Greek in Italy

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Greek in Italy via Egypt: the Deification of Homer

Not all Greek in Italy came directly from Greece, as we would think of country nowadays. A case in point is the Apotheosis or Deification of Homer, a marble relief dated to the end of third century BCE and thought to have been made at Alexandria (the one ‘near’ Egypt) before it was brought to Italy and its findspot of Bovillae.

A cast of this relief can be seen, and read, in the Faculty of Classics’ own Museum of Classical Archaeology and the artefact itself is not so far away at the British Museum. ( has some discussion.). The subject of the relief was taken up by Ingres for the ceiling of the first room in the Musée Charles X in the Louvre.

The presence of a cast so close to home is the occasion not only for this blogpost, but also for sharing a resource relating to the Greek inscriptions in (and around) the Museum of Classical Archaeology.

About this time last year, as the first years were about to sit their exams, I prepared a different kind of supervision in anticipation of such a request as ‘Sir, can we have a fun lesson, please, now that we’ve done our exams?’. Of course, I would say, ‘All my supervisions are fun!’.

The plan was to tour the Cast Gallery of the Museum of Classical Archaeology and to discuss its Greek inscriptions, which range from the end of the seventh century BCE to the Hellenistic period. As such, they illustrate some of the array of local alphabets that were in use until the emergence ‘the Greek alphabet’ as we might think of it: an Ionic script of twenty-four letters that was officially adopted at Athens in 403/402 BCE and taken as far as the Indus River by Alexander.

To prepare myself, I compiled a spreadsheet of links to the Cast Gallery’s records, the Packhard Humanities Searchable Greek Inscriptions, Poinikastas, and other online resources, as well as a comparatio to the epigraphic corpora and handbooks on the Greek dialects.

There is no need to compile such a spreadsheet for the inscriptions of the Fitzwilliam Museum. As a collection of originals, not casts, there is an entry in Trismegistos.


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A tale of two verse epitaphs (and two nomina)

Olivia Elder has contributed an illuminating and very stimulating study of migrants at Rome to our volume, Mobility, Migration and Language Contact. Towards its conclusion, two verse epitaphs feature as examples of Greek at Rome used not only as an indicator of immigrant status, but also by those ‘indigenous’ to Rome.

The linguistic and metrical nuts and bolts of these two inscriptions were not Elder’s concern, but they were the occasion for several e-mails back and forth between me and James Clackson. This post will not be able to address many of those points, but I invite our readers to use the Comments to raise questions and to discuss points of linguistic interest. (If I get an opportunity, I will supply translations.)

IG XIV 1440
πατρὶς μὲν ζαθέη Ῥώμη, Βασιλεὺ δὲ
❦ πατήρ μοι, ❦ |
Ἀττίκιλλα δ’ ἐγὼ λεγόμην καλὸν οὔνομα
❦ μητρός· ❦ |
κουριδίῳ δὲ πόσει παῖδας λίπον ἡβώ-
❦οντας ❦ |
τέσσαρας, οἵ με νέαν τῷδ’ ὑπέθεντο
❦ τάφῳ. ❦
IG XIV 1890
Θεοῖς ❦ Καταχθονίοις.
ἐνθάδ’ ἐγὼ κεῖμαι Ὀλυμπία ∙ ἐτῶν
κβʹ ∙ | Ἕλλην μὲν τὸ γένος, πατρὶς δέ μοι ἦτον
Ἀπάμεα ∙ | οὐδένα λοιπήσασα | οὐ μεικροῦ ψυχήν, οὐ μεγάλου
κραδίην ∙ | στήλην δ’, ἣν ἐπύησα κατὰ χθόνα δάκρυσι θερμοῖς, |
παρθένον ἣν ἔλαβον, Σωτᾶς Ὀλυμπιάδι πέποικα ∙ | στοργὴ
γὰρ μεγάλη τῶν ἀμφοτέρων διέμεινεν ∙ | ὡς ὅπου φῶς
τὸ γλυκὺν παρέμεινε ἀκτεῖσι ἐπιλάμπων ∙ | ἡδὺν ἀπὸ
στόματος καὶ γλυκὺν ὡς μελίτιν ∙ | ταύτην τὴν στ̣
λην ἐπύησα Σωτᾶς σε φιλήσας ∙ | ψυχῇ διψώσῃ
ψυχρὸν ὕδωρ μετάδες·
❦ ἀδε<λ>φὸς ταύτης ἐπέγραψεν. ❦

(For a father of four myself, this is acutely touching.)

