Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2017.10.35 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.10.35

Dimitris Bosnakis, Klaus Hallof (ed.), Inscriptiones Coi insulae: tituli sepulcrales urbanae. Inscriptiones Graecae, Vol. XII: Inscriptiones insularum maris Aegaei praeter Delum; Fasc. 4: Inscriptiones Coi, Calymni, insularum Milesiarum; Pars 3.   Berlin; Boston:  De Gruyter, 2016.  Pp. 420.  ISBN 9783110451726.  $489.00.  

Reviewed by Patrick James, University of Cambridge (

PDF Table of Contents
Digital edition: with German translations by one of the editors, but without commentary.

Where (and why) does one begin to review what is the latest part of one fascicle of one volume of a long-established series?1 It is not a selection whose contents and omissions can be assessed and there is no argument to evaluate. Those (institutions) that would invest in this title may have done so (as mine did) before I received the review copy and long before the publication of this review.

This part presents 1,814 items, of which 372 were previously unpublished. It would be impossible to comment even briefly on the treatment of the ‘new’ Coan funerary inscriptions alone. Although some comments on specifics will be made, this review will concentrate on structural issues in the publication and on the presentation of its epigraphic data. Suffice it to say, the raw materials in this book have been edited to a very high standard, are informatively supported by concise (Latin) commentaries, and will be welcomed by philologists, social historians, and students of material culture, among others.

The book is divided into two sections: one for inscriptions dated earlier than 366 BCE, one for those dated later.2 That second section is further divided into fifteen subsections for different types of funerary monument. Those subsections (some with further subdivisions) are: Arae sepulcrales rotundae (A) and tetragonales (B); Columellae sepulcrales (C); Lapides cubici (D); Stelae fastigatae (E), parvae cum aëtomate insculpto vel inciso (F), cymatio ornatae (G), simplices (H), mutilae (I), (et tabulae) formae incertae vel ignotae (K); Termini sepulcrales (L); Cippi (M); Monumenta sepulcralia varia (N); Tituli sepulcrales quibus dirae continentur (O) and formae in certae (P).

The two black-and-white plates reflect this book’s two-part structure. Instead of items of particular interest, twelve monuments exemplify the various types. A black-and-white image of an ara sepulcralis rotunda (p. 646) provides assistance with the (Latin) terminology for the features of such monuments. Whenever possible, other editions of items are cited with an indication of whether photographs have been published. There is a line drawing for 1240 (late sixth-century BCE), now the oldest known Coan inscription, one of this book’s tituli inediti, and the source of a new name (Κύκνων): Ϙύγνονοσᾶμα.

Each (sub)section is arranged chronologically. There are few items from earlier than the second century BCE3 and few securely dated later than the third century CE (1550, 2127, 2464-2467, and 2630-2631).

I have referred to ‘items’ so far, rather than ‘inscriptions’, because this book’s ‘items’ are the inscribed stones—monuments of various forms—rather than the texts thereon. Many ‘items’ include several ‘inscriptions’ (in the sense of ‘texts’) that coexist on the same stone. For example, 1244 contains four discrete texts that have been dated (I) to the second century BCE, (II) to early in the first century CE, (III) to the first century CE, and (IV) to the third century CE (cf. 1308, another item with four inscribed texts). 1295 contains two previously published texts (one of which is a Latin-Greek ‘bi-version bilingual’)4 and a third published for the first time. By contrast, (I) on 3014 (‘nomina patris et filiae’) is continued (II):‘<nomina> filii altera manu paulo post additum’. When identical or similar texts exist on separate stones, the texts are presented as separate items with the label ‘gemellum’ for each (e.g. 2721-2722, ‘<ab> eadem manu scriptum’, and 2747-2748).

