In this fourth volume of Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten (
Reviews of volumes 1-3 have drawn attention to the advantages (the greater accessibility offered by the inclusion of commentaries and German translations) and the disadvantages (the hasty execution of the edition and subsequent unreliability of some texts) of SGO, and these hold true for volume 4. In this review I want to pinpoint some of the highlights of the volume, starting with the hitherto unpublished inscriptions, of which we have eight.
17/03/03 is an epitaph found in Telmessos in Lykia which dates to the imperial period and commemorates a certain Moscharo, who died in childbirth after delivering triplets, a rare reference to a multiple birth greater than twins. The epitaph is spoken by the deceased:
Moscharo from Euphyra, of prudent mind, I lie here,
Having released my spirit in the labor of delivering triplets.
My husband Xeiniades buried me. I have experienced what I wished for:
To be conducted to my grave by my husband and two children.
The lines do not make it clear whether the triplets survived; perhaps they did since, otherwise, the epitaph is likely to have mentioned their death. The two children mentioned in v. 4 might have been older siblings of the triplets.1 From Patara in Lykia, we get three new verse inscriptions, also dating to the imperial period: 17/09/06, an epitaph on a cenotaph for Villius Hymenaios, which Claudius Helikon set up “for his sweetest friend”; 17/09/08, a fragmentarily preserved epitaph for the wife of a man named Euphemos; and 17/09/07, a Latin epitaph for a freedman born in Lydia, near Tmolos, who apparently excelled in the art of Greek poetry. As a slave, he made it to Rome, where he was eventually freed by Placidus; we are not told, however, what brought him to coastal Lykia, where he died. From Arabian Petra comes a new honorary inscription (22/71/01) praising Horion, who renovated the city-walls and saved Palaestina Salutaris by defeating foreign-speaking (
Among inscriptions that have been published recently, by which I mean within the last fifteen years or so, I draw attention to 17/01/07, a polished epigram for Palygos, from the Cretan city of Rhaukos, who died and was buried in Kibyra some time in the 2nd c. BC (this is the date of the ed. pr.). Palygos is said to have received the name of his father’s father. The editors wonder why the inscription mentions the grandfather and not the father. The grandfather is mentioned because, as was common for grandsons, Palygos took his name from him, and the commissioner found this noteworthy — an Attic verse epitaph (IG II/III 12974 = CEG 564, 4th century BC) employs similar language to identify the deceased as the namesake of his father’s father. A fourth century BC epitaph for the dynast Apollonios from Olympos in Lykia (17/19/03) is reminiscent of the mock epigram ascribed by Athenaeus to Simonides (Page 37 = AP 7.348), which begins with “having drunk a lot, and having eaten a lot, and having said a lot of bad things about people, I lie here …” and purports to be an epitaph for Timokreon.2 The Lykian epitaph reads:
Having died, I, Apollonios son of Hellaphilos, lie here.
I performed just deeds, and the life that I lived was always sweet:
I ate, drank and played. But, you, go and fare well.
17/15/01 is a dedicatory record of another Lykian dynast, Perikles of Limyra, who set up an altar to Zeus sometime in the first half of the 4th c. BC. 18/01/28, from Termessos, is a very interesting inscription on a small sarcophagus of a dog named Stephanos. The epitaph seems to have comprised three epigrams, of which the first is largely lost, but the following two survive intact:
This is the tomb of the dog, Stephanos, who perished,
Whom Rhodope shed tears for and buried like a human (vv. 4-5).
I am the dog Stephanos, and Rhodope set up a tomb for me (v. 6).
