On January 7, 2012 at the joint annual meetings of the American Philological Association and the Archaeological Institute of America, Garrett G. Fagan (Pennsylvania State University) presented a paper entitled “The Traveler’s Bill?” The paper considers a well-known inscription from Aesernia (modern Isernia in Italy) (EDR 079026 = EDH HD000649 with photo = CIL 9.2689 = ILS 7478).
Although the text begins with a common funerary formula (vivus fecit), Fagan argues against accepting it as an irreverent sepulchral inscription. Rather, he would see a humorous commercial sign for an inn. As evidence, Fagan considers the illustration, the possibility of reading personal names as puns (L. Calidius Eroticus et Fannia Voluptatis = Lucius Hotstuff Lover and Fannia Fuck), and a common literary and visual trope of associating enjoyment and relaxation with death and the brevity of life. Fagan notes that the stone is thin enough (31 cm) to have been fitted into a wall or over a lintel. For comparison, Fagan introduces EDR 030788 = CIL 6.10036(1) — a shop sign from Rome possibly depicting prostitutes for an establishment named “sorores IIII” (the four sisters).
I’m absolutely of the same opinion! I work as Professor of Roman History and Latin Epigraphy by the University of Molise, and presenting a course on Aesernia in the second century, I had the opportunity to reflect on the cognomina of Calidius and Fannia and on the tone of the text, which can be: a inn sign , or an ‘alternative’ burial inscription, perfectly in Samnite spirit, which we have other examples. Congratulations and courage!