An ancient Sugar Ray Leonard, a deceased Cynic philosopher, and a colleague of Marcion at Sinope
I’ve been making my way through The Inscriptions of Sinope, the latest in the series on Greek inscriptions of Asia Minor (bibliography below). Sinope was a Greek city on the northern coast of Turkey. Its location on the Black Sea made it important for sea trade, and the sailor and “heretic” Marcion was from this city. A few of the inscriptions stood out to me and I thought I’d share them with you.
The first is a very successful boxer of the first or second century who may well match or beat Sugar Ray:
M(arcus) Iutius Marcianus Rufus, outstanding boxer of Sinope, who won victories in the sacred triumphal competitions: at Rome in the Capitoline, 3 times in succession — at Neapolis, twice — at the Actian (games), twice, the first and only Sinopean (to do so) – at the Nemean (games), twice – at the Isthmian (games), twice – at the Pythian (games) – at the Olympic (games) – at the Panathenaic (games), the first and only Sinopean (to do so) – at Antiocheia (in Syria), 3 times, the first and only ever of the youth and men’s classes in one day, in the men’s class – in the Pythian games at Antiocheia – at Nicomedia, 3 times, the first and only ever in the under-age, youth and men’s classes – at the (Provincial) Community of Asia games at Smyrna, Pergamum, and Ephesus – at the Aspis at Argos, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Asia games at Sardis, twice, at Philadelphia, twice, at Traelles, twice, at Hierapolis, twice, at Laodiceia, twice, at Thyateira, twice, at Mytilene, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Pontus games, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Galatia games, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Macedonia games – at the (Provincial) Community of Bithynia games at Nicaea, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Cappadocia games – and at other competitions in the half-talent class, 110 times. (In all) 150 victories. By decision of the Senate (ISinope 105; trans. by French with adaptations, see below).
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” I guess.
The second is the grave of a Cynic philosopher of the second or third century. This is the first grave of such a philosopher I have encountered, but there may well be others:
This then is (the) stone of a man whom, moreover, — an expounder of wisdom — this city has produced, [ – – ] of [ – – ] Perseus. Why does he have the name “wing”? Tell us! Because a raised wing too drew (him) through the air of Greece. This Perseus (was) [inclined] too towards Cynic thought, since he carried a wallet (and) a scimitar (small sword) in the place of a staff . . . (ISinope 171; trans. French, with adaptations).
The third involves the grave-stone of a shipper from Sinope (first-third century CE), the hometown of another more renowned shipper, named Marcion:
Hail, O passer-by! (I), Callinicus, having sailed (over) many waves, sailed (on) the last voyage of Lethe, (I) whom the sea in the deeps did not extinguish, but the earth destroyed by a heavy sickness; having lived two and thirty years, eager to come to (the) fate of (my) younger brother Calligonus, long dead, having lived nobly for fourteen years; thus are the plans of (the) fates arranged. Iulius Callinicus, ship-master (naukleros), lies here (ISinope 169).
This inscription also points to another reality of life in the ancient world, namely, the short life expectancy: Callinicus lived to the age of only 32 and his brother had died when he was only 14.
I plan to do more posts on interesting inscriptions I encounter.
David H. French, ed., The Inscriptions of Sinope (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien, vol 64; Bonn: Rudolf Habelt, 2004).
Inscriptions from Syria and Sinope
I’ve been translating inscriptions lately, and that has gotten me interested in finding older publications of inscriptions available on Google books. There has to be a ton of this kind of thing, but I don’t know that they have been collected anywhere. Here are a few items that caught my eye, with snippets to give an impression of the kind of material to be found in each.
William Kelly Prentice, Greek and Latin Inscriptions. Part III of the Publications of an American Archaeological Expedition to Syria, 1899-1900. New York: The Century Co., 1908. http://bit.ly/QKsE6S
“May Odedon the teacher live, may he live!” Prentice believes that this inscription came from a tomb, “perhaps written … by some pupil who wished his master well enough, after he was dead.”
D.M. Robinson, Greek and Latin Inscriptions from Sinope and Environs. American School of Classical Studies at Athens (American Journal of Archaeology, second series, Journal of the Archaeological institute of America, v. IX (1905) no. 3.) http://bit.ly/WarqOS
From an Armenian village: “Manius Fulvius Pacatus, age 60, Fulvius Praetorenus, his son, age 20, lie here. Licinia Caesellia lies here, age 50.” Evidently Greek-speaking Romans of some means, to judge by the elegant lettering.
James C. Egbert, Introduction to the Study of Latin Inscriptions. New York: American Book Co., 1896. http://bit.ly/XeQj2a
Lippitudo or conjunctivitis was a scourge of Roman times, and the eye doctors have many terms for different varieties of it. It was often caused by smoke coming from braziers used indoors. The second of these documents seems to prescribe egg-white to be daubed on with a sponge (penecillus). For this latter vulgar Latin term is unknown in print in this particular sense until the middle ages. See See Rabanus Maurus, De Universo (ca. AD 842) 8.5 (PL 111.239C): mollissimum genus earum [sc. spongiarum] penecilli vocantur eo quod aptae sint ad oculorum tumores, et ad extergendas lippitudines utiles.