In Roman epitaphs we meet with the formula tumulum faciendum curavit, meaning the grave and its monument; and on the inscribed monumental stones placed over the early Christian graves of Gaul and Britain the phrase in hoc tumulo jacet expresses the same idea.
This panegyric, which is accompanied by a series of epitaphs and is composed in a strain of fearless extravagance, was, as the author declares, written "unfee'd"; it shows that Ford sympathized, as Shakespeare himself is supposed to have done, with the "awkward fate" of the countess's brother, the earl of Essex.
Pope Damasus himself displayed great zeal in adapting the catacombs to their new purpose, restoring the works of art on the walls, and renewing the epitaphs over the graves of the martyrs.
The palm branch, which is also of frequent occurrence, is not an indisputable mark of the last resting-place of a martyr, being found in connexion with epitaphs of persons dying natural deaths, or those prepared by persons in their lifetime, as well as in those of little children, and even of pagans.
Monumental epitaphs record the purchase of a grave from the fossores, in many cases during the lifetime of the individual, not unfrequently stating the price.