Samuel macauley jackson, D. D., LL. D




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Employed. for or by people who were not Greeks,

but Romans. This phenomenon finds a parallel in the fact that the earliest Christian literature was in Greek, even when the authors lived in the West. The parallel, however, must not be pressed too far, since they were educated men, while moat of those to whom the inscriptions are due belonged to the lower classes. The number of Greek inscriptions, even in Rome, is to be ex­plained by the fact that in the primitive Church Greek was the official language. All the third cen­tury popes who are buried in the catacombs of St. Calixtus have Greek inscriptions, while Cornelius, whose grave is in his family burying ground, has a Latin one. The mixture of Greek and Latin in a number of inscriptions is probably due less to defective education than to an instinctive opposi­tion in people's minds to the use of a language which was really foreign to them. An interesting light is thus thrown upon the final struggle of the two languages in the West, beginning while Greek was still the ecclesiastical tongue. After the second century Greek inscriptions and those showing a mixture of Greek and Latin become increasingly rare, and Pope Damasus uses nothing but Latin. The linguistic qualities of the inscriptions deserve careful study as giving an insight which cannot be obtained from literature into the speech of the common people. While departures from classical orthography are to be attributed partly to ignorance

or carelessness, this is not so much the case with

the vocabulary and the grammar, which in many of the later Latin inscriptions clearly show the

transition to the Romance languages. The inscrip­tions are, like the pagan ones, either in prose or in verse, prose inscriptions being the more numerous,





Inscriptions THE NEW SCHAFF HERZOG 10

especially in the earlier period. The Hebrew language, except in the case of amulets, which are rather Jewish pagan than Christian, is very rare; only one Christian inscription in that language has thus far been discovered in Rome.

(1) To inscriptions in the narrower sense belong honorific inscriptions and a large class of eulogies

3. Con  of saints and martyrs, especially those

tents. of Damasus. Partly to this class and

partly to the dedicatory belong nu­

merous inscriptions on public buildings, especially

churches and parts of churches, such as altars and

ambones. But the largest class is composed of

funeral inscriptions, on tablets, gravestones, or

sarcophagi. Those on stone are usually carved or

scratched, sometimes painted in addition, most

often in red. Relatively few occur with the painted

script, which was more often used on tiles, in red,

black, and occasionally white. The wooden tablets

which in Egypt Christians and non Christians alike

placed near the mummies of the departed are usu­

ally inscribed with a dark ink, or painted. Other

methods are occasionally employed, such as the

frequent use of mosaic in North Africa and Spain.

An equally great diversity is visible in the style

of the inscriptions, though a careful study reveals

a more or less regular development of definite

formulas. In many cases the influence of the cus­

tom and taste of the period or locality is discern­

ible, others show traces of a conscious adherence

to ancient tradition. Thus the phrase Dis Mansbus,

so frequently used on pagan tombs to dedicate them

to the manes
of the deceased, occurs in no less than

134 cases of undoubted Christian inscriptions not,

of course, with the old meaning, but merely as a

traditional formula; and the same is true of the

phrases domes aeterna, aeternalis, perpetua. for the

grave. Belonging also to the class of inscriptions

in the narrower sense are the large number of those

on objects of domestic use; but their infinite

variety makes it impossible to enter upon a detailed

discussion of them. (2) Of inscriptions in the

broader sense (documents) the moat numerous in

the primitive Christian period are attestations of

the purchase of a grave or agreements between the

relatives of the deceased and the fossores or other

church officials. These are sometimes exceedingly

explicit, giving the names of witnesses, the purchase

price, and the location of the grave. Documents

expressing a gift in the giver's name become fre­

quent in the Middle Ages, but examples are not

lacking toward the end of the early period. Another

class of inscriptions gives the fasts, calendars, cycles,

or lists of saints; of this kind one of the most

famous is the Easter cycle on the base of the statue I

of Hippolytus. Under this general head also come

the graffiti, or inscriptions scratched upon the walls

of the Catacombs.

