Greek in Italy

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The Palermo Stone-cutters

A paper that I co-wrote with my colleague, Moreed Arbabzadah, will appear any day now in the next issue of Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik (ZPE or ‘Zippie’): ‘New and Old Interpretations of the Stone-cutters Bilingual Inscription (IG XIV 297 = CIL X 7296) from Palermo’, ZPE 205 (2018) 145–150.

The inscription, depicted below, from Palermo, Sicily shows Greek on the left and Latin on the right and is a typical ‘bilingual bi-version’ (two versions in different languages of the same content). Epigraphic services for sanctuaries and public buildings are advertised in ‘both languages’.

Palermo Stone Cutters

There has been a great deal of discussion about oddities in the Greek and in the Latin alike and what they tell us about the primary language of these stone cutters: was it Greek that prompted odd Latin, Latin that prompted odd Greek, or another language that prompted oddities in the Greek and the Latin alike?

In a ‘work-in-progress’ seminar last February, Moreed suggested that the odd use of cum (here spelled qum) with a genitive (not an ablative) in qum operum publicorum (last two lines  on the right) could be explained as ‘Latin-Latin’ (my term) without recourse to seeing it as the result of interference from Greek (‘Greek-Latin’, my term). The Greek text would then be a translation of the Latin, not vice versa.

I asked about the phrase aidibus sacreis ‘sacred houses’ (three lines up on the right: Classical Latin aedibus sacris), which seemed unproblematic, and its Greek counterpart ναοῖς ἱεροῖς ‘sacred sanctuaries’ (three lines up on the left), which did seem distinctly odd: either ναοῖς or ἱεροῖς alone would adequately reflect aidibus sacreis.

As far as I have found, the various scholars who have discussed this bilingual inscription have not commented on these counterpart phrases.

I suggested that ναοῖς ἱεροῖς was a ‘calque‘ of aidibus sacreis, an element-by-element translation of a phrase from another language and, in this case, one that results in odd Greek and so betrays its origins. Although the general word aedes ‘house’ needs some clarification, neither ναός nor ἱερόν (‘sanctuary’) does. In other words, the Greek text must be a translation of the Latin, not vice versa.

My chief contribution to the paper was to lay the foundations for Moreed’s Latin explanation of the use of cum (oddly with a genitive) by opening up a new argument from this curious Greek phrase for the primacy of the Latin text over the Greek (pp. 145-146). That paves the way for parallels for cum with a genitive in the context of ellipse of a familiar ablative (pp. 147-149). That phenomenon is then along the lines of English ‘I am going to St Paul’s’, in which a genitive ‘St Paul’s’ seems to be the accusative of the goal of motion after the verb, while an accusative, ‘Cathedral’, is readily understood.

To paraphrase A.N. Whitehead, it might seem nowadays that Latin philology is ‘a series of footnotes’ to J.N. Adams. This paper is indeed one such footnote, but, we hope, one that furthers the study of this inscription, of Greek and Latin bilingualism, and of Greek in Italy.

A PDF offprint/Sonderdrucke/separatum of the paper is available on request: please e-mail.

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An esskazsiúm excursion

Ever since I’ve been going regularly to Naples, for the last decade or so, I’ve harboured an ambition to go to Punta Campanella, on the other side of the Bay. This is a nature resort at the very tip of the Sorrentine Peninsula, with fantastic views of Capri, Ischia and other islands: it’s absolutely beautiful, especially in good weather, as it was on the 23rd, when I finally got to make it there – in fact the weather was so good, I managed to get sunburn in December. But I doubt that any readers of this blog will be surprised to hear that there was another incentive for me: an Oscan inscription waiting at the very end.

Once upon a time there was a temple of Minerva on the hilltop. To reach it from the sea you disembarked at a cave far below and climbed a long and steep stairway between the walls of a narrow cleft in the cliff. The steps are still mostly serviceable, though they’ve crumbled away in parts; a little below where the steps enter the cleft, there is an inscription carved in the rock, recording the names of the magistrates of the temple who commissioned the building of the stairs (and including our only instance of the Oscan word esskazsiúm, which presumably means ‘stairs’ or ‘disembarcation point’).

The inscription was published some decades ago, but the major editions have worked from photographs and/or the cast in Naples Museum (it’s Surrentum 1 in Imagines Italicae, ed. Crawford et al., Cm 2 in Sabellische Texte, ed. Rix). I’m not surprised, because getting there is quite a physical effort, and the inscription is very hard to see unless you’re right in front of it – which requires climbing on to a narrowish ledge, high enough to make one reluctant to fall! Photos below, starting from the sea.

