Pyrrha's Roman

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Roman inscriptions

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Roman Tombstones

Roman tombstone inscriptions follow a set pattern, so you do not need any specialised knowledge of Latin to be able to decipher them - just read on!

These pages look closely at some of my favourite tombstones, provide notes to aid translation and then show pictures of more stones which you can decipher and interpret.

                         Click below for more tombstones pages:
                         How to decipher tombstone inscriptions
                         Inscriptions to translate

[our tombstone!]

The original of this tombstone can be seen in the museum in Gloucester, and this replica was made by my students with help from the Devizes monumental mason Jim Winchcomb.

The real tombstone is below. Notice how the victorious Roman cavalryman is depicted as conquering a fallen barbarian.

Roman tombstones would have been painted brightly but those in museums have lost most of their original paint.

[original stone]
Several features of this inscription are common to many Roman tombstones, but first look at his name :
RVFVS SITA = Rufus Sita
Cavalrymen were not usually Roman citizens, and this is confirmed because Rufus only has 2 names. (Citizens would have 3, and their tombstones would also mention their father's name and their voting tribe.)

EQVES (eques) = cavalryman
CHO.VI.TRACVM = 6th Cohort of Thracians
ANN.XL (ann. is short for the Latin word for years, L is 50 and the X before it is 10) = 40 years old.
STIP XXII (stipendium is the Latin word for pay) = 22 years' paid service.

H F C (heres faciendum curavit) is the normal formula meaning : The heir had [the tombstone] made.
The 3rd line of this tombstone has some of these words in full and adds : EXS.TEST. (ex testamento) = in accordance with his Will.

H S E (hic situs est) = Here he lies.

The stone below (now in the museum at Chester) commemorates a woman, shown reclining at her own funeral banquet. She is holding a goblet of wine and a small table for food is in front of her couch.
[Curatia's tombstone]

= to the Underworld gods.

CVRATIA DINYSIA Her name is Curatia Dinysia.

VIX. AN. XXXX (vixit annos XXXX) - she lived for 40 years.

H F C (heres faciendum curavit) = her heir had [the tombstone] made.

This photo is reproduced by courtesy of the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.

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How to decipher tombstone inscriptions

Inscriptions to translate