Postumia Matronilla inconparabilis coniux, mater bona, avia piissima, pudica religiosa laboriosa frugi efficaxs vigilans sollicita univira uniciba [t]otius industriae et fidei matrona, vixit annis n.LIII mensibus n.V diebus.
(CIL VIII.11294 = ILS 8444)

Sacred to the Spirits of the Deceased.
Postumia Matronilla was a wife without peer, a good mother, a dutiful grandmother, modest, pious, hard-working, thrifty, active, wakeful, concerned; she married one man, and slept with one man; she was a matron who worked hard and could be relied upon. She lived for 53 years, 5 months and 3 days.
(tr. Jane F. Gardner & Thomas Wiedemann)



Cernis ut orba meis, hospes, monumenta locavi
et tristis senior natos miseranda requiro.
exemplis referenda mea est deserta senectus
ut steriles vere possint gaudere maritae.
(Papiria Tertia, CIL V.2435 = CLE 369)

Stranger, you see how, a woman bereft of my own [dear ones],
I had monuments erected
and sad, elderly, pitiable, I miss my children.
My isolated old age should be added to the exemplary proofs
that barren wives may count themselves truly happy!
(tr. Jane Stevenson)



Portavi lacrimis madidus te, nostra catella,
quod feci lustris laetior ante tribus.
ergo mihi, Patrice, iam non dabis oscula mille
nec poteris collo grata cubare meo.
tristis marmorea posui te sede merentem
et iunxi semper Manibus ipse meis,
moribus argutis hominem simulare paratam;
perdidimus quales, hei mihi, delicias!
tu dulcis, Patrice, nostras attingere mensas
consueras, gremio poscere blanda cibos,
lambere tu calicem lingua rapiente solebas
quem tibi saepe meae sustinuere manus,
accipere et lassum cauda gaudente frequenter . . .
(CIL X.659)

Bedewed with tears I have carried you, our little dog, as in happier circumstances I did fifteen years ago. So now, Patrice, you will no longer give me a thousand kisses, nor will you be able to lie affectionately round my neck. You were a good dog, and in sorrow I have placed you in a marble tomb, and I have united you forever to myself when I die. You readily matched a human with your clever ways; alas, what a pet we have lost! You, sweet Patrice, were in the habit of joining us at table and fawningly asking for food in our lap, you were accustomed to lick with your gready tongue the cup which my hands often held for you and regularly to welcome your tired master with wagging tail . . . (tr. Edward Courtney)


Funerary altar of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus and Aconia Fabia Paulina

Splendor parentum nil mihi maius dedit
quam quod marito digna iam tum visa sum,
sed lumen omne vel decus nomen viri,
Agori, superbo qui creatus germine
patriam senatum coniugemque inluminas
probitate mente moribus studiis simul,
virtutis apicem quis supremum nanctus es.
tu namque, quidquid lingua utraque est proditum
cura soforum, porta quis caeli patet,
vel quae periti condidere carmina,
vel quae solutis vocibus sunt edita,
meliora reddis quam legendo sumpseras.
sed ista parva: tu pius mystes sacris
teletis reperta mentis arcano premis
divumque numen multiplex doctus colis,
sociam benigne coniugem nectens sacris
hominum deumque consciam ac fidam tibi.
quid nunc honores aut potestates loquar
hominumque votis adpetita gaudia,
quae tu caduca ac parva semper autumans
divum sacerdos infulis celsus clues?
tu me, marite, disciplinarum bono
puram et pudicam sorte mortis eximens
in templa ducis ac famulam divis dicas;
te teste cunctis imbuor mysteriis;
tu Dindymenes Atteosque antistitem
teletis honoras taureis consors pius;
Hecates ministram trina secreta edoces
Cererisque Graiae tu sacris dignam paras.
te propter omnis me beatam, me piam
celebrant, quod ipse me bonam disseminas
totum per orbem: ignota noscor omnibus:
nam te marito cur placere non queam?
exemplum de me Romulae matres petunt
subolemque pulchram, si tuae similis, putant;
optant probantque nunc viri, nunc feminae,
quae tu magister indidisti insignia.
his nunc ademptis maesta coniunx maceror
felix, maritum si superstitem mihi
divi dedissent, sed tamen felix, tua
quia sum fuique postque mortem mox ero.
(Aconia Fabia Paulina, ILS 1259 = CIL VI.1779)

