Notes to Vernae Inscriptions

Notes to Claudia Helpis' inscription for Veneria

Helpis, -idis f.
attraction, attractive power; Claudia's Greek cognomen was her slave name, preceded by the gens nomen of her former master, who was now her patron.
Veneria, -ae f.
sacred to Venus; devoted to Venus. This was Veneria's slave name; her lack of a nomen indicates she died as a slave.
carus, -a, -um
dear; the superlative form of the adjective. As the Latin alphabet was originally borrowed from the Greek, kappa was originally used for c. Perhaps her Greek origins explain the spelling.
vivo, -ere, vixi, victum
live; the subject is Veneria.

Notes to the inscription for Dorcas

Iuno, Iunonis f.
Juno; this is not the goddess wife of Jupiter, but rather the tutelary deity of a woman, corresponding to the Genius of a man. A substitution for the tombstone header Dis Manibus, which is more commonly found at this time.
Dorcas, Dorcadis f.
Dorcas, meaning doe in Greek; many Roman slaves were given Greek names. Genitive case after Iunoni, as also its appositives libertae and vernae.
Iulia Augusta, -ae f.
Livia, the wife of Augustus. Known during his lifetime as Livia Drusilla, she was renamed in his will in 14 CE, upon her adoption into the Julian gens.
liberta, -ae f.
freedwoman; as such her formal name would have been Iulia Dorcas.
Caprensis, -e
of Capri, a rocky island in the Bay of Naples called Capreae ("Goat Island"). Augustus visited there in 29 BCE and some time later began construction on the island of his first imperial villa.
ornatrix, -icis f.
a servant who assists at the toilet; hairdresser.
conlibertus, -i m.
fellow freedman; Lycastus was freed from the imperial household where he probably first met Dorcas.
rogator, -oris m.
an official in the imperial household; during the Republic the term signified the official who recorded the votes in an election.
coniunx, -iugis, m., f.
one who is united in marriage: spouse, wife, husband; the indirect object of [fecit hoc monumentum], it is modified by carissimae.
sibi: dative of the reflexive pronoun.
It may be read either as et sibi (the indirect object of [fecit hoc monumentum]), or as the dative following carissimae (superlative of the adjective carus, -a, -um).

Notes to the inscription for Stratonice

Stratonice, -ae f.
Stratonice, a female Greek name meaning "army victory"; the form here is probably the Latinized genitive or dative Stratonicae (see vernae below, in apposition).
Augustus, -i m.
Augustus; Emperor.
Philotechnos,-i m.
fond of art, artistic, a Greek adjective used as the Latin name Philotechnus.
Eutyches, -es
lucky, fortunate, prosperous, a Greek adjective used as the Latin name Eutychus.
parens, -entis m./f.
dulcis, -e
sweet, delightful; superlative in form.
hoc monumentum fecit/fecerunt: this phrase regularly appears on tombstones, but is sometimes abbreviated or omitted for lack of space or to save the expense.

Notes to the inscription for Alimma

Alimma, -ae f.
Alimma; from the Greek, meaning "of the sea." Her name is in the nominative as the subject of vixit; usually the name of the deceased appears in the dative or genitive after the heading (Dis Manibus Sacris).
discipulina, -ae f.
training, instruction; moral conduct; an ablative of manner with summa. This is an uncommon spelling of disciplina, probably originating in colloquial pronunciation.
servo (I)
watch over, guard, look after; observe a practice, custom, duty. Conceivably the stonecutter misspelled servivit (serve a master), which makes more sense.
permissus, -us m.
authorization; permission; the de has been emended to ex.
dominus, -i m.
conservus, -i m.
male fellow slave. It is probable that he was the partner of Alimma as he is the co-dedicator and he employs terms often used in epitaphs by a husband for his deceased wife: pientissimae bene merenti.
pius, -a, -um
dutiful, deserving; superlative form.

Notes to the Manumission for Helene

Helene's manumission at a cost of 2,200 silver drachms (=35,200 sesterces) seems high, especially since she is beyond what was considered child-bearing age and appears not to have a profession. Although comparanda are difficult to establish, given limited evidence and variations over time and place, some figures are available. Duncan Jones, Economy of the Roman Empire, lists the following prices paid in sesterces to free a slave: 50,000 for a slave doctor (Assisium, Italy, 1st century CE); 6-8,000 for a skilled hairdresser (Italy, 54-68 CE); 2,500 for an adult female (Ravenna, 2nd century CE). William Westermann, Slave Systems of Greek and Roman Antiquity, lists the following prices in silver drachms: 1,200 for a 25 year old woman and 1,500 for a 24 year old woman (Egypt, 2nd century CE); 1,400 for a man (Dacia, c. 125 CE), 1,400 for a man (Dacia, 154 CE).