Thanks very much to Giovanni Di Maio and Donatella Guida for showing us the way.

Punta Campanella sea entrance

The entrance to the cave from the sea

Punta Campanella The steps up from the cave

The steps up from the cave

Punta Campanella inscription

The inscription from close-up

Punta Campanella examining inscription

Examining the inscription! Photo courtesy of Giovanni Di Maio

Punta Campanella ladders

A less well-preserved section of the steps

Punta Campanella steps

The view from the top

 

 

 


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Neapolitan literature

One of the pleasures of spending Christmas in Naples is the annual adverts for Mars written in Neapolitan, which I enjoy trying to make sense of: knowing standard Italian is a help, but seldom enough! I saw the one below while on the way to get ice cream (notwithstanding the fact that Naples is currently colder than Cambridge!).

 

On the way back, I came across the following bonus poem on a dustbin, which I started off feeling was pretty easy, but I soon fell into complete uncertainty, only managing to make sense of it with the help of my trusty native guide Ardief. Translation into Italian and English underneath. Note in particular the fun forms saccio = sappio = so ‘I know’, sciore = fiore ‘flower’, dongo = do ‘I give’, chella = quella ‘that’, chistu = questo ‘this’, and the general lack of final -re in infinitives. Also that where Italian has subjunctive + conditional for ‘If I were … I would’, the poem has subjunctive + subjunctive.

Se fossi poeta: Se fossi musicista ti suonerei qualche nota, se fossi cantante ti canterei una canzone, se fossi poeta te lo direi con le parole, che tu mi fai impazzire mi fai vivere e morire. Se fossi poeta, te lo direi con le parole, ma non te lo so dire, e per fartelo capire ti do questo fiore, per dirti una volta e cento volte ancora sei tu, quella del cuore.

If I were a poet: If I were a musician, I would play you some notes, if I were a singer I would sing you a song, if I were a poet, I would tell you in words that you drive me crazy, you make me live and die. If I were a poet, I would tell you in words, but I do not know how to tell you, and to make you understand I give you this flower, to tell you one and a hundred times still that it is you who are the girl of my heart.

 


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Codebreakers and Groundbreakers

The Fitzwilliam Museum and the Museum of Classical Archaeology in the Classics Faculty are jointly hosting an exhibition called Codebreakers and Groundbreakers.

The Fitz’s exhibition focusses on the decipherment of Linear B (by the architect Michael Ventris aided by John Chadwick, then a newly appointed lecurer in Classics at Cambridge), and, a little earlier, the cracking of German codes during the Second World War at Bletchley Park by Alan Turing and others.

The Classics Faculty includes items from the archive of Alan Wace, who was the archaeologist who excavated Mycenae and discovered tablets written in Linear B, and features displays by current Faculty projects which rely on both ‘codebreaking’ and ‘groundbreaking’: the CREWS (Contexts of and Relations beween Early Scripts) project, the Greek Lexicon, the Myceneaen Epigraphy Group, and us at Greek in Italy!

Greek in Italy
Above you can see our panel at the exhibition. We think it’s pretty cool, and recommend that you go and see it and the rest of the exhibition in both venues (it’s on until the 3rd February, so there’s still plenty of time).

Thanks to Francesca Bellei, who designed the panel and wrote the text!


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Remembrance and Greek Lyric in Italy

The approach of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and the association of poppies with the fallen is an opportunity to comment on that association in the poetry of Stesichorus (c. 630-555 BCE), ‘the first great lyric poet of the West‘. He was born in Calabria in South Italy and died on Sicily.

A papyrus published in 1967 preserves some of the Geryoneis of Stesichorus, a lyric narrative of Heracles’ Tenth Labour: stealing Geryon’s cows. This takes Heracles to the far west of the Greek known world and on his return to the Aventine Hill (in Rome to be).

Column ii lines 14-17 of S15 are pictured below, the point at which Herakles kills the giant Geryon with an arrow poisoned with the blood of the Lernaean Hydra (Greek δρα is cognate with English ‘otter’, a ‘monster’ on a much smaller scale…).

