Matthew Dillon, Omens and Oracles: Divination in Ancient Greece
(London: Routledge, 2017), p. 332, with note on p. 381:
A fifth-century BC oracular inscription from the temple of Zeus Epikoinios
in the Greek city of Salamis on the island of Cyprus is written on a shard
of pottery, employing Cypriot letters to express Greek words.46 Two distinct
sections or areas of writing are legible. There is a short piece of prose: 'Decision
of the god. I completely forbid this: the little creek must flow', written around
the edge of one side of the ostrakon. There is also a longer piece of writing,
written in neat lines of verse:
I admire this zeal of yours, and yet, while I am gracious,
Consequently, it would seem that the ostrakon represents the decision of the
god in response to an oracular enquiry, the answer expressed quite clearly in
prose, and then with an elaboration on the god’s decision, expressed more fully
but in verse this time, and explaining his ruling. Our enquirer must have asked
if a stream could be altered in some way: perhaps dammed, or even redirected.
Apparently it flowed by or even through the sanctuary of Zeus Epikoinios, and
therefore it was clearly a matter for the god, whose permission needed to be
sought for any such change.
With lightning I strike my enemies down.
Through the rivulets of the stream
I receive sweet water for my cattle
and pastures in the springtime.
I am angered by this request,
which the one who is asking seeks.
46 The inscription resides in the British Museum: 97.4–1.1538. Hesychios knew of
the deity, and explained the word Epikoinios with the gloss 'Zeus in Salamis'.
Meister 1909: 3–25 (Greek text: 7–8, with two plates after p.30; an exhaustive word
by word commentary) is still the main discussion; see also Amandry 1950: 166–68;
Masson 1961: no 318, pp. 316–18; Rosenberger 2001: 173. The second last line of
the inscription is a little difficult to translate.
References are to:
- Richard Meister, "Ein Ostrakon aus dem Heiligtum des Zeus Epikoinios im kyprischen Salamis," Abhandlungen der philologisch historischen Klasse der koniglich sachsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften 27.9 (1909) 303-332
- Pierre Amandry, La mantique apollinienne à Delphes. Essai sur le fonctionnement de l'Oracle (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1950 = Bibliothèque des Écoles Franchises d'Athènes et de Rome, fasc. 170), pp. 166–168 (unavailable to me)
- Olivier Masson, Les inscriptions chypriotes syllabiques. Recueil critique et commenté (Paris: E. de Boccard, 1961 = École française d'Athènes. Études chypriotes, 1), pp. 316–318 (unavailable to me)
- Veit Rosenberger, Griechische Orakel: Eine Kulturgeschichte (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2001), p. 173, with note on p. 190
Images of the text from Meister, p. 309 (verse first, then prose):