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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces an article in
Classical Philology
Vol. 19, No. 1 (Jan. 1924), pp77‑78.

The text is in the public domain.

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p77 Notes on Latin Inscriptions

a) CIL VI.9685

Hung high on a wall of the Torlonia Museum at Rome (Tor. Album No. 97) is the famous relief in marble representing the interior of a market which Jahn (Ber. Sach. Akad., 1861, p364) and others (see Reinach, Répertoire de Reliefs, III, p346) have called an advertisement. Above the head of the woman who keeps the shop there are inscribed the lines from Aen. I.607‑9, aligned as follows:

Dum montibus umbre [sic] lustrabunt

convexa polus dum sidera pascet semper honos nomenq.

tuum laudesque manebunt.

These words, addressed by Aeneas to Dido with such fervor, seem somewhat inappropriate in this milieu of dead pigs and geese. Jahn's suggestion that they are ironical might appeal to one who goes marketing at present prices, but one is not accustomed to be met with such candor in shop advertisements. Indeed, the inscription seems to be not ancient. The side strokes of the letter M are entirely vertical, making a form which belongs to the third century or the renaissance, whereas the figures of the relief are carved in good second-century workmanship. Furthermore, the letter B in two cases has a large upper loop and in two instances a narrow one. Such irregularity is not usual in well-cut Roman inscriptions made at a time when practiced cutters followed models strictly. It is, of course, well known that renaissance owners of ancient reliefs and altars were in the habit of having inscriptions inserted and especially lines of ancient poets. This relief was first reported as being in the Giustiniana gardens, and epigraphers p78are aware that several of the falsae now in the Vatican came from that collection (e.g., Nos. 3452‑56 and 3625 of CIL VI.5 [falsae], besides Nos. 3457, 3458, and 3627, now lost). We cannot draw any conclusion from the fact that the sketch in the Giustiniana catalogue does not show the inscription since Milesius' report of the inscription predates the catalogue, but it is possible that the maker of that catalogue had reasons for suspecting the genuineness of the inscription and therefore omitted it from his sketch. Be that as it may, I should, in view of the letter forms, the dubious provenance, and the inappropriateness, transfer the inscription from its respectable position in Volume VI to the collection of falsae.

b) CIL I2, 834

The Tomb of Bibulus, a part of which still stands near the Piazza Venezia in Rome, is assigned by Dessau (Ins. Lat. Sel. 862) to septimo fere a.u.c. saeculo, by Lommatzsch in CIL I2 (834) to about 100 B.C., and by Diehl, Altlat. Inschr. (493), to the middle of the second century B.C. This divergence of opinion is probably due to the fact that while the letter forms are very handsome and open and would satisfy all the criteria of Caesar's age, the archaic form Poplicio occurs, a form which is unusual even in the Gracchan period and carries the savor of the Ennian. When we observe that the stone of the handsome tomb is almost wholly of travertine, a material not liberally used till just before the Empire, we can only become very skeptical of the early dates usually given.

The only C. Publicius Bibulus known to history is, as Dessau remarks, the tribune of 209 B.C. mentioned by Livy (27, 20). But of course the inscription we have here could not possibly be as old as that. What we have here is a restored inscription which gives the name alone in the original spelling of Punic-war days, modernizing all the rest. The normal orthography of publice at the end of the inscription indicates the divergence of dates between the original and the restoration. Judging from the material, the cutting, and the language, we ought to assign the restoration to about 60‑50 B.C. In view of the tendency of recent scholars to regard inscriptions as wholly spurious when they reveal such inconsistencies, it seems worth while to call attention to one clear case of such a restoration.

Tenney Frank

John Hopkins University

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