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Vitalis or Vitalinis? A Roman Grave-Marker for an Eight-Year-Old Girl

  • Janette McWilliam (a1)

Abstract

This paper introduces a Latin funerary stele, now in the R. D. Milns Antiquities Museum at the University of Queensland, which does not appear in any of the major epigraphic collections or data bases. In doing so, this paper addresses questions pertaining to its date of manufacture and the name form of the deceased child commemorated on the tombstone. This study suggests that the date originally proposed for the memorial is too early, as it is neither Augustan nor Claudian but instead was produced in the period between the Neronian era and the second century ad. It also offers a revision regarding the name of the eight-year-old girl commemorated on the memorial. It does this by examining the development and use of cognomina related to the name form Vitalis, as, to date, no studies have looked at this name form in detail. It demonstrates that from the first century bc through to the fourth and fifth centuries ad, Vitalis, -is was used as a name form for both males and females. The n-inflected Vitalis, -inis then developed as a name form for females in the Imperial period. As such, the name form originally given to the girl commemorated on the memorial needs to be corrected: she is Vitalis, -inis rather than Vitalinis, -inis.

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