Inscription by Gaudiosus

At the start of the 1950s, a particular funeral epigraph was found in an unexplored tomb in the area now occupied by the semi-circular entrance exedra to the basilica of San Saturnino (fig. 1), during restoration work and digs carried out by Raffaello Delogu.

There is an inscription in Latin, although some letters follow the Greek alphabet, on a square marble slab (figs. 2-3). The particular nature of this item comes from the quotation, rather rare on epigraphs, of psalm 50 from the bible (fig. 4), not taken from the Vulgata version by San Gerolamo, but from the Roman Psalters: in this, a parent invokes divine mercy for his son Gaudiosus bir devotus (probably referring to his religious devotion). The young man, who died at the age of 24, was an officer in the Byzantine army, as shown in the list of appointments held during his life, an important element for reconstructing a cursus honorum dated to the 6th century A.D. According to a recent hypothesis by Salvatore Cosentino, he was a soldier who embarked on a dromon, a ship used for the cursus publicus (the postal service that guaranteed exchanges within the Empire)

The item is currently on show at the National Archaeological Museum of Cagliari.

Fig. 1 - The basilica of San Saturnino (photo by Unicity S.p.A.).
Fig. 2 - Inscription of Gaudiosus (from Murtas 2002, p. 548).
Fig. 3 - Inscription of Gaudiosus (from Mureddu et alii 1988, p. 181, tab. 37).
Fig. 4 - Text in Latin and Italian from the beginning of Psalm 50.



  • A.M. CORDA, Le iscrizioni cristiane della Sardegna anteriori al VII secolo, Città del Vaticano, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana, 1999, p. 70.
  • S. COSENTINO, Gaudiosus "draconarius": la Sardegna bizantina attraverso un epitafio del secolo VI, Quaderni della Rivista di bizantinistica, 13, Bologna 1994.
  • P. MANINCHEDDA, Medioevo latino e volgare in Sardegna, Cagliari 2012.
  • D. MUREDDU ET ALII, Sancti innumerabiles. Scavi nella Cagliari del Seicento: testimonianze e verifiche, Oristano 1988.
  • M. MURTAS, L’epigrafe di Gaudiosus da Cagliari: il cursus honorum di un militare nella Sardegna bizantina, in Città, territorio, produzione e commerci nella Sardegna Medievale (a cura di R. Martorelli), Cagliari 2002, pp. 533-549.
  • L. PANI ERMINI, Iscrizioni cristiane inedite di S. Saturno a Cagliari. Contributo allo studio del "'Defensor Ecclesiae" nell’antichità cristiana, in Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia, XXIII, 1969, pp. 1-20.