ARCHAIC AND CLASSICAL ATTIC DEDICATORY EPIGRAMS: An Epigraphic, Literary, and Linguistic Commentary

Sara Kaczko

De Gruyter (2016) h/b 625pp £127.99 (ISBN 9783110402551)

Since this superlative work of scholarship has already been awarded the Prix d’épigraphie for 2017, there is, perhaps, hardly any need further to gild the lily. However, it may be helpful to set out what K. has sought to achieve. The epigrams—in number, with 13 dubia—begin with the public and the private epigrams found on the Acropolis of Athens, followed by those found outside the Acropolis, and lastly the dubia. The range of dates is from the 7th through the 5th centuries BC. The text is mainly based on the latest editions of Attic inscribed epigrams (notably the third edition of IG and P.A. Hansen’s Carmina Epigraphica Graeca [1983, 1989], but supplemented with new readings and fresh interpretations). Virtually all the epigrams are accompanied by photographs: only occasionally has K. had to rely on drawings or squeezes. In each case, the full Greek text (often fragmentary) is given, with apparatus criticus, translation, and general description of the content and relevant features.

The commentary (i) describes the morphology of the monuments, (ii) analyses the alphabet and dialect used, (iii) considers stylistic and literary issues (including metres: elegiacs prevail), and adds separate lemmata for specific words, personal names, and poetic formulas: only thereby, says K., can the full message of the inscribed epigram be conveyed. It will be appreciated that this goes far beyond Hansen’s CEG.

Where matters of history arise (as with two very similar ones [1a and 1b] to commemorate victories over the Boeotians and Chalcidians), they too are given full attention: in that particular instance, the second epigram is also found at Herodotus 5.77, enabling reconstruction of the fragmentary stone text. (The first of the two epigrams may have been inscribed plinthêdon [i.e. with letters arranged in a rectangle] rather than stoichêdon, but this is disputed: p. 6). Another epigram of historical significance is 123, ‘Altar dedicated by the younger Peisistratos as a memorial of his archonship’ (also quoted by Thucydides 6.54.7), whose generally accepted date range of 522/1—512/1 BC is disputed on highly technical grounds: pp. 457-461. Of course, many of the epigrams are purely personal, like no.55, ‘Dedication by Smikros to Athena, as a memorial of himself and his children’: we know nothing of Smikros, except indeed that he knew how to employ an optative!

It is not often that one can say with absolute confidence that a book is destined to become the standard work on the subject for a long time to come: this is one of those books, and the author is to be warmly congratulated on her superb achievement, in which De Gruyter has played a full part (the reviewer’s sampling spotted only one, trifling, typo). There is a bibliography, a comparatio numerorum, and three indexes: Greek words, index locorum, and subject index. The price may seem high, but it assuredly cannot be said to be excessive. A compulsory purchase for relevant Faculties at University level.

Colin Leach        

We welcome your comments; please send via our social media.
Back to Reading Room