Greek in Italy

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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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Carthaginians, Romans – and Oscan

I’ve recently been reading Eve McDonald’s book ‘Hannibal, a Hellenistic Life’. I’m not very well up on Roman Republican History, so it’s fascinating to fill this gap in my knowledge. But I also came across some old friends – the Mamertini. The Mamertini were a tribe from Samnium or Campania (the ancient sources differ), who were hired as mercenaries by Agathocles, who was the tyrant of Syracuse, on Sicily. The problem with soldiers, of course, and especially mercenaries, is that they tend to cause trouble when at a loose end. In the case of the Mamertini, they took over Messina. When the Syracusans tried to turf them out, they appealed to first the Cathaginians and then the Romans to help them. After the Carthaginians had already turned up and occupied Messina, the Mamertini decided that the Romans were a better bet, and ejected them. The Carthaginians teamed up with the Syracusans, and the stage was set for twenty-three years of war between the superpowers of the Mediterranean, which is now known as the First Punic War (264-241 BC).

This is all particularly interesting for me because the Mamertini were – originally at least – Oscan speakers. I wrote a bit about them in my book, but I hadn’t realised that they occupied such a key place in Roman history. It’s also very timely, because I’m going to Messina in a couple of weeks to attend a conference on the ‘Languages of the Strait of Messina in Material Documentation from the Hellenistic Period to Late Antiquity’ where I’ll be discussing in some more detail the Oscan inscriptions that remain from the time of the Mamertini (all seven of them!). Since Messina is one of the few examples we know of where an Oscan-speaking group took over a city with a Greek-speaking population, there’s been a fair amount of discussion about whether the Oscan inscriptions from Messina show any evidence for the relationship between Greek and Oscan in this area.

Unfortunately, as so often, our interpretations are heavily dependent on fairly uncertain material. I’ll report back after the conference on what I and other people said, but for the time being I’ll just give one example. One of the arguments rests on how the name works on the inscription below. It reads ‘-s son of Stennis. Of Apollo’. How it’s understood all depends on whether there’s the remains of the right hand stroke of an A before the Σ in the first line far left: what do you think?

 

Messina. Messana 7

(The picture was taken on our research trip in 2014, at the Museo Regionale Interdisciplinare di Messina. We’re very grateful to the staff there for their kind assistance).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Mapping Language Contact – Phase 1

It’s become a bit of a cliche for me that my academic talks tend to start with a map of the languages of Italy, followed by an explanation of why the map is dangerously misleading. The map that I normally use is from Wikipedia, and looks like this:

Iron_Age_Italy.svg

Now, this map does the job in many circumstances. It gives a rough indication of the location and extent of the languages of ancient Italy, taking a point around the fifth or fourth century. But – as I’m sure everyone is getting tired of hearing me say – there are some problems here too. The map gives the impression that there are clear borders between the languages, and that there was no bilingualism or language contact. It also buys into the Roman idea of large ‘tribes’ speaking the same language across wide areas, rather than individual communities and city states each doing their own thing. If we’re not careful, the map also gives the impression that these boundaries were static and unchanging – who would guess from this map, for example, that Etruscan extended down to Campania at its greatest extent?

Some of my colleagues prefer to use maps that looks something like this instead:

06map02italianlangs

This kind of map is more honest to some extent, since it gives a general impression of where each language is found without suggesting that we know exactly where the borders between languages. It also leaves some blank space in places, where there’s little or no evidence. But otherwise, it has the same problems as the first map – large areas each given one language, with no clear evidence of contact or change over time.

Until recently, I’ve contented myself with complaining about existing maps – but I’ve realised that for my Language Contact in Ancient Italy project, just poking holes in other people’s work is not going to be sufficient any more. And so, I’ve been making some maps.

The first task was to create a spreadsheet (or rather, a lot of spreadsheets…) which gave the locations and dates of all the inscriptions in Italy. There’s no one book that has this information, so it takes a certain amount of time to collate the information from lots of different sources. Fortunately, I’d done a lot of that work for previous research anyway.

Step two was getting all that information onto a map. Google maps is fairly handy for this kind of thing – here’s a screenshot of what all that information looks like:

map1

Languages of Italy c. 700 to c. 100 BC

On this map, every colour represents a different language (more or less). Dots show sites where that language is present. Stars show sites where there is more than one language present (at any period, not necessarily at the same time).

If we zoom in on a particular area, such as the Bay of Naples, you can see that if I click on a dot or star, you get some additional information about the languages and the time periods when they appear. So, if I click on Pompeii (a star), it will tell me that the languages there are Etruscan and Oscan.

map2

Information for Pompeii

So far so good, but still not the easiest way of visualising all the information. I decided that I also wanted a clearer map of all the languages for the whole period, but also maps for each century to show the change over time. For this, I had to put the same information into publisher, so that I could get the images looking as nice as possible. These images now look like this:

Languages of Italy Composite Map Jan 2016

Languages of Italy c. 700 to c. 100 BC

Languages of Italy C3 Jan 2016

Sample one-century map: third century BC

These images are much less interactive than a Google map, and with less information – but I’m hoping that people will eventually be able to use the two together. At some point I might even make a little animation of the century-by-century images, to show the changes over time.

