IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica

M.233. Funerary inscription

Description: Marble panel, damaged on all edges w: 0.15 x h: 0.08 x d: 0.03
Text: Inscribed on one face.
Letters: Probably early second century CE; passably aligned but very uneven in height; L for ἐτῶν; superscript bar above the figures.

Date: Early second century CE

Findspot: Gebel Akhdar: East of Cyrene: Found in a cistern 1 km east of Cyrene, beside the Shahat to Derna road.
Original location: Unknown.
Last recorded location: Cyrene Museum.


[ ( vac. 1)?] Π̣όπλιος ( vac. 2)
Ὀ̣κτάβιος Νίγερ
καλὸς κἀγαθός
Μάρκωι Ὀκταβίω[ι]
( vac. 1 line)
5 ( vac. 1) υἱὸς (ἐτῶν) κ̣ϛ´



English translation

Translation source: Mohamed-Reynolds, 1992

Publius Octavius Niger, handsome and good, son of Marcus Octavius, aged 26

English translation

Translation by: Charlotte Roueché

P(oplios) Oktabios Niger (i.e. P(ublius) Octavius Niger), handsome and good, son of Marcus Octavius, aged 26


Lines 1 and 2: the initial letters, though incomplete, are certain

Line 5: the first figure is not absolutely certain

This is a funerary inscription for a young man with the tria nomina of a Roman citizen, son of a man who was also no doubt a Roman citizen but for whom only praenomen and nomen are given. That is commonly taken to indicate a date not much after the first three quarters of the first century AD, although a few later instances are known. For the date of this text there can be no absolute certainly, but the best parallels for the letter forms seem to us to be in the early second century CE, while it is in the reign of Hadrian (cf. C.283, C.306) that other examples of the curious masculine genitive singular in ωι can be easily found (it is perhaps due to an attempt to assert Cyrene's Doric connections in an age when the dialect had fallen out of everyday use).

Other Octavii are attested in Cyrene, cf. C.613, where the use of Latin as well as Greek and the cognomen Camars point to an immigrant family, possibly from Italy. There, as here, however, there are signs of Greek influence in the nomenclature. Note here that that despite Niger's Latin cognomen and the use of υἱός in line 5, his filiation is not quite in the standard Roman style and may seem designed to stress his father's civil status in Roman terms. Moreover the complimentary description in line 3 involves a wholly Greek concept, although not one that normally features in funerary texts anywhere in the ancient world. The family clearly wished to display Hellenism as well as Roman citizenship, but was perhaps not wholly familiar with its conventions.

Bibliography: Mohamed-Reynolds, 1992, 6, whence SEG 42.1673
Text constituted from: Transcription (Reynolds).


None available (2020).