Benedictus

By
Elisabeth Campbell
Elisabeth Campbell is a graduate student in the Classics Department at Johns Hopkins, where she is writing a dissertation on Roman victory cognomina during the Republican period. Through her work with the museum, Elisabeth has further developed a special interest in Roman epigraphy and numismatics.
  • Accession Number: JHUAM 26 (Wilson 138)
  • Measurements: Height: 12.7 cm, Width: 32.4 cm, Thickness: 2.9 cm
  • Material: Marble
  • Date/Culture: Roman, 4th-5th century CE.
  • Provenance: Rome, Italy

Translation

“To the good and innocent (?) Benedictus who lived four years and 20 days.”

Description

This Christian inscription probably marked the tomb of a four-year-old. His name was Benedictus and he died when he was four years and twenty days old. The rest of the text is difficult to decipher since there are several syntactical and grammatical mistakes. For example, the word vixit (he lived) is spelled bixit, and the abbreviation AN for annis (years) is reversed. The first line presumably has to be translated as “To the good and innocent,” but the word ‘innocent’ is in the plural instead of the singular like the word ‘good.’

In the center of the inscription a prominent Chi Rho has been engraved. This combination of the Greek letters chi and rho is a common christogram, using the first two letters of the word Christos.

References

H.L. Wilson and R. van Deman Magoffin,  “Latin Inscriptions at the Johns Hopkins University VIII,” American Journal of Philology 35 (1914), 421-434, 433-34.

The inscription is described in the US Epigraphy Project hosted by Brown University.