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Bill Thayer

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The Capitoline Museums: Tombstone Central

[image ALT: Part of a wall with 14 Roman inscriptions all more or less rectangular and the same size, about 60 cm long and 20 cm high. It is a very partial view of the lapidary collection in the Capitoline Museums in Rome.]

Peering over the head of a statue: a typical wallful of epitaphs.

The average visitor, faced with four hours to "do" the museum, and with hundreds of very famous and sometimes very attractive sculptures, pays very little attention to the thousands of inscriptions covering almost every available wall.

If you don't read Latin, you have an out, of course; if you do know Latin, it's a mistake, as many of these inscriptions are fascinating. Still, since it's an almost unavoidable mistake, I'll try to help rectify that here, gradually bringing online a selection of the more interesting things that Roman individuals wanted so very much to tell us. (Who knows, maybe in a thousand years, someone will find your tombstone or mine interesting.)

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Page updated: 3 Aug 99