The scope of the book is eminently sensible: urban funerary epigraphy is a valid and useful category, which calls for separate treatment and lends itself to comparison with the epigraphic habits of other places and other times. (I was reminded of Aurelija Tamosiunaite’s work on twentieth-century Lithuanian funerary monuments in Chicago in ‘A Tale of Six Cities: A Diachronic Approach to Languages and Urbanity’ at ‘Language and the City’, Sociolinguistics Symposium 19, Berlin, 2012). Coans memorialised away from Cos are not included (cf., e.g. IG II2 9143).

Metrical inscriptions are one distinctive feature of epitaphs (although, of course, other types of inscription, e.g. dedications, may be metrical). The Comparationes Numerorum include Hansen’s CEG, Kaibel’s Epigraphica Graeca, and Peek’s GVI and Griechische Grabgedichte, but there is no index that isolates metrical inscriptions as a class (e.g. 1241, which was published post-GVI, is now one of the oldest Coan inscriptions, and features in the 1990 Supplement to LSAG).

This book is an advance on the relevant section of Paton-Hicks5 and on the relevant items in Maiuri’s sylloge,6 as well as on Segre’s collection7 as a whole. Throughout, new readings are presented either from autopsy or from examination of squeezes and photographs (e.g. 1244, 1263, 1316, 1385, 1724, 1812, 2292, 2941, 2991, and 3031). That said, ‘non vidi’ is common and several introductory notes to items from Paton-Hicks contain the words ‘frustra quaesivi’.

The inscriptiones in this book are not exclusively Graecae. Items that feature both Greek and Latin script, such as 1295 and 1378, are edited in full. Some texts are in Latin (script) entirely (e.g. 1801 and 2024; cf. 2935.2 ‘Caidice Furmi’: ‘subesse videtur potius nomen quoddam Graecum quam gentile Latinum (Caedicius)’). The Latin of 1378.9 exhibits a genitive ‘Kariaes’ (Καρίας in the Greek text below: line 17).8

Some readings are questionable. 1436 features Φιλοξένους (after τᾶς) as a genitive for the name of the father of the deceased daughter. This is also the reading in Segre and Maiuri, both of whom print Φιλόξενος in their indices. Since the expected nominative of a compound of φιλο- and ξενο- is Φιλόξενος (not *Φιλοξένης), Φιλοξένου{ς} should be printed, in the absence of evidence for names in –ξένης (but, cf. Ξένυς) and, with Buck §108.2, Boeotian Ξέννει. 1507 is printed with Νυφῶν, without a comment about the omission of the Mu, while Segre, EF 472, Herzog (KFF 163)9, and Peek (GVI 378) printed Νυ<μ>φῶν, N<υν>φῶν and Νυ<ν>φῶν respectively. The relevant line on the stone itself seems to me to read ΓΟΝΟΣΝ̣Ο̣ΝΥΦΩΝ,10 which justifies the editors here printing γονος [[ΝΟ]] Νυφῶν, but I might print γονος [[ΝΟ]] Νυ<μ>φῶν.

Comparanda are provided for notable forms, such as ἀντιτύχοισαν (1444), a third-person thematic aorist optative (with –σαν; cf. GVI 1362) that corresponds to ἀντιτύχοιεν (Palatine Anthology 7.516.1, an epitaph with a similar sentiment). Voces novae et lexicis addendae (to LSJ Rev.Supp.) are noted in the commentaries: 1498 θαλασσιοβάφος, 1499 σύμφθονος, and 2338 σκηνοπηγός, but 3013 θρεπτοσύνη receives no such note, although ἐπιπενθής in the line above is correctly labelled ‘vox nova et addenda lexicis’. (That elegy also features the very rare and old internally reduplicated verb ἀτιτάλλω; cf. GVI 1158.14 = Herzog, KFF 169.14, also Coan.) Some names that begin Ἐπα- are spelled Ἐβα-. A search of the PHI’s Greek Inscriptions shows the rarity of exact parallels for this interchange of a voiced stop, <β>, for a voiceless one, <π>.

