Tuesday, March 10, 2015


That's the Life

A Latin inscription from Timgad, Algeria (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum 8.17938 = Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae 8626), tr. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967; rpt. 1975), p. 19:
The hunt, the baths,
play and laughter:
that's the life for me!
The Latin:
The stone (photograph by R. Gogräfe):

A description of the location, by John Ferguson, "Roman Algeria," Greece & Rome 13.2 (October, 1966) 169-187 (at 174-175):
It is a stupendous site. There is no finer, outside Pompeii and Ostia. The town as Trajan built it, Colonia Marciana Traiana Thamugadi, an approximate square with side a little under a quarter of a mile, and 12 blocks each way, is virtually complete in ground-plan and ground-floor, and perhaps the greatest thrill is simply to walk up and down the miles of finely paved Roman streets. Within this area a number of public buildings survive. There is a beautiful hemispherical public library, for instance, and a fine theatre (which may however be a little later in date) seating up to 4,000 people. The forum is of great interest. It is a rectangle about 165 ft. by 140 ft., paved with a bluish limestone, and surrounded by public buildings. These include elaborate public latrines with single and double seats, separated by arms in the form of dolphins. The paving preserves a number of graffiti, including a gaming-board, a phallus, and a cheerful message VENARI LAVARI LUDERE RIDERE OCC EST VIVERE.
The inscription would have served as a space on which to play the ludus duodecim scriptorum, as described by R.G. Austin, "Roman Board Games. I," Greece & Rome 4.10 (October, 1934) 24-34 (at 30-34, where similar inscriptions are also discussed).

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