Roman Funerary Inscriptions Project
Funerary monuments, damaged though most of them are, are original
documents that come from all areas of the Roman world, record the great and the
powerless, and encompass hundreds of years of Republican and Imperial history.
Funerary inscriptions add breadth, depth, and texture to the corpus of literary
sources from Rome. Composed by people from all walks of life, women as well as
men, they allow us to "see" and "hear" the otherwise silent many who are on the
margins of Roman society, particularly women. However, commemorative
inscriptions, couched in formulaic terms and standardized phrases, frequently
preserve a culture's most conservative sentiments and expectations.
- acquaintance with the field of epigraphy through the study of
- appreciation of the value of funerary monuments as textual and visual
evidence for women's lives
- composition of an interpretive text-commentary for
intermediate-level Latin students
- Assign the introduction (pp 1-7) of Paul Shore's Rest Lightly: An Anthology of Greek & Latin Tomb Inscriptions.
- Browse both Monument Options and Bibliography with your class to acquaint them with the resources they will need for their project.
- Point out the successful student projects published at the bottom of this page, which will serve as models for their completed project.
- Ask each student to select up to three inscriptions from Monument Options, making every effort to accommodate first choices. Alternatively you may prefer to use this project with groups or with your class as a whole.
- Help students familiarize themselves with the conventions of epigraphy (especially inscriptional abbreviations and formulaic expressions) by exploring with them the various print and Internet sources under Handbooks, Anthologies, and Online Resources in Bibliography.
- Once inscriptions have been assigned, ask your students to look closely at the inscription image and transcribe it into a Word document exactly as it appears in the original, keeping line, word, and spelling arrangements. With the help of the linked CIL transcription, they should create another Word document in which they resolve all abbreviated words and correct spelling while keeping the layout of the original.
- Have your students write a detailed description of their funerary monument (giving its date, origin, and
appearance of the stone with its lettering and decoration) and translate the inscription (a model for
descriptive analysis and translation may be found in Harvey's Roman Lives in the Bibliography).
- Direct your students to write glosses for each word of the inscription that they think would
offer difficulty to an intermediate-level Latin reader and/or for which they have found information (examples of glosses for inscriptions are available in any of the Worlds in Online Companion).
- Assign the composition of an accompanying essay that introduces the monument, inscription and people named in the text and places them in their historical and cultural context, focusing on the evidence provided for women's lives.
- Schedule students individually for an oral presentations of their monument to the class.
- Require your students to submit a final print and digital copy of the project that includes the following components: introductory essay; monument photo; transcription, resolution, and translation of the text; lexical glosses and interpretive commentary.
- Lara Carlson, University of South Dakota, 2011
- Alison Bressler, Furman University, 2009
- Chelsea Brewer, Furman University, 2009
- Katie Phillips, Furman University, 2009
- Danielle DeLancey, The College of New Rochelle, 2007
- Erin Daley, The College of New Rochelle, 2007
Submitted by Anne Leen, Barbara F. McManus, Ann R. Raia
Updated March 2013
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