Christian inscriptions, especially those of the early Church, deserve careful attention by students of history. While not a single original

4. Valve manuscript of this

of the period is extant,

and a succession of copyists has intro­

duced a variety of difficulties into the

text of literary works, the inscriptions are practically

in their original shape. It has therefore long been

admitted, in theory at least, that inscriptions deserve the first place among the sources for the history of their period. Again, the literature of a period is practically all the work of learned or at least well educated men, and gives only a second­hand account of the thoughts and feelings of the populace; while the inscriptions, the majority of which come from the lower classes, present these directly and faithfully, at least in religious and ethical matters. Much valuable historical material is found in them which would have been almost or quite unknown from the literary sources. Thus the schism of Heraclius in Rome is known solely from an inscription in the catacomb of St. Calixtus, and knowledge of an African schismatic community and its head, Trigarius, is confined to the notice of another inscription. The history of the planting and earliest growth of the Church in Gaul as told by the historians is fragmentary, and a complete idea of it can be gained only from inscriptions. Until recently almost nothing was known of the history of Christianity on the islands of the lEgean in the second century; but it is now possible, on the basis of inscriptions lately discovered, not only to show the existence of Christianity there, but even to determine its nature, a mixture of Christian, Jewish, and pagan elements. A list of the writings of Hippolytus can be made complete only by the help of the inscription on the back of his statue. The frequent use of Scripture in inscriptions gives not only valuable indications of the manner in which it was employed in the early Church, but also useful points of departure for textual criticism. Not a few particulars of the marriage system are gained in the same way, especially as to the legal age, remarriage, and the marriage of clerics. The inscriptions are a more trustworthy authority for early Christian nomenclature than the manuscripts; and of course the customs connected with death and burial may be much more fully known in this way.

2. Medieval and Later inscriptions: In the pres­ent state of inadequate investigation of this class of inscriptions it is impossible to give final conclusions as to their types of characters, language, and con­tent. It may perhaps suffice to give some provisional observations on the results for a single country­Germany. The history of the characters employed is divided into three main periods. Speaking generally, the type known as majuscule prevailed until the fourteenth century, though with many variations. As early as the tenth century it took on the Roman form; in the eleventh and twelfth it was influenced by Romanic art, and adapted Gothic principles to its own use in the period of the letter's dominance. But the Gothic majuscule gradually gave way to the Gothic minuscule, which was the prevailing form from 1350 to 1500. In the sixteenth century, the character used in inscriptions (apart from conscious archaisms) began to be assim­ilated to the type of ordinary writing. As to num­bers the Roman numerals were regularly used until the fourteenth century, when the Arabic began to be common, without ever wholly exclud­ing the older type. Ligatures are frequent in the Middle Ages, especially when the Gothic minuseules





RELIGIOUS ENCYCLOPEDIA Inscriptions

showed the tendency to do away as far as possible with spaces between the letters; but they become less usual from the sixteenth century on. Abbre­viations also were very common in the Middle Ages, but later become much less usual. Punctuation was not systematic until comparatively modern times; in the Middle Ages the commonest marks were dots half way up the letters, though crosses and other signs are occasionally used. The language employed until late in the Middle Ages was almost always Latin seldom the vernacular, and still less often Greek or Hebrew. The Latin continued to be used on the tombs of scholars and in similar I places until modern times; and the Renaissance brought in the use of Greek, especially in the six­teenth century. Medieval inscriptions, like the ancient, show many peculiarities in spelling, vocab­ulary and grammar.

S. History of Epigraphy: The first demonstrable collection of inscriptions is assigned to various dates within the period from 550 to 839;

1. The but a number of collections resulted

Early from the Carolingian Renaissance,

Period. headed by the Codex Einsidlenais, the unknown author of which flourished in the eighth or early in the ninth century. These collections in­cluded both Christian and non Christian specimens, and were made largely for the purpose of instruc­tion in writing Latin verse. A period of inaction

followed, closed by the revival of classical.' at the Renaitssance. Cola Rienzi and Gi©vAaani

Dondi in the fourteenth, Ciriacode'Pizzicolli inAhe

fifteenth, and in the sixteenth century Felice Pelio­

iano, Giovanni Marcanuova, Johannes Jucundus,

and Petrua Sabinua were the principal collectors.

