Line 5 (deposita...) was inserted between the last two lines when the rest of the text had already been carved.
[b]ene merenti Iovine que cum coi[u]-
gem suum habuit annos V et d[e]-
cessit annorum XXII que conpa[ra]-
bit sibi arco[so]lium in Callisti at domn[um]
deposita [f]uit III idus februarias
Gaium. Fecit coiugi suae merenti in pace
'To the well-deserved Iovina, who lived with her husband five years, and died at the age of 22, for whom he prepared (this) tomb (arcosolium) in (the cemetery) of Callistus, next to the master (domnus) Gaius. He made it to his wife, deserved, in peace. She was buried on the third day before the ides of February.'
Text: ICVR, n.s., IV, no. 9924 = Carletti 2008, 279, no. 178 = EDB, no. 20939.
Saint NameGaius, bishop and martyr of Rome : S00661
Callixtus, bishop and martyr of Rome : S00145
Saint Name in SourceGaius
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Funerary inscriptions
Archaeological and architectural - Internal cult fixtures (crypts, ciboria, etc.)
Evidence not before350
Evidence not after400
Activity not before350
Activity not after400
Place of Evidence - RegionRome and region
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcSuburban catacombs and cemeteries
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Suburban catacombs and cemeteries
Cult activities - PlacesBurial site of a saint - crypt/ crypt with relics
Cult activities - Places Named after Saint
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsBurial ad sanctos
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesWomen
Other lay individuals/ people
SourceThe inscription was carved on two conjoining marble plaques, within a tabula ansata. Found in area I, cubiculum In (the so-called 'Liberian region') of the cemetery of Callixtus. Preserved dimensions: H. 0.70 m; W. 1.20 m; Th. 0.045 m. Letter height 0.05 m.
When recorded by Giovanni Battista de Rossi, the plaques were, however, broken into multiple fragments, and the right-hand end and upper left-hand corner were lost. De Rossi reassembled the fragments, and published them with an extensive commentary and a drawing in 1877. Revisited by Antonio Ferrua and reedited by him in 1964. Further comments and a new edition were offered by Carlo Carletti in 2008. Reprinted in collections of Christian inscriptions from Rome by Carletti (1986) and De Santis (2010)
DiscussionThe inscription is the epitaph for a certain Iovina, erected by her unnamed husband. The date of her death, the third day before the ides of February corresponds to 11 February. De Rossi was deeply interested in the fact that the inscription describes the place of burial of Iovina as sited at (= ad) domnum Gaium / 'next to master/lord Gaius.' He said that parallel expressions in Christian epitaphs from Roman catacombs make it clear that this Gaius must be a saint, probably a martyr. See, for example: ad santum Cornelium / 'next to saint Cornelius (E04646, cemetery of Callixtus), and E04734 (cemetery of Callixtus), and especially ante domna Emerita / 'in front of Lady Emerita' (EXXXX, cemetery of Domitilla). De Rossi briefly considered Gaius to be a local, otherwise unattested martyr, but then concluded that this was much more likely a reference to Pope Gaius, bishop of Rome, buried in the cemetery of Callixtus on 22 April 296 (the date is given by the Liber Pontificalis, written in Rome in the mid-6th c., see E00392), and probably wrongly considered as a martyr by early Christians. De Rossi was, however, troubled by the fact that the location of Iovina's tomb was actually remote from the place where Gaius' epitaph (E04739) was found, that is the 'crypt of saint Eusebius.' That crypt was considered by de Rossi as undoubtedly the original place of the burial of Gaius. Hence de Rossi came up with several ideas. He suggested that the region with the crypt of Iovina may have been Gaius' place of refuge during the persecutions, and, therefore, named after him in later times (that he was hiding in the catacombs, in an unspecified place, is mentioned by the Liber Pontificalis, but this is a story of little credibility, furthermore Gaius is said by the Chronography of 354 to have died before the outbreak of the Great Persecutions in 303, though he could have hid there under the emperor Carinus). De Rossi also wondered if the body of the pope could have been moved to and temporarily stored in the late 4th c. in this area. As usual, he used different day dates of the deposition of Gaius' body, recorded in calendars, as a possible argument for this theory. He also considered a possibility that here a burial close to a sanctuary dedicated to Gaius was meant.
All these considerations are very hypothetical. For example, Antonio Ferrua notes that Schneider Graziosi suggested that things could have been the other way round: the tomb and epitaph of Iovina could have been originally placed in proximity of the 'crypt of Eusebius,' and the plaques were later moved to the Liberian region to be reused in somebody else's tomb. Carletti does not discuss this problem in detail. Furthermore, it is not clear whether the expression ad domnum Gaium was understood by the author of the epitaph as a reference to a burial ad sanctos, or was a mere topographical description of the tomb's location.
Dating: Antonio Felle (in EDB) dates the inscription to the second half of the 4th c.
Epigraphic Database Bari, no. EDB20939, see http://www.edb.uniba.it/epigraph/20939
De Santis, P., Sanctorum monumenta. 'Aree sacre' del suburbio di Roma nella documentazione epigrafica (IV-VII secolo) (Bari: Edipuglia, 2010), 213, no. 62.
Carletti, C., Epigrafia dei cristiani in Occidente dal III al VII secolo. Ideologia e prassi (Bari: Edipuglia, 2008), 278-282, no. 178.
Carletti, C., Iscrizioni cristiane di Roma: testimonianze di vita cristiana (secoli III-VII) (Firenze: Nardini Editore, Centro Internazionale del Libro, 1986), no. 115.
De Rossi, G.B., Ferrua, A. (eds.) Inscriptiones Christianae Urbis Romae Septimo Saeculo Antiquiores, n.s., vol. 4: Coemeteria inter Vias Appiam et Ardeatinam (Vatican: Pont. Institutum Archaeologiae Christianae, 1964), no. 9924.
Diehl, E., Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veteres, vol. 2 (Berlin: Apud Weidmannos, 1927), no. 2132.
Marucchi, O., Epigrafia cristiana. Trattato elementare con una silloge di antiche iscrizioni cristiane principalmente di Roma (Milan: U. Hoepli, 1910), 168, no. 152.
de Rossi, G.B., La Roma sotterranea cristiana, vol. 3 (Rome: Cromo-litografia pontificia, 1877), 260-268.
De Santis, P., Sanctorum monumenta. 'Aree sacre' del suburbio di Roma nella documentazione epigrafica (IV-VII secolo) (Bari: Edipuglia, 2010), 75 and note 330.
Ferrua, A., Nuove correzioni alla Silloge del Diehl (Città del Vaticano: Pontificio Istituto di archeologia cristiana, 1981), 47.