

[d) Neophytes ..... 220

{e) Catechumens ..... 221

Contotts xi


§ 6. Slaves and Freednien .... 223
§ 7. Inscriptions bearing on Offices and Pro-
fessions carried on by the Faithful . 227
§ 8. Inscriptions referring to Persons or ]'"amilies

of High Rank ..... 240

VI. General Information on Inscriptions bearing Con-

sular Dates or other Chronological Indications . 249

Of the Dionysian or Vulgar Era . . 259

i^ I. Of the Tables of Consular Fasti 261

Fasti of the Fifth and Sixth Centuries . 262

Fasti of the West ..... 263

Fasti of the East ..... 264
Catalogue of the Names of Consuls to be

found in Christian Inscriptions . 265

§ 2. The Calendar ..... 284

§3. Specimens of " Consular " Inscriptions . 292

VII. Inscriptions selected for certain Special Expressions 307
Ejaculations — Language beaiing on the Concep-
tion of a Future Life ..... 307

VIII. The Damasian Inscriptions .... 340

§ I. Doctrinal Inscriptions .... 359

§ 2. Expressions of Historical Value . . 359
§ 3. Information of Special Topographical

Value ...... 360

IX. Appendix to the Damasian Inscriptions . . 362
§ I. Sepulchral Inscriptions of Damasus and

his Family ...... 362

§ 2. Inscriptions possibly referring to the Father

of Damasus ..... 390

X. Illustrations of Historical (non-Damasian) Inscrip-
tions from the Fourth to the Sixth Century 415
Inscription of Pope Syricius (.A. D. 385-399) 419
Inscription of Pope Coelestinus (a. D. 423-432) . 421
Inscriptions of later Popes up to S. Gregory the
Great ........ 423



Christian Epigraphy

"Graffiti" or Inscriptions scratched by

Visitors in the Roman Catacombs .
Cemetery of Callisto ....
Cemetery of Praetextatus
Cemeterj' of S. Peter and S. MarceUinus
Cemetery of S. Hippol3'tiis
Cemetery of Priscilla ....
Cemetery of S. Hermes

Cemetery of Pontianus on the Via Portuensis
Cemetery of Commodilla ....







For brevity's sake the name only is ciuoted in the case
of some mutilated inscriptions.


General Information

General Characteristics of Ancient Roman

/ Ancient Christian inscriptions must be looked
upon as a special class in the vast mass of inscrip-
tions of the old Roman world ; and any manual
of ancient Christian Epigraphy must therefore
necessarily be preceded by some elementary infor-
mation on Roman Epigraphy in general. But the
demands of strict necessity will be sufficiently met
by some information as to ancient nomenclature
and social conditions, with a few general observa-
tions on sepulchral inscriptions ; without this,
Christian inscriptions could not be understood,
much less distinguished from those of paganism.

The Roman citizen had three names, the
praenomcn^ the nonien, and the cognomen. The
nomen, properly called gentile, was that of the
founder of the family, and passed on to all his
issue ; these were hence said to belong to the
same getts (gentiles). But as in the course of
time the gentes split up into various familiae, the
cognome?i was adopted to distinguish one familia
from another ; and hence there were differing
cognomens within the same gens.

2 Christian Epigraphy

But, further, each member of any one family-
had to be distinguished from the others ; and
for this purpose the praenomen was used. Thus,
for example, from the root-ancestor Fabius issued
the gens called Fabia, and this came to be
divided into various familiae, as the Vilmlana,
the Ambusfa, the Labeotia. Then the individuals
of the same family, e.g. the Vibu/ana, were dis-
tinguished one from the other by a praenomen,
say, Marcus, Caius, Lucius, etc. ; thus Cains
Fabitis Vibulanus indicates a member of the gens
Fabia belonging to the familia Vibulana and dis-
tinguished from others of that familia by the
praenomen Caius. Of the three names the first is
the praenomen, the second is the gentile name,
the third is the cognomen.

The habitual use of these three names con-
tinued to the fall of the Republic. But from
the beginning of the imperial era the cognomen
was often substituted for the praenomen, to dis-
tinguish the individual ; thus, even in the first
century of the Empire, Titus Flavins Vespasianus,
Titus Flavins Domitianus, Tito Flavius Clemens,
had for their distinguishing names the cognomens
Vespasianus, Domitianus, Clemens, respectively.
The habit spreading in the course of time, the
praenomen became at last entirely neglected
and was no longer noticed in inscriptions,
as the use of it seemed an act of superfluous
pedantry. This custom begins to make its
appearance about the time of the Antonines.

