Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2019.09.26 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2019.09.26

Dimitris Bosnakis, Klaus Hallof (ed.), Inscriptiones Graecae. Volumen XII, Inscriptiones insularum maris Aegaei praeter Delum / Fasciculus IV, Inscriptiones Coi, Calymnae, insularum Milesiarum. Pars 4, Inscriptiones Coi insulae : tituli sepulcrales demorum. Tituli varii incerti alieni. Inscriptiones insularum milesiarum. Inscriptiones Graecae, 12,4,4.   Berlin; Boston:  De Gruyter, 2018.  Pp. vi, 268.  ISBN 9783110601688.  €299.00.  

Reviewed by Michael Zellmann-Rohrer, Oxford (

Publisher's Preview

Now comes the fourth part of the fourth fascicle of IG XII, the sequence of the venerable corpus of Greek inscriptions, Inscriptiones Graecae, devoted to the islands of Cos and its Milesian neighbors Leros, Lepsia, and Patmos. The general approach, scope, and method of IG are long established and well known, and each of the preceding parts for Cos has been treated in BMCR (IG XII.4.1: BMCR 2011.04.37; XII.4.2: BMCR 2013.10.67; XII.4.3: BMCR 2017.10.35); the present review will be confined to a summary of the particular contribution of this fascicle. The material already benefits from a freely available and widely accessible companion presentation, as the recent TELOTA project, developed by the Berlin Academy in conjunction with IG, publishes simplified versions of the text editions from this fascicle along with German translations online.

We have here first the completion of the corpus for Cos. The funerary inscriptions of the demes follow on the urban epitaphs to which the third part of the fascicle was devoted: the monuments from Phyxa, Haleis, Hippia, Antimachia, Halasarna, and Isthmia are treated in that order, as are funerary testamenta and epitaphs for Coans set up in foreign lands (nos. 3054–3329); some of the incerta probably belong to this category too, including 3544, a fragment of a curse against violators of the burial, and 3595, a building epigram for a tomb. Then come sections for texts of miscellaneous or uncertain character, as well as graffiti and smaller fragments of stone inscriptions. Notable among the varia are texts of religious content including an oracle of the late third century BCE internally titled “Oracle from Delphi” (χρησμὸς ἐγ Δελφῶν) which records a Coan’s query on the disposition of an inheritance and the god’s apparently positive response (3400), and a curse-tablet of the fourth century CE invoking the Egyptian god Seth (3401). There are also mosaic inscriptions, including captions for scenes of the Muses, the Judgment of Paris, and some spectacles of hunting and gladiatorial combat from Roman houses (3375–3377), as well as commemorations of building works in churches (3381–3399). Finally, there are also inscriptions found on Cos but which belong to the epigraphy of other cities (the tituli alieni) including Athens, Myndos, Halikarnassos, Bargylia (the epitaphs 3854–3856, on the basis of a formula for penalties for tomb-violation referring to the goddess Artemis Kindyas), and Iasos.

The volume also comprises the full epigraphic corpora for the Milesian islands of Leros, Lepsia, and Patmos, whose texts, which come to a more modest total, are presented in the customary order. Especially noteworthy is a Milesian decree of the late second century BCE for the re-inscription of the land survey records of a temple of Apollo on Lepsia in collaboration with an architect (ὁ κατὰ πόλιν ἀρχιτέκτων, 3897). The inscriptions of Calymnos, treatment of which is promised by the title of the fascicle, are still awaited.

In the revision of previously published inscriptions for inclusion in the corpus, the editors have proceeded via autopsy when possible, also making use of the extensive Berlin collection of squeezes and by unpublished notes from the observations of predecessors, most notably here Rudolf Herzog (1871–1953). The same can be said for the newly published texts, which similarly profit from the notes of Herzog and others on stones now lost or deteriorated. The result is a total of 879 texts, all Greek monolinguals with the exception of six entirely in Latin (3300, 3330–3333, and 3677), concentrated in the Hellenistic and Roman Imperial periods, though Christian inscriptions from the Byzantine period extending even into the Middle Ages are also well represented. New inscriptions number just over 250, not counting the nearly 200 among the short fragments (frusta), which are not without occasional interest, e.g. the possibly sympotic invitation “Let him drink!” (πινέτω) at the end of a short text added to a marble base sometime in the third or fourth century CE.