An immediate point of interest is contrasting varieties of Greek. IG XIV 1440 is squarely in the tradition of epitaphs in hexameters or elegiac couplets (n.b. ζαθέη, καλὸν οὔνομα, πόσει, augmentless λίπον, and diectasised ἡβώοντας), but IG XIV 1890 is squarely not so.

IG XIV 1890 bristles with non-standard orthography (λοιπήσασα, μεικροῦ, ἐπύησα, and ἀκτεῖσι), a form that anticipates Modern Greek (a third-person singular imperfect ἦτον), forms that are otherwise peculiar (μετά-δες for -δος can be paralleled only from Greek from Egypt; πέποικα recalls ἔποικα, a ‘Neo-hellenic’ form noticed by Jannaris [1897: 440] and a precursor of a form discussed by Mark Janse in relation to Cappadocian Greek…), and solecisms (Olympia feminine is described as Ἕλλην masculine μὲν τὸ γένος [but cf. LSJ s.v. Ἕλλην III]; masculine γλυκύν and ἡδύν in agreement with neuter φῶς). That said, it is hard to get away from the literary tradition: note Ionic κραδίην and a Homeric reminiscence (κατὰ χθόνα) δάκρυσι θερμοῖς.

To return to the concerns of Elder’s paper, the ‘better’ Greek is that of the self-identified Roman, the ‘rougher’ Greek that of the ‘Greek’ from Apamea in Syria.

Another curiosity appears in a bilingual dedication made at Rome to the Sun and the Moon by a Palmyrene named Heliodoros (dated to 236 CE: ἔτους ζ∙μ∙φʹ μηνὸς Περιτίου): the apparent juxtaposition of two nomina – Julius and Aurelius – in IGUR I 119 (~ IG XIV 971). Below is the drawing in (and by?) Kaibel.


IG XIV 971

We are concerned with the damaged letter at the beginning of the third line. Kaibel read tau. T(itus) Aurelius Heliodoros is unproblematic. However, more recently, Moretti, whose edition Elder uses (as did Adams 2003: 251-252), printed iota, but a Julius Aurelius Heliodoros would be odd because he would have two nomina and no praenomen. Also, I am not aware of nomina being abbreviated as praenomina customarily are (other than ΑΥΡ(ηλιος) here: n.b. AΥΡΗΛΙΟΣΗΛΙΟΔΩΡΟΣ).

Moretti printed a photograph, a scan of which follows enlarged to 400% and to 200%.

IAURHLIODWROS 400 per cent

IAURHLIODWROS 200 per cent

These scans are far from great. Thoughts on the first letter, whose hasta at least is clear, would be welcome.

Given the early third-century date and the presence of the nomen Aur(elius), I wonder whether we have here a Heliodorus who gained Roman citizenship through the Constitutio Antoniniana (212 CE), by which all free inhabitants gained the praenomen Marcus and the nomen Aurelius. One’s original ‘Greek’ name would be given in the cognomen position. I say ‘Greek’, because the Palmyrene text names him as Iarhai. Perhaps, the Greek name Heliodoros was chosen (by him) as a worshipper of the Sun (and the Moon). If only I could see a mu!

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Which Greeks in Italy?

‘Greek in Italy’ should not be understood to mean that there was (ever) an ethnically- and dialectally-homogenous Greek population in Italy. As shown in the map below (from Wikipedia, s.v. Magna Graeciamap caveats duly noted), there were Doric, Ionic, Northwest Greek, and ‘Achaean’ coastal ‘pockets’.


The concern of this post is how we can associate with a particular dialect group a specific Greek individual that we can identify in Italy. One answer is features of that person’s name. Since the whole point is that people travel, it is not enough to say that since a name happens to be well-attested in a particular region, that particular name belongs to the dialect of that region. Put differently, I am not a car because I stand in a garage; or, just because I am named Patrick, it doesn’t mean I’m Irish.

While tracking down a paper about Egyptian loanwords in Greek, I found a fascinating piece by A.S. McDevitt entitled ‘A Thessalian in Magna Graecia’ (Glotta 46.3/4 [1968]: 254-256), about a Greek inscription in Achaean script on a bronze tablet found at Francavilla Marittima and dated to the middle of the 6th c. BCE.

