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CiceroD

Pesky Abbreviation

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Looking at the Arch of Titus Im amazed that theres actually a sentence there. (Is There? :lol:)

 

SENATVS

POPVLVSQUEROMANVS easy enough to know what that means

 

DIVOTITODIVIVESPASIANIF I can see TITO (im guessing Titus) and Vespasian but it seems as if they just chose filler letters

 

VESPASIANOAVGVSTO again easy enough to understand.

 

Now I dont know Latin but I do want to understand why they made reading (already hard with no spaces) harder (It seems) with abbrieviations!

 

I'd appriciate the help.

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Looking at the Arch of Titus Im amazed that theres actually a sentence there. (Is There? :lol:)

 

SENATVS

POPVLVSQUEROMANVS easy enough to know what that means

 

DIVOTITODIVIVESPASIANIF I can see TITO (im guessing Titus) and Vespasian but it seems as if they just chose filler letters

 

VESPASIANOAVGVSTO again easy enough to understand.

 

Now I dont know Latin but I do want to understand why they made reading (already hard with no spaces) harder (It seems) with abbrieviations!

 

I'd appriciate the help.

 

 

I don't think there's a complicated answer to your question. Abbreviations such as SC, PP, SPQR, and more were part of the culture of a literate Roman. We use abbreviations all the time: USA, IRS, USPS, etc. in the US of A.

The Romans weren't the only civilization without periods and commas. If you understand the language, you don't need punctuation to comprehend most of what you're reading. Besides, the custom of silent reading was not in fashion in Rome. Your voice would have helped you understand when one complete thought ended and the next began.

 

Marble is expensive. Why waste it on blank spaces? Most people were illiterate. Those who could read had no trouble understanding the messages on public monuments.

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LUDOVICUSHASHITTHENAILRIGHTONTHEHEAD

IFYOUCANREADENGLISHTHISSHOULDBENOPRO

BLEMUNTILYOUSTARYPUTTINGTHINGSINBLOCK

SLIKETHEROMANSDIDBYPUTTINGTHEINSCRIPT

IONSINBLOCKSWORDSCANBECUTOFFINTHEMID

DLETHEREISANENTIRESUBDISCIPLINEDEDICAT

EDTOREADINGINSCRIPTIONSCALLEDEPIGRAPH

YJUSTBEGLADIAMONLYWRITINGINABLOCKICOU

LDBEGOINGRIGHTTOLEFTORALTERNATINGBETW

EENLINESASTHEGREEKSANDROMANSWEREFOND

OFDOING

 

Trans: Ludovicus has hit the nail right on the head. If you can read english this should be no problem until you start putting things in blocks like the Romans did. By putting the inscription in blocks words can be cut off in the middle. There is an entire discipline dedicated to reading inscriptions, called epigraphy. Just be glad I am only writing in a block. I could be going right to left or alternating between lines as the Greeks and Romans were fond of doing.

 

The line Divo Tito Divi Vespasiani (there is something wrong with the 'f' being there) is in the dative case, the Divo Tito being 1st declension and the Divi Vespasiani being 3rd. Thats as far as I can get, maybe there is someone with a better grasp on Latin than me out there. I'll bet the divo/divi is an abbreviaton for divine.

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The line Divo Tito Divi Vespasiani (there is something wrong with the 'f' being there) is in the dative case, the Divo Tito being 1st declension and the Divi Vespasiani being 3rd. Thats as far as I can get, maybe there is someone with a better grasp on Latin than me out there. I'll bet the divo/divi is an abbreviaton for divine.

 

Actually 'Divo Tito' is dative, 'Divi Vespasiani' is genitive. The 'f' is an abbreviation of filius, son. Divus does mean divine, most emperors were deified after their death (never before).

So the sentence means "The people and Senate of Rome, to deified Titus Vespasian Augustus, son of deified Vespasian".

From this you can infer that the arch was dedicated after Titus' death.

Edited by Maladict

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The line Divo Tito Divi Vespasiani (there is something wrong with the 'f' being there) is in the dative case, the Divo Tito being 1st declension and the Divi Vespasiani being 3rd. Thats as far as I can get, maybe there is someone with a better grasp on Latin than me out there. I'll bet the divo/divi is an abbreviaton for divine.

 

Actually 'Divo Tito' is dative, 'Divi Vespasiani' is genitive. The 'f' is an abbreviation of filius, son. Divus does mean divine, most emperors were deified after their death (never before).

So the sentence means "The people and Senate of Rome, to deified Titus Vespasian Augustus, son of deified Vespasian".

From this you can infer that the arch was dedicated after Titus' death.

 

One reason this sort of thing was not too difficult for Romans (if they could read at all that is) is that you encountered the same words and abbreviations all the time. You knew what to expect. It's difficult for us because we're not in the culture.

 

Just the same abbreviations occurred on coinage, which you handled every day. And in fact my first encounter with Latin was on the then British coinage, which continued the Latin tradition and had a very similar type of abbreviation. ELIZABETH.II.D.G.BR.REG.F.D. I soon learned what that meant, and then looking at earlier coins I could see that VICTORIA claimed to be IND.IMP. as well as queen, and down to Napoleon's time the English kings claimed to be kings of France as well (not a hope).

 

If anyone wants the translations, just ask!

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I know that a menorah was part of the booty seized and marched through Rome. But no Ive not seen it. I'd be really surprised if the Romans kept it around.

 

I'm looking at a photograph of the Arch.

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I know that a menorah was part of the booty seized and marched through Rome. But no Ive not seen it. I'd be really surprised if the Romans kept it around.

 

I'm looking at a photograph of the Arch.

 

 

The menorah appears in the booty scene on one of the inner walls of Titus's arch. Go here for a nice image of the spoils relief:

 

http://www.jg-regensburg.de/graphics/arch-...s-jerusalem.jpg

Edited by Ludovicus

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It is there , I have seen it on the arch when I was in Rome 3 years ago . Amazing . But I have to say , I was looking for it ... . The image of the Menorah on the Arch of Titus is one of the sadest (sp , my English) sights for Jews . Yet , it is a proof for the Menorah existent in Titus' days and earlier .

 

!עם ישראל חי וקיים

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Going back to the original post about an inscription, my understanding was that, in many cases, there was a very standard format, and use of abbreviations, for names and for the record of a man's cursus honorum (under the empire).

 

there were abbreviated forms - like the "f" for filius discussed earlier, which represented voting tribes, first names, times an emperor held the tribunician power or was named imperator by his troops, etc. they are quite easy to learn.

 

I have quite a useful little book (which I bought some years ago) called "Understanding Roman Inscription" by Lawrence Keppie (London 1991).

 

On a separate note - did not the Romans read ALOUD because of the lack of punctuation. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Caesar was unusual in that he could read silently. Indeed, reading aloud was common until late medieval times.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Phil

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