Jump to content
UNRV Ancient Roman Empire Forums
  • Time Travel Rome

Sign in to follow this  
Klingan

How to find Latin inscriptions without out physical access to CIL

Recommended Posts

Getting reliable information on what an inscription really say can be tricky. Most photographs are taken head on with no side lightning (which would create great shadows that reveal the inscription) and some letters may be very difficult to make out. The only really good way to cover your back when working with inscriptions is therefore to use CIL or ILS (there are also other minor works, but I cannot go through them all). Here's a trick to help you out if you're looking for a fairly known inscription (remember that the Wikipedia copies are wrong all the time, I've corrected more than one):


First of all, for everyone not familiar with CIL and ILS.


CIL stand for Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum and it's, as the name indicate, a collection of inscription which is gathered by the Königlich Preussische Akademie der Wissenschaften. The work began in 1853 and contain around 180.000 inscription at present, many which have been destroyed since they were recorded (this is especially true about the volumes containing a lot of graffiti). The physical form (i.e. books) are very expensive, most libraries cannot afford buying them and if they do buy them, they'll be very protective about them. Any inscription in CIL will be identified by two numbers, volume and id (e.g.: CIL VI 1188). Remember that CIL is written in Latin.


ILS (inscriptiones latinae selectae) is a more selective publication series. They take up specific example - far fewer than CIL (never the less a great number). ILS inscriptions are simply identified by an ILS number (e.g. ILS 797).


Now to the real deal here: How to find the inscription youre looking for without the physical books (which are tremendously difficult to find a specific inscription in, indices are all but nonexistent). First of all you need to find a CIL or ILS number, this is the really tricky part. If you have a random tombstone, milestone or instrumentum domesticum, quit reading here. If it's something a little bit more famous google it. I'm going to use a fairly unknown 4th century inscription as an example - what I'm looking for was a added to the Porta Maggiore by Honarius and its records the walls and gates being restored.


Now I start of by googling Porta Maggiore, then I go to Wikipedia where I find a picture of the object but no reference. Now I can't read the inscription here, but even if I could I'd want the CIL or ILS edition. Now, the English Wikipedia is much better than the other wikis in most fields - Roman history is unfortunately not one of them. If it's not there always try the Italian version. Notice that 3 of the inscriptions on this page contained typos earlier on.



Here I find a reference to CIL (CIL VI 1188). Bingo.

When you have a CIL or ILS number it'll all get very easy, especially if it's a ILS number (if so simply ignore the following step). Now go to CIL's homepage (http://cil.bbaw.de/cil_en/index_en.html). It's only partly translated from German to English and generally a miserable corner or the internet. There is however a search function (Database). This seems great, but the function really doesn't work very well at all. I have yet to find one single inscription that actually will show up. The normal answer to your search is something like: "No photographs of this inscription are available in the database. No squeezes of this inscription are available in the database. Please send any suggestions and comments to the CIL." and an invaluable " VI 1188 = VI partis I p. XIX n. 16 cf. VI 31257 et VI p. 3778 et VI p. 4334 cf. ILS 797 = Fiebiger - Schmidt 23 = Fiebiger - Schmidt 242". Bingo! You`ll now know that CIL VI 1188 = ILS 797.



This is the really important part: ILS has a working homepage. Or at least semi working one.


ILS have two functions, a search engine (which is completely useless in my opinion, but I've never really tried it out seriously) and a "show the inscription function". The later is magical if you know how to handle it. Here's a link: (http://oracle-vm.ku-eichstaett.de:8888/epigr/epieinzel_en?p_belegstelle=D+05932&r_sortierung=Belegstelle) (this link lead you to a random inscription, simply the first one I used like this). Notice the highlighted numbers.


These are the ILS identification numbers. You now know that the 4th century AD Porta Maggiore inscription is refered to as CIL VI 1188 which equals ILS 797 and that you can simply insert the ILS number in the adress like this: (http://oracle-vm.ku-eichstaett.de:8888/epigr/epieinzel_en?p_belegstelle=D+00797&r_sortierung=Belegstelle). Remember that the number is always five digits (add zeros if needed).


Voila, you've found the inscription in a reliable source and can now use it. Now I just hope that someone actually will have some use for this guide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well done, this is valuable information. I remember trying to find my way around the CIL, oh the horror!

