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A greek verse inscription

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:00 pm
by jeidsath
This is too tough for me:


My best attempt at a transcription (assuming boustrophedon):




Neither direction makes any sense to me, I'm afraid.

Re: A greek verse inscription

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:39 pm
by Paul Derouda
This is boustrophedon: right-left-left-right-right-left. I'll attempt to decipher this as soon as the kids have had their story and they're gone to bed!

Re: A greek verse inscription

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:52 pm
by Paul Derouda
The letter forms are considerably different from what we're used to. The alphabet doesn't have sigma but san, which looks like M, for the sound s; a letter that looks like a psi is used for khi. Lambda looks like gamma. I have no idea what the fourth letter of the third line is. According to my interpretation, if it is correct, there are two forms of iota (see the last word of the first line, αιϝει). I can't make out the letters at the end of the third line, but maybe this is a good beginning. Where does the ε that is alone belong to?

There's a useful table at the end of this article:

I wonder where this inscription comes from.

This interpretation is by no means a coherent whole but it's a start!

(ε) αριστοϲεθεκεhεραιτεhοϲκαικ

ελοϲ εχοι κλεϝοϲ απθιτον αιϝει
"May Elos(?) always have inextinguishable glory
αριστοϲ εθεκε hεραι τε hοϲ και
"Aristos dedicated [me/this] to Hera" ("who [Aristos] also"...?)
"to Athena"

Re: A greek verse inscription

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:01 pm
by Paul Derouda
Since we're living in the internet era, I was able to find the "correct answer" by googling a sequence of words in my interpretation that can't be wrong. I'm not telling you what it is yet. Don't cheat like I did!

Re: A greek verse inscription

Posted: Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:07 pm
by jeidsath
I don't mind cheating, since I already did my best attempt at a transcription, and it didn't turn out nearly so well as yours. Here is the internet:

τασδ̣ε γ̣' Αθαναιαι δρ̣αϝεος Φα[·]ε|αριστος εθε̅κε,
hε̅ραι τε, hο̅ς και κ|ενος εχοι κλεϝος απθιτον αιϝει.

Apparently κλεϝος απθιτον is not only Homeric, but Vedic even, according to Adalbert Kuhn in 1853. The LSJ has an entry for δραϝεος from this inscription:

δραϝεός, ἡ, uncertain object dedicated to Athena, GDI1537 (Phocis, pl.).

The supplement replaces it with:

+δραϝεός, ἁ, cauldron, CEG 344 (pl., Phocis, vi BC); cf. δραιόν.

And δραιόν gives:

δραιόν· μακρόν· πυλεόν (fort. l. μάκτραν, πύελον), Hsch.

So are those bird-baths on top?

Re: A greek verse inscription

Posted: Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:53 pm
by Paul Derouda
The thing was to read the inscription from bottom upwards - who would have thought about that!?

κλέος ἄφθιτον is all over Homeric scholarship, it's discussed in about every modern commentary. Once I'd discerned those words, I knew immediately that my interpretation was correct. I know now how Michael Ventris much have felt when he first deciphered Linear B! By the way, I think I've read that he wasn't actually very proficient in Greek, and was puzzled to find such forms as genitive in -oio, not knowing that they were only to be expected since they're normal in Homer.

There have also been some doubts (voiced by Margalit Finkelberg if I remember correctly) about whether κλέος ἄφθιτον really is such an old formula.