Category Archives: Carmina Epigraphica

Departure, Abandonment, and Grief: Latin Poems about Death in Childbirth

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the poem for a Roman lap-dog named Margarita (‘Pearl’), whose splendid inscription I managed to visit in the British museum. The text of the inscription – moving, personal, and affectionate – has … Continue reading

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Poverty and the Poetics of Underclass Morality

Is there a direct (inversely proportional) relation between (desired) material wealth and morality? The author of the first pseudo-Sallustian letter to Caesar appears to think so ([Sall.] epist. 1.7.3-9; transl. J. C. Rolfe): But by far the greatest blessing which … Continue reading

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Latin Poetry and the Limits of Roman Medicine

There is a notorious passage in Plutarch‘s Life of Cato the Elder (23.3-4), in which the Greek philosopher denounces the infamous censor‘s view on Greek medicine: It was not only Greek philosophers that he hated, but he was also suspicious … Continue reading

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Oh the Humanity!

Several months ago, I received a letter from the Vatican which had been sent by His Eminence Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Secretary of State. The letter included my appointment to the position of Academicus Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy for Latin … Continue reading

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The Riddle of a Poor Man’s Epitaph

As I write these lines, I am in Tarragona, about one hour south of Barcelona by train, on Catalonia’s Costa Daurada (‘Golden Coast’). Tarragona, Roman Tarraco, now a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to some of the most impressive … Continue reading

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Sadness, Weariness, and Laughter: An Ancient Latin Poem on Occasion of Mental Health Awareness Week 2015

Between 11-17 May 2015 it is Mental Health Awareness Week, when the Mental Health Foundation, like every year, helps to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues. Mental health is hard to define. On their webpages, the Mental Health … Continue reading

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What happened to Pontia?, Or: How a husband buried his beloved wife (and still only managed to talk about himself)

Last week I published a piece about fatal traffic accidents in ancient Rome. When I did my research for this entry, I came across an inscription from Carsulae in Umbria, which puzzled me for a number of reasons – not … Continue reading

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A Sense of Fatality: Ancient Latin Poems for Road Casualties

Among the top three things the Romans have done for us, one must – obviously – list their roads. Justly famous, they are right up there with sanitation and, of course, the aqueduct: With roads comes traffic, however, and with … Continue reading

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The Lapidary Poetics of Roman Domestic Violence

A couple of weeks ago, I published a few thoughts on the rather touching inscribed poem for Margarita, the lap-dog from ancient Rome. One of the remarkable things that the poet expressed in this text – stressing it as noteworthy, … Continue reading

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The Master and Margarita

Today, I had the immense pleasure of seeing one of my most favourite inscribed Latin poems – the epitaph for Margarita (‘Pearl’), a lap-dog, born in Gaul, deceased in second or third century Rome. The inscription on this marble plaque, … Continue reading

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