The small sarcophagus was found near the inscribed sarcophagus of Rhodope herself. Rhodope’s epitaph is in prose and states that the woman set up the tomb completely by and exclusively for herself (TAM III.746), which suggests that she was single. 18/12/05 from Pamphylian Attaleia is a neatly carved epigram inscribed on a memorial for Protogonos, son of Ophellis. Protogonos died and was buried elsewhere, and his father honored him by building an altar to serve as “a target
This volume also includes some notable attractions, which are treated at length and usually accompanied by various illustrations, from old drawings of the monument to recent photographs. Some of the oracles are treated in this way: 17/06/01, an oracle from Klaros in Oinoanda; 17/08/01, an oracle from Patara in Sidyma in Lykia; 18/19/01, another oracle from Klaros, given in response to the question of how to gain protection from pirates who were plaguing the Pamphylian city of Syedra. 18/13/01 records the grant by the Emperor Tacitus of the status of metropolis to the city of Perge; the entry includes an acclamation to the city and a long epigram consisting of five couplets spoken by the city, in which Tacitus is likened to Zeus and Perge to the city of Ephesos. Famous inscriptions of Xanthian dynasts also receive lavish treatment (17/10/01-03). Within this section (p. 48) there is a very interesting reproduction of one of the reliefs of the so-called Xanthian pillar, which illustrates v. 10 of the epigram (17/10/01) in which Gergis is said to have killed seven Arkadian men in one day: six shields are seen hanging behind the warrior, while in the forefront a mortally wounded hoplite is about to lose his shield. 17/08/03 from Sidyma records in a rather lame and lengthy verse the cursus honorum of Flavius Eutolmius Tatianus, praefectus praetorio Orientis from 382-392. In 19/15/02, which must have been incised on the base of the statue of Apollonios of Tyana (the commentaries could perhaps have made it clearer how uncertain — and this is crucial for the interpretation of the text — the restorations in vv. 3-4 are). 17/02/01, an epitaph for a certain Aurelius Eutychides, purports to represent a saying of “the leader of the seers,” Kerellaios, the essence of which is that to die is not bad, since it is fated, but to die young and predecease the parents, is. This motif seems to have been especially popular in the Greek East (SGO includes twelve examples of it), and it is also attested from the Hellenistic period to the 4th c. AD, among other places, in Karystos on Euboia (ZPE 24 (1977), 33), Lato on Crete (IC I.16.50), and on Rhodes (IG 12.1.146). It is unlikely that Kerellaios was the source of the motif, but he must have known or had a collection of appropriate verses to inscribe on a tombstone. It seems fitting that a person steeped in soothsaying is the source of occasional verses. In the commentary, M. and S. follow Peek’s date of 2nd-3rd c., but the name Aurelius suggests a date after 212 (the Constitutio Antoniniana).
As for inscriptions that are perhaps less widely known, I would single out an epigram of 18 verses from Pisidian Adada which discusses the Stoic doctrine of freedom (18/09/03) and dates to the 2nd-3rd c. It is cut on a rock by the road and addresses the passerby: “Read, stranger, and you will gain some useful travel provisions, by learning that the person who is free in his character (
This is your home and mine, Severa, god-like among women,
A work which Fate fashioned with adamantine hand.
May here, too, I be called your husband,
Candidus, who is not the worst of Hellenes.
Oh, dear man, would that the gods accomplished this for me,
So that, having forgotten icy death,
I would lie in bed, and around me your soft arm
You would always wrap, and we would be immortal among the dead.
22/42/10, from Bostra in Nabatea, commemorates a woman named Kyrilla who died when she was in the eighth month of pregnancy. The epitaph was inscribed in two copies, on the sarcophagus and on the facade of the tomb, the only significant difference being that the one on the facade includes two extra verses stating that the tomb was set up by Kyrilla’s son, Kimon (it should be added that v. 7 on the sarcophagus has
Quite a few epigrams in this volume are associated with mosaic floors, which decorated villas, baths, and churches, including baptisteries. Many of the texts are accompanied by photographs, and are thus among the most enjoyable for the reader. Patrikios, son of Olympios, decorated a villa near Heliopolis (modern Baalbek) with a mosaic celebrating ancient philosophy (20/13/03). In the center, the mosaic shows Kalliope, who is surrounded by eight medallions depicting the Seven Sages, subscribed with their places of origin and maxims, and in the key position above Kalliope is Sokrates. The epigram, in a separate tabula ansata, states that Patrikios built a house worthy of the wisdom of Eudoxios, a prudent