It follows, therefore, that inscriptions on which
these three names are to be foiind set out in order
most probably belong to the pre-Antonine epoch ;
and consequently, if these iiisjcriptions sh.oiild b,e

Introduction 3

proved to be Christian, they would date back to
the earUest age of Christianity.

The praenomens which were intended to dis-
tinguish one member of a family from another
generally had their origin in some special circum-
stance in the family circle ; e.g. the first-born of
the sons was called Primus, the third Tertius,
the tenth Decimus, etc. ; he who was prima hue
natus was called Lucius, he who was 77ia7ie fiatiis
Manius ; Gnaeus from iiaevus, a wart or body
mark ; Cajus from yat'w, I rejoice, to indicate the
joy caused by his birth ; and so forth.

The commonest praenomens in inscriptions are
not put out at length, but are always abbreviated
into one or more of their initial letters. But to
avoid confusion some are only indicated by the
first letter, others by the two first, others by the
first syllable, others by some conventional mark,
as may be seen in the subjoined table.

These praenomens, however, were not in use in
all the gentes alike without distinction. Some are
more frequently found in one gens^ some in another,
owing to the desire in each gens to perpetuate within
itself the praenomen of some illustrious ancestor.

Commonest Praenoimens

A = Aulus N = Numerius

C = Cajus P = Publius

D = Decimus Q = Quintus
L = Lucius S - Sextus

M - Mantis T = Titus

M/= Manius ^ TI = Tiberius

^ To distinguish Manius from Marcus the former was
represented by M followed by a special mark.

Christian Epigraphy

Less Common Praenomens

Ap = Appins Min = Minatiiis

O = Ohts Nov = Novius

C or K = Kaeso Op = Opiter

Ep = Epidius Ov = Oviiis

Her = Herius Pac = Paaijus

Mam = Mamercus Pes = Pescennius

Pupus was supposed to mean a child, but it is a
real praenomen, inasmuch as an inscription has
been found of a youth over fourteen years of age,
with the praenomen of Pupus, and the indication
of his tribe. Moreover, its appearance even in the
epitaphs of children proves nothing, for, as we
know, the praenomen was given by the Romans
eight days after birth, i.e. on the day of lustration.

Sal = Salvius

Sept — Septij/ius

Ser = Serviiis or Sergius

Set', generally stands for Senu'iis, as appears
from many instances, but two inscriptions from
Tusculum show that it may also stand for Sergius.
Both these praenomens, however, may, in the
opinion of many, be referred to an older form
Se/ignius, corrupted by some into Scrvius., by
others into Sergius; much as the old form
ninguis has become nivis. ^-p^Spurius, which,
however, is sometimes represented by a single S.

St and Sta = Siatius

Tert = Tertius

V = Vibius


The Cognomen of Females

In very early times women had praenomens like
men ; later they went out of use ; but about the
third and fourth centuries of the Empire some
ladies of the highest rank resumed them. In the
times before the decadence, when women had no
praenomen, the inscriptions give their gentile name
and cognomen only ; the agnomen or surname was
reserved for family use ; or else a name of endear-
ment was formed from the father's nomen, such as
Fabiola, Priscilla, Domintilla, Plautilla, etc.

Of Gentile Names

The gentile name was that of the original
ancestor of the family, which was passed on to all
his descendants. These names were formed by
adding -ins to the name of the individual, e.g.
Fompo, Pomponius, etc. This termination in ins
is the old mark to distinguish the gentile name
from the cognomen, and exceptions to the rule
were believed either not to exist or to be

Panvinius recognised only four exceptions, in
the gentile names Ferpenna, Norl^anus, Feducei/s,
Foppeus. But since the days of Panvinius many
others have come to light, not ending in -ins. The
principal exceptional terminations are the following :
eriia, -inna, -ina, -as, -io, -ax, -acies, -eus, -eniis, -aeus
(Magiaeus, Decimaeus), -is (Aurelis, Caecilis). But
some of these are only apparently exceptional, e.g.
names ending in -eus are only the ordinary form,
archaistically pronounced ; and those in -aeus (with

6 Christian Epigraphy

the diphthong) come from an -ejus form, as from
Poppeius is formed Poppaeus.

