“Quondam” in Latin Inscriptions

PD Dr. Ulrike Ehmig M.A., BBAW

Since June 2018, the Latin inscriptions from Augusta Vindelicum - Augsburg are the subject of a new Corpus within the framework of the academy project Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum. Among the almost 200 Latin inscriptions known from the site, four epitaphs contain the time adverb quondam. The term shows different meanings. Quondam marks the former activity of persons, then refers to characteristics of persons, and also underlines the finality of death.

Based on the four inscriptions from Augsburg, the Chronoi-project will systematically investigate the epigraphic use of quondam as an indefinite time word, which occurs in a total of 180 Latin inscriptions. The focus is on the analysis of the temporal, spatial and situational framework, the activities and traits described with quondam, and the extent to which the epigraphic and literary use of the term coincide.


A first spatial analysis of the 180 inscriptions shows that quondam on the one hand was used in specific regions and on the other hand was completely unusual in others. The aim is to examine whether differences in content are discernible, depending on where the term was used. How is the term to be classified chronologically? Is quondam used exclusively in grave inscriptions, or does the term also appear in other groups of inscriptions? Which former activities of persons are described with quondam? Is the term linked to specific rankings in relation to military personnel? If several activities are mentioned, as in one of the inscriptions in Augsburg, can chronological sequences be identified? What characteristics of persons are described with the term?

On an upper level, the initial positivistic analysis aims at the question to what extent the documentary sources examined reflect socially constituted aspects of time or follow superordinate structures of media-typical communication.