NEGOTIATING IDENTITY AND STATUS
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NEGOTIATING IDENTITY AND STATUS book
Pliny speaks in praise of Verginius Rufus, who had composed his own epitaph and planned his own funerary memorial. Verginius Rufus’ expectations were, however, frustrated, as nine years after his death his monument remained unfinished (Pliny, Letters 6. 10). It was not unusual in the Roman era for people to circumvent such difficulties by anticipating death itself and overseeing the inscribing of their own epitaph and the construction of their own tomb. Among
Pliny’s generation the creation of large funerary edifices and the composing of flattering epitaphs may have been condemned by some members of the elite (Pliny, Letters 9. 19) but human remains had to be disposed of and in many cases the site of interment received some form of marker, however simple (Toynbee 1971, 101). It was not just the great and the glorious who aspired to be commemorated in a tangible form and thus remembered. Indeed, for the majority who had performed no famous deeds by which posterity would recall them, the funerary monument may have had a particular appeal.