Greek in Italy

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The joys of makeshift ultra-violet photography

Last week, I gave a talk to the Merchant Taylors’ School Classics society, at the invitation of a former supervisee of mine (and Girton directee, for that matter).

My talk concerned two papyri that came to the School through the ‘Oxyrhynchus distribution’. The papyri are a fourth-century CE personal letter and six literary fragments, of which three have been joined and were identified long ago as parts of Odyssey I.

These papyri have been looked after very well and it was an absolute pleasure to examine for myself and to use them for their intended purpose — the enthusing of young minds for the study of Graeco-Roman Antiquity, or, at least, of ‘Literature and Life at Late Roman Oxyrhynchus‘.

As I said, three of the six literary pieces have been identified as parts of Odyssey I, while the three others remain tantalizingly unidentified. The metallic ink had faded by the time of discovery from black to a pale brown hardly distinct from the papyrus itself on the photograph or, as it were, in the flesh. (The black carbon ink accents are more visible and facilitate identifying the Greek characters: ‘Greek accents never matter, except when they do’, one might say.)

I wanted to examine the papyrus using ultra-violet light and was granted the opportunity to do so after my talk. At the end of my talk, an excited pupil from a lower form bound up to his teacher to say, ‘Please, sir, do tell me what happens with the UV light’.

At this stage, the jury is still out on the literary papyrus fragments, but here is the demonstration of what UV light can bring out, even using nothing more flashy than a 9 LED 395nm lamp bought through Amazon.co.uk and marketed for locating stains left by pets and for determining whether bank notes are fake or marked.

The first photograph here is in natural light. It shows an envelope that I kept because it had a story behind it. Just before the Financial Crisis, when I was still ‘Mr P. James’ and soon after I had started work for the Greek Lexicon Project, I, then 25, tried to cash in some money that my grandmother had left to me. All knowledge of the account’s existence was denied. The game was afoot. As I recall, I even had to enlist my PhD supervisor to authenticate my signatures.

In time, I succeeded in demonstrating that I was owed money by pointing out the oddity that interest was being paid into a non-existent account in proportion to a non-existent sum of money. An anomaly, to be sure, and my own window into financial services prior to the Crisis. The cheque arrived in this envelope.

20180321_090947

I pinned it to the Greek Lexicon Project’s noticeboard to share my amusement with my colleagues. Traces around two drawing-pin holes are clear to the naked eye (centre, top), but the hand-written address faded through exposure to sun light. You could convince yourself that there had once been writing, particularly by rotating the original so that may catch the light. Or, you could resort to UV light.

20180321_090923

With the aid of UV light and the use of a mobile-phone digital camera, the oddity in the address — the reason why I kept the envelope for display — becomes clear. Who were the ‘Greek Mexicans’? I do not know, but I did laugh all the way to the bank and I am pleased now to have this example of what can be done with UV light.

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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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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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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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The dangers of diglossia and bilingualism

The Latin word for ‘bilingual’ is bilinguis e. As a formation, it “literally” means ‘having two tongues’, just as the poet Ennius said that he had three hearts  (tria cordia) because he knew how to speak Greek, Oscan, and Latin (Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights XVII 17.1). The adjective bilinguis is one of a sizeable set of compounds that begin with bi– (see OLD, pp. 232-235).

The formal equivalent of bilinguis in Greek is δί-γλωσσος (again, “literally”, ‘having two tongues’, a neat illustration of how stems used in compounds can have the force of a singular or plural or dual). Whence come διγλωσσία and English ‘diglossia’ (‘being bilingual in your own language’, as I was taught) and ‘diglot’, a technical term for a book like a Loeb.

Both bilinguis and δίγλωσσος are not just formal equivalents; they also have the same range of meanings, connotations, and applications.

OLD lists the adjective as a description of ‘things’ with two tongues, of people with two languages, and of people who are ‘double-tongued, deceitful, treacherous’. LSJ has ‘speaking two languages’ for Thucydides and Galen (in his famous discussion of the nature of Koine Greek), but also ‘interpreter, dragoman’ in Plutarch. LSJ then continues ‘double-tongued, deceitful, LXXSi.5.9, al.’ (As ever, there is a question of what ‘al.’ means: officially ‘elsewhere in the same author’. This meaning occurs elsewhere in the LXX and in Siracides at that, but also in other authors, as DGE s.v. II 2 reports. ‘etc.’ would have been appropriate this time.) From DGE, we can add a double-tongued singing cicada (Anth. IX 273.2). Since γλώσσα can be anything tongue-shaped (LSJ s.v. III), doubtless, various objects could be ‘double-tongued’.

The Persian by Plautus has one character describing another as tamquam proserpens bestia est bilinguis et scelestus (‘Like a snake he is evil and has a two-forked tongue’: line 299). Virgil, Aeneid I 661, might be better known: domum timet ambiguam Tyriosque bilinguis (‘she fears the uncertain house and the “bilingual” Tyrians’).

The historian Quintus Curtius Rufus describes the Branchidae as:
mores patrii nondum exoleverant, sed iam bilingues erant, paulatim a domestico externo sermone degeneres.
They had not ceased to follow the customs of their native land, but they were already bilingual, having gradually degenerated from their original language through the influence of a foreign tongue.

