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. (Livius.org 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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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.

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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.

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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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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 literature in Italy

Last year, I taught the Classics Faculty’s Intensive Greek reading classes on Bacchylides 5 (as also in 2015-2016) and Aeschylus’ Persians. Just like Simonides (Bacchylides’ uncle) and Pindar, these two celebrated Greek poets were associated with the court of Hieron of Syracuse. Earlier, there was Stesichorus (late 7th – mid 6th c. BCE), who lived, composed, and died in Magna Graecia, and Ibycus (fl. mid. 6th c. BCE), who was from Rhegion, but was active at the court of the Samian tyrant Polycrates. (Guides to the ‘biography’ of Greek and Latin poets and Collections of sources in their original languages and in translation are freely available via Living Poets at Durham).

That was all by way of a pretext to share two of my favourite journal articles on Bacchylides and highlights from the history of journal publishing. The first compares Bacchylides fr. 20  B 6-16 with a Martini label and, for a similar purpose, the second quotes Callimachus, Aetia (fr. 1.32), Pindar fr. 124 ab 5-7, and Teiresias’ words from Odyssey X 495 in an oft-quoted form independent of their context.

Merkelbach, R. (1973). Zum Trinklied des Bakchylides. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 10: 228-229.
— (1975). Der Triumph der Nüchternheit oder Die Widerlegung des Martini-Trinkers. Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 17: 97-100.

ZPE 10 1973 229

ZPE 10 1975 98

In those days, ZPE was prepared on typewriters and these (colour) Martini labels were glued in copy by copy…

Bacchylides was fond of compound adjectives involving colours. One of my favourites is κυανο-πλόκαμος: ‘(of Victory) with blue or dark braids (of hair)’. That is, Victory was ‘blue rinse’.

My real reason to mention colours, though, was to reference another article.
Gipper, Helmut (1964). Purpur. Glotta 42.1./2: 39-69.

Blue hair may not have been the key notion in κυανοπλόκαμος and the identity of the colour whose adjective is πορφύρεος  (whence, our ‘purple’) has been a subject for some debate, given its range of applications (LSJ s.v.).

Helmut Gipper concluded his study with a colour swatch, again individually glued into each copy of that issue of the journal.

Gipper Purpur


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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).

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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).

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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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Lingue dello Stretto

It’s been a couple of months since I trailed mine and Livia’s upcoming trip to Messina to take part in ‘Lingue dello Stretto nella Documentazione Materiale dall’Ellenismo alla Tarda Antichità‘ (Languages of the Strait in Documentary Material from Hellenic Times to Late Antiquity), and I’ve been remiss in reporting back (it’s been a busy time! We had the Laurence Seminar in Cambridge the next week, on which James has already blogged).

There were far too many interesting papers, taking a wide range of approaches to the languages spoken around the Strait of Messina for me to talk about all of them (you can see the whole programme here – it opens as a .pdf). Particular highlights for me were Paolo Poccetti giving a tour-de-force analysis of the way linguistic, onomastic, literary and numismatic evidence could be combined to demonstrate how peoples in the area created a self-image; and Jonathan Prag’s demonstration of his amazing online corpus of inscriptions from Sicily (to go live soon. Follow updates at the project blog here), which is clearly going to redefine the state of the art (our very own Katherine McDonald has been involved in editing the entries on the Oscan inscriptions, which you can read about on her blog). And Livia’s talk on ‘Contact and linguistic prestige in the Hellentistic Doric of Sicily’ – but I’ll spare her blushes.

Apart from the brilliance of the talks, and the friendly and collegial atmosphere, the conference was one of the best organised I’ve ever been to: accommodation booked on our behalf, a bus laid on to take us to and from, and superlative food at lunch, dinner (and granita con panna e brioche in the coffee breaks!). We’re very grateful to Giuseppe Ucciardello, Alessandro De Angelis, Annamaria Chilà and Silvia Cutuli, who were the perfect hosts.

After the conference finished I popped across the strait to Reggio Calabria, but I’ll say more about that in my next post. I’ll finish here with an inscription I spotted in my wanderings in Messina: it’s a great example of how the spelling conventions used to write a text need not necessarily match up with thelanguage the text is written in.

 

Free wi-fi

 

 

 


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New book: Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds

James Clackson’s new book Language and Society in the Greek and Roman Worlds is now available as part of the “Key Themes in Ancient History” series.

The blurb:

“Texts written in Latin, Greek and other languages provide ancient historians with their primary evidence, but the role of language as a source for understanding the ancient world is often overlooked. Language played a key role in state-formation and the spread of Christianity, the construction of ethnicity, and negotiating positions of social status and group membership. Language could reinforce social norms and shed light on taboos. This book presents an accessible account of ways in which linguistic evidence can illuminate topics such as imperialism, ethnicity, social mobility, religion, gender and sexuality in the ancient world, without assuming the reader has any knowledge of Greek or Latin, or of linguistic jargon. It describes the rise of Greek and Latin at the expense of other languages spoken around the Mediterranean and details the social meanings of different styles, and the attitudes of ancient speakers towards linguistic differences.”