Epitaph of Berenika


Trismegistos ID: 738901

Source Description


White marble panel, chipped off at upper right and lower left (0.39; 0.19; -).


Inscribed on front face, more or less deeply cut, all lines aligned at left.


Height unknown; alpha with dropped bar, non slanting sigma, small circular letters, most oblique strokes very lightly cut and not very clear on the photograph.

Place of Origin

Cyrenaica (?).


Perhaps first half of second century B.C. (lettering)


Said to have been brought to Alexandria before 1840 from the coast of Cyrenaica .

Later recorded Location

Copied before 1840 by H.C. Agnew at Alexandria , in private possession.

Last recorded Location

Observed by W. Froehner between 1876 and 1883 at Marseille , in the Musée Archéologique.

Present Location

Seems to be now lost; edited from an old photograph.

Text constituted from

Transcription from photograph (CDL).


Agnew, 1840 , n. A, pp. 168-169, plate XIII, fig. a and Welcker, 1842 , p. 209, n. 17, whence CIG , p. 362, n. 5362b; Froehner, 1897 , n. 107.

Cf. Field, 1877 , p. 90; Kaibel, 1878 , n. 260; Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, 1927 , p. 312; Peek, 1955 , n. 1254 Morelli, 1963 , pp. 168-170; Roques, 1995 , pp. 133-134; Dobias-Lalou, 2014 , p. 326.


| Δέρκεο τὰν ἀρίσαμον, ὁδοίπορε, τὰν Βερενίκας | εἰκόνα τᾶς μελέας, ἃν τάφος οὖτος ἔχει,

| ἃ τὸ πρὶν ἐ 'γ' 'κ' αλυβοῖς, νῦν δ᾿εἰς Ἀχέροντα | ἐστερόμαν τῶν πρὶν νυμφιδίων θαλάμων,

5 | (5) πατρὶ γόους προλιποῦσα Φιλοξένωι, ὂς τόδ᾿ ἔτευξεν | εἴδωλον νύμφας μναμόσυνον θέμενος.


1 Froehner, 1897  Βερενίκας : Agnew, 1840  Φερενίκας

3 Kaibel, 1878 , Froehner, 1897 , Peek, 1955  ἐ 'γ' : Agnew, 1840  ἐπ᾿ : CIG  ἐ 'ν' : Welcker, 1842  ἐν || 'κ' αλυβοῖς (from photograph) : Agnew, 1840 , Welcker, 1842 , CIG  καλύβοις : Froehner, 1897  Χαλύβοις : Peek, 1955   ' κ ' αλυβοῖς

4 Peek, 1955  ἐστερόμαν τῶν : Agnew, 1840  ἀστερομάντων : Welcker, 1842  ἂ στερόμαν τῶν

5 Agnew, 1840  Φιλοξένωι : Welcker, 1842  Φιλοξένῳ

French translation

Contemple, passant, le remarquable portrait de Bérénika

la malheureuse, que renferme ce tombeau:

moi qui, naguère sous le dais nuptial et maintenant en route vers l'Achéron,

me suis vue priver prématurément de ma chambre nuptiale,

ne laissant que des lamentations à mon père Philoxénos, qui fit faire

cette image de jeune femme et l'érigea en souvenir.

(trad. Dobias-Lalou, 2014 , p. 326, modifiée)

English translation

See, wayfarer, the notable portrait of Berenika

the hapless, whom this tomb keeps:

I who, being formerly under the virgin chamber and now on my way to the Acheron,

was prematurely deprived of my bridal room,

leaving only woes to my father Philoxenos, who had

this image of young woman made and erected it as a memorial.

Italian translation

Guarda, passante, il pregevole ritratto di Berenika,

sventurata, che questo sepolcro racchiude:

io dapprima nella stanza nuziale, ora invece sulla via dell’Acheronte,

anzitempo sono stata privata del talamo della sposa,

null'altro che lamenti al padre lasciando, a Filoxenos, che questo simulacro

di giovane donna fece costruire e pose come ricordo.


The stone was in Marseilles Museum when Froehner published his guidebook in 1883, whereas it was not mentioned in an earlier catalogue dating 1876. After enquiry in the Museum it seems to be now lost and the original glass negative is also lost. Fortunately enough, thanks to Prof. Hallof, we could get a reprint of this photograph kept in the archive of the late Prof. Peek at Berlin.

At l. 3, apart from Froehner, who read Χαλύβοις, name of a people near the Black Sea, all commentators rightly preferred the rare and poetical word καλυβός, a masculine typically Cyrenaican variant of καλύβη also attested at GVCyr008 and GVCyr009. Morelli pointed out that the Cyrenaean occurrences vindicate a glossa of Hesychios' unduly corrected by his editors.

At l. 4, πρίν is a preposition with genitive with the article anteceding it, as attested elsewhere.

Field commented in 1877 on Agnew's publication without knowing Welcker's proposals of 1842, which he echoed on most points. In addition he wanted to put a comma before νύμφας and not after it; this is not necessary for the syntax nor for the meaning and would be metrically harsh, for the caesura is at the hemistich.

Metrical analysis: three elegiac couplets without any problem of prosody; at l. 5, the long ending of Φιλοξένωι is shortened before the vocalic beginning of the following word.

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