Sunday, May 31, 2009


More on a Pious Man

This post supplements A Pious Man.

The inscription translated by Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969; rpt. 1975), p. 20 as
Here lies Dion, a pious man; he lived 80 years and planted 4000 trees.
can be found in Dominique Raynal, Archéologie et histoire de l'Eglise d'Afrique: Uppenna II. Mosaïques funéraires et mémoire des martyrs (Toulouse: Presses Universitaires du Mirail, 2006), pp. 539-541 (photograph at 539, transcription at 540).
P V Dion
in pace
et instituit
[q]uat(t)uor milia
Unfortunately, the expansion of the abbreviation P V as "pius vir" is uncertain. Alfred Merlin, Inscriptions Latines de la Tunisie (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1944), p. 45 (no. 243) suggests that it "peut représenter soit un prénom et un gentilice, soit p(ius) v(ir)."

A friend and pious man writes in an email (from "das Land wo die Zitronen blühn"):
I don't know if you know this variation on the topos from Oliver Wendell Holmes' Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858) chapter 7 "He [the grandfather of the young farmer who refused to plant apple trees] had nothing else to do,—so he stuck in some trees. He lived long enough to drink barrels of cider made from the apples that grew on those trees."

I planted two trees last week - a Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum) which future Judases from far and wide are welcome to avail themselves of; and an olive tree, which I'll certainly not live to see as anything much more than a sapling. Even so, two thousand years hence - dis immortalibus volentibus - it may still be there.

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