P.Oxy. 2617 epode Stesichorus S15

ἀπέκλινε δ’ ἄρ’ αὐχένα Γ̣α̣ρ̣[υόνας
ἐπικάρσιον, ὡς ὅκα μ[ά]κ̣ω̣[ν
ἅτε καταισχύνοισ’ ἁπ̣α̣λ̣ὸ̣ν̣ [δέμας
αἶψ’ ἀπὸ φύλλα βαλοῖσα̣ν̣[

‘and Geryon dropped his neck
to one side, like a poppy,
which spoiling its tender beauty
suddenly sheds its petals…’.

The eighth book of Homer’s Iliad also contains such a comparison, when Priam’s son, Gorgythion, died from an arrow wound (Iliad VIII 306-308):

μήκων δ’ ὡς ἑτέρωσε κάρη βάλεν, ἥ τ’ ἐνὶ κήπῳ
καρπῷ βριθομένη νοτίῃσί τε εἰαρινῇσιν,
ὣς ἑτέρωσ’ ἤμυσε κάρη πήληκι βαρυνθέν.

And he dropped his head to one side like a poppy that in a garden
is laden with its fruit and the rains of spring;
so bowed he to one side his head, laden with his helmet.

The fields of FlandersThe fields of Flanders, strewn with poppies, might remind epigraphers and dialectologists of the poppy ‘plantations’ of Hellenistic Pharsalus in Thessaly (IG IX, 2 234 / C.D. Buck, The Greek Dialects, no. 36), later the battlefield where Pompey the Great was defeated (09.08.48 BCE).

Similes that have fallen warriors and/or youths in correspondence with poppies continued in Latin literature, whether directly from Homer and/or Stesichorus or not: famously the weary poppy weighed down by rain in Vergil, Aeneid IX 435-437 (drawing also on Catullus 11.21-24, itself thought to have ‘echoes’ of Sappho 105c) and Ovid, Metamorphoses X 190-193.

 


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‘Greek in Italy’ in Norfolk

 

Although a two-week family holiday in North Norfolk was not going to be an epigraphic extravaganza on the same scale as Nick’s visit to Naples, it did provide a reminder to blog about Greek in inscriptions now in Norfolk and some online resources. That said, we happened to see the famous dialect roadsigns that instruct ‘Slow you down!’ (with thanks to the Daily Telegraph).

norfolk_798885c

Some months ago, a friend and colleague asked me about Latin manuscripts at Holkham Hall, of which there are many. At that, I searched Trismegistos, the database of databases for Greek, Latin, and Demotic texts from Egypt (to say the least) for Holkham Hall, as a Trismegistos Collection. The Latin manuscripts fall outside the coverage of Trismegistos, but two Latin inscriptions were reported.

Both are from Rome, both are funerary inscriptions, and both date to early in the second century AD (one may be slightly earlier).

111396

CIL VI 2 14155

CIL VI.3 24008

Thanks to Trismegistos’ own data and its links to Clauss-Slaby (14155 and 24008) and the Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy/the Epigraphic Database Roma (14155 and 24008), full details of the two marbles and the images above can readily be accessed.

Neither inscription involves any Greek sentence, phrases, or script, but there is ‘Greek in Italy’ here nonetheless in the names. 14155.3-5 mentions a Calpurnia Chrysis mater. 24008 reads in full:

D(is) M(anibus) / Petronio / Hedychro / vix(it) an(nos) XXXV m(enses) VI d(ies) VII / Petronia Trophime / conliberto idem / coniugi suo b(ene) m(erenti) fec(it).

‘To the Spirits of the Departed: for Petronius Hedychrus; he lived for 35 years, 6 months, and seven days. Petronia Trophime made <this> for her fellow freedperson and “spouse” alike, who was well-deserving’.

Chrysis is a Greek name (the <ch> and <y> are classic giveaway indications of non-Latin words), as are Hedychrus (<ch> and <y> again – Ἡδύχρους; LGPN omits this bearer) and Trophime (<ph> is one indicator). In Trophime we see also a non-Latin ending. The first-declension nominative singular ends in –a (as in Petronia), but here we have –e as a transliteration of Greek <η>, the equivalent ending for the Greek first declension. One Τροφίμᾱ with -α, the Greek first-declension dialect ending, is also known to the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names.

These three – Goldie, M(aste)r Sweet-Fleshed, and Miss Foster(ed) or Miss Plump – look like slave names, a suggestion corroborated by conliberto ‘fellow freedperson’.