Much new material was discovered in the sixteenth

century, especially in the Roman catacombs, opened

in 1578 by Antonio Bosio. The leading investi­

gators of this century were Aldus Manutiua the

younger and Martin Smetius, while Melanchthon

did not a little for the study, writing the introduc­

tion to the Inscriptiones aacrosanctae vetustatis of his

friends Apian and Amantius (Ingolstadt, 1534),

besides making independent researches of his own.

The already published and newly discovered ma­

terial was put together by Grater, Scaliger, and

Velser in their ZnscriPtionea antiquae totius orbis


Romani (Heidelberg, 1602 03). More Christian

material would have been included in Giovanni

Battista Doni's InBCri.Ptiones antiquae if he had

lived to complete its publication, but as edited by

Gori and others (Florence, 1?31) a large part of

this was neglected. Bosio also died (1629) before

publishing the results of his labors, but they fell

into better hands and appeared as Roma sotterrnneo

(Rome, 1632). A supplement to Grater's collection

was published by Reineaiua, a Leipsic physician

(Leipsic, 1682), while Spon, Mabillon, and Mont­

faucon were not only working at home, but under­

taking journeys outside of France for the purpose

of collecting inscriptions. The eighteenth century

did less for Christian epigraphy in the way of large

general collections than in that of local publications

and monographs, particularly by ouch Italian schol­

ars as Muratori, Maffei, Zaccaria, Gori, Rivaute Is

Ricolvi, and De Vita.

From the Carolingian period down into the eighteenth century Christian epigraphy was as a science far behind classical epigraphy.

2. The But the nineteenth century has quite Nineteenth

cen a different story to tell.Christian

' inscriptions are now collected with the

same care and thoroughness as the classical, a result

due in the first instance to the initiative especially

of August BSekh and Theodor Mommaen; and

they found in Giovanni Battiata de Rossi a master

who elevated the study of them from a mere

dilettante amusement to a serious science. After

Gaetano Marini had published, in 1785, his Iscrizioni

antiche dells ville a de' Palazzi Albani, and ten years

later Gli atti a monumenti de' fratelli Arvali,
scholars

looked forward eagerly to the publication of his

great collection of Christian inscriptions, which

now fills thirty one volumes in the Vatican library.

But he died in 1815, and none of it saw the light

until, in 1831, Angelo Mai published one of the four

volumes planned by him (Nova collectio, v.), having

in some places condensed the manuscript, and in

some enlarged it from his collection. But no great

loss to the science was involved in the failure of

the others to appear, since (apart from other defects)

his classification by subjects had now been finally

discredited by B6ckh. The German scholar, in­

sisting on geographical arrangement, persuaded the

Berlin Academy of Sciences to take up the gigantic

task of uniting in one all the Greek inscriptions.

In the great Corpus inscriptionum Graecarum (Ber­

lin, 1825 sqq.) some scattered Christian inscriptions

appeared in the first three volumes, but the main

body of them was united in the second part of

Vol. IV., under the editorship of Adolf Kirchhoff.

In the revised form of this great work, the parts of

especial value for Christian inscriptions are that

including Italy, Sicily, Gaul, Spain, Britain, and

Germany (ed. Kaibel, 1890), and that on the

islands of the tEgean (ed. Hiller de Gaertringen,

1895 98). A complete Corpus inscriPtionum Grae­

carom christianarum is hoped for from the French

School at Athens, under the direction of Laurent

and Cumont. Even more than Bockh accomplished

for Greek epigraphy, Mommsen did for Latin.

While he was not the first to conceive the idea of a

Corpus inscriptionum Latinarum, in his memorial

(1847) on its plan and scope he laid down the

proper lines for its execution and carried out a

great part of the work himself, the rest being done

by his friends and scholars. An account of new

discoveries made since the appearance of the
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