Marcus Aurelius:
his praenomen and nomen indicate that Ammonion became a citizen under Marcus Aurelius Severus Antoninus Augustus (Caracalla), emperor from 198 to 217, whose Edict in 212 CE (Constitutio Antoniana) gave full Roman citizenship to all free men and to all free women the rights enjoyed by Roman citizen women. See the SPQR for a head of the emperor Caracalla.
Ammonion, -ionis m.
of Ammon, an Egyptian creator god identified with the sun and, by the Greeks, with Zeus.
Lupergus, -i m.
Lupercus, the Greek name of his father (the genitive here indicates parentage).
Sarapion, another genitive, indicating his father's father. His grandfather was named after the Greco-Egyptian god Serapis, designed by Ptolemy I of Egypt in the 3rd century BCE to unify Greeks and Egyptians under his worship.
Terheuta, -ae f.
Terheuta, a native Egyptian name. The missing letters are doubtful as is the relationship of Terheuta to Ammonion (his mother? mother of Helene and his slave?).
Hermupolis, -is f.
Hermopolis, located in the 15th nome of Upper Egypt, near the modern town of El Ashmunein.
maior, maius
Greater; its epithet is Magna, to distinguish this important nome capital from any other Hermopolis.
Helene, -is f.
Helena, a Greek name.
ancilla, -ae f.
female slave, maidservant.
verna, -ae m./f.
slave born in the household (not purchased).
circiter, preposition + accusative
about. Unlike many funerary inscriptions for children and wives, Helene's exact age is not given.
inter, preposition + accusative
in the presence of (as witnesses). The term inter amicos refers to a private manumission, an alternative to the more formal ceremony before a magistrate.
manumitto, -ere, -misi, -missum
make free, manumit; the subject is Ammonion, as below also (iussit; accepit).
iubeo, -ere, iussi, iussum
order; decree; bid; followed by the indirect statement (liberam esse).
accipio, -ere, -cepi, -ceptum
receive (in payment).
pro, preposition + ablative
in return for.
libertas, -atis f.
freedom; eius= Helene.
Ales, -itis m.
Ales, a Greek name; his nomen indicates that he too became a citizen under Caracalla's edict.
Inarous, -tis m.
Inarous, a Greek name in the genitive to indicate parentage.
vicus, -i m.
Tisicheos, -itos m.
Tisichis, the name of the village.
nomos, -i m.
nome, an administrative unit in Egypt; in the locative, modified by the adjective Hermopolitu.
Hermupolitus, -a, -um
Hermopolitan; an odd formation of the locative, perhaps a result of common speech.
drachma, -ae f.
drachma, a silver Greek coin, which currency seems to have been used in Egypt. It is calculated that the 2200 silver drachms paid for Helene's freedom was equivalent to 8800 silver denarii or 35,200 sesterces.
Augustus, -a, -um
of Augustus, imperial; i.e., authorized by the current emperor. Below it refers to the 8th month of the year.
duo, dua, duo
millia, -ium n. pl.
ducenti, -ae, -a
two hundred.
dono, (I)
give, grant; exchange for; pay.
suprascriptus, -a, -um
written above; named above; modifies Helene.
ago, -ere, egi, actum
do; perform (as a legal act); actum=actum est.
Kalendae, -arum f. pl.
Kalends, the first day of any month. Because Augustas is in the accusative, read [dies] VII [ante] Kalendas, i.e., July 26.
Gratus, -i, m.
Gaius Vettius Gratus Sabinianus. He began his public career as a commander (sevir) of the Third Turma equitum Romanorum, then became a military tribune of the Legio VII Claudia. He presumably then proceeded to hold the usual positions of the cursus honorum, including that of the curator of the Via Flaminia, in charge of Rome's food supply. As there is no mention of him after his consulship, he likely died soon after holding that office.
Seleucus, -i m.
Marcus Flavius Vitellius Seleucus. Nothing is known of him other than that he held the position of consul ordinarius in 221 CE, the year in which Gratus and Seleucus were joint consuls.
Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Felix Augustus = Elagabalus (also Heliogabalus; see vita). The teen-age emperor (218-222 CE) chose this name because he was high priest of the sun god Elagabalus of the Syrian city of Emesa, the home of his mother, Julia Soaemias (180-222 CE). See the SPQR for a coin image of Elagabalus.
mensis, -is m.
Mesore, -is m.
Mesore, the 4th month of Shemu (low water, the season of harvest), the 3rd season in the Egyptian calendar. This date in 221 CE was July 25; the discrepancy between the Roman date and the Egyptian date is probably due to the Egyptian scribe's confusion about the Roman calendar.

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