The inscription was published by A.D. Trendall in ‘Archaeology in South Italy and Sicily (1964-1966)‘, Archaeological Reports 13 (1966-1967), 39 (and fig. 17):

AR 1967 p. 39 and fig. 17

The retrograde inscription (LSAG) contains the name ΚΛΕΟΜΡΟΤΟΣ, ‘Mr Famous Mortal’ (the photo confirms that there was no room for β, pace the supplement in LGPN and the transcription that marks [β] as filling a damaged space: <β> would be an editorial insertion).

The giveaway that this name originated in the Thessalian dialect (of the ‘Aeolic’ ‘group’) is the sequence -ΜΡΟ-. Other dialects would have Κλεόμβροτος (as the editor and LGPN assume). That name is attested and demonstrates how all other Greek dialects eased the sequence -μρ- by the insertion (epenthesis) of β. (The same phenomenon is seen in the genitive singular ἀνδρός alongside the nominative ἀνήρ and in much later spellings of the name ‘Israel’ as Ἰστραήλ or Ἰσδραήλ and it explains why the Hebrew book named Ezra formed part of 1 Esdras in Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible.) In a compound, such as Κλεόμβροτος the sequence -μ-βρ- could be preserved between syllables, but since a word could not start μβρ-, the familiar, but poetic, βροτός ‘mortal’ arose.

That gets us as far as the -ΜΡ-. There is also the -ρο- to consider. Most Greek dialects have syllabic r reflected as -αρ- or -ρα-, but the ‘Aeolic’ ‘group’, like Latin and Arcado-Cypriot, has -ρο-: so, Attic καρδία (the same in origin as English heart), Ionic καρδίη (epic κραδίη),  and Latin cor. (Aeolic is said to have had κάρζα, but it is καρδία that is transmitted in the famous poem of Sappho (31.6) that begins φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἰσοθέοισιν.) Cypriot is said to have had κορζία (perhaps, κόρζα). An army is a στρατός, but a στρότος for Sappho (16.1). Here, *mr-tos gives Latin mortuus ‘having died, dead’, various Lesbian-Aeolic names in -μορτος as well as μορτός known from Callimachus and Hesychius.

All that is to say that mortals should have been brats or barts in non-Aeolic and non-Arcado-Cypriot dialects and that the poetic word βροτός found in Classical Attic poetry was imported from another dialect.

It seems then that we have a Thessalian in Magna Graecia, betrayed by the phonological features of his name.

The remaining puzzle is why there is no digamma in Κλεϝόμροτος when it is plain to see in between vowels in Δεξιλάϝο, and ἀϝέθλον and at the start of ϝίσο(ν), although not after a consonant: ϝίσο-, not ϝίσϝο-). [At this point, some helpful Boeotians can be named to spell out the history of ϝισϝο- (regarded by Buck, sect. 54.d, as ‘secondary’): Ϝισϝόδικος (early seventh-century, complete with a qoppa! LSAG) gives way to  Ϝισοδίκω (genitive singular: in this mid-third-century BCE inscription initial ϝ- abounds).] Since, such secondary (-)σϝ- can only be cited from (early) Arcadian, Boeotian, Cretan (the Gortyn Law ‘Code’), and Sicyonian, its absence here is not a cause for concern.

The solution is easy enough: Thessalian, the dialect of the man’s name, lost the digamma between vowels earlier than other dialects, such as that of the rest of this inscription. Buck (The Greek Dialects, pp. 48-49) could cite only fifth-century Δάϝο̄ν (DGE 563 / IG IX 2, 236), which is thought to be a Thracian name anyway, and had ἔσο̄σε (fifth-century: DGE 557 / IG IX 2, 257.10 /  Buck, no. 35) as evidence for the loss of digamma between vowels and the contraction that ensued (originally: σαϝο-, as in Σαϝοκλέϝης, a Cypriot personal name). The latter inscription has ϝ|οικιάταις, unproblematically, and, curiously, κε̄υϝεργέταν (lines 3-4 and 5), but ἐποίε̄σαν (lines 5-6: cf. epigraphic (-)ποιϝεσ(-)).

Of course, all this collapses if the editor of the inscription and LGPN were right to regard the lack of a <β> as an error to be corrected. That is possible, but Κλεομρο- has the support of two other names in two early fifth-century Thessalian inscriptions, this time from Thessaly. McDevitt had earlier reported (Glotta 45 3/4 (1967): 161-163) a gent called Φιλόμροτος (attested as a genitive Φιλομρότοι, an ending peculiar to Thessalian: cf. -οι-ο in Homer) and a lady called Μροχώ (apparently followed by Ιℎερ̣[ογ]ενέ̣α̣, the patronymic adjective of Ἱερογένεις [-ης] as used in Thessalian, the rest of the Aeolic group, and in Homer…, in Αἴας Τελαμώνιος). The inscriptions are SEG XXIV 405 (text) and 406 (text).

