Wednesday, October 2, 2019


Angelos Chaniotis (ed.), Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum. Volume LXIII (2013). Leiden: Brill, 2017. Pp. 852. ISBN 9789004362796. €189,00.

Reviewed by Alcorac Alonso Déniz, CNRS/HiSoMA (

Version at BMCR home site

During the mid-1990s the editors of the Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum toyed with the idea that the yearly digest would cease print publication. By 2003—it was announced—SEG would be distributed exclusively on CD- ROM. Fortunately, the prospect has been avoided and, although SEG is now part of Brill Online Reference Works, the volumes of the periodical will live on. Since its resurrection in 1979, the editors of SEG have been fulfilling the invaluable task of gathering the new inscriptions published in a given year, the information on alternative readings and interpretations of already known texts, as well as abstracts of studies on different topics of the Ancient World in which Greek inscriptions are a prominent source.

With the 40th anniversary of SEG "redivivum" approaching this year, SEG 63 faces some editorial changes. Eftychia Stavrianopoulou joins the team as editor, replacing Rolf Albert Tybout, who will continue his collaboration as a member of the Advisory Board. The traditional tripartite editorial board has been supplemented by a fourth team of three associate editors.

As in all instalments of SEG, new inscriptions are the jewel in the crown of volume 63, and even the most fragmentary can shed new light on old institutional aspects of Greek life. In a decree of the demesmen of Myrrhinous or Hagnous (IG II2, 1183, after 340 BCE), provisions are made for priests to lend sacred money on security of a land or a house. According to the text (lines 29-30), the priest of the god offering the loan must set up a landmark and add on it the name of the god to whom the money belongs. A new security horos published in SEG 63 (no. 156, ca. 350-300) offers first confirmation of the practice, recording that an unknown sum of sacred money pertaining to the sanctuary of Artemis Kolainis was lent to an unnamed debtor by the demesmen of Myrrhinous.

The contribution of SEG 63 to ancient history is also important (e.g. nοs. 74 and 391). On an Attic skyphos a group of six friends who had drunk from it wrote down stoichedon their own names in the genitive, each name apparently scratched by a different hand (no. 66, Kephisia, 480-465 BCE; a seventh name in the nominative was written on the bottom of the vase). Among this joyful party, Ἀρρίφρονος and Περικλέο̄ς (lines 4-5) are likely to correspond to the famous Athenian statesman Perikles and his older brother.1 If this identification is correct, the handwriting of that great historical character stands in front of our eyes. In my opinion, this precious document further confirms that the name of Perikles' older brother and grandfather had a geminate: Ἀρρίφρων in ostraca2 is the Attic variant of Ἀρσίφρων, whereas Ἀρίφρων is a modification of the historical sources (Herodotus, Thucydides, Aristotle, etc.).

Although the editors improve the original editions (e.g., no. 137), this is not always the case and SEG 63 uncritically reproduces some evident misreadings. In no. 407 (ca. 400 BCE), a lead plaque from Apollonia (Epirus) containing the third strophe of a hymn to Asclepius previously known from different copies on stone,3 the first three lines are printed as follows: [χαῖ]ρέ μοι, ἡίλαον | [δ' ἐ]πινίσεο τὰν ἁμὰν | [πό]λιν εὐρύχορον. Since other copies exhibit χαῖρέ μοι, ἵλαος /εἵλαος (Erythrai, Ptolemais and Dion), the editor's ἡίλαον must be a misreading for hίλαος with initial aspiration. Moreover, the accusative hίλαον is almost impossible, so the temptation to emend the text of the plaque to hίλαο<ς> is irresistible. However, this is unnecessary: ἱλάων (gen. ἱλάονος), a rare alternative variant of the adjective ἵλαος, is attested in the so- called 'Artemisia's papyrus' (late 4th c. BCE). According to SEG 63, the copy of Apollonia has on line 8 εὐεαυγεῖ, which is at odds with εὐαγεῖ (εὀαγεῖ) or εὐαυγεῖ 'bright' (dative singular) of the other copies. A closer look at the photograph reveals that the correct reading may be εὐζ̣αυγεῖ, the dative of εὐζαυγής, an until now unattested poetic compound of εὖ + διαυγής 'radiant'.

New inscriptions can also unveil information on the topography of ancient cities and regions. One example comes from the area of Koroneia (nos. 340-344; late 6th c.-ca. 450 BCE), where various vases with dedicatory inscriptions to the Νύμφαι Λειβε̄σθριάδες (or Λειβε̄στριάδες) confirm the precise location of the cult at the cave of Agia Triada (NE slope of Helikon), mentioned in the literary sources as Νύμφαι Λειβηθρίδες/Λειβηθριάδες or Λιβήθριαι. Although the early local form with -σθ- (or -στ-) is puzzling and requires further investigation, the equivalence is beyond all doubt.