All of this might seem like just gathering existing information together rather than creating anything new, but it’s already made me much more familiar with languages I know very little about, and given me a fresh perspective on the regions I thought I knew quite well. And for me, the insight into our evidence for ancient languages is completely worth the effort. On these maps, you can see that our evidence exists only as dots on a map – lots of blank space, lots of unknowns, and lots of overlaps.

So what is there left to do? Well, you might notice that Greek and Latin are conspicuously absent, apart from the black dot where I’ve marked in the city of Rome. (Is it a telling indication of my subconscious feelings about Latin that I’ve given it the Black Spot?) My next task will be to put together a list of the Latin inscriptions of Italy up until around 44 BC which – I’m hoping – shouldn’t actually take too long, given how many are found in and around Rome. Still, there’s plenty of Latin, and it will take a little while to put the evidence together.

Greek is potentially a more difficult task, since there the relevant inscriptions are spread among many more sites and publications. But I’m very luck that our PhD student Livia has a working list of all the Greek inscriptions in Italy that she is letting me use. So hopefully before too long I’ll have a finished and functional set of maps to share.

If you’d like to play around with the Google map, please do – I’m hoping that eventually these maps will be resources available for everyone to use. And let me know below if you spot any mistakes or would like to request any additional features that would be particularly helpful. I’ve also made an effort to make these maps easy to use for colour-blind readers, but if that applies to you and there are sections of the maps which are unclear, please let me know.

Also posted on katherinemcdonald.net


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New book: Oscan in Southern Italy and Sicily

Katherine’s new book, Oscan in Southern Italy and Sicily: Evaluating Language Contact in a Fragmentary Corpus, published by Cambridge University Press, is now out. We’re all very excited! Check out the awesome cover.

 

Samnite robot is go!

Here’s the blurb:

In pre-Roman Italy and Sicily, dozens of languages and writing systems competed and interacted, and bilingualism was the norm. Using frameworks from epigraphy, archaeology and the sociolinguistics of language contact, this book explores the relationship between Greek and Oscan, two of the most widely spoken languages in the south of the peninsula. Dr McDonald undertakes a new analysis of the entire corpus of South Oscan texts written in Lucania, Bruttium and Messana, including dedications, curse tablets, laws, funerary texts and graffiti. She demonstrates that genre and domain are critical to understanding where and when Greek was used within Oscan-speaking communities, and how ancient bilinguals exploited the social meaning of their languages in their writing. This book also offers a cutting-edge example of how to build the fullest possible picture of bilingualism in fragmentary languages across the ancient world.

It’s available to order on the CUP website or, no doubt, in your local bookshop.

 


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Researchfish

babelfish_1-300x200

The funding for the Greek in Italy Project is generously provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK and we submit an annual report to them saying what we have been up to, listing our published outputs and all sorts of activities under ‘engagement’. This year, there is a new web-interface for reporting to the AHRC, and our report will be submitted in the next couple of weeks. The web-interface is called ‘Researchfish’ (clear echoes of Douglas Adams’s Babel fish) and designed for use by all Research Councils and other bodies that fund research in the UK. It is on the whole easy to use, and involves much less time than writing a narrative statement of all the different things which we do as part of the project. My only complaint about the system is a peevish grumble that it is so clearly devised by and for research funded by ‘Big Science’: medicine, the physical and chemical sciences, engineering etc.

True enough, there are sections where you can record ‘Artistic and Creative Products’ alongside ‘Medical Products’ and ‘Software and Technical Products’, but the sample answers given in various sections reveal the bias to the Sciences. My favourite is from the section for reporting ‘Engagement Activities’: that is, activities that have ‘engaged audiences other than exclusively your scientific peers’ (strangely, academic conferences which are open to PhD students, as most are in the Arts and Humanities, are included in this section). One box to fill in is headed: “Briefly describe any notable impacts that arose from this activity.” Then they give a sample answer: “a school asked for lab visit (sic) for sixth form pupils and reported higher than expected interest from pupils in GCSE Science”. Although this looks impressive at first sight, it is actually nonsense. ‘Sixth form’ is an older UK term for students in the final two years of school, which follows the national exams known as GCSE. The two years leading up to GCSE are known as Key Stage 4, where the study of Science is a compulsory requirement (unlike languages, which are only compulsory for Key Stages 2 and 3). Hence most students who take the GCSEs have to take a GCSE in science. So the sample answer really seems to be saying ‘pupils expressed an interest in an exam which they had to take anyway, at a stage when they had already taken the exam.’

Mistakes like this are trivial, but they feed into an impression that what is really important in the reporting is the delivery of quantifiable and marketable ‘products’, and that the only valued impact is impact which can be measured in monetary terms. You can fill in boxes with what you tell schoolchildren with any rubbish at all, and no one really minds, because giving school talks doesn’t contribute to the national economy in the way that developing a new patent does. The best result of a school-talk is to encourage more children to become money-spinning scientists.

The AHRC only gets a small fraction of the UK’s annual budget for Science research (around £98 million out of £2.5 billion), and so we are just minnows in a sea full of dolphins, whales, and perhaps some sharks too. It makes sense for us all to share the same system of reporting, and submitting a standard form online cuts down on the work for everyone. But it would be nice to have as an example of the impact a school talk something like the following ‘The pupils learnt something new. Some of them were enthralled.’