So, we have a Greek named with Thessalian dialect phenomena, and perhaps extraction, in Italy.

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The homecoming of an Odyssey

In the final lines of Hesiod’s Theogony (1011-1016), we are told that Odysseus had two (or three) sons by Circe: Agrios and Latinos (and perhaps Telegonos), who ruled the Tyrsenians (a people in Italy [with the ethnic suffix -ηνός commonly found in Asia Minor and the Levant], if not actually the Etruscans who were later referred to as Tyrsenians/Tyrrenians). The parentage of this Latinus is problematic. Virgil does (Aeneid 12.164) and does not (Aeneid 7.47) present Circe as his mother. Hyginus (Fabulae 127) has Telemachus as his father.

One point of interest, although for another day, is the quantity of the i vowel in the suffix (assuming that it is a suffix): Λατῖνος. This is not the Greek suffix used to form adjectives (of material), such as λίθινος ‘made of stone’.

That is all by way of introducing a post on the Odyssey of Homer, not least because the Teubner edition by M.L. West has recently been published, but mainly because nearly two weeks ago I obtained a copy of the Odyssey as edited by Arthur Platt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1892), one of the ‘Cambridge Homer’ volumes.

‘The principle on which this edition is made is that of going back as far as is reasonably possible to the original language of Homer’ (Introduction, vii). For Platt, ‘original language’ means that digammas abound and contractions are resolved (infinitives in -εμεν from -ειν before Bucolic diaeresis; aorist 2 infinitives in -έεν from -έειν), among other instances of antiquing. This Odyssey has the complete Vulgate text in order (V 1-42, VIII 266-369, XI 568-629, and XXIII 297-end of XXIV, ‘the wretched conclusion’, are present, but bracketed). This Homer is thoroughly Ionic.

Here is the beginning of Book VIII (lines 11-25 featured in last year’s Part 1B exam and I, at least, have set them for a supervision later this term).

Platt Od.8.1-53

All this is far less radical than the ‘Aeolic Homer’ of Augustus Fick (Ilias, Odysseia). Here is the ‘same’ passage, now a third part (γ) in Part III, the (second) Return of Odysseus.

Fick Od.8.1-28 III nostos Odysseos G.1-27

Digammas abound, but also the original long a-s for the eta of Ionic. Gemination is found for compensatory lengthening. Rosy-fingered Dawn is squarely Aeolic βροδοδάκτυλος Αὔως (line 1) and Odysseus has dual, not plural shoulders (line 19). I shall say no more, but leave readers and my supervisees to consider other points of linguistic interest in these restorations with the help of these visual aids.

For Fick, the Odyssey, or rather Part II, the Revenge of Odysseus, ended thus (cf. Od.23.296, the τέλος): ἀσπάσιοι λέκτροιο παλαίω θέσμον ἴκοντο (‘Glad they approached the assemblage of the old bed.’). (θεσμός was one of my first words for the Cambridge Greek Lexicon Project…).

This volume is no insignificant second-hand outdated book. For starters, I have had in mind to obtain a copy of Platt’s Odyssey ever since my Latin-Greek-Ancient History school master gave me his copy of Platt’s Iliad before I came up to Cambridge (a casket copy, if you will). Therein, Platt simply refers to his Odyssey for an explanation of his approach. Second, the marginal reference to Munro’s Homeric Grammar beside line 48 is not the only annotation.

Platt Odyssey

This copy was bought from W. Heffer & Sons of Cambridge and belonged to none other than the Classical philosopher F.M. Cornford. Complete with a Heffer’s book mark, this Odyssey, bought online from Wigtown, has indeed come home. Not bad for £8 + P&P!

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More on the dangers of diglossia

I am very pleased to see that the Bellum Catilinae of Sallust is back on the schedule of Latin texts for Cambridge undergraduates and I look forward to drawing on it in Linguistics and Philology teaching once this term is underway. (The companion site for a recent edition is a very welcome resource.)