History of Alexander the Great VII 5.29

This we would describe as ‘progress’ towards ‘language death’, in the context of language contact and cultural contact. However, we would do so more charitably than Curtius, who labelled the Branchidae as bilingual degeneres. That said, the Branchidae had sided with Xerxes and, to please him, had destroyed the Didymeon sanctuary (VII 5.28). Xerxes had resettled them. In VII 5.33-35, Curtius is more sympathetic to them  as victims of genocide (or more hostile to Alexander).

In some instances, it is clear that treachery (1), not bilingualism (2), is in view, but the two go together in the case of the Branchidae and, more generally, as Rachel Mairs has discussed in  ‘Translator, Traditor: The Interpreter as Traitor in Classical Tradition’, Greece and Rome 58.1 (2011), 64-81.

For (1), consider Didache 2.4, an early Christian text only rediscovered in 1883, and its parallel in the longer-known Epistle of Barnabas 19.7a:

οὐκ ἔσῃ διγνώμων οὐδὲ δίγλωσσος· παγὶς γὰρ θανάτου ἡ διγλωσσία.
You will not be double-minded, nor double-tongued: diglossia, you see, is the snare of death.

For (2), there are, among many other instances, bilingual Carian cities in Diodorus Siculus XI 60.4 (Greek cities with Persian garrisons) and an interpreter in XVII 68.5:

ἐν δὲ τούτοις ἧκεν ἀναγόμενος ἀνὴρ δίγλωττος, εἰδὼς <τὴν μὲν Ἑλληνικὴν καὶ> τὴν Περσικὴν διάλεκτον· οὗτος δὲ ἑαυτὸν ἀπεφαίνετο Λύκιον μὲν εἶναι τὸ γένος, αἰχμάλωτον δὲ γενόμενον ποιμαίνειν κατὰ τὴν ὑποκειμένην ὀρεινὴν ἔτη πλείω· δι’ ἣν αἰτίαν ἔμπειρον γενέσθαι τῆς χώρας καὶ δύνασθαι τὴν δύναμιν ἀγαγεῖν διὰ τῆς καταδένδρου καὶκατόπιν ποιῆσαι τῶν τηρούντων τὰς παρόδους.

Among these came hopefully a man who was bilingual, knowing *<the Greek and> the Persian language. He said that he was a Lycian, had been brought there as a captive, and had pastured goats in these mountains for a number of years. He had come to know the country well and could lead a force of men over a path concealed by bushes and bring them to the rear of the Persians guarding the pass.

* an example of a saut du même au même, an omission caused by skipping from the first occurrence of a word (τὴν ‘the’) to a second occurrence.

The words ‘he said that he was a Lycian’ sound a note of suspicion of (1) here… but, in this instance, that was in Alexander’s favour.

What has all this got to do with Greek in Italy?

Well, apart from the Greek historian Diodorus the Sicilian and then Galen, who was active at Rome in the second half of the third century (at the Imperial Court no less), it is enticing to speculate that the Latin bi– compounds have been influenced, to some extent, by their Greek formal counterparts. It is possible that biurus involves Greek οὐρά ‘tail’. If so, the name that Pliny the Elder reports Cicero as reporting for animalia…, qui uites in Campania erodebant (‘animals…, who would gnaw the vines in Campania’) would be a hybrid Latin-Greek compound. Two other bi– compounds, bilycnis ‘twin-lamped’  and bisyllabus ‘disyllabic, involve words that were Greek in origin (λύχνος and συλλαβή), but had their own currency as Latin words (lychnus and syllaba).

Neither the Didache nor the Epistle of Barnabas have any known connection with Italy, unlike other Greek texts among the so-called Apostolic Fathers (Ignatius wrote to the church in Rome, the letter known as 1 Clement was sent from the church in Rome to the church in Corinth, and the Shepherd of Hermas reports events in Rome and may refer to Cumae at 1.3 and 5.1, as Dindorf conjectured [although the Greek manuscripts have εἰς κώμας ‘into the villages’, one Latin version has apud ciuitatem Ostiorum and apud regionem Cumanorum respectively]). However, Codex Claromontanus (6th c. AD), which contains the letters of St Paul in Greek and Latin and which is thought to have been copied in Sardinia, contains a stichometric list that includes both the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. Two of the leaves of this codex are palimpsest with the Phaethon of Euripides as their undertext (plates I-IV in J. Diggle’s Euripides: Phaethon [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970]). So, there are various other Greek in Italy connections.

More than that, there is the occasion for this post: editorial work has begun on Migration, Mobility, and Language Contact, Greek in Italy’s volume arising from the 2016 Laurence Seminar of the same name. This volume will include a chapter on interpreters by Rachel Mairs.


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A new member for a new year

Happy New Year to everyone. We’re very pleased to welcome to the project Patrick James, who is joining as a post-doctoral research associate. Patrick previously worked for the Greek Lexicon project in the Classics Faculty here in Cambridge, and comes to us via the Tyndale House Institute for Biblical Research. He will be working on Greek loanwords in Latin, and we’re very much looking forward to seeing what he comes up with as we work together on the project. Look out for him introducing his work in more detail here on the blog!