Epitaph of Plauta


Trismegistos ID: 105895

Source Description


Cyrene Sculpture Museum, 247.


Slightly tapering stele of white marble, reddish from earth; at top in relief a large wreath with ribbons displayed at left and right below it; inside the wreath, a spindle and a roll with a ball of wool on it; below the wreath, between the two ribbons, a rosette; on top, a small hole for attachment (0.355-0.41; 1.07;0.18-0.22).


Inscribed a) just under the rosette; b) below the relief on 12 lines (0.61;); the limits of verse-lines are evidenced either through a punct or through a space.


0.025-0.03; traces of guidelines, slight serifs, letters packed together, nearly joining; straight alpha with dropped bar, lower loop of beta larger than the upper one, some (but not all) circular letters smaller, pi with shorter right stroke, non-slanting sigma, phi with two small loops on both sides of hasta, open omega with large 'feet'.

Place of Origin



Perhaps second half of first or first half of second century A.D. (lettering)


Found by the Norton mission on March 22nd, 1911 at Cyrene : North Necropolis before tomb N22 Cassels (see commentary).

Text constituted from

Transcription from stone (CDL).


Robinson, 1913 , pp. 161-162, n. 11, fig. 10, also p. 504, whence Roussel, Bulletin Épigraphique , 1914, p. 477; Sammelbuch 5873; Peek, 1931 , p. 317. Cf. Peek, 1955 , n. 758; Thorn-Thorn, 2009 , p. 30; Santucci-Uhlenbrock, 2013 , p. 16; Dobias-Lalou, 2014 , pp. 324-325.


𐅹 (ἐτῶν) κ´.

| Τὴν διτόκον μονόπαιδα θε|ῆις ἰκέλην ὅδε Πλαύταν · νού|σωι καὶ τοκετῶι τύμβος | (5) ἔχει φθιμένην ·

ἀκλέα δ’ ἐν | σκοτίηι πηνίσματα καὶ λά|λος αὔτως (vac. 1)· κερκὶς ὁ|μοῦ πινυτῆι κεῖται ἐπ’ ἠ|λεκάτηι (vac. 1)·

5 καὶ τῆς μὲν βι|(10)ότου κλέος ᾄδεται ὅσ|σον ἐκείνης (vac. 1), τόσσον | καὶ μελέου πένθος ἀεὶ πόσι|ος.


2-3 Roussel, Bulletin Épigraphique , Peek, 1931  θεῆις ἰκέλην (Peek did not know Roussel's reading for BE) : Robinson, 1913  θε<ί>ῃ Σικελήν : Sammelbuch  θέῃ Σικελὴν (Preisigke from Keil per epistulam)

French translation

A l'âge de vingt ans

Ayant deux fois enfanté, mais mère d'un seul enfant, Plauta semblable aux déesses

est enfermée dans ce tertre, décédée de la maladie d'enfantement.

Dans l'ombre, sans gloire reposent avec elle la laine qu'elle fila et de la même manière sa babillante

navette repose près de son habile fuseau.

Et de sa vie on chante autant la gloire

que le deuil de son époux malheureux pour toujours.

English translation

Aged twenty years

Twice giving birth and once a mother, Plauta, equal to the goddesses

is shut up into this mound, deceased from the illness of childbirth.

In the shadow, deprived of glory, lie with her the spinned wools, as well as the babbling

shuttle near the wise spindle.

And of her life the glory is so much celebrated

as the grief of her husband forever unfortunate.

Italian translation

Di anni 20.

Avendo partorito due volte e madre di un solo bambino, Plauta, eguale alle dee,

è racchiusa in questo sepolcro, morta di parto.

Nell'ombra, senza gloria, giace con lei la lana che filava, come pure la garrula

spoletta vicino all'abile fuso.

E della vita di costei la gloria è tanto celebrata

quanto il dolore del suo sposo per sempre infelice.


For the findspot, Robinson (from De Cou's papers) wrote «found face up in front of tomb on left of Fresco Tomb». Combined with Norton's archive, this should rather be interpreted as in front of tomb N22, as shown by Santucci in Santucci-Uhlenbrock, 2013 . So also Thorn-Thorn, 2009 , p. 30.

The reading of verse-line 1 was already established by Roussel in 1914. However this was not known in Germany to Keil-Preisigke and still not to Peek, who presented it independently in 1931.

As the antithesis δίτοκον μονόπαιδα shows, Plauta died while giving birth to her second child and the baby also died on that occasion, νούσωι καὶ τοκέτωι being thus probably a hendiadyn.

Metrical analysis: three quite regular elegiac couplets.

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