One of Sallust’s purple passages is his ‘portait of a lady’, Sempronia (25). She is largely incidental, it seems, to the work as a whole and to Catiline’s conspiracy. She did provide a venue later on (40.5: ille eos in domum D. Bruti perducit, quod foro propinqua erat neque aliena consili propter Semproniam; nam tum Brutus ab Roma aberat. ‘He led them into the house of Decimus Brutus, because it was next to the forum and not unfamiliar with his plan, because of Sempronia; for at that time Brutus was away from Rome). However, the conspiracy was betrayed by another woman, who gets no such portrait: Fulvia (23.3-4, 26.3, and 28.2). Still, Sempronia has a prominent place in the history of the end of the Roman Republic, as the mother of Decimus Junius ‘Et tu, Brute’ Brutus (cf. 40.5 again).

sed in eis erat Sempronia, quae multa saepe uirilis audaciae facinora commiserat. haec mulier genere atque forma, praeterea uiro liberis satis fortunata fuit; litteris Graecis et Latinis docta, psallere, saltare elegantius quam necesse est probae, multa alia, quae instrumenta luxuriae sunt. sed ei cariora semper omnia quam decus atque pudicitia fuit; pecuniae an famae minus parceret haud facile discerneres; lubido sic accensa ut saepius peteret uiros quam peteretur. sed ea saepe antehac fidem prodiderat, creditum abiurauerat, caedis conscia fuerat: luxuria atque inopia praeceps abierat. uerum ingenium eius haud absurdum: posse uersus facere, iocum mouere, sermone uti uel modesto, uel molli, uel procaci; prorsus multae facetiae multusque lepos inerat.

Now among these women was Sempronia, who had often committed many crimes of masculine daring. In birth and beauty, in her husband also and children, she was abundantly favoured by fortune; well read in the literature of Greece and Rome, able to play the lyre and dance more skilfully than an honest woman need, and having many other accomplishments which minister to voluptuousness. But there was nothing which she held so cheap as modesty and chastity; you could not easily say whether she was less sparing of her money or her honour; her desires were so ardent that she sought men more often than she was sought by them. Even before the time of the conspiracy she had often broken her word, repudiated her debts, been privy to murder; poverty and extravagance combined had driven her headlong. Nevertheless, she was a woman of no mean endowments; she could write verses, bandy jests, and use language which was modest, or tender, or wanton; in fine, she possessed a high degree of wit and of charm. (tr. J.C. Rolfe)

So, her linguistic attainments are reported with some ambivalence. In her defence, she could write verse. However, Sallust slips easily from his comment that she was ‘learned’ (docta) in Greek and Latin literature, not only to lyre-playing and dancing, but to greater ability there than an honest woman needs or should have: psallere, saltare elegantius quam necesse est probae. The infinitive psallere ‘to play the lyre’ is one of a handful of Greek loanwords in Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae and neatly associates Sempronia’s Greek learning with her conduct unbecoming a Roman matron and downright criminal.

(Sallust’s other Greek loanwords are (as far as I know at present): camera [καμάρα] ‘a vaulted roof’ in 55.4; machinor ‘machinate’ in 18.7 and 48.7 (a derivative within Latin from machina, a borrowing from ‘Doric’ μᾱχανά̄ and early enough to show vowel-weaking of unstressed <a> to <i>; then, tetrarches ‘tetrarch’ in 20.7 and toreuma ’embossed or relief work’ in 20.12, both on Catiline’s lips. Then, dolus ‘trick’ in 11.2, 14.5, 26.2, and 28.2 is not clear-cut. It appears as early as the XII Tables and could be either an early borrowing from Greek (and into Oscan, perhaps via Latin) or an inherited word related to doleo ‘I feel pain’. Both an inherited word and a loan would look identical.)

As we saw in an earlier post on the dangers of diglossia, bilingualism and, here, perhaps ‘only’ a reading knowledge of Greek, were not always seen as morally-neutral attainments.

After I wrote that post, James reminded me of Quintus Sulpicius Maximus, the Roman 11-year-old wunderkind, who died shortly after winning an honourable mention, in a contest of 52 poets, for his 43 Greek hexameters on Phaethon (GVI 1924, shortly after 94 CE).

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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).


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).


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.


Hypermobile Mamertines?

At last year’s Laurence Seminar (‘Migration, Mobility, and Language Contact‘), Nick presented a paper about ‘the Mobile Mamertini’, mercenaries from Campania or Samnium who captured Messina circa 288 BCE.