The splendor of my kinship granted me
no greater gift than this: that I seemed fit
to be your wife. For in my husband’s name,
Agorius, I find my light and grace.
You, created from proud seed, have shone
on fatherland, on senate, and on spouse
with rightness of conduct, of learning, and of mind.
You won the crown of virtue in this way.
Whatever has been penned in either tongue
by sages free to enter heaven’s door
(whether poetry composed in expert lines,
or prose that’s uttered with a looser voice),
you’ve read, and left it better than you found.
But these are little things. You piously
in mind’s most secret parts had hid away
the mysteries you learned of sacred rites.
The many-faceted numen of the gods
you knew to worship; and your faithful spouse
you bound to you as colleague in the rites,
now sharing what you knew of gods and men.
Why speak of earthly powers, public praise,
and joys men seek with sighs? You called
them fleeting, counted them as small,
while you won glory in the priestly garb.
The goodness of your teaching, husband, freed
me from death’s lot; you took me, pure,
to temples, made me servant to the gods,
stood by while I was steeped in mystery.
Devoted consort, you honored me with blood
of bull, baptized me priestess of Cybele
and Attis; readied me for Grecian Ceres’ rites;
and taught me Hecate’s dark secrets three.
On your account, all praise me as devout;
because you spread my name throughout the world,
I, once unknown, am recognized by all.
How could my husband’s spouse not win applause?
Rome’s matrons look to me as paradigm,
and if their sons resemble yours they think
them handsome. Women and men alike
now long to be upon the honor roll
which you, as master, introduced of old.
Now all these things are gone, and I, your wife,
am wasting in my grief. I had been blest
if gods had granted me the sooner grave.
But, husband, even so I’m blest: for yours
I am, and was, and after death will be.
(tr. Peter Donnelly)


Agileia Prima, CIL VI 11252

Auguria, anima dulcis et innocua, have.

domui aeternae consecratae
Agileiae Primae, quae et Auguriae,
uxori supra aetatem castissimae et
pudicissimae et frugalissimae, quae innocenter
maritum et domum eius amavit, omnia de se
merenti fecit Q. Oppius Secundus maritus et sibi.
tempore quo sum genita natura mihi bis denos tribuit
annos, quibus completis, septima deinde die resoluta legibus otio sum perpetuo tradita: haec mihi vita fuit.
Oppi, ne metuas Lethen, nam stultum est, tempore et om-
ni, dunc mortem metuas, amittere gaudia vitae.
mors etenim hominum natura, non poena est;
cui contigit nasci, instat et mori. igitur,
domine Oppi marite, ne doleas mei quod praecessi:
sustineo in aeterno toro adventum tuum.
valete superi et cuncti cunctaeque valete.

Auguria, innocua anima tua in bono.

(CIL VI.11252)

Hail Auguria, a sweet and innocent soul.

To the eternal consecrated house
And to Agileia Prima who was also known as Auguria.
Wife beyond eternity; most chaste and modest and frugal who loved
Her husband and his house and all his possessions innocently.
Quintus Oppius Secundus, her husband, made this for the deserving one and for himself.
At the time I was begotten, nature granted me twice ten
years, upon the fulfillment of which, on the seventh day thereafter,
freed of the laws [that bind one to life] I was given over to unending rest.
This life was given to me, [so]
Oppius, do not fear Lethe, for it is foolish to lose joy of life while fearing death at all time.
For death is the nature, not the punishment of mankind; whoever happens to be born, therefore also faces to die.
Master Oppius, husband, do not lament me because I have preceded you
I await your arrival in the eternal marriage bed.
Be well, my survivors, and all other men and women, be well.

Innocent Auguria, [may] your soul [rest] among the good.

(tr. Peter Jones)



Quam dulcis fuit ista, quam benigna,
quae cum viveret in sinu iacebat
somni conscia semper et cubilis.
o factum male, Myia, quod peristi!
latrares modo si quis adcubaret
rivalis dominae licentiosa.
o factum male, Myia, quod peristi!
altum iam tenet insciam sepulcrum,
nec saevire potes nec insilire,
nec blandis mihi morsibus renides.
(CIL XIII.488)

How sweet and friendly she was! While she was alive she used to lie in the lap, always sharing sleep and bed. What a shame, Midge, that you have died! You would only bark if some rival took the liberty of lying up against your mistress. What a shame, Midge, that you have died! The depths of the grave now hold you and you know nothing about it. You cannot go wild nor jump on me, and you do not bare your teeth at me with bites that do not hurt. (tr. Edward Courtney)