Laura Löser, Roman funerary inscription from Mainz

The epigraphic text I would like to cover is a funerary inscription for a girl who died at the age of six months. The short Latin text features on two tombstones with a strikingly similar overall style, including a relief apparently depicting the girl commemorated by the monuments. However, only one stone has the full text, the other one ends in the middle of a line. The reasons for the existence of two versions of the same monument, one of them unfinished, are mysterious.

What is striking is that the layout of the text is entirely different in the two versions of the text, which may hint towards possible explanations as to why the first version was abandoned: did the commissioning mother of the child change her mind as to how much text should be included, and what impression the visual appearance was supposed to give? Or was she more concerned with the quality of the overall stonemasonry, which may have been compromised in the first version by the choice of an imported stone? There are elements which are familiar and expected in a Latin tombstone of the time, like the start of the inscription with an abbreviated dedication to the Di Manes, the Spirits of the Departed, as well as surprising and unusual elements, like the mention of only the mother’s name, even though her husband and father of her child is mentioned in the inscription, too.

All in all, this text and various aspects about its contents and presentation certainly invite discussion and would, I believe, prove an interesting contribution to the conference.