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Bill Thayer

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I Lived With Her Thirty Years


[image ALT: A small 4‑line Roman inscription transcribed, translated and commented on this webpage.]
Transcribed and expanded:
1 NVMERIVS QVINCTIVS · ↃↃ · LIBERTVS · COMICVS ·
SIBI · ET · QVINCTIAE · PRIMILLAE
COLLIBERTAE · ET · CONIVGI · SVAE ·
VIXI · CVM · EA · AN
NOS · XXX ·
In line 1, would stand for an (unnamed) woman:
ↃↃ stands for two women; or, conceivably, several.
Translated:
Numerius Quinctius, a former slave freed by women, an actor:
for myself and for Quinctia Primilla
who was freed with me and was my wife.
I lived with her 30 years.

The newcomer to Roman inscriptions will find one thing odd: "freed by women"?

Yup. Romans were very male-oriented. If you were the slave and Titus (or Marcus) freed you, you became Quinctius Ti. (or M.) libertus; but if for some reason, often as almost certainly here, by virtue of a will, his widow (or say, his sisters) freed you, you became Quinctius libertus.

It is not known how was read, but today, based on a passage of Quintilian (Inst. Or. I.VII.28) we traditionally read it "Gaiae", where Gaia is the Roman version of "Jane Doe". Very loosely speaking, a woman had enough standing to free you, but not enough to be named.


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Page updated: 26 Jan 04