ANCIENT DOCUMENTS OLD AND NEW

The Centre's seminar series continued in Trinity Term 1997 with three papers on Latin epigraphical themes. Short summaries of the papers, together with reports on the 1997 Lewis Lecture and the British Epigraphy Society Spring Colloquium, follow.

On the Character of the Latin Epigraphic Style
A New Reading of the Mosaic Inscription in the Temple of Diana Tifatina
The Italian and Municipal and Collegial Fasti
D.M.Lewis Lecture: New Hadrianic Documents from Aphrodisias
BES Spring Colloquium: The Epigraphy of Hellenistic and Roman Asia Minor


On the Character of the Latin Epigraphic Style. A Study of Funerary Inscriptions

(Iveta Mednikarova, 30 April, 1997)

This paper dealt with features of formulaic language in epigraphy. It was shown that formulae in funerary inscriptions varied from region to region, and even from graveyard to graveyard. Some speculations were offered about the ways in which fixed expressions might have spread. In the second part of the paper, the use and misuse of formulae were discussed. Various types of debasement in formulaic language, such as the conflation of formulae, misunderstanding of syntax and fossilisation leading to a failure to adapt fixed expressions to their context, were examined. Finally, some observations were made about the funerary style as influenced by the requirements of the written medium of inscriptions.

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A New Reading of the Mosaic Inscription in the Temple of Diana Tifatina

(Mark Pobjoy, 14 May, 1997)

This paper offered a revised text of the mosaic inscription which is located in the floor of the temple of Diana Tifatina, now the basilica of Sant' Angelo in Formis (San Michele Arcangelo), in advance of its publication in the Papers of the British School at Rome this autumn. The temple, situated just to the north of ancient Capua, was one of the most important sanctuaries of Campania in Roman times, and was known throughout the Roman world. The badly damaged inscription, previously dated to 74 BC, records, i.a., the rebuilding of the temple by a group of magistri. The inscription was compared with other magistri texts found nearby and set in the context of the unique political history of the area. The new reading offered, besides making important corrections to the text in respect of the names of some of the individuals concerned and the work for which they were responsible, shows that it has been misdated, and that it in fact belongs to a quite different phase of Italian history.

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The Italian Collegial and Municipal Fasti

(Greg Rowe, 11 June, 1997)

The first century B.C. saw the completion of the Romanisation of Italy-or the Italicisation of Rome-and the fasti were part of the process. The fasti should be seen as instruments in the social, political, and ideological revolutions that coincided with the advent of monarchy.

Dotted with the phrase "ex s(enatus) c(onsulto)", "in keeping with a senatorial decree", the fasti betoken the diffusion of the contents of senatorial decrees throughout the citizen world. The mechanism of diffusion is uncertain. It may be that Italians were expected to travel to Rome to pick up decrees-the procedure envisaged in the funeral decree for Germanicus (Roman Statutes no. 37).

The fasti transmitted a particular vision of past and present. Though consisting of lists-magistrates' names, calendars-the fasti were not neutral. Contra Hayden White, annals do not present objective history. Like Livy's and Velleius Paterculus' contemporaneous histories, like the scultptures of the Forum Augustum, the fasti turned Julio-Claudian family stories into a national epic; they reduced Roman history to biography. They presented monarchy as stretching back to Julius Caesar, without an identifiable date (such as 31, 30, 29, or 27 B.C.) to mark the start of the Principate. They presented politics as a struggle between heroes (the Julio-Claudians) and villains (M. Antonius, Libo Drusus, Seianus and his family; cf. the s.c. de Cn. Pisone patre).

Besides the imperial house, the winners in the world of the fasti were senators, knights, and prominent freedmen; the losers were ordinary citizens.

In vaunting the imperial house, the senate effectively exercised normative power, telling citizens when to mourn and when to celebrate. In this sense, the fasti may hold a solution to the longstanding puzzle of how and when senatorial decrees acquired legislative force.

The transmitters of the fasti were no mere functionaries. They were men like T. Statulenus Iuncus of Pisae and Verrius Flaccus of Praeneste-leading knights and freedmen who profited by connections with the imperial house, while having no ties to the Republic.

On the other side of the coin, the mass of Italians appears in the fasti less as citizens (electors, legislators) than as subjects (a loyal crowd, a population to be counted, a collective beneficiary of imperial largesse).

The paper grew out of a 1997 Oxford D.Phil. thesis on the senate's honours for Germanicus and proceedings against Piso and will be incorporated in a forthcoming book.

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Lewis Memorial Fund and Lecture

The Lewis Lecture for 1997 was given by Miss J.M. Reynolds FBA on Wednesday 28 May in the Garden Quad Auditorium at St. John's College, with the title "New Hadrianic Documents from Aphrodisias". Miss Reynolds presented a series of recently discovered letters from the emperor Hadrian to Aphrodisias to a large audience which included the late Professor Lewis's brother, Mr. Philip Lewis. The lecture was followed by a reception.

Miss Reynolds' summary of the Lecture follows:

"I talked about a tablet found recently at Aphrodisias which had been inscribed with at least four letters from Hadrian to the Aphrodisians. Although letter no. 1 is partly defective and letter no. 4 very seriously so, this dossier throws a variety of interesting lights on the affairs of the city. The preponderating issues in it are related to civic finances and especially to the financing of an aqueduct for which Hadrian offered technical assistance only, it seems. He did, however, approve the city's plans for its funding, endorsing enthusiastically a scheme by which the local high priests of the imperial cult paid into the aqueduct fund the money that they would normally have spent on gladiatorial shows. He also seems to have endorsed the city's view that a number of persons who were claiming inability to meet the expenses of the liturgy of the high priesthood were in fact able to do so. Clearly the dossier is an important new document for the discussion of civic finances in general in the second century A.D.; and I presented a brief account of what I believe is the overall picture of city and private prosperity at Aphrodisias in that period; it is, I believe, much more complex than we are prone to think."

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BES Spring Colloquium: The Epigraphy of Asia Minor

The British Epigraphy Society's first Spring Colloquium, on the Epigraphy of Asia Minor, was held in the Garden Quad Auditorium of St. John's College in Oxford on April 26. The following papers were read at the Colloquium:

"Alan Hall's Kibyratis Surveys: the problem of completeness" (Dr. N.P. Milner); "Burials in Roman Lycia: Text and Monument" (Mr. G. Williamson); "Rhodes and Lycian History in the Second Century BC" (M. Alain Bresson); "Iasos, Rhodes and Caria in the Second Century BC" (Dr. C.V. Crowther); "Lysimachus and the Hellenistic Refoundation of Ephesos" (Prof. G.M. Rogers); "Re-examining the Late Antique Inscriptions of Ephesos" (Mrs. C.M. Roueché and M. Denis Feissel); "Rome and the Asylia of Sanctuaries in Asia Minor" (Ms. Beate Dignas); "The Epigraphic Habits of Professional Associations in Roman Asia Minor" (Dr. Onno Van Nijf).

M. Alain Bresson also provided a demonstration for participants in the Colloquiumof the PETRAE epigraphical database system, a short account of which appeared in Newsletter no. 4.

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The British Epigraphy Society will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Saturday, November 15 from 10.30 am to 18.00 at the Institute of Classical Studies, in its new location in the Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.

 

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Created on Wednesday, 22 December, 1999: 12:32:52