As for evidence for the Coan dialect and the dialect(s) on Cos, the situation remains much as C.D. Buck wrote in 1955: ‘The material is considerable, but not early’, ‘There are no very early inscriptions, and only a few even from the fourth century BC’, and ‘Most of the material is of the third and second centuries, and in the Doric κοινή’.11

Those who read through the entire book will find many examples of non-Attic-Ionic (or, better, ‘non-Koine’) <ᾱ> for <η>, but also many of Attic-Ionic <η>. Some names, such as Μικοτέρη (1255; cf. Paton-Hicks 367-368) and Θευδώρη (1677: Σαμίη; cf. 2171), have endings that can only be Ionic. Examples of the feminine genitive of the definite article, τᾶς, are frequent, even when names and ethnics are spelled with <η> (e.g. 1278 and 1436). The a:-stem genitive plural in -ᾶν is particularly conspicuous in the names of thiasi (note Ἀθηνοϊστᾶν in 2820, but Ἀθᾱνοϊστᾶν, e.g. 2816), in which it is almost ubiquitous, even in the late second century CE. Cf. too θηκᾶν (2704), while earlier and later inscriptions all have θηκαίων (see Buck, § 265.26; note not θηκαιᾶν). Various names begin with Λαυ- (e.g. 1278 and 2919), rather than with Λᾱ(ο)-, with Θευ- rather than with Θεο- (e.g. 1467 and 1474, but 1502 and 1504), and with Κλευ-, rather than with Κλεο- (e.g. 1414 and 1565): see Buck, §§41.4 and 42.5. Compound s-stem names have genitives in –ευς (e.g. 1296 and Σωκλεῦς 1517), -ους (e.g. 1299), –ου (e.g. 1295), –εος (e.g. Ἐπιτύχεος 1472, a new reading for Ἐπιτυχέως), and even –έως (Μενεκλέως 1635).12 The genitive of nouns in –εύς is –έος (1544, a text that also features –ω as the o-stem genitive ending; cf. 2305). An Ionic genitive in –ω for a masculine a:-stem appears and is signalled in the commentary: Ἀσπασίη - Πακτυω | Καρυανδίς (1551: Πακτυω is attested in Caria). 2137 contains Μοιρᾱγορέω with an Ionic genitive ending, but a non-Ionic stem for its first member (contrast 2138’s entirely non-Ionic genitive Κυδαντᾱγόρᾱ and compare Hdt.5.78 and 5.104.1 and Pi.O. 9.77: for the possibilities, cf. LGPN s.vv. Νῑκᾱγόρᾱ(ς), Νῑκᾱγόρης, and Νῑκηγόρη).

The lack of reference aids reduces this book’s utility. Although the Comparationes Numerorum will enable readers to find new editions of inscriptions previously published in various corpora and periodicals, there are no indices, either of the names of men and women, significant individuals, places and peoples or of grammatical and orthographic points and Rerum et Verborum Notabiliorum. I assume that these aids will feature in the final (sixth) part of this fascicle13 or in the final part of this volume. The commentaries contain such a wealth of information on names of Iranian origin (e.g. Φαρνάκη{ς} 1281, with a note, and 2919 without a note) and Semitic origin (Aramaic Μαρθείνη 1491 ‘ut videtur’ and genitive Σαλαμα (sic) 1756 as a cognomen), indigenous names of Asia Minor (e.g., 1678, 2111, and, perhaps, 1501), previously unknown names, rare and new lexemes, dialectal curiosities, and oddities of morphology and syntax that it is shame that such data cannot be readily accessed at this stage. Bearers of a significant array of ethnica were buried at Cos. In the meantime, the indices of Segre and the first volume of the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names14 ease access to previously published names of places and persons. Once the Claros Concordance of Greek Inscriptions is updated to include this part,15 reference to the Comparationes will be less necessary, but the need will remain for easy access to notable points of language and a classification of personal names by origin.