The name Ἡδύχρους (or -χροος) looks like a poetic epithet, as, indeed, it was: GVI 1595.13-14 [Rome, perhaps second century AD]; cf. IG XII, 1 781.4 [Rhodes; second century AD], which has a dative -χροι from a by form in -χρως. However, it was also the name of a perfume. As such, it is also a Greek word known first from a Latin text: Cicero, Tusculan Disputations III 46.

The manuscripts there all have hedyc(r)um (one has aedicrum). Although the <h> and the  <y> were preserved, there is no trace of the <ch>. Whether Cicero spelled it with <c> or with a <ch> that has been lost in transmission, we cannot know. OLD printed the headword as hedycrum with <c>, not <ch>; some texts have the <ch> restored, as LSJ gives it.

Also, –crum indicates that the substantive (like the personal name) was borrowed into Latin from a variety of Greek that has the contraction -χρους, not the uncontracted form -χροος. (Galen has both -χροον and -χρουν).

So much, for now, for Greek in Italy via Norfolk and this experiment with ‘linked data’. I’ll leave it to James to tell the story of the Norfolk clergyperson who argued that the topography of the Iliad was based on his own – and Nelson’s – county.


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The epigraphic gallery of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples is now open!

This is wildly exciting: when I went there in 2007, it was opened only on special application, and when I went in 2013 there was no electric light, and I had to examine the inscription I was interested in by the light of my own torch and a lamp obligingly held by a member of the Museum’s staff: there was certainly no possibility of looking at any of the other objects, as I had hoped. I’m extremely grateful to the Museum for kindly allowing and facilitating both my previous visits, but it must be said that it is much better now that one can just swan in and revel in all the epigraphy. I’ll post a few things from my latest visit in the coming weeks.

This time, I’ll focus on one inscription in particular, which is the rather nice column supporting a water basin (basin supplied separately) with an Oscan inscription which is published in Imagines Italicae as ma.heíis.de.me.v.ínim. me x.ekak.flit<e>am.emmens (Cumae 3/Cm 5) and translated as ‘Ma(is) Heiis, son of De(kis), meddix of the vereiia, and the X meddix (or the 10 medices) bought this flitea‘. A meddix is a type of magistrate. Apart from the fact that it’s not clear exactly what a me x is, especially as X is not a regular letter of the Oscan alphabet, the main problem is flit<e>am, which clearly has to be the name of the object on which the inscription is written. So far, the only semi-plausible suggestion is that it is somehow a borrowing of the Greek word πλινθεῖον /plintheion/ ‘brickwork’. There are a number of problems with this idea, though: a) it’s unlikely that Greek pl- would be borrowed into Oscan as fl-, which otherwise has no problem with the sequence pl-; b) we would probably expect the Greek sequence -εῖ- to be borrowed as Oscan –ei– or –í-; c) the Greek word is neuter, the Oscan one is feminine.

 

And, actually, there is a further problem, which is that, according to Imagines, the fifth letter of flit<e>am is actually v on the stone (hence the pointy brackets). Now, as emendations go, e for v is really pretty reasonable: in the Oscan alphabet is written E, while v is just an E without the middle horizontal stroke. You can see the (other) instance of v, fourth letter from the right, in this inscription below (note that Oscan is written right to left). But, given the many problems we already have in connecting flit<e>am to πλινθεῖον, perhaps we should just give up the connection, and accept that we have a word flitvam whose origin is obscure, and at any rate is nothing like πλινθεῖον.

So, is it really a flitvam? Well, I’m not sure. Rix, in his edition Sabellische Texte, prints an e with a dot under it. Unfortunately, in his edition, this dot means two different things: a damaged letter, or a letter conjectured from a broken or mistakenly written letter on the object. So it is not clear whether he sees a damaged e, or, like Imagines, a mistaken v which he replaces with e. There is definitely some kind of horizontal-ish stroke in the middle of the letter. It’s more or less visible in the photos below; in person, with a raking light, it looks deeper, firmer and more intentional. On the other hand, the object has clearly been damaged, and the stroke is less well-made than the other es in the inscription (you can see one as the second letter from the right in the picture above): it is not precisely parallel to the upper and lower horizontals, beginning rather low on the vertical and straggling diagonally upwards. At the moment I’m leaning towards seeing it as an e, but it just shows how much difficulty can be involved in reading even a clearly-written inscription.

 

fliteam or flitvam?