While investigating the earliest appearances of Italians in Egypt, I found that Csaba La’da, one of my papyrology teachers, had reported an instance of the ethnic Μαμερτῖνος in his Foreign Ethnics in Hellenistic Egypt (2002). Thanks to the amicitia papyrologorum, I have obtained a copy of the original edition. I have not yet seen an image or the inscribed surface itself…

The funerary inscription (TM 47467), which remains in situ in Hadra in Alexandria (ad Aegyptum), is still cited from its 1915 (re-)publication as SB I 419f and is dated between 199-30 BCE. It reads:

Μαραῖος Βακείου | Μαμερτῖνος.

‘Maraeus, son of Baceus, a Mamertine’.

So, we have another Mamertine, but outside Italy this time and later than expected (the items in Nick’s dossier are all assumed to belong to the third century BCE, the latest being coinage c. 225 BCE).

The content follows the Greek pattern of the deceased’s name in the nominative case, his father’s name in the genitive case, and, then, the deceased’s ‘ethnic’ (or equivalent for the context). The orator Demosthenes illustrates this pattern, but with his Attic demotic rather than this ethnic Ἀθηναῖος: Δημοσθένης Δημοσθένους Παιανιεύς (D.18.187). (The Latin pattern, in full, includes the tria nomina and F(ilius) after the father’s name in the genitive.)

Maraeus, Nick informed me, is a good Oscan name: Marahis. It is rarely attested in Greek texts. The Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN) knows nine instances, all more-or-less Late Hellenistic in date, several from Asia Minor, and two, comfortingly, from Naples in Campania (e.g.). The nine instances include two father-son pairs. Trismegistos People (TM), as a whole, adds only two more bearers of this name (from two Petrie papyri, both found at Gurob and both written in the last decade of the third century BCE). One of them was a τακτόμισθος (as LSJ puts it, ‘a rank in the army of the Ptolemies‘…). That term is confined to papyri and, on the face of it, might have something to do with soldiers for hire (μισθός). Fischer-Bovet suggested ‘(mercenary) with a fixed wage’ as a gloss.

The father’s name, Βακεῖος is hard to parallel. LGPN’s online search silently corrected it to Βακ<χ>εῖος (the printed edition is transparent on this point), a name that seems unremarkable except that it has only one other attestation: Baccheius of Tanagra, a third-century BCE Hippocratic commentator. Trismegistos People treats the father’s name as a spelling variant of Βάκιος, a name attested on a Roman-period ostracon , whose most recent editors instruct ‘l. Βάκχιος’. (Simplification of <κχ> to <χ> in βακχ- words is illustrated by Gignac (1976:100) and by Threatte (1980: 542f.) and the interchange of <χ> and <κ> between vowels by Gignac (1976: 92) and Threatte (1980: 453ff.). Mayser-Schmoll (1970: 186) provides comparable Βακχ-, Βαχχ-, and βαχ- data, but not βακ-. The simplification of <κχ> to <κ> is not illustrated. <κ> may have been written for <κκ> or Latin .)

Since Greek and Latin texts provide no supporting evidence for the father’s name and the alternative readings proposed in the databases both have weaknesses of their own, what are we to do? Nick drew my attention to the abbreviation BAK() at Pompeii in L BAK() inscribed right to left in Oscan script on a (small) black slip bowl (uasculum) after it had been fired. Whatever name was so abbreviated could give us a point of comparison with the father of our Maraeus and Southern Italy.

However, our knowledge of that inscription is very shaky because it depends entirely on H. Dressel’s drawing and description, which underlie CIL X (1883) 8055.67. On the basis of that drawing, some have read BAD with Oscan <R> for /d/ (Rix, ST Po 88), while others maintain that the final <K> cannot be an incomplete Oscan <R> (Crawford et al., Imagines Italicae, Pompei 86: L(ucius) Bac(culeius) is suggested there, with the Pompeian M. Bacculeius of CIL IV, Supp. 3 (1963) 9256 as a comparison).

Whatever is going on with ΒΑΚΕΙΟΥ, we have a Mamertine with an Oscan name buried in Hadra in Alexandria in the Ptolemaic period.

What about later Μαμερτῖνοι in Egypt? Connections with the Mamertine mercenaries faded and Μαμερτ(ε)ῖνος (LGPN and TM) remained in use only as a cognomen (and hence, from an agnomen, Μαμερτινιανός), Marcus Petronius Mamertinus, the second-century statesman, being its most well-known bearer.