Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2018.06.13 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.06.13

Sara Kaczko, Archaic and Classical Attic Dedicatory Epigrams: An Epigraphic, Literary and Linguistic Commentary. Trends in classics - supplementary volumes, 33.   Berlin; Boston:  De Gruyter, 2016.  Pp. xxiv, 625.  ISBN 9783110402551.  $238.00.  

Reviewed by Alcorac Alonso Déniz, CNRS - HiSoMA (

Publisher's Preview

This volume (hereafter ACADE) contains an edition and philological analysis of 154 metrical, or supposedly metrical, inscriptions dated to the 7th–5th centuries BCE and associated with offerings (ἀναθηματικά) in Attic shrines or consecrated by Athenians in sanctuaries outside the region. A useful companion to the Attic tituli dedicatorii in Peter A. Hansen’s Carmina Epigraphica Graeca (1983–1989), ACADE has the advantage of making available images of most of the inscribed objects and, more often than not, useful close-up photographs of the texts.

ACADE sticks to the plan of CEG. Parts I–III contain epigrams written on stone (nos. 1–99), bronze (nos. 100–105) or earthenware objects (nos. 106–116) found on the Acropolis.1 Unsurprisingly, most of them were consecrated to Athena, although epigrams to Hermes (no. 54), Poseidon (no. 83) and Aphrodite (no. 85) are also found.2

Part IV includes dedications outside the Acropolis, all but two (nos. 118 and 141) engraved on stone monuments. With the exception of Kallimachos’ offering at the shrine of Dionysos near the theatre (no. 124), Lysistrate’s dedication to Demeter and Kore from the City Eleusinion (no. 134)3 and Peisistratos the Younger’s altar to Apollo Pythios south of the Olympieion (no. 123), most documents testify to the rich life of Attic sanctuaries outside Athens: Apollo Pythios and Dionysos at Ikarion (no. 121), the sanctuary of Echelidai in the deme of Xypete with offerings to the river god Kephisos (no. 140) and to Hermes and the Nymphs (no. 139), Apollo Zoster at Halai Aixonides (no. 125), the sacred cave dedicated to the Nymphs by Archedemos on the south side of Hymettos (no. 141),4 Dionysos at Thorikos (no 137), Archegetes at Rhamnous (no. 131) and Herakles Empylios at Marathon (no. 135). Herms (with or without explicit dedications to Hermes) also come from all over Attica: Angele (no. 129), Hermos (no. 130) and probably Sphettos (no. 122).

Part V presents 13 fragmentary texts that are considered dubia, the interpretation of them as dedications and/or as metrical being highly debated (to my mind, nos. 26, 30, 32 and 40 of Part I belong in this section).

The chronological order of texts, with public offerings followed by those made by individuals, seems appropriate to Parts I–III but is less felicitous in Part IV, where dedications from one and the same site are separated (nos. 118, 119, 128 and 136 from Eleusis; 131 and 138 from Rhamnous), and inscriptions from Attica are mixed with consecrations by Athenians in non-Attic sanctuaries (no. 117 from Delos and no. 120 from Akraiphia).

The philological edition of each epigram is followed by an English translation. In constituting the Greek text, Kaczko follows in the footsteps of Antony E. Raubitschek, Lilian H. Jeffery and Peter A. Hansen and rarely deviates from the text of CEG: notable exceptions are no. 23, where a connection with IG I3 642bis is abandoned, and no. 96, in which Hansen mistakenly prints ἐποίε̄ for ἐποίε̄σε (see fig. 96).5

The core of ACADE is the multifarious commentary on each epigram, in which Kaczko skilfully encompasses the archaeological, historical and religious contextualization of the monuments and the consecrated objects, the problems of the texts and the assessment of the previous proposals, their linguistic characteristics and the literary echoes. The erudition displayed by Kaczko is outstanding, and great attention is paid to some minute details: e.g. five pages (427–31) are dedicated to hαλόμενος and the place of the jumping event in the pentathlon (no. 118).6 But other interesting topics are skipped: e.g. the role played by some women in 5th c. BCE Athens in sustaining their households with their own revenue (no. 90).

In my opinion, ACADE would have greatly benefited from a synthetic chapter dealing with several important issues recurring throughout the book: anomalies in prosody, different combinations of stichic verses, chronology of formulae, geographical and social origin of dedicators, occasions for offerings (ex-voto, tithe, first-fruits, victory), etc.

The title of the volume seems to me ill-chosen. On the one hand, “classical” is misleading, since pre-Alexandrian 4th c. BCE votive metrical inscriptions that could hardly be dubbed as Hellenistic on literary or archaeological grounds are omitted: e.g. CEG 756, 760, 762, 763 and 764 (the last one more accurately edited by Luigi Beschi, ASAA 47–48 [1969–1970] 86). On the other hand, ACADE contains only inscriptions that are completely or partially extant or that were copied in modern times and apparently lost thereafter (e.g. no. 4, known only through the drawing made by Ludwig Ross). Actual epigraphic “classical Attic dedicatory epigrams” copied in antiquity and known only from a manuscript tradition are ignored: e.g. the couplet engraved on a statue on the Acropolis ([Arist.] Ath. Pol. 7.4) or the epigram on the altar dedicated to Eros by the polemarchos Charmos at the entrance of the Academy (Ath. 609d). Strictly speaking, no. 15 is not a “dedicatory epigram”, since only the signature is metrical (cf. nos. 21, 30, 36, 90 and 96 with prose signatures).

