Thursday, August 10, 2017


A Greek Verse Inscription

Werner Peek, Griechische Vers-Inschriften, Vol. I: Grab-Epigramme (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1955), p. 327, # 1146 (= Inscriptiones Graecae XIV 2002 + Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum VI 26282; only relevant portions of page shown):

The stone (photograph from Epigraphischen Datenbank):

Text and apparatus adapted by me from Peek (subscript dots for uncertain letters omitted):
                                                      ὅσιον βίον ἀίξοντι·
ἀλλ' ὅτε Μοιράων ὁ τριπλοῦς μίτος ἐξεκενώθ[η]
καὶ λοιπὸν θανάτῳ μετὰ τοῦτο τὸ φῶς μετεβλή[θη],
ψυχὴ μὲν πρὸς Ὄλυμπον ἀνήλλατο, σῶμα δὲ πρὸ[ς γῆν]
καὶ λυθὲν ἐξεπόθη καὶ οὐδὲν ἔχω πλέον ὀστῶ[ν].        5
ὡς οὖν καιρὸν ἔχεις, λοῦσαι, μύρισαι, σπατάλησον
καὶ χάρισαι, δαπάνησον ἅπερ δύνασαι· τίνι τηρεῖς;

M. Septimius Diocles fecit sibi et Iul. Ca — — | fi[liae]

3 μετεβλή[θη] J.L. Ussing, "Om nogle af Fr. Rostgaard efterladte Papirsaftryk af graeske og latinske Indskrifter," Oversigt over det Kongelige Danske videnskabernes selskabs forhandlinger (1866) 202-221 (204-205); μετέβαι[νον] Georg Kaibel, Epigrammata Graeca ex Lapidibus Conlecta (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1878), p. 529, no. 646a
According to Stephan Busch, Versus Balnearum. Die antike Dichtung über Bäder und Baden im römischen Reich (Stuttgart: B.G. Teubner, 1999), pp. 530-531 (at 531), the Latin portion of the inscription has been expanded as follows:
M. Septimius Diocles fecit sibi et Iul. Ca[liste coniugi et Sept. Vibiae] fi[liae].
Latin translation of the Greek (lines 2-7) from Ed. Cougny, Epigrammatum Anthologia Palatina cum Planudeis et Appendice Nova Epigrammatum Veterum ex Libris et Marmoribus Ductorum, Vol. III (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1890), p. 207, number 695:
sed ubi parcarum triplum stamen exinanitum est
et postremo ad mortem post hanc lucem transii,
anima quidem ad Olympum exsiluit, corpus autem terra
dissolutum exhaustum est, et nihil habeo praeter ossa.
Dum igitur tempus habes, balneis, unguentis deliciis utere,
et te amabilem-praebe, splendide-vive, quoad potes: cuinam servas?
Unavailable to me:
The epigram isn't in Werner Peek, Griechische Grabgedichte. Griechisch und Deutsch (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1966).

In the fragmentary first line, ὅσιον βίον is pious life (accusative), and ἀίξοντι seems to be aorist active participle (dative singular) of ᾄσσω (alt. ἀΐσσω) = shoot, dart, glance (intransitive) or put in motion (transitive). I can extract no sense from ὅσιον βίον as the object of ἀίξοντι.

In line 3 what is the subject of Ussing's supplement μετεβλήθη (3rd person singular aorist indicative passive of μεταβάλλω)? Presumably φῶς, but I take the entire phrase τοῦτο τὸ φῶς to be the object of the preposition μετὰ. The inscription is number 1329 in Luigi Moretti, Inscriptiones Graecae Urbis Romae, vol. III (Rome: Istituto italiano per la storia antica, 1978), p. 184. The book is unavailable to me, but I think he prints μετεβλήθην (1st person) instead of μετεβλήθη (3rd person). The 1st person makes more sense to me.

The first καὶ in line 5 also puzzles me. ψυχὴ μὲν πρὸς Ὄλυμπον ἀνήλλατο (4) should be balanced by σῶμα δὲ πρὸς γῆν / καὶ λυθὲν ἐξεπόθη (4-5), but καὶ seems to get in the way of that.

Here is my tentative translation of all but the first line:
But when the threefold thread of the Fates was spun out
and finally after this light I was thrown over to death,
my soul leaped up to Olympus, but my body to earth
wasted away and was drained, and I have nothing but bones.
So therefore, while you have time, bathe, anoint yourself with perfume, live indulgently,
and gratify yourself, spend all the money you can — for what are you keeping it?

Marcus Septimius Diocles made this for himself and his wife Julia Callista and his daughter Septimia Vibia.
Thanks very much to Ian Jackson for a photocopy of the relevant page of Peek's Griechische Vers-Inschriften.

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