ESR 7 Christian Latin Verse Inscriptions. Rhetorical Analysis of the Picture of Children

Eleni Oikonomou

The project focus on the commemoration of children in the Carmina Latina Epigraphica. It combines religious (Christian) with social (child) identities. Even before Christianity dominated public life from the fourth century CE onward, Christians were present in the social life of the Roman Empire. Epigraphy, including verse epitaphs, documents their vital societal presence. High infant mortality had deep effects on Greek and Roman societies and shaped the emotional distance towards children. Literary-styled upper class mourning of a beloved son or daughter was the exception and not the rule. By contrast, children had a special role in the theology of the early Church. To date, there are no studies to examine whether this had any impact on the formulaic epitaphs for Christian children.

The project will establish a complete catalogue of Christian funerary inscriptions concerning children in order to study this corpus as a means of representation and to explore the differences between Pagan and Christian poetical expressions related to infancy and loss. The research will apply a rhetorical analysis and make use of current research approaches in the study of emotion and social interaction. Moreover, it will compare the formulae of the established corpus with the respective consolatory texts (especially from Christian authors). With its innovative viewpoint, this study challenges the research on emotional performance and expressions.

Expected Results
A doctoral thesis on the objectives mentioned above to build up a specific expertise on issues related to the impact of epigraphic habits on the development of rhetorical models, and a general expertise on issues of cultural heritage.

Host Institution

Universidad del País Vasco


Prof. Dr. María Teresa Muñoz García de Iturrospe


Prof. Dr. Peter Kruschwitz (Wien)


At Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage, with Prof. Dr. Christian Witschel, the director of the Institute and coordinator of the cultural heritage-training programme, as supervisor. The training concerns transfer knowledge, protection of cultural heritage and management of cultural institu­tions (April–May 2022).