Kaczko often neglects the precise find spot of inscriptions and the circumstances of the discovery, which can be relevant for the overall interpretation of texts. Regarding the base with a dedication to Hermes by Python from Abdera and a signature by the Parian artist Euphron (no. 133), Kaczko simply states “([n]ear) Peiraeus”. The object was in fact unearthed in ca. 1866 at a place formerly known as Krommydarou bay to the west of the Eetioneia Gate, together with other uninscribed bases and altars and another three stones bearing inscriptions dated to the 4th c. BCE: a dedication to Zeus Soter (IG II2 4603), another in Phoenician to “Sakon puissant” (CIS I 118, cf. KAI 58) and a bilingual Graeco-Phoenician honorary decree of an association of Sidonians for one of their fellow-countrymen who was in charge of the temple (KAI 60 and IG II2 2946).7 Although the details of its discovery are unknown, the fragmentary altar with a dedication to Hermes and to Zeus Soter (IG II2 4972) probably comes from the same location. All the above is strong evidence for a peripheral shrine where 5th–4th c. BCE Greeks and non-Greek foreigners fulfilled their religious needs and also gives us a better picture of the social and religious context in which Python presented his dedication and Euphron carried out his work.

Several linguistic issues discussed are controversial, so it is only natural that I have some disagreements with the proposed solutions.

Most of Kaczko’s notes on the linguistic features of Ancient Greek personal names are rather trite and, in my opinion, could have been dispensed with: e.g., one learns that Διονύσιος (no. 16, p. 85–6) “is built on Διονύσος [sic]”, Δεχσίθεος (no. 70, p. 269) is a “compound based on δέχομαι” and Νο̄με̄́νιος (no. 109, p. 408) is “of course related to the new moon and first day of the month”. The connection of the meaning of εὐμαρής “he who has a good hand” and the job of Eumares as an artisan (no. 14, p. 70–1) is doubtful, since the very existence of a word μάρη ‘hand’ has been questioned.8 Her explanation of Κύναρβος (no. 48; p. 200) as a Tiername is unsatisfactory, since the ending -αρβος remains unaccounted for and the alleged second instance is doubtful: Κύνα[ρβος] in IG II2 3828.6 is supplemented by Stephen D. Lambert (ZPE 125 [1999] 117), but Κύνα[ργος] is also possible. I tentatively suggest that Κύναρβος originated from Κύναβρος (ἀβρός ‘graceful’), a compound that is paralleled by Κύναιθος (αἰθός ‘red-brown’) with a similar underlying comparison, despite the fact that there are no other cases of a metathesis CVCR > CVRC in Attic inscriptions. In no. 46, the dedicator’s name Κομονίδε̄ς is interpreted as Κομωνίδης (p. 192), with an awkward iambic metron at the beginning of the hexameter. Even if personal names often violate the rhythmic scheme, the interpretation Κωμωνίδης (cf. Κώμων in Athens) allows us to dispense with at least the irregular first light syllable. The name of the potter Πείκο̄ν (no. 38, p. 171) seems to be a nickname, cf. the adjective πεικόν· πικρόν, πευκεδανόν (Hsch. π 1228 Hansen) and, more generally, Δρίμων and Χάλεπος from adjectives in the same semantic sphere.

According to Kaczko, the three variants of the noun ‘son’, hυύς (no. 75), hυός (nos. 69 and 138; cf. also CEG 80 and 91) and hυΐς (no. 120), exhibit a modern spelling after the loss of intervocalic yod (hυύς can undergo contraction, cf. hῦς in no. 17) but still “disguise” the pronunciation with [ui̯] (p. 268–9). Given the overwhelming evidence of ὑός in 4th c. BCE Attic epigrams with a first heavy syllable (CEG 478, 523, 544, 562, 746, 760, 783), her hypothesis seems ad hoc. Arguably, hυιύς, hυιός and *hυιίς must have had a long /uː/ in the first syllable, which remained unchanged after yod deletion. The long vowel guaranteed by Attic epigrams is the expected outcome of the regular evolution of the standard reconstructed etymon: *suHi̯-u- (not Kaczko’s *sui̯u-) > * hūi̯u- (hυός = Myc. u-jo, Hom. υἱός, and hυΐς are thought to be the result of later different vocalic dissimilation phenomena). Homeric scansions of υἱός with a first light syllable (e.g. Il. 6.130) show that the long diphthong [uːi̯] became [ui̯] in Ionic.

