Friday, June 23, 2017


Pierre Cabanes, Faïk Drini, Corpus des inscriptions grecques d'Illyrie méridionale et d'Épire 3: Inscriptions d'Albanie (en dehors des sites d'Épidamne-Dyrrhachion, Apollonia et Bouthrôtos). Études Épigraphiques, 2.3. Athènes: École française d'Athènes, 2016. Pp. 336. ISBN 9782869582620. €85.00.

Reviewed by Fabienne Marchand, University of Fribourg (

Version at BMCR home site

This third volume in the series of the Corpus des inscriptions grecques d'Illyrie méridionale et d'Épire (CIGIME) gathers inscriptions from Albania, save those from Epidamnus-Dyrrachium, Apollonia in Southern Illyricum and Buthrotum, which are already covered in the previous volumes.1

The volume is arranged geographically into three parts: the Chaonia; the edges of Illyria and Epirus; and finally Central, Eastern and Northern Albania, each in turn split according to site. At the end of the volume two additional sections deal with texts of uncertain provenance (nos. 470-476) and inscriptions from elsewhere in the Greek world that mention Illyrians (nos. 477-485). Chronologically, the inscriptions cover a particularly extensive period, from the fifth or fourth century BC well into the Middle Ages, with a significant majority of the texts belonging to the Roman Imperial Period. Texts include the expected public and private inscriptions (decrees, manumission documents, dedications, milestones, epitaphs, etc.), as well as perhaps more neglected types of inscribed artefacts such as stamped tiles, and inscriptions on terracotta and vases.

Lemmata are exhaustive, and the editions of the inscriptions are clear and rigorous. Systematic translations into accessible French – even to non-native speakers – will particularly appeal to students. Where relevant, detailed apparatus critici and generous scholarly commentaries are also provided. The volume closes with indices (pp. 313-323) of names of divinities, magistrates, Roman consuls, Roman and Byzantine Emperors, male and female personal names (with slave names conveniently highlighted in italics, and foreigners at the end, arranged alphabetically according to ethnics), ethnics and geographical names, words pertaining to institutions, and finally the names of months. A three-page table lists concordances with Inscriptiones Graecae; Fouilles de Delphes; Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum; Cabanes, L'Épire, de la mort the Pyrrhos à la conquête romaine (1976); and E. Lhôte, Les lamelles oraculaires de Dodone (2006). The latter could have been included in the list of abbreviated works at the beginning of the volume, as the reference "E. Lhôte" in the table of concordance is not immediately clear to non-specialists. Two pages of addenda to previous volumes (including three unpublished texts2), a table of contents, and six excellent and legible geographical maps precede 40 pages of plates in which about three quarters of the 476 inscriptions are illustrated in the form of photographs, squeezes, and occasional drawings, of variable quality, unsurprising given the number of illustrations provided and the fact that some stones have disappeared since they were recorded. It is frustrating that occasionally some dates are omitted and not even broadly indicated, leaving the reader with no other option but to rely on the pictures.

Although the title of the book advertises simply a corpus of Greek inscriptions, the contents of the book go much deeper, and even many Latin texts are taken into consideration, mostly pertaining to Roman Emperors (such as milestones and dedications). An important series of rupestral inscriptions carved into the cliffs at Grammata (dedications, ex votos, and epitaphs) also include Latin texts. Furthermore, extensive literary and epigraphical testimonia, including the Tabula Peutingeriana, are provided for each region, city or site, arranged in chronological order down to Late Antiquity and even the Middle Ages. The authors also provide generous geographical and historical background for each section, and, where relevant, a history of archaeological research, so that this book will become an indispensible starting point for any research on ancient Albania. Some useful additional essays are also provided. One in particular, devoted to the Dioskouroi (pp. 162-167), deserves to be mentioned. Although intended as a scholarly introduction to a series of inscriptions from Grammata related to the gods, it provides an invaluably rich synthesis of the cults in the region as well as in Grammata. In other words, the volume is a goldmine for archaeologists, historians, epigraphers, and students alike.

One of the strengths of this volume is the number of previously unpublished texts, which represent approximately three quarters of the inscriptions. Unfortunately for the reader, the volume does not contain a list to highlight which ones are new. The remainder of this review will focus on several texts deserving special attention.