Sharing or assimilation of symbols and poetic motifs from pre-Christian and Christian traditions is well illustrated in this volume. Sometimes the transformation of motifs is easily detectable; thus, building epigrams for baths can be recognized in what was likely to have been for a baptistery; instead of cleansing the body, the waters are meant to cleanse the soul (e.g., 22/42/02, Bostra). But sometimes the distinction between literal and metaphorical meaning is elusive, as is the case with a long epigram commemorating the building of the church of St. Theodoros by the priest Aineas in Gerasa (21/23/03) in the 5th or 6th c. The epigram, spoken by the building, claims that the church went up where a slaughter-house had once been. The description of the stench, slime, and sounds of animals being slaughtered is graphic, and it is contrasted with the beauty and ambrosial smell of the church. Our editors go for the literal interpretation, which might be correct, but one regrets that they do not even mention the explanation proposed by Boeckh and Conder, which Welles found very attractive, namely that the grisly description was meant to refer to a pre-Christian sanctuary where sacrifices of cattle had been performed. In 22/21/01 from Maximianopolis in Nabatea we find epic language seamlessly employed in an apparently Christian context. Here, a farmer by the name of Bassos is said to have built a tomb for himself, his wife and his children, and had it inscribed with three separate epigrams of similar content, all placed around the tomb’s door. According to the prose subscription above the door, Bassos accomplished the construction of the tomb in the 71st year of the polis, which was either 357/8 or 372/3.3 The epigram on the left of the door concludes with a reference to Rhadamanthys, to whom the
A fair number of inscriptions in this volume are dated by the year in accordance with a certain era, as well as by the indiction. Since the collection addresses a general audience, it could certainly benefit from a note on what an indiction is. Furthermore, several dates can be made more precise, and some should be corrected. 17/17/01: the date according to editions cited by the editors should be “not after 100 AD,” instead of 4th-3rd c. BC. 21/05/02: this date would be correct if not for a typo in the edition from which it is borrowed; the correct date is the 11th of April 569, not the 12th. 21/23/04: in the translation the year is given as 599 of the local Gerasian Era (
Volume 4 has already received a number of corrections, which are printed in vol. 5 (Register), pp. 12-16.6 Some infelicities and mistakes still remain to be pointed out. 18/15/11: the letters tau nu theta stand for 359, while the letters sigma omikron delta indicate 274 (consistently confused in the translation and commentary). 20/11/02: the epigram is not translated — perhaps this is because it is closely paralleled by AP 9.193 and 16/53/06, which is translated in vol. 3. 20/14/07: the ages of the two Crispi are wrong in the introduction to the epigram (but correct in the translation). 20/24/01: in the commentary to line 4, “Lies custos” should be moved to the note on line 5. 21/09/02: v. 2 should be
1. Another possibility is that two of them survived, while the third did not.
2. For thorough treatment of variations of this motif, see W. Ameling, ZPE 60 (1985), 35-44.
3. See Y. Meimaris, Chronological systems in Roman-Byzantine Palestine and Arabia (Athens 1992), 325-326.
4. For brief discussion and further bibliography, see D. Hagedorn in P. Hamb. IV (= Griechische Papyrusurkunden der Hamburger Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek IV, B. Kramer and D. Hagedorn eds. [Stuttgart und Leipzig 1998], p. 145); S.R. Llewelyn, “The Christian Symbol
5. The last two letters have been read as upsilon theta or rho theta, and interpreted as a date by an unknown era; after Bankes, Wetzstein copied koppa theta, which was accepted by Robert (for bibliography, see SEG 46.2078). A photograph of the inscription in J.-M. Dentzer and J. Dentzer-Feyday eds. Le djebel al-Arab : histoire et patrimoine au Musée de Suweida (Paris 1991), pl. 24 no. 272 clearly shows a koppa, although the editors print rho, p. 133.
6. As for omissions, I noticed the following texts that should have been included in vol. 4: SEG 8.28; SEG 31.1249 (seems to be intended as metrical, although the meter is flawed); SEG 37.1438 (a significant omission; it is a three couplet dedication to a hunting deity from Damascus in Syria, ca. AD 150); SEG 47. 1776 (epitaph from Pisidia, undated); SEG 49.1878 (honorary epigram for a governor, ca. AD 350-400); SEG 49.2084 (building inscription and epigram from Skythopolis, AD 500/501 or 515/516); SEG 50.1361 (epitaph from Kilikia, late 5th-mid 6th c.); SEG 50.1354bis (epitaph for a priest of Apollo from Oinoanda, 2nd-3rd c.).