Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth II

The second posting of our Virtual Seminar features a tantalizing fragment of fine, buff poros limestone coated with a layer of fine stucco, broken on all sides with the back missing. The inscription has register lines that are set 0.011 m apart. H.S. Robinson initially felt that “The face of this fragment has suffered from exposure to fire and has turned gray; the fine gray surface is probably not a stucco (too thin) but represents a calcining of the outer ‘skin’ of the stone by heat” (NB 521, p. 179). Later, however, he agreed with the view that it was a layer of fine stucco. Found 17 July, 1972 in Temple Hill Trench X, which lay north of Wall 2. Photo, squeeze, and autopsy of stone.

Height, 0.10 m. ; width, 0.095 m. ; thickness, 0.092 m.
Height of letters, 0.005 to 0.007 m. ; register lines, 0.011 m. apart.
Corinth inventory I-72-5 ; NB 521, p. 179 ; NB 566, p. 9, Object 219.

fin. IV – med. II a.      NON-STOIX

[— — — — — — — — — —]
[— — — —]Χ̣ΑΙ[̣— — — —]           1
[— — — —]ΩΝ̣ΤΕ[— — —]
[— — —]ΑΙ[̣.]ΣΕΠΙΤ̣[— — —]
[— — —] δοκῇ αὐτο̣[ῖς — —]
[— — Κορι]νθίων τα[— — —]      5
[— — —] . σταμεν[— — — —]
[— — — —]Ε̣ΙΣΤΑΠ̣[— — —]
[— — — —]Λ̣ΕΤ[— — — —]
[— — — — — — — — — —]


Line 1: None of the stucco remains in this line but the letters are scratched deep enough to leave vestigia. At the beginning of the line only the bottom lower right serif of a diagonal-shaped letter is visible and the angle and placement suggest chi rather than kappa. At the end of the line only the lower portion of a hasta is visible.
Line 2: The letter after the omega is very difficult. The spacing suggests one wide letter, as is found on the rest of the fragment. We see the tip of the left apex of a letter. H.S. Robinson read a mu, but we believe there is only damage on the right side and so we read a nu. The spacing from the right side of the omega to the shaft of the tau in this line is 0.020 m. and in line 5 the three successive letters ΩΝΤ yield 0.019 m.
Line 3: At the beginning of the line after the alpha a hasta is visible and there may be the beginnings of two horizontal cross-strokes suggesting either a rho or epsilon. At the end of the line, the high elevation of the hasta and spacing indicate a tau.
Line 4: At the end of the line there is only the small trace of the lower left quadrant of a circular letter.
Line 5: Or possibly [συ]νθίωντα[ι —].
Line 6: At the beginning only a serif is visible. H.S. Robinson read the upper part of a vertical stroke, but it appears more likely that this cut is damage given that it has a slightly diagonal shape. We could also split up the words and read [—].στα μεν[—] or [—].ς τὰ μὲν [—], etc.
Line 7: The letter trace at the beginning of the line preserves a top horizontal and a left hasta, thus indicating epsilon. The final letter trace preserves a vertical and top horizontal of a gamma or pi. Pi seems more likely in scale.
Line 8: Only the apex of an alpha, delta, or lambda is visible that, given the preserved field, was preceded by a short letter.

The sense and purpose of this inscription remain obscure.

Update: I have corrected two errors in the date based upon A. D’Hautcourt’s comment (before I had mistakenly written fin. III – med. I a.).

My next post should be the week of 23 June.

About PaulIversen

Assistant Professor of Classics at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.
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9 Responses to Virtual Seminar on Some Unpublished Inscriptions from Corinth II

  1. K. Rigsby says:

    Honorific decree? here are some guesses to test against the stone:
    2 τ]ῶι̣ [σ]τε[φάνωι
    4 [ – (τόπον) – ὃς ἂν] δοκῇ αὐτο[ῖς e.g. ἐπιτάδειος
    6 τὰ μέγ[ιστα ἐκ τῶν νόμων
    7 – καλέσαι δὲ – -] εἰς τὰν [κοινὰν ἑστίαν

  2. A. D'Hautcourt says:

    Thank you for organizing this virtual seminar.
    I suppose that the dating “fin. III – med. I a.” is based on paleography
    Is there any reason to think that the inscription might have been cut after Corinth’s destruction in 146 BC ?

  3. PaulIversen says:

    Thank you both for your comments. We definitely think it’s a decree, the purpose of which remains hard to ascertain (the inscriptions of Corinth rarely give up their secrets easily). In line 4 we obviously have a subjunctive, but there are several permutations that could precede it ([ἐὰν] δοκῇ or [ἐὰν μὴ] δοκῇ or [ἐάν τι] δοκῇ, etc.). On the PHI web site I had also noted the parallel at Tit. Calymnii 78 that K.R. alludes to, but given that so much is missing, that it is a single instance, that it is from Kalymna, and that there are other possible parallels if one searches PHI with an iota adscript, we thought it more prudent to leave it as it is.

    Although not really visible on the photo, at the end of line 6 we’re pretty sure we have a nu; we read part of the tip of the left apex, a part of the diagonal, and a part of the tip of the lower right apex, which is why we did not dot it.

    At the end of line 7 we also saw a horizontal moving to the right of the upper tip of the hasta, not a diagonal, thus excluding nu.

    As for the date, it almost certainly dates before the destruction of 146 BC, which I intended to indicate.

  4. A. D'Hautcourt says:

    l. 6: μάλ]ιστα μὲν (mal]ista men) ?

  5. Mika Kajava says:

    This certainly looks like a decree. -In line 3, probably either ]ς ἐπὶ τ[… or ]ς ἐπιτ[… Other alternatives are possible but less likely. If in line 5 there is Κορι]νθίων – perhaps preceded by δῆμος or πόλις in the accusative or in the genitive and accompanied with a suitable article – one might continue with something like τὰς τε θυσίας θυεῖν… εὐσεβῶ]ς (or a similar adverb). Then, perhaps, τὰ μὲν [ἄλλα…e.g. καθάπερ τῇ βουλῇ, τὰ δ]ὲ εἰς τὰ π[ρογεγρ./-ειρημ. …]. – Needless to say, this remains pure guesswork.

  6. Dirk Jongkind says:

    Are there other possibilities besides an omicron or an alpha between ΑΙ and Σ in line 3?
    -αι[ο]ς επιτ[…
    -αι[α]ς επιτ[…
    Does not help really, I think

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  8. PaulIversen says:


    [μάλ]ι̣στα μὲν would work in line 6, and it is the most common hit with a PHI search of στα μεν, but the purpose would remain unclear.


    All good suggestions. In line 3 I was considering something like [αἱ θυσί]αι̣̣ [ἃ]ς ἐπιτ̣[ελ- -], but obviously that’s quite speculative too.


    In line 3, the missing letter between the ΑΙ̣ and Σ could be just about anything. Just to reiterate, the “iota” after the Α is really just the remnant of a hasta and it is dotted (which is maybe not clear on some browsers) and we thought there might also be the pieces of two horizontal cross-strokes with it suggesting rho or epsilon, but we weren’t sure.

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