Some especially noteworthy texts among the inedita may be mentioned. Sources for the religious life of Cos are augmented by two new Hellenistic monuments from the Coan Asklepieion, one possibly a hymn referring to Asklepios (3520) as ἄναξ ἀκεσφόρος and to a sacred fire (ἱερὸν πῦρ), and one unfortunately even more fragmentary (3616). A Latin funerary testament attests a new temple, the Meropeum, apparently dedicated to the Coan hero Merops (3000); there is also a novel dedication to the divinized Aegean, Ἥρων Αἰγαῖος (3927). A building inscription illustrates the equation of Nero with Asklepios in the context of imperial cult (3341). There is also a crop of ten new grave epigrams, including one for a gladiator (3372; further 3080, 3084, 3101, 3103, 3119, 3132, 3283, 3291, 3293), while the epigraphy of death is further illuminated by a new boundary marker for a communal burial plot belonging to members of a Bacchic thiasos (θιασῖται Βακχιασαί, 3133), a monumental σᾶμα set up by the deme of Halasarna (3239), and a funerary testament citing written documentation in the form of a sales contract (ὠνή, 3302). On Lepsia, we gain a dedication to the Nymphs (3902); on Patmos, a Christian building inscription for the pavement of a basilica (3931), donated by one Paulos in thanksgiving for his escape from shipwreck “by the prayers of the saints” (εὐχɛ̃ς τῶν ἁγίων) and listing the names of at least four artisans “from the city” (τεχνῖται τῆς πόλεως) brought in for the task.

New contributions to the history of the civic and economic life of Cos include a new fragment of a published text that, once joined, yields a building inscription for a Museum (Μουσεῖον, 3338). We also learn from a new attestation of the Λ. Κοσσίνιος Ἀπολλώνιος on record in IG XII.4.2.473.33–34 that he was a physician and secretary (ἰατρὸς καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπιστολῶν) to a Roman magistrate (3574); just possibly the fragments 3563 and 3682 are to be joined to give an attestation of a homonymous descendent of the well-known Coan physician Xenophon (PIR2 S 913), with whom the building of a library, and a catalogue of books, may also be associated (3342). Three new records document land surveys and taxation, the Roman capitatio-iugatio, one particularly substantial at 45 lines (3363)

Novelties among the tituli varii hold interest as testimony to the varieties of everyday writing on these islands. There is an abecedary on stone, in which the practicing writer perhaps also names himself (3403); a sundial (3410; possibly also 3404); a dipinto accompanying a scene of a winged youth with a horn of plenty and comparable to an epigram in the Greek Anthology (3406, cf. AP 16.275), a moralizing epigram in senarii on a mask (3411), and an exhortation to good sportsmanship on a gaming table (3409).

Nor does the volume lack onomastic interest. Aside from the rich and diverse data afforded especially by the funerary inscriptions, there are some rare or even new names including Ἀγαλλιάσιος (3891), Ἀναγνωστικός (3500), Ἡλιοφόρα on a new reading of a known inscription (3370), Ἰησίδημος (3877), Νεμεοκλῆς (3181), and possibly Βιδεύς (3926).

The known texts in their revised form, and the texts newly offered here, succeed in large part in offering definitive editions of reference. Occasionally queries or points admitting of further discussion remain, of which a few may be mentioned here.

