Mettius (A Soldier)

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 4 (Wilson 14)
  • Measurements: Height: 90.5 cm, Width: 31.5 cm, Thickness: 7 cm
  • Material: Marble
  • Date/Culture: Roman, 2nd century CE.
  • Provenance: Porta Salaria, Rome, Italy

Translation

“To the Spirits of the Dead
And to Quintus Mettius Anies Primitivus, son of Quintus,
From Cremona.
A  soldier in the 7th Praetorian cohort  under Iedarnus,
He served for 22 years.
Lucius Tusidius Sabinianus, son of Lucius, from the Velina tribe,
A soldier in the 7th Praetorian cohort under Iedarnus,
His recruit,
Made this [inscription] for the well-deserving man.”

Description

This tomb stone marked the grave of a soldier named Quintus Mettius Primitivus. He was from Cremona in northern Italy. He served in the Praetorian Guard, the bodyguard of the emperor. A fellow soldier, whom Mettius had trained, set up the tombstone in his honor. The inscription is dated to the second century CE.

This type of stone monument was erected next to a burial with the lower half buried in the ground, just like headstones today. This particular one had a cut-out field for the inscription, but the stonecutter ran out of space and two lines are inscribed below the field. At the top of the stone a wreath is engraved between the letters of the opening formula.

References

H.L. Wilson, “Latin Inscriptions at the Johns Hopkins University III,” American Journal of Philology 30 (1909), 153-170, 163-64.

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