Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth IV

This is the fourth installment of our “Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth” (for the previous three posts, see: Seminar I; Seminar II; and Seminar III).

This post features a grayish fragment of marble with the left edge preserved from lines 3-6 but broken elsewhere (photo here). It was found 11 August, 1972 in Trench III of the Quarry Area. There is a regular margin of 0.025 m. to the left and the mason habitually punched puncta with his inscribing tool at the tips of the letter strokes. The regular thickness of the stone and the shallow depth of the letters seem to indicate that this is a revetment. Photo, squeeze, and autopsy of stone.

Height, 0.105 m. ; width, 0.094 m. ; thickness, 0.020 m.
Height of letters, 0.007 to 0.010 m. ; interspace, 0.009 m.
Corinth inventory I-72-8 ; NB 570, p. 7 ; NB(FI) 566, p. 69, Object 288


fin. IV- med. II a. NON-STOIX

vac.             [θεός·]?
ἐπὶ γρ[αμματ— — — — — — Νι]-      1
κάρχο[υ — — — mensis, numerus]
ἐπὶ δέκ[α — — — — — — — —]
ἔδοξε τ̣[ᾶι ἐκκλησίαι?· — — — —]-
ανδρο[— — — — — — — — —]-      5
ρου Κυ[— — — — — — — — —]
[— — — — — — — — — — —]


Line 0: Above the pi in the first preserved line there is an uninscribed letter space-and-a-half that extends to a maximum height of 0.014 m above line one, while in the other lines there is only an interlinear space of 0.009 m. This indicates that we have the upper left-hand corner of a decree. As such, it is the only decree of pre-Roman Korinth known to me with a preserved upper-left corner. If there was text on this line, it must have been an indented heading, the most probable of which are θεός οr the ubiquitous ἀγαθᾶι τύχαι. The inscriber may have also observed syllabic breaks between lines, but given the paucity of decrees at Korinth it is impossible to ascertain the length of any line.

Line 1: On other inscriptions from Korinth we find a form of γραμματεύς restored at ICor 8,1 4, l.9, ICor 8,1 7, l.1, and ICor 8,1 8, l.1 (for this last example, however, see Dow HSCPh 53 (1943) 111, no.8 — those who have access to JSTOR may find a stable link here). There is also another example published by Stroud (Hesperia 41 (1972), 198,1 — JSTOR article here). It has the koine spelling γραμματέως, which we may have here. For the evidence of the koine on pre-Roman decrees at Korinth as perhaps signifying foreign engraving, see Stroud’s comments. Stroud (p. 199, footnote 4) also mentions an example of a ὑπογραμματεύς in the first line of on an unpublished inscription from Korinth (I 2649).

N.F. Jones (TAPA 110 (1980) 165 ff. – JSTOR article here) argues that a proxeny decree honoring two Athenians that was found on Delos actually comes from Korinth (= SEG 30.990). If Jones is correct, and our inscription is similarly narrow, then we may have ἐπὶ γρ[αμματιστᾶ Νι]|κάρχο[υ]…

Another possibility is that we have a decree of the Akhaian League that began with the formula ἐπὶ γρ[αμματέος τοῖς Ἀχαιοῖς nomen, στραταγοῦ δὲ Νι]|κάρχο[υ, μηνὶ nomen, numerus] vel sim. (cf. IG IV(2),1 60, l.1).

Lines 1-2: The restoration [Νι]|κάρχο[υ] seems highly probable. Far less likely are [Νει]|κάρχο[υ] or [Λευ]|κάρχο[υ]. The [Δι]|κάρχου restored at IG X,2 2 196, ll.7-8 is undoubtedly a ghost and instead should be restored as [Νι]|κάρχου.

Line 3: The final kappa is assured, so this appears to be part of the day of the month. As incredible as it may seem, there is no other published decree found at Korinth that preserves the day of the month on which a decree was passed, and only one other decree is extant that records the name of a month (ICor 8,1 2, l.1).

Line 4: Only the upper left tip of an upper horizontal is visible. The restoration of
ἐκκλησίαι is based on the probable restorations of ICor 8,1 2 line 7 and ICor 8,1, 3, line 5, but is by no means assured.

Line 5: Clearly part of a name. If the inscriber observed syllabification, as it appears, the final syllable in line 4 should have ended in a vowel or diphthong, such as [Κλε]|ανδρο[—] or [Εὐ]|ανδρο[—]. It could also be Ἀνδρο[—].

Line 6: If the inscriber observed syllabification, [—]|ρ οὐκ υ[—], [—]|ρ’ οὐκ υ[—], or [—]|ρ ου κυ[—]… should be excluded and it looks as if we have the end of a name followed by the beginning of a patronymic or ethnic. Names beginning in Κυ- are relatively rare, so we may have an ethnic such as Κυρηναῖος, Κύπριος, or Κυζικανός (the latter is already attested at Korinth at ICor 8,1 29). If so, this may be a proxeny decree. Alternatively, if this is the end of a Korinthian man’s name, the ΚΥ may refer to his tribal affiliation of Κυνόφαλος. For this Korinthian tribe, see S. Dow, HSCPh 53 (1943) 90 ff. and N. Jones, TAPA 110 (1980) 176-7 (links to JSTOR provided above).

Although Korinth was one of the most powerful city-states in the Greek world, we know precious little about how the government functioned there, primarily because of the paltry epigraphical remains. Each new inscription, no matter how small, has the potential to alter our understanding of this enormous puzzle. Such is the potential of the present inscription, but the fragmentary state of it once again cheats our hopes. It is, however, the first solid example of a decree found at Korinth beginning with the formula ἐπὶ γραμματ-. Even so, we cannot be sure whether this new inscription was passed by the government of Korinth, or some other city or governmental body such as the Akhaian League.

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One Response to Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth IV

  1. Pingback: Current Epigraphy » Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth V

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