In the metrical epitaph for a priestess of Demeter (3905), an unusual circumstance is envisioned, namely that the deceased has been predeceased by two husbands of the same name, Apollodoros, “propter malitiam (δυσμένεια), qualis sub sole (ἐν φάει) viget.” From the published photograph, one might read perhaps instead a more conventional enumeration of family and surviving relatives (Ἀ̣πολλόδωρος̣ for Ἀ̣πολλοδώρου̣ς̣ in 3 and νεανίαν̣ for νεανίας̣ in 4) and construe ἐν φάει (by metonymy, “among the living”) with λιποῦσα: one husband Apollodoros and one (anonymous) son left motherless. In any case, the accompanying relief is said to have one female and one male figure. A mosaic building inscription in a Christian church names donors to the construction, Εὐστοχιανὴ κοσμιοτάτη ναυκλήρισσα κὲ Μαρία νεὸ[ς] αὐτῆς ἐψήφωσαν τὴν στοάν (3391), which is taken to mean a female ship-owner and her ship; although ships could certainly be named in antiquity, no parallels for this unusual sponsorship scenario are given, and the plural verb seems to call for two animate subjects, one of which could perhaps be the ship-owner’s daughter, νέο[ς] αὐτῆς, rather than the odd by-form, or grammatical error, νεό[ς] for ναῦς. A commemoration of the consecration of the altar of a church of St. John the Theologian on Patmos (3929) cites as eponym the bishop Epithymetos, whose title should be read ἐπισκό(που) not ἐπισκ(όπου), as the photograph shows the abbreviation marked by small superscript ο, not stigma as reported; in the boundary-inscription referring to the same saint (3930) the photograph commends without hesitation the reading [Θεολ]όγου in line 5 tentatively proposed in the commentary in place of ὁσ̣ί̣ου ( The re-edition of a curse-tablet, said to have been found near the Roman baths, which invokes the Egyptian Seth and includes a drawing of the god overturning a human enemy by the hair, is the contribution of J. Curbera, who produces a drawing based on a published photograph (3401) along with commentary. The internal title εὐχὴ κατακλητική would indicate a “Prayer of invocation” as written, which is accepted in the new edition; a phonetic spelling for κατακλιτική “of subjugation” might also be considered in light of a rubric in a magical formulary on papyrus describing the procedure as a κατακλιτικόν (PGM VII 430). In line 26, ἀ̣στέρα ἔχων is printed after the sensible rejection of the first editor’s -ας γέα ἔχων and ὀστέα ἔχων (Jordan), but the matter is not quite settled as the drawing nevertheless shows ΑΣΓΕΑ initio; in 30, the tablet’s ΑΓΙΩΤΔ (so reported, and confirmed by the drawing) is given an unusual resolution ἁγίῳ Τ(υφῶνι) δ(αίμονι), while one might prefer to take ἁγίῳ as a substantive (cf. ἅγιος as epithet of the invoked divinity at 25 above) and read τ(ὸν) δ(εῖνα) as a mistaken copying of a formulary placeholder, given that the name of the victim, one Hermias son of Pithias, in fact follows. As for the commentary to 8–9, “Auctor adloquitur puppam ceream ...,” might another possibility, an address to the divinity (Seth) invoked in the string of vocatives from line 2, be considered?

Throughout, the Greek texts are elegantly presented. Typographical errors are very rare: I encountered only the following: 3497, latus B, 5–6, ἱ̈ιερ̣[έ]|ως is printed but ΤΟΥΪΕ is cited in the apparatus as the reading of the stone, and as the first editor had ΓΕΙ|ΩΣ, one may suspect a simple mistake for ἱ̈ερ̣[έ]|ως; 3911.16, read ἂ̣ν ζῇ; ibid. 17–18, Ἡγήμανδ|[ρον]. The introductions, commentaries, and other paratextual matter are in a generally clear and correct Latin (in the titles to 3897 and 3912, read delimitationis and hydrophoro, respectively). There are the customary indices for the Milesian islands but not yet for Cos itself.

The editors are to be congratulated on a lasting achievement. This volume, and the series whose high standards it upholds, will be fundamental to the epigraphy and history of the Graeco-Roman Aegean.

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