The other irregular terminations indicate that
the bearers of the names were foreigners in Rome.
Thus names in -erna or -ina are Etruscan, those
in -as or -anas are Umbrian, those in -eiius Picenian,
those in -acus Galhc.

With respect to names in -anus, which have
hitherto been httle understood, Hiibner has
suggested an ingenious explanation. Taking his
stand on ancient geography, he thinks that these
names generally represent a local connexion,
especially with places in Latium or near Rome ;
he suggests that they were borne by strangers who
had migrated to Rome, and were there of course
addressed by the names of their respective birth-
places, e.g. Albanus, Bovillafius, etc., and that
these names then became the permanent gentile
names of their families.

The cognomen is an addition to the gentile
name not in itself absolutely required. In fact, in
primitive ages it did not exist, but as the familiae
of a gens increased in number, the habit of the
cognomen came in. It was generally derived
either from some mark peculiar to the founder of
the familia or from some event in its history;
nearly all the cognomens of the most illustrious
familiae, as the Scipiones, the Nasicae, the
Cicerones, etc., have been already explained by
ancient writers. As for its form, it may be best
described negatively, as generally eschewing the
gentile termination -ins ; beyond that its termina-
tions are as various as its origins. Among these
the termination in -anus calls for some remark.
Some are derived from local names, as Norbanus

Introduction 7

[if this be a cognomen, not a gentile name — Tr.] ;
Aelianus is formed from the gentile Elius, Cae-
cilianus from the gentile Caeciliiis.

In these cases the ending in -anus signifies a
transfer from one gens to another. This transfer
was effected in two ways. The first method was
by adoption : the member of the gens Cornelia who
was adopted into — say — the gens Fabia, changed
his gentile name, and was no longer Cornelius,
but Fabius ; but he kept his former nomen with
the addition of -anus. This, however, was not
compulsory, as sometimes they retained their
original nomen. But in process of time the pro-
longation by -anus was used out of mere vanity,
as a way of bringing in the gentile name and
cognomen of maternal relations in addition to
the bearer's own ; in this way one person might
have several dozen names and cognomens, without
any indication which were his own and which
were additions ; and this confusion is more and
more noticeable in the course of the third and
fourth centuries. Foreigners, too, who had obtained
Roman citizenship, and soldiers who had gained
an honourable discharge, adopted the gens of the
person through whom the favour was obtained,
but often retained their own cognomen with the
prolongation of -anus. Praenomens ceased to be
used to distinguish individuals after the beginning
of the Empire, when cognomens took their place ;
hence every one came to have a different cognomen.
This nomenclature, however, was only used in
family transactions and in inscriptions of a private
nature ; and hence Christian inscriptions, being
almost exclusively records of family events, gener-
ally give the cognomen to distinguish the individual.

8 Christian EpigrapJiy

Where the cognomens were many in number,
the last, according to Sirmondo, was the distinctive
one ; but Borghesi has proved by irrefragable
arguments that the same person was in the habit
of putting his cognomens in any order he pleased ;
and his final opinion is that every one was at
liberty to select the cognomen he preferred as the
distinctive one, and even to place it where he liked
among his other names.

Some persons had a right to more than one cog-
nomen ; in that case one was the cognomen, the
other was called agnomen, a word meaning the
same as cognomen, i.e. additional name. Last come
the surnames, familiar sobriquets, but in no sense
legal or recognised ; none the less, in the third and
fourth centuries they had become so common that
some people of mark were known to the vulgar by
their surname only. This is why we read on the
cornice of the pedestal of the statue erected in
honour of the celebrated orator Lucius Avienius
Aurelius Symmachus the word Eiisebii, this being,
according to Borghesi, the surname of that
champion of dying polytheism. This surname
was called sig/mm, and was sometimes set out at
full length in inscriptions, e.g. Projectiis Signo
MuschIus [Projectus, surnamed Musculus] ; or else
it is introduced by qui et, sive, ve/, or qui vocitatur,
e.g. Ma/ilius Jamiarius qui vocitatur Asellus, etc.
These surnames were sometimes of foreign origin,
as in the case of foreigners admitted into a Roman
gens, who might retain their name of origin as a
surname ; e.g. the full name of the celebrated
Herodes Atticus was Claudius Herodes Atticus,
Herodes (his original Athenian name) being re-
tained as a surname.

