Tombstone of Timocrates

In the case of Timocrates the meaning of his gravestone seems to be more straightforward. Its iconography consists of a man reclined on a kline holding a cup and possibly a snake, a veiled woman sitting at the foot of the couch, a little boy (presumably a servant) and a table with food. The scene is very conventional as the woman is depicted not sitting in another couch, which was considered not suitable for a woman of high rank, but rather sitting discretely besides her husband. The servant boy talks to the family high rank. They seem to be feasting in a joyful manner celebrating the earthly pleasures of eating and drinking.

The text of the inscription in Greek reads as follows:


της Ἀλεξάν-

δρου, γένι Νικ-

ομηδεὺς ὁ κὲ Τ-

 ομίτης φυλῆς

Ῥωμέων {²⁶Ῥωμαίων}²⁶, ζήσας ἐπι-

 τείμως ἐν τῇ Τόμι, ζ-

 ῶν κὲ φρονῶν ἑαυ-

τῷ κὲ τῇ γυνεκὶ ἑαυ-

 τοῦ Ὀλπίᾳ Κάστᾳ κὲ

τῷ υεἱῷ ἑαυτοῦ Οὐλ-

πίῳ Μαρτίνῳ, φυλῆ-

ς Ῥωμέων φιλοτεί-

μον ἐβτόμον πόλε-

 ως τὴν στηλεῖδα κ<α>-

 τεσκέβασα σὺν τ-

ῳ τόπῳ τῷ περιωρισ-

μένῳ ὁ ἐσ<τ>ί μοι κοινόν

μοι πρὸς Καλείνι-

κον Στροφῆ· χε͂-

ρε {²⁶χαῖρε}²⁶ παροδῖτα.[1]

 Timocrates, son of Alexander, from Nicomedia, of the tribe of the Romans of Tomis, having lived honorably in Tomis while thinking soundly for himself and for his wife Ulpia Casta and for his son Ulpius Martinus who belongs to the Romans, the seventh leitourgos of the city, I set up this stele at this space that is enclosed which is common to me and Kalinikos Strophos [?]. Farewell passerby!

As well as Ulpia’s, Timocrates inscription lists his ancestors (Alexander) and mentions a honorary title bore by either him or his son (leitourgos) which places Timocrates at the same level of Ulpia’s predecesors as benefactors to their city which is Tomis.

The inscription also addresses the passerby but the address is not meant to have the traveler stop and think about the pain of a loss but rather to celebrate with the peasant and wish them well. In this case thus it is fair to attribute to this stele a rather conventional or standard meaning that is consistent with the general tone of this kind of funerary artifact. The caveat must be made, however, as to the uncertainty of the exact meaning of this stele beyond the mere commemoration of a deceased.[2]

 It is also interesting the fact that although the inscription is written in Greek, the author is proud of his Roman lineage and both his wife and son have very Roman names like "Ulpia Casta" and "Ulpius Martinus", respectively. This constitutes evidence of the strong cultural mélange that took place in ancient Tomis and which supports the idea that the Roman empire was fundamentally based upon a  Graeco-Roman civilization.

[1] Packard Humanities Institute, Greek Inscriptions: (Retrieved 4/13/2016).

[2] “Once again, we are confronted by the interweaving of the various themes of the banquet and death on most examples. We probably draw a false distinction if we ask whether the scene is meant to be read as the banquet at the tomb, as that in the next world, or as one from the deceased’s past life. All these senses may be implicit together, or one or another may be emphasized; all are linked by the common idea of the banquet as the ideal metaphor for happy existence.” (Dunbabin 132)

Inscribed Tombstone of Timocrates

Tombstone of Timocrates,

Late 2nd/Early 3rd. c. CE.