Pretty as a Pictor: Painters in the Roman Mediterranean

Σαβεῖνοςζωγράφος ἐτῶνκϛʹ.εὐψύχως Sabinus, a painter, 26 years old, good luck! Fayoum 1:40=PHI 215881, Aueris (Hawāra) — Rom. Imp. period — SB 1.682. On a red marble epitaph from Hawara now in the Cairo Museum is the commemoration of a young painter living in Roman Egypt named Sabinus. We have a number of epitaphs and mentionsContinue reading “Pretty as a Pictor: Painters in the Roman Mediterranean”

Pass the Dormice: Breeding, Selling, And Eating Honeyed Dormice in Antiquity

Ponticuli etiamferruminati sustinebant glires melle ac papavere sparsos. “There were also dormice rolled in honey and poppy-seed, and supported on little bridges soldered to the plate” –Petronius, Satyricon, 31 (trans. Heseltine). Look, I know you may think mice are cute. I, myself, raised adorable hamsters as a child and thus have sympathy for all rodents. But weContinue reading “Pass the Dormice: Breeding, Selling, And Eating Honeyed Dormice in Antiquity”

August 24, 79: An Hour-By-Hour Account Of Vesuvius’ Eruption On Its 1,937th Anniversary

At around noon on August 24, 79 CE, Mount Vesuvius began to erupt and spew ash and then pumice stones down on the towns below it. The eruption lasted well into the morning of August 25th. One of the towns demolished was Pompeii, but the cities of Herculaneum, Stabiae, Oplontis, and many others–some as farContinue reading “August 24, 79: An Hour-By-Hour Account Of Vesuvius’ Eruption On Its 1,937th Anniversary”

The (Evil) Eyes Have It: Welcoming and Warning Ancient Visitors

Doorways and thresholds were an important locus of power in Greco-Roman antiquity–but we might also think of them as an epigraphic opportunity. Inscriptions often preceded ancient doorways, just as tabulae (inscribed tablets) could demarcate the sacred boundaries of temples. Writing was and is a means of delineating and mapping space. Additionally, certain words could serve to set the tone for guests entering a household,Continue reading “The (Evil) Eyes Have It: Welcoming and Warning Ancient Visitors”

Either Urine or You’re Out: Epigraphy and Graveyard Etiquette

‘Hic’ inquis ‘veto quisquam faxit oletum.’ Pinge duos anguis ‘pueri, sacer est locus, extra meiite.’ Discedo. — Persius, Sat. 1.112-114. You say, “I forbid anyone to take a shit here!” Paint two snakes. “Boys, this is a sacred place, piss outside.” I depart. In Persius’ Satires, the hallowed land upon which a tomb was built is used as a metaphor for theContinue reading “Either Urine or You’re Out: Epigraphy and Graveyard Etiquette”