V 80. Cherson. Epitaph of an unknown, 350–355 C.E.
H. 17.0, W. 10.0, Th. 6.0.
Panel with two roll mouldings on the back, in secondary use. Damaged by fire, cut on the left, chipped on the right. Rectangular dowel hole on the left side of the front.
Place of Origin
1882, excavations of K.E. Himmelman.
Institution and inventory
National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos, 3353.
On the front.
Lapidary; light serifs. Alpha with broken crossbar, beta's loops do not touch the vertical in the centre. Ligature: omicron-upsilon (?).
L1. IOSPE I 229; 1.1. IOSPE I2 496; 2. Vinogradov 2010, 90-92, № а.
<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc"> <ab> <lb n="1"/><supplied cert="low" reason="lost">Ἐπὶ <app type="alternative"><lem>βασιλείας</lem> <rdg>ὑπατείας</rdg></app></supplied> Φλαβίου <lb n="2"/><supplied reason="lost">Ἰουλίου</supplied> <supplied reason="lost">Κωνσ</supplied>ταντί<unclear>ο</unclear><supplied reason="lost">υ</supplied> <lb n="3"/><supplied reason="lost">ὁ δεῖνα</supplied> <supplied reason="lost">ἑ</supplied>αυτῷ <lb n="4"/><supplied reason="lost" cert="low">τοῦτο τὸ</supplied> μημόριν <lb n="5"/><gap reason="lost" extent="unknown" unit="character"/><orig>ΗΘ<unclear>Υ</unclear></orig><gap reason="lost" quantity="2" unit="character"/> </ab> </div>
1: [Ἐπὶ βασιλείας (vel ὑπατείας)]: om. IOSPE
2: [Κωνσ]ταντίν[ου] IOSPE
3: [...] αὐτῷ IOSPE
4: τοῦτο τὸ: om. IOSPE
[In the reign (or consulship) of] Flavius [Julius Cons]tantius [...] to oneself this monument...
As we can tell from the vacat at the end of line 1, the stone was broken off on the left, so that we can restore the length of lines using line 2.
Latyshev expressed a concern about the title of Constantine the Great as read by him in the text, but his mistake was in misreading the end of line 2: after iota there are traces of an omicron. Thus, we are dealing with the name Konstantios, that is, Constantius, and not Constantine.
3. The word in this line is unlikely to be a continuation of the name from lines 1 and 2, because of its dative case. A genitive case would be expected with a name.
5. Here we could speculate a verb indicating the act of building. In that case lines 1 and 2 would have be understood as a dating formula - "In the reign (or consulship) of Flavius Julius Constantius." Palaeographic indicators such as Late Roman forms of beta and phi support this date.
Constantius II ruled in the East of the Roman empire from 337 C.E., but since the names of his co-rulers, Constantine II and Constans, on the one hand, and of Julianus, on the other hand, are missing, it is more likely that the inscription was made ca. 350-355 C.E. An inscription of this date could be considered pagan, but the use of the word "memorion" in line 4 is typical of Christian tombstones (LSJ, Supplement, s.v), predominantly in Macedonia. It also occurs among Jewish tombstones (CIJ 693, 889, 890c, 938, 1006), but in our case there are no indicators of Jewish identification in the inscription. One final consideration is that the word "memorion" could designate a martyrium, that is, a church dedicated to the memory of a martyr (cf. Feissel 1983, № 1), however, our reconstruction "to oneself" rules out a martyrium. The use of a dating formula with an emperor's name is somewhat unusual on a tombstone, however, if our reconstruction of line 3 is correct, then this epitaph might have doubled up as a building inscription, for instance, on a mausoleum: ostentatious burials in Cherson of the IVth century are described by Constantine Porphyrogennetos (De adm. imp. 53). The name Flavius Constantius was not likely to have belonged to the deceased: a name of a deceased before the word "memorion" is extremely rare (IG VII, 2183), it would also be hard to square with line 3. In addition, the name Flavius Constantius is attested only for the imperial family and for two more high officials (PLRE I, 225).