The site of Grammata on the Ionian coast offers the most substantial contribution to the hoard of new inscriptions. Over 100 of these are rupestral inscriptions carved into its cliffs. Besides graffiti bearing personal names, many are dedications, for example to Isis (no. 178), but the majority are linked with the local cult of the Dioskouroi whose sanctuary is mentioned in no. 221. A substantial series consists of "remembrance" inscriptions in which someone recommends someone else for protection from the Dioskouroi (nos. 196, 206, 214, 215, 216, 217, 220, 224, 227, 228, 250, 252, and 253). These texts typically read "Ἐμνήσθῃ παρὰ τοῖς Διοσκόροις" or "τοῖς θεοῖς", although sometimes the gods are only implied. Funerary inscriptions are also found engraved into the cliffs of Grammata. One may refer to a death in shipwreck (no. 225), and another, in Latin, probably refers to a slave master (no. 188). The site also yielded an important series of Christian inscriptions in Greek and Latin, mostly prayers (nos. 270-293, 296-298, 301).

A substantial number of previously unpublished inscriptions pertain to religious matters. The earliest inscription in the volume (no. 170 from Borshi on the Ionian coast) is a 45.5 cm long bronze club from the fifth or fourth century BC, now kept at the Tirana National Museum, bearing a dotted engraved dedication by a Xenarchos to Herakles "in Maxya" ("Ξέναρχος ἀνέθηκε Ἡρακλεῖ τῶι ἐν Μάξυαι"). A second inscription identifies the artefact as the club of Heracles himself ("᾿Εκ καυ(λ)ᾶς ἱαρὸν ῾Ηρακλεῦς"). Perhaps to be accurate the aspiration in the second text could have been rendered in the edition of the text instead of simply being mentioned in the commentary ("᾿Εκ καυ(λ)ᾶς hιαρὸν ῾Ηρακλεῦς"). Asklepios appears in texts from various sites, such as Byllis (no. 311, on an ex-voto, and no. 312, a sundial) and Memëlisht, where two ex-voto stelae, nos 456 and 457, were dedicated to the god. No. 457, probably adorned with a pair of eyes, was dedicated to Asklepios by Κλωδία ᾿Ιουλία Μαρκελλείνη, while no. 456, decorated with breasts, was dedicated by a Κλωδία ᾿Ιταλία to the god alongside Hygia. Aphrodite appears in a dedication from Byllis (no. 303), while at Kashar a miniature altar was dedicated to Zeus Megistos (no. 435). A previously unknown religious association is also revealed in an unfortunately damaged 3rd-century AD epitaph, no. 402 from Cakran, erected by ὁ θίασος Πατο[..]ησις.

Several new texts refer to Roman and Byzantine Emperors. From Muzina (Chaonia) a boundary stone bears an honorific inscription for the Emperor Aurelian (270-275 AD, no. 73). At Halis (also in Chaonia) no. 83 records four small columns now lost but preserved in photographs (perhaps milestones, though with indications of distances missing) from the end of the 3rd or early 4th century AD, for Maximinus Daia and Constantius II; an unknown Emperor and Diocletian; Diocletian again; Maximinus Daia and by Constantius Chlorus for Maximianus Herculus. No. 341, fragmentary, alludes to the baths of Justinian at Byllis.

No. 7, though heavily damaged, offers for the first time a glimpse into the institutions of the Epirote League (232-170 BC) at Phoenike in Chaonia, in this case a strategos ([Στρατ]αγοῦντο[ς] l. 1) in what appears to be part of a decree in which Molossia is also mentioned.

At Byllis, no. 317, erected by a manumitted slave, Thraikidas, lists extracts from a series of three Hellenistic manumissions dated by the eponymous magistrate, followed by the names of the manumitted slaves, and the names of their masters. The slaves, two women and one man, appear with their patronymics, suggesting that their origins may have been local.

Besides the above-mentioned text no. 341, referring to the baths of Justinian at Byllis, several other new building inscriptions are published here. For example, a mosaic inscription from Lissos, discovered in the so-called baths of Sopatros, indicates that the facility was built by a certain Philistion, while an Eutychidas was in charge of its flooring (no. 465).

Finally, an important series of previously unpublished texts consists of Christian inscriptions, among which, from Byllis, come prayers (no. 335, 353-355), an ex-voto (no. 344), and a series of six ex-voto mosaic inscriptions from the cathedral.


1.   CIGIME I 1. P. Cabanes, F. Drini, Inscriptions d'Épidamne-Dyrrachion (Athens 1995); CIGIME I 2 A. P. Cabanes, N. Ceka, Inscriptions d'Apollonia d'Illyrie (Athens 1997); CIGIME 2. P. Cabanes, F. Drini, Inscriptions de Bouthrôtos (Athens 2007).
2.   CIGIME I 1 no. 591: late fragmentary funerary inscription mentioning the age of the deceased; CIGIME I 2 no. 491: fragmentary manumission document from Apollonia ; CIGIME 2 no. 221: fragmentary epitaph indicating the age of the deceased.

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