The epitaph is accompanied by the Greek word ἰχθύς/'fish', which was a symbol of Christ, and as an acronym was expanded to: Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς θεοῦ υἱὸς σωτήρ/'Jesus Christ, son of God, the Saviour'.
Ι Postumius Euthenion fidelis qui gratia sancta consecutus
Χ pridie natali suo serotina hora reddit debitum vitae suae qui vixit
Θ annis sex et depositus V idus iulias die Iovis quo et natus est cuius
Υ anima cum sanctos in pace filio benemerenti Postumii Felicissimus
C ν(ικᾷ?) e Euthenia Festa avia ipseius
2. gratia consecutus EDB, probably by error || 6. Ν = νεοφωτίστων or νεοκτίστων Dölger || νικᾷ Buonarotti, Ferrua, EDB For minor differences in the text as presented by different editors, see the apparatus in ICVR
'Postumius Euthenion, the faithful, who received the holy grace on the day before his birthday, (and) died (the same day), in the evening. He lived six years and was buried on the 5th day before the ides of July, on a Thursday, on which (day) he was also born, whose soul is in peace with the saints. To (their) son, Postumius, well-deserving one, Felicissimus and Euthenia, and Festa his grandmother (dedicated this).
Text: ICVR, n.s., VI, no. 15634 = EDB3909.
Saint NameSaints, unnamed : S00518
Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060
Saint Name in Sourcesancti
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)
Evidence not before300
Evidence not after400
Activity not before300
Activity not after400
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSuburban catacombs and cemeteries
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Suburban catacombs and cemeteries
Cult activities - PlacesBurial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Other lay individuals/ people
SourceThe inscription was first recorded by Marco Antonio Boldetti, and forwarded for publication to Raphael Fabretti (1703). Fabretti published it as a find from the cemetery 'in vinea Eustachiorum' on the via Latina, although Boldetti in his later edition claimed that he had found it in the cemetery of Cyriaca (1720). The stone was, however, rediscovered by Filippo Buonarotti (1716) in the cemetery 'in vinea Eustachiorum', which Antonio Ferrua considers its proper location. Later reedited by a number of scholars, including the reference edition in the sixth volume of the Inscriptions Christianae Urbis Romae by Ferrua. Now probably lost. There is no description.
DiscussionThe epitaph says that the deceased boy was baptised on the day before his birthday, died several hours later, and was buried on the following day. The dedicants, his parents and his grandmother, included a formula stating that his soul is ‘in peace with the saints’. This may be a reference to a burial ad sanctos, or, perhaps more probably, just an expression of hope that the soul of the boy would join the saints in heaven.
Based on this description of the circumstances of the death of the boy, Franz Josef Dölger argued that the letter Ν seen in line 6 should be expanded as νεοφωτίστων/’newly baptised’. Ferrua, however, probably rightly prefers an earlier interpretation by Buonarotti, that the abbreviated word refers to Jesus (here termed ἰχθύς), and should be expanded νικᾷ/’conquers’. For further comments on the wording for baptism used in this inscription, see the comments by Carletti (2008).
Dating: Antonio Felle (in EDB) dates the inscription to the 4th c. The day of burial mentioned in the epitaph is 11 July, Thursday (dies Iovis).
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB3909, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/3909
Carletti, C., Epigrafia dei cristiani in Occidente dal III al VII secolo. Ideologia e prassi (Bari: Edipuglia, 2008), no. 62.
De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 6: Coemeteria viis Latina, Labicana et Praenestina (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1975), no. 15634 (with further bibliography).
Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 1: Religionsgeschichtle und epigraphische Untersuchungen (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1925), no. 1524,
Dölger, Fr. J., Ἰχθύς, das Fischsymbol in frühchristlicher Zeit, vol. 1 (Rome: Herder, 1910), 183.
Boldetti, M.A., Osservazioni sopra i cimiteri de' santi martiri, ed antichi cristiani di Roma: aggiuntavi la serie di tutti quelli, che sino al presente si sono scoperti, e di altri simili, che in varie parti del mondo si trovano, con alcune riflessioni pratiche sopra il culto delle sagre reliquie (Rome: Salvioni, 1720), 58.
Buonarotti, F., Osservazioni sopra alcuni frammenti di vasi antichi di vetro ornati di figure trovati ne'cimiteri di Roma (Florence: , 1716), 17 (with a drawing).
Fabretti, R., Inscriptiones domesticae (Rome: , 1703), 329, no. 485 (from a copy by Boldetti).