Thursday, September 10, 2020



Epitaph of Cleumatra, Inscriptiones Graecae XII Suppl. 152 (Astypalaia, 1st century BC), tr. Richmond Lattimore, Themes in Greek and Latin Epitaphs (1935; rpt. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1962), p. 129:
Do not bring anything for me to drink, for I drank when I was alive, and it does no good: nor anything to eat, I need nothing. All that is nonsense. But if for the sake of remembrance and the life we had together, you bring saffron or frankincense, then, friends, you are giving appropriate gifts to those who have taken me into their keeping. These things belong to the gods below; dead men have nothing to do with the living.

μή μοι πεῖν φέρεθ' ὧδε, μάτην πέποται γάρ, ὅτ' ἔζων,
   μηδὲ φαγεῖν· ἀρκεῖ· φλήναφός ἐστι τάδε.
εἰ δ' ἕνεκεν μνήμης τε̣ καὶ ὧν ἐβίωσα σὺν ὑμεῖν
   ἢ κρόκον ἢ λιβάνους δῶρα φέρεσθε, φίλοι,
τοῖς μ' ὑποδεξαμένοις ἀντάξια ταῦτα διδόντες,
   ταῦτ' ἐνέρων· ζώντων δ' οὐδὲν ἔχουσι νεκροί.
Lattimore comments:
The apodosis, ταῦτ' ἐνέρων, does not really follow the protasis; the condition is blurred by the presence of two thoughts. First, a gesture of friendship for old times' sake is acceptable, and becoming to the dead man's friends; but, second, offerings will reach the gods below, not the corpse. The existence of the καταχθόνιοι as divinities is accepted, but they are sharply distinguished from the dead individual who has no part in immortality.
Wilhelm Crönert, "Ein Epigramm aus Astypalaia," Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 65 (1910) 636-637, compares, inter alia, Greek Anthology 11.8 (tr. W.R. Paton):
Bestow not scent and crowns on stone columns, nor set the fire ablaze; the outlay is in vain. Give me gifts, if thou wilt, when I am alive, but by steeping ashes in wine thou wilt make mud, and the dead shall not drink thereof.

μὴ μύρα, μὴ στεφάνους λιθίναις στήλαισι χαρίζου,
   μηδὲ τὸ πῦρ φλέξῃς· ἐς κενὸν ἡ δαπάνη.
ζῶντί μοι, εἴ τι θέλεις, χάρισαι· τέφρην δὲ μεθύσκων
   πηλὸν ποιήσεις, κοὐχ ὁ θανὼν πίεται.
See also Louis Robert, "Recherches épigraphiques," Revue des Études Anciennes 62 (1960) 276-361 (at 342-343, n. 3).

The inscription is number 1363 in Werner Peek, Griechische Vers-Inschriften (1955; rpt. Chicago: Ares Publishers, Inc., 1988), pp. 407-408.

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