Thursday, December 25, 2008

Miscellaneous Inscriptions

Antioch, as we have noted, is particularly devoid of extant traces. Even without identifiable ruins usually one can come across half buried inscriptions to conjure up some sort of image of a disappeared city. In the case of the former metropolis of Antioch, the absence is particularly embarrassing. The great 19th century chronicler of the Roman Provinces, Theodor Mommsen, made the comment that Antioch has less extant inscriptions than the most insignificant African or Arab village. Ironically, Antakya was little more than an Arab village when he made the comment but we have all come to regrte the veracity of his observation.

This posting is going to be less thematic than most and shall serve as a dumping ground for miscellaneous incsriptions that I stumble upon. It shall be added to in a purely haphazard fashion..

Firstly I found reference to an inscription written up by Paul Perdrizet, the great French fossicker for inscriptions. I couldn't find the original article cited but did find a secondary refernce to it:

Philippe Berger communique un mémoire de M. Perdrizet sur une inscription grecque d'Antioche. M. Perdrizet a pu en restituer le texte, qui est celui, cité par Lucien, d'un oracle en vers, rendu par Alexandre d'Abronotichos, oracle qui obtint un succès prodigieux et qui fut gravi sur toutes les portes pour préserver les maisons de la peste : "Phoebus à la chevelure vierge écarte le nuage de la peste".

Yet another example of the power of superstition in Ancient Antioch.

On a visit in October 1892, Perdrizet came upon the following inscription on the property of Elias Chami. It was on a large limestone slab.

In Perdrizet's opinion the last word is a local usage of the Latin word arca and while meaning "bathtub" in some contexts was seemingly used in the general vicinity of the gulf of Cilicia to denote a sarcophagus. Presumably with which this epitaph was linked or a part of...

He then goes on to relate that a Professor Ronzevalle at the Universite de Ste Joseph in Beirut had discovered an epitaph that was being touted for sale in Paris. The inscription is shown below:

He comments that it shows, in relief, a bearded man half extended on a bed holding in one hand some flowers and in the other a vase. Beneath all this is a garland of flowers.

The word at the end of the second line (and start of the third) implies a connection to Daphne while another example of Graecised Latin occurs with the reference to the circus at the start of the fourth line.

Moving on to Victor Chapot's observations in the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, Année 1902, Volume 26, Numéro 1. He noted the following inscription:
This was described as being located in the courtyard of a Catholic convent. It was a stone that had previously been lodged in the wall of the stage of the theatre "intacte a droite". His translation into Latin is given at the right and refers to an unnamed functionary who had been quaestor, probably around AD 18-19, to the ill-fated Germanicus (who was murdered in Antioch by "witchcraft") and this functionary was later a legate of the Emperor Tiberius. The fate of this stone would be interesting to discover as it would seem to be the only inscription from the theatre to have survived until "recent" times.

Chapot's next inscription is also linked to the theatre (by proximity if nothing else). He describes its location as 500-600 metres from the modern "city" of Antakya in an olive grove to the left of the road to Aleppo (the old Colonnaded Street), in the neighbourhood of the theatre. It is on a very worn stone surrounded be a cartouche. This one he only translates into lowercase Greek. The image is below:

His last offering is an inscription on the rock through which the water conduit from Daphne had been dug, however at the eastern end of the city near the Gate of Saint Paul above the ruins of the convent of St Paul and St Peter. He states that it is also in the neighbourhood of the "deux grandes figures rupestres".. one of which would seem to be the Charonion.

In this case also he only converts the text into lowercase Greek.

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