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Funerary Inscription for Helena, CIL 6.19190

This small marble monument (currently at the Getty Museum) in the shape of an aedicula or small shrine and generously decorated with a sculpture in the round and an epitaph with gracefully carved capital letters, is puzzling. No doubt an expensive memorial, it appears to honor the dog, female and clearly pregnant, seated in the niche, in formulaic funerary language that records her virtues. A more conventional interpretation is that the dog is a favorite pet of the deceased child Helena and has been placed there to guard her tomb and keep her company. The stone was found in a villa near Rome and is dated 150-200 CE.

[hoc monumentum sacrum est]

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Ann R. Raia and Judith Lynn Sebesta
Return to The World of Childhood
September 2006