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E05170: Latin epitaph, with Greek elements, for a boy whose soul is 'with the saints'. Found in the cemetery 'in vinea Eustachiorum', via Latina, Rome. Probably 4th c.

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posted on 13.03.2018, 00:00 by pnowakowski
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'.

ΙΧΘΥC
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.

History

Evidence ID

E05170

Saint Name

Saints, unnamed : S00518 Martyrs, unnamed or name lost : S00060

Saint Name in Source

sancti sancti

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Funerary inscriptions Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)

Language

Latin

Evidence not before

300

Evidence not after

400

Activity not before

300

Activity not after

400

Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Suburban catacombs and cemeteries

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Suburban catacombs and cemeteries Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Prayer/supplication/invocation

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Other lay individuals/ people

Source

The 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.

Discussion

The 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).

Bibliography

Edition: 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).

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Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

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