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Naval Epitaphs from Misenum in the Nicholson Museum, Sydney

  • L. F. Fitzhardinge


Among the inscriptions acquired in Italy by Sir Charles Nicholson in the 1850's or 1860's is a small group of sepulchral texts referring to seamen of the Praetorian Fleet at Misenum.

These texts were published in 1945, with a brief commentary, by Mr. G. R. Manton, to whom I am indebted for first drawing my attention to them. They had been previously published, very inadequately, by Reeves in the Catalogue of the Museum of Antiquities of the Sydney University (1870), and four of the seven which compose the group are included (in one case from a very imperfect copy) in CIL x. Of these two are described as found ‘in agro Puteolano’, one ‘in agro Neapolitano’, and one at Misenum. Of the provenience of the remaining three and their history before passing into the hands of Sir Charles Nicholson no record can be traced. It is reasonable to suppose that, like other inscriptions in the collection, they come from the Naples region and ultimately, directly or indirectly, from the naval cemetery at Misenum.



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1 In Handbook to the Nicholson Museum, 1st edition, University of Sydney, 1945, 200 ff.

2 Mommsen, , in CIL x, p. 317.

3 A full commentary by the writer appears in the 2nd edition of the Handbook to the Nicholson Museum 1948.

4 Maia is not recorded as a ship-name elsewhere and should accordingly be deleted from the list of names.

5 Hermes 1881, 467 = Ges. Schr. v, 411.

6 Armée romaine d'Egypte 220–2.

7 Roman Imperial Navy 71–3.

8 Of nearly 700 inscriptions of the two Italian fleets, not more than ten certainly and three possibly bear purely barbarian names. Only one certain and two doubtful cases have the title ‘praetoria’, and all may well be early.

9 The figures given in this section differ slightly from those of Starr (p. 75), but without affecting the general conclusions.

10 § 55.

11 Two cohorts of auxiliaries raised in Egypt, both before A.D. 70 (Cheesman, The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army, 1014, 62). Legionaries in Egypt and Africa (Parker, The Roman Legions, 1928, 182–3). On the whole subject, and especially evidence for individual soldiers, v. Lesquier passim.

12 VII v. 12.

13 Listed, with the evidence, by Miltner in P-W, Suppl. v, s.v. ‘Seewesen’.

14 For Ravenna, where the evidence is less, the figures are: two quinqueremes, six quadriremes, 29 triremes, and two liburnians: total 39.

15 This point is well argued by Starr o.c. p. 53.

Naval Epitaphs from Misenum in the Nicholson Museum, Sydney

  • L. F. Fitzhardinge


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