Offering of a baptistery to the Lord


Trismegistos ID: 738925

Source Description


Left part of a white marble block re-cut at right and broken off above and below (1.37; 0.29;0.13); at left a cross in relief, which probably had a pendant, now lost, at right.


Inscribed on the face in at least six lines, perhaps more, with alternate inset of hexameters and pentameters; the whole is inscribed within a sunk area (1.09; 0.29;).


0.04-0.05; alpha with dropped bar, semi-cursive mu, xi made of two loops joining in the centre into a small circle, square and lunate sigma, phi with diamond-shaped loop, omega like a mu upside down; letters pressed together, but no real ligature; pi + nu at line 4 and omega + iota at line 6 are linked with a small slanting stroke; an apostrophe is cut at ll. 2 and 4, marking the elisions.

Place of Origin

Port of Cyrene, later Apollonia , at the time re-named Sozousa: either from the East Church or from the West Church .


Probably sixth century A.D. (lettering)


First seen in 1909 by O. Bates and R. Norton outside Port of Cyrene, later Apollonia : in the modern village of Sūsah , serving as left jamb of an oven.

Last recorded Location

Seen by C. Dobias-Lalou in 1976 and again 2010 at Sūsah : in the Apollonia Museum .

Text constituted from

Transcription from stone (CDL).


Robinson, 1913 , n. 74; Reynolds, 1960 , p. 289, n. 13, whence SEG , 18.759; Robert, Bulletin Épigraphique , 1961.835; again as if unpublished SECir , 200bis and fig. 146 and Robert, Bulletin Épigraphique , 1964.576; Reynolds, 1976 , n. 61 and pl. XXI; Peek, 1972 , n. 13; Ward-Perkins-Goodchild-Reynolds, 2003 , p. 112, n. 2.d. Cf. Gallavotti, 1963 , pp. 459-460; Uhlenbrock, 1999 , p. 91..


| [------]   | [ ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ ] [τ]ε̣ί̣χ̣ων λουτ̣ρ̣ὸν ἀκηράσιον

| ἔνθ' ἀποδυσάμενός τις ἁμαρτάδας ἃς πρ̣ὶν ἔρ̣ε[ξεν] | αὖθις γεννᾶται πνευματικαῖς λοχίαις·

5 | τὸν κτίστην κεδνήν τ' ἄλοχον καὶ [τ]έκνα φύ[λαξον] | (5) μισθὸν, Ἄναξ, τοῦτον σῶι θεράποντι διδούς
- - - - - -


0 Reynolds, 1976  [------]   : Peek, 1972  [ὅ, ξένε, Δημαγόρας αὑτοῦ δαπάναισιν ἔτευξεν]

1 [c. 7]  [τ]ε̣ί̣χ̣ων λουτ̣ρ̣ὸν ἀκηράσιον : Robinson, 1913  [---]   [c. 16 - 19] : Reynolds, 1960  [---] ΧΩΝΛ̣Ο̣[.....] ΟΝΑ[....] Α[..]  Ο̣Ν̣ : SECir  [---]  +++ν̣ +++ [..]  ++ ονα̣[.]  ++α̣+++ω : Peek, 1972  ἔ̣[μβα τοῦθ᾿ὁ]ρ̣ά̣ων λουτ̣ρ̣ὸν ἀκ̣ηρ̣άσιον : Reynolds, 1976  [c. 7]  [τ]ε̣ί̣χ̣ων λο̣υ̣τ̣ρ̣ὸν ἀκηράσιον : Ward-Perkins-Goodchild-Reynolds, 2003  [c. 9] ι̣χ̣ων λουτ̣ρ̣ὸν ἀκηράσιον

2 Gallavotti, 1963 , Reynolds, 1976  ἔρ̣ε[ξεν] : Robinson, 1913 , Reynolds, 1960  ἔρε[ξε] : SECir  ΕΙ++ [---] 

4 SECir , Ward-Perkins-Goodchild-Reynolds, 2003  φύ[λαξον] : Robinson, 1913 , Reynolds, 1960 , Peek, 1972 , Reynolds, 1976  φύ[λασσε]

5 Reynolds, 1960 , Gallavotti, 1963  σῶι : Robinson, 1913  σῷ : SECir  σῶν

French translation

[---]  des murs un bain sans impureté

où, se défaisant des péchés commis auparavant,

l'on renaît d'une naissance spirituelle.

Accorde le salut au fondateur, à sa loyale épouse et à ses enfants,

en accordant, Seigneur, à ton serviteur cette rétribution.

English translation

[---]  walls a pure bath

where, having put off the sins which one committed in the past,

one is born again in a birth of the spirit.

Guard the founder and his faithful wife and children,

granting this, oh Lord, as a reward to your servant.

(J.M. Reynolds' translation slightly modified)

Italian translation

[---]  dei muri un bagno puro

dove, spogliati dei peccati commessi nel passato,

si viene di nuovo alla luce con una nascita spirituale.

Il fondatore, la sua fedele sposa e i suoi figli proteggi,

o Signore, questo concedendo al tuo servo come ricompensa.


The epigram clearly mentions building works in a baptistery. About the discovery, we know since Uhlenbrock's publication in 1999 of Oric Bates' report about a preliminary expedition with Norton in 1909 that they discovered on that occasion the stone «built into the jamb of an oven». The site of the ancient city was then occupied by a Turkish military post established there for the protection of the newly settled Cretan Muslims. The same report tells that the West Church was being spoiled of stones for new buildings. The present inscription, hitherto attributed to the East Church, the only building excavated during the Italian period, might thus rather belong to the West Church, as pointed by J.M. Reynolds in 2003.

Peek's restorations of the first distichon (text-lines 0-1) are too hazardous. Neither his good knowledge of Greek verse nor the faith he granted Robinson, who also relied upon a copy by Norton, can be more trustworthy that the direct examination of the stone. Their readings stand here only for the fullness of the editorial history.

At l. 1 [τ]ε̣ίχων is a plausible reading, as the word is used not only for city-walls but also in papyri for the walls of a temple. The dedicant's offering consisted perhaps not in building the baptistery itself, but in enclosing it into walls.

At l. 3 λοχίαις is written with iota as a result of the very common iotacism and stands for λοχείαις; the vowel is metrically short in the hiatus. The idea that baptism is a spiritual rebirth is a common one. In the formulation, there are also some traditional features of the poetic language, such as the use of ἄναξ for 'Lord' instead of the pedestrian Κύριε, as well as the traditional epic formula κεδνὴ ἄλοχος.

Metrical analysis: at least three very regular elegiac couplets.

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