Another example is no. 459 A (ca. 300-250 BCE), which contains regulations concerning the restoration and maintenance of public roads at the Macedonian territory of Kyrrhos. The text mentions some place names of the area unknown previous to the discovery of the stele, like Γένδερρος, a κώμη perhaps located in the area between modern Mandalo and Anydro, west of Aravissos (ancient Kyrrhos).4 Γένδερρος allegedly confirms the Macedonian origin of the Syrian toponym Γίνδαρος/Γίνδαρα, but, despite the almost universal consensus and the remarkable similarity of both names, I remain sceptical about the hypothesis. Even if -εν- > -ιν- and -ερ- > -αρ- are demonstrably documented developments in the Macedonian dialect, the simplification of -ρρ- cannot be easily accounted for, unless the -ρ- transmitted by the secondary sources is considered a mistake (but cf. Arabic Ǧandarīs or Ǧandīras). More importantly, the local variant should have been preserved in Greece. All in all, Γίνδαρος/Γίνδαρα must be a Greek adaptation of an indigenous name and has nothing to do with Macedonian Γένδερρος.5 Another toponym of the same inscription from Kyrrhos, Γυρβέα (line 13), definitely illuminates the much-discussed Γυρβιάτισσα, an epiclesis of the Θεὰ Συρία Παρθένος in a manumission of two slaves (SEG 43, 435; 205 CE), found at Agios Nikolaos, south of modern Giannitsa. Γυρβιάτισσα, the ethnic of Γυρβέα, is a late spelling for *Γυρβε-ιάτισσα (masc. *Γυρβε-ιάτης), with I for EI (cf. ἰσιν = εἰσιν line 8 in the same document), cf. Κρότων → Κροτων-ιάτης, and fem. Att. Ἡρακλειώτ-ισσα, MGk Μυκον- ιάτισσα.

New inscriptions often add greatly to our knowledge of ancient cultural beliefs. A new epigram written on a rock to commemorate the deep affection of two men (probably father and son) exhibits an example of the "epigraphic" poetic word φιλημοσύνη:6 [--?--Ε]ὐ̣θυδίκο̣̄ χάριεν Κλε͂βις̣ τάδ᾿ ἔγρα<φσ>εν / ἀνφοῖν χαὐτο͂ μνε͂μα φιλε̄μοσύνε̄ς "[...] son of Euthydikos, Kleibis wrote this, a beautiful memorial of the philēmosynē of the two of them and of himself" (no. 49; Laureion in Attica, 550-500 BCE). To my mind, the hexameter may have started with [τε̄ῖδε ποτ'], a complement [ἐς λίθον] or an adjective qualifying Kleibis' father, e.g., [σώφρονος]. Worth noting is that the pentameter lacks a syllable, but the anomaly can be overcome if ἀμφοῖιν was intended (cf. Hom. ἀμφοτέροιιν). The editors of SEG do not question the interpretation of χάριεν as an adverb (hence the accentuation), but, since γράφω χαριέντως is rather awkward and unparalleled, χαρίεν is likely an anticipated attribute of μνε͂μα (hence my translation above).

SEG 63 includes some new epicleseis of gods, like (Athena) Κυρρέστις in the inscriptions of four manumitted women from Kyrrhos (no. 459 B-E; late 3rd-early 2nd c. BCE).7 The ethnic Κυρρέστις confirms the Macedonian origin of the homonymous cult in Κυρρηστική in Syria and further supports the idea that Κυρρέστης is the older and local spelling.8 If the masculine Κυρρέστης was a paroxytone,9 there is no reason for perpetuating the oxytone accentuation Κυρρεστίς (interestingly, Κυρρέστις is found in some manuscripts of Stephanus).

Like previous instalments, SEG 63 has first editions of inscriptions that the editors have read from photographs. No. 1740 is an inscribed bronze ring of unknown provenance (1st c. BCE - 1st c. CE): ἐγὼ δέ γε οὐ δίδωμί σοι οὐδὲ κόλλυβον "As for me, I don't give you even a kollybos". According to Rolf Tybout, who provides an in-depth commentary on the text, the ring conveys a sexual innuendo: in a passage of Eupolis (fr. 247.3 Kassel-Austin) a man boasts about the fact of having had sexual intercourse in Kyzikos with three different persons for the price of one κόλλυβος (a very small and valueless coin).10 In my opinion, this explanation misses the real point of the text, since κόλλυβος demonstrably connotes cheapness or worthlessness in all kinds of contexts, always with a clearly derogatory intent. The inscription can be read as an iambic trimeter (with γε and σοι in scriptio plena) and the verse probably comes from a lost play (there is no indication in SEG that the text is metrical).

