Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Elizabeth M. Greene


References to hours on Roman tombstones, long assumed to be a means of displaying affection for children, are shown to be the basis for horoscopes of the afterlife. Statistical analysis argues for the accuracy of the figures of hours recorded. Close study of the inscriptions demonstrates that all references, whether to points in time or durations are records of times of death. Such inscriptions were set up from the first-sixth centuries CE and were most prevalent in Rome, Italy, and North Africa. Among both pagans and Christians these times allow for the casting of horoscopes of the afterlife. The individual hours would have been associated with signs of the Zodiac, gods of the Pantheon, or the Apostles. The hours recorded also indicate the tutelar who would watch over the deceased in the afterlife. This practice develops in the late Republic as Rome encounters Hellenistic ideas of astrology and time measurement.