The CIL-site does give me a match occasionally with or without a picture. Still, it does not seem to contain all the information the printed version will give you, notably the commentary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now I just hope that someone actually will have some use for this guide.
Rest assured of that; as Mal said, a valuable resource indeed; thanks.

 

Maybe we should try a specific forum for Latin inscriptions.

Edited by sylla

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the information. I was once asked about the orginal Latin of the famous quote I had posted about Blandinia Martiola. I know the CIL is XIII 1983, but I can't seem to find the orginal Latin. Can you help?

 

Here is the translation in English:

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nicely explained, Klingan! Kajanto, in his massive work The Latin Cognomina, gives CIL references for individual cognomina inscriptions. The first one I tried at the CIL site gave me "the normal answer" that you'd mentioned. I didn't see an accompanying ILS number, though.

 

My second attempt, on the cognomen "Crispio" yielded two "squeezes" and a bibliography reference:

 

Sayar, Mustafa Hamdi

Perinthos-Herakleia (Marmara ereglisi) und Umgebung. Geschichte, Testimonien, griechische und lateinische Inschriften.

Wien: Verlag der

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for the information. I was once asked about the orginal Latin of the famous quote I had posted about Blandinia Martiola. I know the CIL is XIII 1983, but I can't seem to find the orginal Latin. Can you help?

 

Here is the translation in English:

 

 

Edited by sylla

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
d(is) et M(anibus)

memoriae aetern(ae)

Blandiniae Martiolae puelae innocentissimae

quae uixit ann. XVIII m. VIII d. V.

Pompeius Catussa Ciues Sequanus Tec tor coniugi incom-

parabili

et sibi benignissime, quae me cum uixitan V m VI d XVIII

sine ula criminis sorde.

uius sibi et coniugi poneudum eu rauit et sub ascia dedi-

cauit

tu, qui legis, uade in Apolinis lauri

quod ego cum coniu ge feci uellem, si adhuc possem.

 

SIC from Carmina Latina Epigraphica By Einar Engstr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My second attempt, on the cognomen "Crispio" yielded two "squeezes" and a bibliography reference:
I was able to find only one (however, "Crispio" seems to have been used here as a nomen):

 

CIL 09, 01515

Province: Apulia et Calabria / Regio II

Place: Pago Veiano / Pagus Veianus

D(is) M(anibus) / C(aio) Crispio / Apro vixit / bien(n)io me(n)se(s) V / Crispia Silene / mater ben(e)

Edited by sylla

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well done, this is valuable information. I remember trying to find my way around the CIL, oh the horror!

The CIL-site does give me a match occasionally with or without a picture. Still, it does not seem to contain all the information the printed version will give you, notably the commentary.

 

True, the comments in CIL are invaluable, if you really want to work with an inscription you'll actually need the book form. If you on the other hand only want a translation and don't care about the inscriptions modern history, this is the way to go.

 

 

Now I just hope that someone actually will have some use for this guide.
Rest assured of that; as Mal said, a valuable resource indeed; thanks.

 

Maybe we should try a specific forum for Latin inscriptions.

 

I'd love that but would it really be used?

 

 

Nicely explained, Klingan! Kajanto, in his massive work The Latin Cognomina, gives CIL references for individual cognomina inscriptions. The first one I tried at the CIL site gave me "the normal answer" that you'd mentioned. I didn't see an accompanying ILS number, though.

 

My second attempt, on the cognomen "Crispio" yielded two "squeezes" and a bibliography reference:

 

Sayar, Mustafa Hamdi

Perinthos-Herakleia (Marmara ereglisi) und Umgebung. Geschichte, Testimonien, griechische und lateinische Inschriften.

Wien: Verlag der

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By the way, any word on the revised CIL that's being worked on?

 

 

Unfortunately, no.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just as an add-on, I was looking for an inscription on Merobaudes for the new book (on Aetius) and found out that it was CIL VI 1724. On using CIL, the Bibliography (at the bottom) read:

 

"H

Edited by sonic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After all these years I am still using this guide to help me find inscriptions.  Many thanks again Klingan:  where would I be without this??  :thumbsup:

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...sonic, did you look for something specific? 

 

btw. when i looked up VI 1188 (example at opening post) at the german database, it found it right away, so not sure if the german site is workign better or if they have upgraded the site, since last post of Klingan...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep.  An inscription for the new book on Gaiseric I'm writing.  Sadly, no photo - just the inscription text. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Map of the Roman Empire

×