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Bill Thayer

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[image ALT: An engraving of a more or less cubical stone monument, probably about 80 cm high, bearing an inscribed tablet surrounded by rams' heads, sphinxes, a garland of fruit. It depicts a Roman funerary cippus.]

An unsigned article on pp282‑283 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

 p282  CIPPUS. 1. A low column, sometimes round, but more frequently rectangular, used as a sepulchral monument (Pers. Sat. I.36). Several of such cippi are in Townly collection in the British Museum, one of which is given in the woodcut annexed. The inscription is to the memory of Viria Primitiva, the wife of Lucius Virius Helius, who died at the age of eighteen years, one month, and twenty-four days. Below the tablet, a festoon of fruits and flowers is suspended from two rams' heads at the corners; and at the lower corners are two sphinxes, with a head of Pan in the area between them. On several cippi we find the letters S. T. T. L., that is, Sit tibi terra levis, whence Persius, in the passage already referred to, says, Non levior cippus nunc imprimit ossa. It was also usual to place on the cippus the extent of the burying-ground both along the road (in fronte), and backwards to the field (in agrum),  p283 and likewise the inscription hoc monumentum heres non sequitur; in order that it might not pass over to the heredes and be sold by them at any time (Hor. Sat. I.8.12, 13; Orelli, Inscrip. No. 4379, 4557, &c.).a

2. A boundary-stone set up by the Agrimensores to mark the divisions of lands (Scriptores Rei Agr. p88, ed. Goesius).

3. A military entrenchment made of the trunks of trees and palisades (Caes. B. G. VII.73).

Thayer's Note:

a Prof. Smith's article makes it sound like S. T. T. L. is very frequent. I've seen maybe a thousand Roman tombstones, and can only recall seeing one S. T. T. L., and few H. M. H. N. S (the usual abbreviation for hoc monumentum heredes non sequitur).

Far more frequent: IAF, IAP.

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Page updated: 20 Sep 04