Introduction 9

It follows that the presence of praenomen and
gentile name alone is a mark of the highest
antiquity ; later on we find praenomen, gentile,
and cognomen ; then from the beginning of the
Empire gentile and cognomen alone came into
use, though not in inscriptions. In the third and
fourth centuries the cognomen, alone or in con-
junction with another cognomen, became very
common, but only on quasi-private and domestic
inscriptions, e.g. those of Christians, and not even
on these when of ofificial or solemn character. In
the fourth century a gentile name was at times
adopted as a cognomen ; thus the gentile Petronius
•became the cognomen Petronius, and similarly
Honorius was used as a cognomen. Finally we
may note that the gentile name Flavius was used
as a sort of praenomen in the later days of Roman

Of the Status of Individuals

Kindred is created either by natural relation-
ship or by affinity or by community of gens. By
natural relationship I mean the bond that unites
husband and wife, father and son ; by affinity, that
which connects, say, the relations of the husband
with those of the wife. Community oi gens was the
link between all of the same gens, i.e. descended
from the same stock.

A father had absolute authority over his sons,
extending even to their lives ; but this, which was
called patria potestas, differed from the domi/iii/fn
of the master over his slave. A man of free birth
might be subject to patria potestas, but never to
dominium. Indeed, a pure-bred Roman citizen

lo Christian Epigraphy

was bound to state the name of his father as
evidence of his purity of birth : this was termed ciere
patrem, and was expressed by the letter F (initial
ctifilitts) preceded by the praenomen of the father
in the genitive case, e.g. Marci filius^ Titi filiiis, etc.
Often if the individual was under the potestas of
his grandfather, the grandfather's name was also
quoted in the genitive case with the letter N
(initial of nepos) prefixed.

Women also recorded the names of their fathers
to prove their purity of birth; and sometimes in
lieu of the father's name, or even in addition thereto,
the mother's name is given. This was specially
the custom among the Etruscans ; indeed, one of
the few inscriptions that exhibit this variation was
found at the Etruscan city of Chiusi. It runs as
follows :


Sometimes in cases of two persons of the same
names the words pater and filius are attached ;
this has nothing to do with the habit of ciere
patrem to prove purity of birth, but was simply
done to avoid confusion. Similar distinctions were
also expressed by the addition of major and tninor,
senior sindju/iior, which were used even in the case
of brothers.

In many inscriptions the epithet iiaturalis is
applied to filins ; not however to be understood
in the sense of illegitimate, but solely as the
opposite of adoptive.

The father of the family in referring to his issue
would use the expression // qui inpotestate mea sunt.

A woman entered the family of her husband on
marriage, and came under \i\% potestas ; hence she

hitroduction 1 1

was bound to give his name (in the genitive case)
to show his possessory right over her. Thus we
read in the famous inscription of CaeciHa Metella
on the Via Appia :


Q • C R E T I C I • F



i.e. Caecilia Mete I /a, daughter of Quint us Creticus,
ivife of Crassus, and the use of Crassus in the
genitive indicates that he was the person to whom
she " belonged."

Matrimony creates affinity, and this impUes a
sort of kinship between the relations of husband
and those of wife ; this is expressed in inscriptions
by the words patraster, matrastra,f/iaster,f/iastra ;
sometimes even tata and mamma^ though these
more probably mean ?iutntor and nutrix (tutor and

In a legal Roman marriage the woman became
Caja, and is entitled 7ixor^ compar, marita, cofnes,
soda/is, adjutrix, convivia, coUaboronia, the last
being rare forms. The wives of those who had
not contracted marriage yV/^;r Romano — e.g. those of
strangers, of Latins, and also of Romans who were
not entitled to the privilege — could not use the
name uxor., but had various styles — e.g. hospita,
focaria, and even concubina ; but the last, of course,
without any connotation of immorality.

Among slaves marriage simply did not exist ;
they were looked upon as on a level with brutes,
among whom there could only be cohabitation,
importing no rights either to the man or to the
woman or to the offspring.

12 Christian Epigraphy

Christians, on the contrary, made no distinction

Online LibraryOrazio MarucchiChristian epigraphy → online text (page 1 of 25)