Thursday, May 22, 2014


Another Dedication of Trees to Gods?

This post is a supplement to Dedications of Trees to Gods.

H.S. Versnel, Coping with the Gods: Wayward Readings in Greek Theology (Leiden: Brill, 2011 = Religions in the Graeco-Roman World, 173), p. 120, with footnote:
An early 5th-century inscription from a Nymph grotto at Pharsalos (Thessalia) records that a certain Pantalkes “has dedicated to the goddesses the tree (?) (and) the laurel” (Παντάλκης ἀνέθεκε τὸ δέ[νδρον] τὰν δὲ δάφ[ναν] ἇ[ι] ἑδ’ ἀπ’ ἀέ[θλον] Φάν[ι]π[πος).353

353 I give the text as in Himmelmann-Wildschütz 1957, 28, where SEG 1.247 is rather more reticent with respect to conjecture. Most recent edition of this inscription and the one following: J.-Cl. Decourt, Études épigraphiques 3. Inscriptions de Thessalie 1: Les cités de la vallée de l’Enipeus (Athens 1995), 88–90, nos. 72 and 73. He reads: Παντάλκης ἀνέθεκε τόδ’ ἔργον. Τὰν δὲ δάφ[ναν] ἄερ ἅπαξ ΕΦΑΝΠ. See discussions in Himmelmann-Wildschütz; Versnel 1981a, 79; Pleket ibid. 162. Full translation in Connor 1988, 162 f. Texts and discussion also in Purvis 2003, 17 f., with n. 23. We cannot be sure about the ‘tree’ and the ‘daphne’. However, the emphasis on trees, plants and gardening is remarkable in these private cults, as also noticed by M.P.J. Dillon, The Ecology of the Greek Sanctuary, ZPE 118 (1997) 113–127, espec. 119 f. One might say that both these ‘hermits’ created their own ‘sacred grove’. Sacred groves are marked as places of purity and bliss outside urban civilisation where the human meets the divine, as F. Graf argues in: Bois sacrés et oracles en Asie Mineure, in: O. de Cazaneuve & J. Scheid (edd.), Les bois sacrés. Actes du Colloque international Centre J. Bérard (Naples 1993) 23–29. On the phenomenon of the sacred grove in general: G. Rüpke, Kulte jenseits der Polisreligion: Polemiken und Perspektiven, JAuC 47 (2004) 5–15, espec. 9–12. On such groves in Greek regions with a collection of epigraphic testimonia see: G. Ragone, in: C. Albore Livadie & F. Ortolani (edd.), La sistema uomo-ambiente tra passato e presente (Bari 1998) 11–22; cf. J. Mylonopoulos, Natur als Heiligtum—Natur im Heiligtum, ARG 10 (2008) 51–83, espec. 60–65, with more literature. Full treatment: M. Horster, Landbesitz griechischer Heiligtümer in archaischer und klassischer Zeit (Berlin – New York 2004) 92–138. On utopian aspects of gardens see: A.L. Giesecke, The Epic City. Urbanism, Utopia, and the Garden in Ancient Greece and Rome (Washington DC. 2007). Angelos Chaniotis sent me a photo of a wooden table fixed at a eucalyptus tree somewhere in Crete with the text: ΤΑ ΔΕΔΡΑ 7 ΕΥΚΑΠ [. . .], ΤΑ ΑΝΘΗ, ΤΗ ΒΡΥΣΗ ΚΑΙ ΤΟ ΕΡΓΟ ΠΡΟΣΤΑΣΙΑΣ, ΤΑ ΧΑΡΙΖΩ ΣΤΗΣ ΠΑΝΑΓΙΑΣ ΤΗ ΧΑΡΗ (“the seven eucalyptus trees, the flowers, the well, and the work of supervision, I give in gratitude to the Panaghia” [then follows the name of the giver]).
Versnel (id., pp. 18-20) answers critics who complain that the footnotes in his books are too many and too long. I wish they were even more numerous and longer.

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