[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
mail:
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]
Italiano

[Link to a series of help pages]
Help
[Link to the next level up]
Up
[Link to my homepage]
Home

Where Was That Comma?


[image ALT: A small Roman inscription, very roughly incised; it is transcribed, translated and commented in the text of this webpage.]

Transcribed:

1



5
APOLLINARIS QUI BI
XIT ANNOS ❦ XX
VIIII ❦ QUI FEC
IT CUM BIRGINIA
ANNOS UII IN PACE
Θ III NONAS SEP

Expanded,
standardized to classical Latin,
and modern punctuation added:

Apollinaris, qui vixit annos XXVIIII, qui fecit cum Virginia annos VII in pace, Θ III Nonas Septembris.

or just maybe:

Apollinaris, qui vixit annos XXVIIII, qui fecit cum Virginia annos VII, in pace Θ III Nonas Septembris.

Translated
(depending on where you like that comma):

Apollinaris, who lived 29 years, who did 7 years in peace with Virginia, died on September 3rd.

or:

Apollinaris, who lived 29 years, who made do with Virginia for 7 years, died in peace on September 3rd.

roughly 25 × 20 cm
probably 5th century A.D.
Basilica of S. Maria degli Angeli, Rome
(the lining out with black paint is modern)

When you're poor, you're not going to get the best tombstone.

So you'll get wavy baselines and poorly carved letters: that Greek theta (for Θάνατος, "death", "died") has been turned into a d with a bar thru it, reminding one more of money or pharmacy than of death; and here and there the letters look a lot like handwriting (the cursive g in Birginia for example). You'll get phonetic spelling: b for v, which we've seen before. You'll get some darn colloquial language — yup, he done did seven years with that woman —

All that is one thing; it's quite another to get poor writing.

Apollinaris was most likely very happy with Virginia: I hope so. In an inflected language like Latin, though, word order is often not too useful for getting your meaning across; and here, it's quite impossible to tell whether the peace was in his life with Virginia . . . or as a well-deserved rest afterwards.


[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 29 Nov 17