Occasionally, forgotten inscriptions are brought out to a second life. This is the case of the dedication of Sοtairos of Cyprus at Dodona on a bronze strip of undetermined function (no. 405, 4th c. BCE), an almost complete hexameter not included in CEG:11 Σώταιρος Κύπριος σοφίας μέτρον, ὄργανα χειρ[ῶν or χειρός]. Allegedly, Sotairos, a ῥαψῳδός, dedicated his own instrument, a lyre or a kithara.12 However, ῥαψῳδοί in Classical times were reciters who could perform solo or to the melody of an instrument player. If anything, Sotairos was a κιθαρῳδός. Since the expression ὄργανα χειρ[ῶν] for κιθάραι is unheard of, the alternative interpretation by the first editor should have been mentioned: ὄργανα χειρ[ῶν] could be the "products" or handmade "objects" of Sotairos' unnamed skill (σοφία), which was clear to the reader by simply looking at the dedicated object.13 Similarly, SEG 63 includes for the first time in the periodical the dedication made by an otherwise unknown Spartan clan, the κοινὸν τῶν ὑπωχετί[ων] (no. 276, early 2nd c. BCE). Unfortunately, the improvements introduced by Jeanne and Louis Robert to the original edition have been neglected.14 Instead of [τ]ὰν κρανὰν τὰν παρ' Ἀρίστα[ν] the Roberts proposed [τ]ᾶν κρανᾶν τᾶν παρ' Ἀρίστα[ν] or παρ' Ἀρίστα[ι]: the koinon of the hypōkhetioi "of the fountains which are near Aristas (or Arista)" dedicated the stele with the relief portraying the three men mentioned in the inscription. Τhis interpretation receives confirmation from two contemporary Spartan stelae with similar reliefs (SEG 40, 348 and 50, 406).

New words or variants of already known ones occurring on inscriptions are of the utmost importance for the history of the Greek language: e.g., ἄρετρον = ἄροτρον 'plough' on a funerary epigram for an Athenian (?) farmer (no. 187, after 212/3 CE), cf. ἄλοτρον in papyri, Medieval Greek ἄλετρον and MGk αλέτρι; βείνημα on an obscene graffito scribbled in a wall of a Roman villa (no. 831, Priurè in Pully, Lausanne, imperial period), a noun (not in modern English lexica) derived from βινέω 'to fuck'.15

Last but not least, SEG 63, like its predecessors, is also an invaluable source for new personal names. Κλεῖβις in the Attic epigram mentioned above (no. 49) is new, but the date of the inscription (550-500 BCE) matches the short life span in Athens of the personal name Κλείβουλος, which demonstrably gave rise to the short form Κλεῖβις. Our Κλεῖβις is perhaps somehow related to the Κλείβουλος who commissioned a statue ca. 530-520 BCE and had inscribed an elegant couplet for his dead son Ξενόφαντος (CEG 41).

To sum up, although SEG is often regarded as aiming mainly at the community of Greek epigraphists, it is an essential tool for all Hellenists. There is hardly any field of research that will not benefit from the rich indexes of Greek and Latin words, the detailed concordances, and in particular the overwhelming Subject Index.


1.   See Angelos Matthaiou, Grammateion 5 (2016), 53-65.
2.   See James P. Sickinger, Hesperia 86 (2017), 482-495, no. 64-111.
3.   See William D. Furley, Jan M. Bremer, Greek Hymns, 2001, vol. 2, 161-167.
4.   See Miltiades Hatzopoulos, Macedonian Institutions under the Kings, 1996, vol. 1, 112.
5.   See Norbert Kramer, Gindaros, 2004, 267-268.
6.   See Emanuele Dettori, ZPE 202 (2017), 118-124.
7.   These texts should have been edited separately from 459 A.
8.   Cf. Κυρρέστης (SEG 40, 520, line 3; Anydro, 2nd-3rd CE), Λυγκεσ(τῶν) or Λυγκέσ(ται) (IG 10 2 2, 51), Διέστης, Εὐιέστης, etc.
9.   See St. Byz., π 146 Billerbeck.
10.   See Michael Zellmann-Rohrer, GRBS 58 (2018), 292-298.
11.   Not in LGPN I. A phiale was dedicated at Dodona by a certain Sotairos (SGDI 1373, 4th c. BCE), who could be identified with the Cypriot.
12.   A ῥαψῳδός is mentioned in DVC no. 3051B (ca. 350 BCE?).
13.   See Theodor Gomperz, AEMÖ 4 (1880), 59-60.
14.   See Bulletin Épigraphique 1974, 266.
15.   The cross-reference to SEG 46, 1352 is misleading, since the distich found there is a reconstruction of the supposedly original couplet.

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