Friday, June 24, 2011

VIP? How about an IOU?

Lol! OMG! jk! The Romans would have adored these internet abbreviations; as stone-cutting was a difficult, laborious task, Romans had standardized abbreviations used liberally in inscriptions. But when there are more abbreviations than actual Latin, it becomes difficult for the novice reader to make heads or tails of it. This inscription from Museo Civico Archeologico in Milan reads:

Testamento Fieri Iussit
which means "He ordered it to be made in his testament (will)."

Easier to say in Latin, no? The column looking things are fasces, symbols of power in ancient Rome and where we get the word fascism. In the middle is a seat with a frieze of weapons, a pillow and a footstool. All these show that this stele (large stone slab) commemorates an important magistrate or politician, but his identity is lost to time because of missing words (called a lacuna).

More information about the stele from the museum:
Fragment of a funerary stele with symbols of power
End of the first century AD
cm 108x52x21
From Milan, around the Porta Orientale (XIX century)
N. Inv. a 0.9.6599

More about this inscription can be found at: A. Sartori, Guida alla Sezione Epigraphica delle Raccolte Archeologiche di Milano, Milano 1994, p. 42.

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