Friday, February 6, 2009

The High Priest Inscription at Daphne

This site does not derive from my enthusiasm alone. Two developments have helped lift my sources from the merely mundane and accessible offerings in local libraries. These two developments are the creation of Google Books and JSTOR, two offspring (like this blog itself) of the internet revolution. However, one result of the vast opening of hidden resources is that true gems are found that would never have appeared in a decade of scholarship in the 1960s. The indexing power of the two new tools is as important as the information indexed itself. It permits a serendipitous wandering which throws up long lost information that an old library card catalogue could not.

This posting relates to something truly unique that I stumbled on in JSTOR. Usually the JSTOR database is focused on 20th century and later, in contrast to Google Books (which is now an important though patchy source of non-copyright journals). Pre-1900 periodicals don't put bread upon the table of JSTOR. So much to my surprise a random search for Antiochene incriptions in JSTOR recently threw up a journal article from 1860. To be exact this was the Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 6 (1858-1860) pp 550-555. This little gem of an article was a report by James Hadley (the Professor of Greek at Yale) on an inscription that a certain Rev Homer B. Morgan, a missionary in Syria had literally stumbled upon at Daphne. The appropriately named reverend gentleman had discovered an inscription on a limestone slab of 17*30 inches. After removing various encrustations he uncovered what is probably the most extensive inscription that has come out of the area. And yet this inscription I have never seen mentioned elsewhere. According to a footnote, the stone was eventually acquired for the Society, but an inquiry on my part drew a blank from the powers that be. Its whereabouts would certainly be interesting to ascertain. It probably moulders in some basement at Yale, if it has even stood the test of time in the groves of academe.

The slab is missing the first several lines, he presumes. The subject of the inscription is the appointment of the high priest of the cult temple of Apollo at Daphne. The rest of the slab is in near-perfect condition and the text is shown below:

The letters of the last line date the inscription as being from the 14th of Dius in the year 124 (of the Seleucid calendar) which Hadley equates to autumn of 189 BC.

Hadley translated this (with the concurrence of President Woolsey and Professor Gibbs) in the following version:

" [A. B.] having, with strenuous effort, made very clear demonstrations, many and great, of his [fidelity and devotion] to us and to the public service, and having spared neither his life nor his property for our interests, but having managed also as was proper the things put into his hands, and, for the rest, conducting himself in a manner worthy of the services before rendered by him to the public interests-him we desired, indeed, still longer to keep employed, co-operating with us in many things. But upon his bringing forward [as ground of excuse] his feebleness of body, the result of his continued hardships [in the public service], and requesting that we would permit him to be at rest, that for the remaining time of his life he may be, without interruption, in good health of body-we complied [with the request], desiring in this also to make manifest the preference which we have for him. So, then, that for the fiture also he may enjoy all things which pertain to honor and reputation, shall be our care. Since now-as the high-priesthood of Apollo and Artemis, over the [holy] carvers and the other sacred offices of which the consecrated grounds are at Daphne, requires a man of friendly feeling, but one'who will be able to preside in a manner worthy of the zeal for the place which our ancestors had and we [now have], and [worthy] of the veneration on our part for the divinity since now we have appointed him high-priest, with charge over these things, being persuaded that through him, above all others, the management belonging to the sacred offices would be conducted as it ought to be-[therefore] take order to inscribe him in the records as high-priest over the sacred offices set forth above, and to honor the man in a way worthy of our judgment, and, if he call to any duties, of such as appertain to these things, that those who are engaged in the sacred rites should co-operate with him, and should bring together on the spot the rest who ought to render service, charging them to obey in whatsoever he may write or order-and, farther, to have the copy of this letter inscribed on pillars, and to set it up in the most conspicuous places."

The name of the new high priest was clearly in the missing first few lines...

Now if we consider Mommsen's cruel but true observation on the quality of Antiochene inscriptions, then this certainly does not add enormously to the quantity but does made a quantum leap in quality. This inscription is nothing less than a tribute to the new high priest, it is an extensive and a quality addition to the rarefied (and hitherto low-rent) corpus of Antiochene inscriptions.

Alas, the estimable Reverend also discovered two other stones nearby with fragmentary inscriptions, one of which began with the word ΗΒΟΥΛΗ (the council) in "large handsome letters". This then went on for half a dozen lines of ten to twelve letters each line, unfortunately he did not record these (or at least not in Hadley's recounting). Morgan felt that this inscription ran off onto another stone than would have stood at its side. The whole area was littered with column drums (some fluted) and other miscellaneous architectural pieces of a superior kind of structure. In light of the inscription's subject matter, one is tempted to say that he had stumbled upon the site of the Temple of Apollo precinct, the site of which was never uncovered by the Princeton team in the 1930s.


Antiochian said...

Morgan, Homer Bartlett, a missionary of the Presbyterian Church, was born at Watertown, NY, May 31,1827. He was educated at Hamilton College, N. Y., studied theology at Auburn Seminary, N. Y., was licensed by Cayuga Presbytery, and ordained by Watertown Presbytery in 1850. He entered upon the foreign missionary work under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and was by them, in 1851, sent to Salónica, in Greece, and afterwards transferred to Antioch, in Syria. He thus completed nearly fourteen years of missionary life, when it was decided by the committee and the Central Turkish Mission to which he belonged that he should return with his family to this country. When they were about ready for their journey his youngest son sickened and died. This event, with his responsibility at his post, and official cares as treasurer of the mission, devolved upon him an amount of labor which brought on typhoid fever, and after proceeding on his journey as far as Smyrna he died. Aug. 25,1865. Mr. Morgan, writes the Rev. Dr. Hamlin, then president of Robert College, Constantinople, " was a noble missionary, a man of right judgment, of executive power, and of self-denying devotion to his work. He has finished it early, but done it well." See Wilson, Presb. Hist. Almanac, 1866, p. 218. (J. L.S.)

He was also a member of the American Oriental Society.

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