This clearly is a stimulating presentation of a fascinating body of inscriptions. My comments here reflect that (with some experiments with linked-data), my interest in studying these texts further for myself, and my eagerness to see what others will make of them. (I regret that I have not been able to consult the studies edited by Dimitris Bosnakis himself.)16


1.   IG XII, 4, 1 and 4, 2 were reviewed respectively by Eric Perrin-Saminadayar (BMCR 2011.04.37) and by Pierre Fröhlich (BMCR 2013.10.67).
2.   The foundation of the city of Cos by the Athenians in 366 BCE provides a suitable epigraphic watershed.
3.   4th c. BCE: 1551, 1676 (Ἀρτεμιδώρο, if not –o<υ>), 2133, and 2471, 2472, 2633, 2634 (= GVI 426, 1062, 451, and 442 respectively), and 2938 (metrical). 3rd c. BCE: 1398-1402, 1552-1601, 1677-1683 (1680 metrical), 2134-2145, 2307-2311.I, 2473-2475, 2635-2637, and 2939 (= GVI 864)-2940.
4.   For this terminology, see A.L. Mullen, Southern Gaul and the Mediterranean: Multilingualism and Multiple Identities in the Iron Age and Roman Periods, Cambridge, 2013: 83-92, especially 86-87.
5.   W.R. Paton and E.L. Hicks, The Inscriptions of Cos, Oxford, 1891: 164-211. Many of these texts can be read via the Packard Humanities Institute’s Greek Inscriptions site.
6.   A. Maiuri, Nuova silloge epigrafica di Rodi e Cos, Florence, 1925. Some of the texts in this volume are available via the PHI’s Greek Inscriptions site.
7.   M. Segre, Iscrizioni di Cos: Epigrafie funerary, Rome, 2007 (ed. M. L. Lazzarini). Some of the texts in this volume are available via the PHI’s Greek Inscriptions site.
8.   See L.R. Palmer, The Latin Language, London, 1954: 241.
9.   Rudolf Herzog, Koische Forschungen und Funde, Leipzig, 1899. Some of its texts are accessible via the PHI’s Greek Inscriptions site.
10.   A photograph was printed by A. Deissmann, Licht von Osten, Tübingen, 1923: 250-251 and by Segre, for EF 472. To my eyes, these images do not present the same stone.
11.   C.D. Buck, The Greek Dialects, Chicago, 1955: 13 and 167-168. These statements are identical to those in the previous editions: C.D. Buck, Introduction to the Study of the Greek Dialects, 1910 (21928): 11 and 150-151. Buck drew on H. Barth, De Coorum titulorum dialecto, Basel, 1896.
12.   That is, Barth (1900: 98-102) can be supplemented. He reported no instance of –εως, but several of –εος (1900: 100).
13.   The editors commented ‘pleniores parti ultimae addentur’ (Comparationes Numerorum, p. i). I hope that indices will be added as well.
14.   All names associated with the place ‘Kos’ can be retrieved by an online search of the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names.
15.   To date (07/07/2017), IG XII, 4, 2, 1239, with which that second part concludes (2012), is the last item from this fascicle of this volume to be included in Claros. For items up to IG XII, 4, 1, 423, the end of first part (2010), Claros is already connected to the relevant items in the online edition of Inscriptiones Graecae (e.g. IG XII 4, 2, 1239. The items in IG XII, 4, 2 and 4, 3 already feature in the Digitale Edition.
16.   D. Bosnakis, Ανέκδοτες επιγραφές της Κω. Επιτύμβια μνημεία και όροι, Athens, 2008 (see Bosnakis’ page), particularly its ‘Onomastic Notes’ (with Jaime Curbera; pp. 190-196), παρατηρήσεις on Roman names (pp. 197-202), and ‘Index Grammaticus’ (pp. 206-208), etc. Coan onomastics and dialect forms continue to receive attention from Marina Veksina.

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