Saturday, January 05, 2013


An Inscription from Thessaly

Greek text from Jean-Claude Decourt, Inscriptions de Thessalie, I: Les cités de la vallée de l'Énipeus (Paris-Athènes: École Française d'Athènes, 1995 = Études Epigraphiques, 3), pp. 90-94, no. 73 (the apparatus is mine, abbreviated from Decourt's):
                                           Θεός.                                        1
Χαίρετε τοὶ πα̣[ριόντες, ἅπ]α̣[ς] θῆλύς τε καὶ ἄρσην,
ἄνδρες τε ἠδὲ γυναῖκες ὁμῶς παῖδες τε κόραι τε·
χωρόν δ' εἰς ἱερὸν Νύμφαις καὶ Πανὶ καὶ Ἑρμῆι,        4
Ἀπόλλωνι ἄνακτι καὶ Ἡρακλεῖ καὶ ἑταίραις,
Χίρωνος τ' ἄντρον καὶ Ἀσκλαπιοῦ ήδ' Ὑγιείας·
τούτων ἐστὶ τ[ά]δ̣', ὦνα Πάν, ἱαρώτατ' ἐν αὐτῶι
ἔμφυτα καὶ πίνακες καὶ ἀγάλματα δῶρα τε πολλ[ά]·        8
ἄνδρα δ' ἐποιήσα(ν)τὰ ἀγαθὸν Παντάκλεα Νύμφαι
τῶνδ' έπιβαινέμεναι χώρων καὶ ἐπίσσκοπον εἶναι,
ὅσπερ ταῦτ' ἐφύτευσε καὶ [ἐ]ξεπονήσατο χερσσίν,
ἀντίδοσαν δ' αὐτῶι βίον ἄφθονον ἤματα πάντα·        12
Ἡρακλέης μὲν ἔδωκ' ἰσχύν ἀρετὴν τε κράτος τε,
ὧιπερ τούσδε λίθους τύπτων ἐπόησ' ἀναβαίνε[ιν],
Ἀπόλλων δὲ δίδωσι καὶ υἱὸς τοῦ[δ]ε Ἑρμῆς
αἰῶν' εἰς τὸν ἄπαντα ὑγίειαν καὶ βίον ἐσθλόν,        16
Πὰν δὲ γέλωτα καὶ εὐφροσύνην ὕβριν τε δικαίαν,
Χίρων δ' αὐτῶι δῶκε σοφόν τ̣' ἔ̣μεν[αι] καὶ ἀοιδόν.
Ἀλλὰ τύχαις ἀγαθαῖς ἀναβαίνετ[ε], θύετε Πανί̣,
εὔχεσθε, εὐφραίνεσθε· κακῶν δ .... ἁπάν[των]        20
ἐνθάδ' ἔνεστ', ἀγαθῶν δὲ [λάχος?] πολέμοιό [τε λῆξις?].

2 πα̣[ριόντες, ἅπ]α̣[ς]: προσιόντες, ἅπας W. Peek
20 in lac. ἐπίλησις suppl. W. Peek
21 λάχος D. Comparetti; λῆξις Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum I (1923) 248
My translation:
                             God.                                     1
Welcome visitors, every female and male,
husbands and wives, sons and daughters alike,
to a spot sacred to Nymphs and Pan and Hermes,        4
Lord Apollo and Heracles and companions,
to the cave of Chiron and Asclepius and Hygieia;
to them belong, o Lord Pan, these most holy things here,
plants and tablets and statues and many gifts;        8
the Nymphs appointed a good man, Pantalkes,
to walk over these places and to be overseer;
he made these plants grow and he toiled with his hands;
they gave him in return a bountiful livelihood for all his days;        12
Heracles gave him might, excellence, and strength,
with which he cut these stones and made them rise up,
and Apollo and his son Hermes give him
health and a noble livelihood forever,         16
and Pan gives him laughter and good cheer and righteous outrageousness,
and Chiron made him to be wise and a bard.
But with good fortune go up, sacrifice to Pan,
pray, make merry; oblivion of all evil        20
is in this place, and a share of good, and cessation of strife.
There are also English translations in W.R. Connor, "Seized by the Nymphs: Nympholepsy and Symbolic Expression in Classical Greece," Classical Antiquity 7.2 (October 1988) 155-189 (at 163); Jennifer Larson, Greek Nymphs: Myth, Cult, Lore (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 17; and Corinne Ondine Pache, A Moment's Ornament: The Poetics of Nympholepsy in Ancient Greece (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 53-54.

The prepositional phrase in lines 4-6 (χωρόν δ' εἰς ἱερὸν ... Χίρωνος τ' ἄντρον) needs a verb of motion to complete the sense. Decourt translates the beginning of the inscription as "Réjouissez-vous passants," then, after a stop (raised dot at the end of line 3), "vous qui venez en un lieu consacré ... vous qui venez à la grotte de Chiron." "Vous qui venez," however, isn't in the Greek. It's true that in ancient inscriptions a very  common feature is an address to passers-by, but perhaps here the address is not to those who merely pass by the shrine, but to those who enter or visit it. For πα̣ριόντες ... εἰς see Liddell-Scott-Jones, s.v. πάρειμι, sense III: "pass on, esp. in the sense of entering." If this interpretation is adopted, there should be a comma at the end of line 3, instead of a raised dot. Connor, Larson, and Pache all read προσιόντες, not πα̣ριόντες.

In line 17, ὕβριν ... δικαίαν is an unexpected phrase, because hubris is normally unjust, not just. Larson's  "righteous unrestraint" captures the Greek well.

The Greek text of the inscription in Pache's book has some typographical errors, e.g. ἀνδρα in line 9, ένθαδ' in line 21.

This is an attractive inscription at the entrance of a shrine, welcoming all visitors. No "procul, o procul este profani" here.

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