In no. 87 Kaczko considers hόρος to be a synonym of μνῆμα (p. 339), but there is no evidence for this equivalence.9 The phrase σοφ[ίαс] τόνδ᾽ ἀνέθε̄[κ]εν hόρον means “he dedicated this boundary-stone of his skill” or alternatively “he dedicated this (sc. τρίποδα, cf. π[ερ]ὶ τρίποδος v. 4) as a boundary-stone of his skill”. Ηaving already won numerous times outside Athens (vv. 3–4), the choregos apparently envisions his career as a path or as an enclosed precinct and his victory in the Athenian competition as one of the limits (hόρος) of his poetic skill (σοφία). For a similar image, see Bacchylides’ line εἷς ὅρος, μία βροτοῖσίν ἐστιν εὐτυχίας ὁδός “Only one limit, only one path of success exists for mortals” (fr. 11+12.1 Maehler; cf. also Aesch. Ag. 1154).

Kaczko believes that ἐ̄ργάσσατο in Kresilas’ signature (no. 98) is “neither Doric nor Attic, but [...] a high-styled poetic form, with parallels in Ionic-epic and Doric poetry”. Although the Theran Archedamos uses Dor. ἐξηργάξατο (no. 141), Kresilas was from Kydonia, a city founded by colonists from Aegina who spoke the Doric variant of Argolis, in which the aorist of verbs in -ζω with a velar stop in the preceding syllable exhibits -σσ-.

Kaczko turns a blind eye to the syntactic problems in no. 105: πᾶσιν ἴσ’ ἀνθρό̄ποις hυποκρίνομαι hόστις ἐ[ρο̄]τᾶι / hός μ’ ἀνέθε̄κ’ ἀνδρο͂ν Ἀντιφάνε̄ς δεκάτε̄ν. To judge from her translation, she follows the editors of IG I3 533 and interprets hός μ’ ἀνέθε̄κ’ ἀνδρο͂ν as an indirect question depending on ἐρο̄τᾶι: “To all men who ask who among men dedicated me, I answer the same” (my emphasis). But although in Attic drama relative pronouns can introduce a subordinate clause closely resembling an indirect question, they are never construed with verbs of asking.10 In fact, hός in our dedication can be straightforwardly interpreted as a relative pronoun: “To all men alike who ask I answer: Antiphanes (is) who among men dedicated me as a tithe”; for a parallel, see CEG 349 (Aegina, 480–470 BCE?): hός τόδ’ ἄγαλμ’ ἀνέθε̄κε, Φιλόστρατός ἐστ’ ὄνυμ’ αὐτο͂ι.

The above critical remarks only demonstrate the deep interest generated by Kaczko’s notes. After the publication in 1878 of Georg Kaibel’s ground-breaking Epigrammata Graeca ex lapidibus conlecta, for more than a century scholars have collected ancient Greek verse inscriptions and improved the editions of them. Today, a pressing need is for commentaries of these important documents, and Kaczko’s ACADE is a significant contribution toward filling this gap.


1.   Part III is wrongly designated “Epigrams inscribed on vessels”, since nos. 113 and 116 are not vessels but plaques (pinakes). See the photographs in Kyriaki Karoglou, Attic pinakes. Votive Images in Clay, Oxford 2010, fig. 89 (cat. 110) and fig. 64 (cat. 75).
2.   The titles of nos. 104 and 115 wrongly classify both epigrams as dedications to Zeus.
3.   Wrongly attributed to Eleusis in the lemma. Add to the bibliography the editions by Margaret M. Miles, The City Eleusinion (Agora XXXI), Princeton 1998, cat. I.1, 187, and by Daniel J. Geagan, Inscriptions. The Dedicatory Monuments (Agora XVIII), Princeton 2011, A10, 10. According to the latter, ΣΤΕΦΑΝΩ is the acc. sing. Στεφανώ, the daughter of Lysistrate, an unlikely hypothesis that Kaczko does not discuss.
4.   Add to the bibliography the edition by Klaus Hallof in Günther Schörner and Hans R. Goette, Die Pan-Grotte von Vari, Mainz 2004, pp. 42–4, with photos of the inscription and of a squeeze (Tafel 29).
5.   I have detected few misprints: Μεγύλος not Μέγυλος (no. 60), Νικύλα and Φειδύλα not Νίκυλα and Φείδυλα (p. 236), ἄγγελος not ἄγγελλος (p. 301), ἵπποτα p. 323 but ἱππότα p. 325, 18th not 19th (p. 450). Some inconsistencies also occur in the transcription of Greek: Telestes not Telestos (no. 25), Tychandros not Tuchandros (no. 59), Pyres not Pures (no. 98), Gyres not Gures (no. 132).
6.   Add to the discussion of aparche and dekate Theodora Suk Fong Jim, Sharing with the Gods. Aparchai and Dekatai in Ancient Greece, Oxford 2014.
7.   See Walter Ameling, ZPE 81 (1990) 189–199.
8.   See Alain Blanc, REG 105 (1992) 548–56.
9.   See Zachary P. Biles, Mnemosyne 64 (2011), 191–2.
10.   See Philomen Probert, Early Greek Relative Clauses, Oxford 2015, pp. 154–6.

Read comments on this review or add a comment on the BMCR blog

Read Latest
About BMCR
Review for BMCR
Support BMCR

BMCR, Bryn Mawr College, 101 N. Merion Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010