Honors for two athletes named Neon


Trismegistos ID: 738927

Source Description


White marble base with mouldings, now much worn out, above and below; chipped off at the lower left angle and on the right edge (0.65; 0.35;0.28); a small part has also been lost at the upper right angle since the discovery. A supplementary line, added above the inscribed face, is a graffito unrelated to the epigram.


The main text was inscribed on the whole face (0.52; 0.24;) in two columns (hereafter called 'areas') of 10 lines, with alternate inset of hexameters and pentameters; however there is practically no gap between both columns/areas at ll. 7 and 9.


0.012; regularly cut, but now very difficult to read in some parts because of the poor condition of the surface; smaller theta and omicron, non-slanting sigma, psi with oblique upper strokes, horseshoe omega.

Place of Origin

Cyrene : probably from the Hellenistic gymnasium which preceded the Caesareum .


Probably end of second or beginning of first century B.C. (lettering)


Found at an unknown date and anyway before 1979 at Cyrene : Sanctuary of Apollo , West of the Strategeion , where it had probably been re-used.

Last recorded Location

Seen by C. Dobias-Lalou in 1979 and again in 1985 in situ.

Text constituted from

Transcription from stone (CDL).


Dobias-Lalou, 2002 , whence SEG , 52.1839.


area a

| Ὄρχαμον ἠϊθέων Διονυσίω υἱέα [κ]ο[ῦρ]ον | ἄνδρασι μαρμαρέα φθέγγεται ἅδε λίθος·

| πάντεσι δ' ἆρ' ὀνύχεσσιν [δῶκ]εν οἱ ὠ̣κ̣έσιν ἵππος | στεψαμένωι τελέαν ἅρματι καμμονίαν·

5 | (5) οὐδέ μ⸢ι⸣ ν Ἑρμεία<ο> σοφῶν ἀδαήμονα μύθων | πατρὶς ἐνὶ λιπαροῖς ἔτρεφε γυμνασίοις,

| εὖ δὲ καὶ Ἡρακλῆϊ μεμηλότα· τοιγὰρ ἀέθλωι | ἔργα καὶ ἐκ Μουσᾶν εἶσα διανύσατο·

| οὗ σ' ἵππω, τόσα φαμί, Νέων Καρνηί̈ω ἇδος, | (10) [εἰκό]να τυπ[ῶσαι] ὤ̣πασαν Ο̣ὐ̣ρ̣ανίδαι

area b

| Δ̣ο̣ίας Θε̣υ̣χρήστοιο Νέωνα κλειτὸν̣ [ὑπ' ὠδᾶς?] | γράμμα καὶ ἐσσο̣μένοις φθέγγεται ὧ[δε βροτοῖς],

| αἰνετὸν ἐν Μούσαισι, μεμηλότα δ’ Ἡ[ρακλῆϊ], | στεψάμενον διδύμας κλῶνα διφρηλασίας,

15 | (15) πάππου Ἀριστάρχοιο φερώνυμον· ἦ γὰρ ὁ φύσας | υἱεῖ πατρώιαν τάνδ’ ὀνύμανε φάτιν·

| ὦ πρὶν ἱαραὶ [.] ε[..] ιαι Ἑλλάδος ἁνυσ[θεῖσαι]· | καὶ διὰ κυανέας στέλλεται αὖ̣θ̣[ις ἁλός]·

| οὗ σε πάλαι μέγα θάμβος ὄρω[ρεν], [δῖα Κυράνα], | (20) <ἀ>θλητᾶν τοίους παῖδας ἀεξομέν[αν].


1 [κ]ο[ῦρ]ον : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  [---] 

3 [δῶκ]εν οἱ ὠ̣κ̣έσιν : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  [ἰσάνεμος?]

5 μ⸢ι⸣ ν (Bousquet's suggestion) : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  μὲν

8 ἔργα : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  εἶσα

9 οὗ σ' ἵππῳ : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  [ε]ὐ[ίπ]πω || Dobias-Lalou, 2002  φαμὶ, Νέων Καρνηί̈ω ἇδος, : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  φαμὶ Νέων Καρνηί̈ω ἇδος,

10 [εἰκό]να τυπ[ῶσαι ] ὤ̣πασαν Ο̣ὐ̣ρ̣ανίδαι : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  [---] 

11 κλειτὸν̣ [ὑπ'ὠδᾶς?] (read from the ancient photograph) : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  κλειν[ὸν ἁμίλλας]

12 ὧ[δε βροτοῖς] (Bousquet's suggestion) : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  [---] 

17 ὦ πρὶν ἱαραὶ : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  [---]  || [.] ε[..] ίαι Ἑλλάδος ἁνυσ[θεῖσαι] : (or) [.] ε[..] ι δι᾿ Ἑλλάδος ἁνύσ[c. 7]  : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  [---]  καὶ τέχναι Ἑλλάδος ἁνύσ[---] 

18 αὖ̣θ̣[ις ἁλός] (Bousquet's suggestion) : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  ἁ[λμαίας]

19 ὄρω[ρεν, δῖα Κυράνα] : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  ι[---] 

20 ἀεξομέν[αν] : Dobias-Lalou, 2002  ἀεξομέν [c. 1 - 3]

French translation

(a) Prince des jeunes gens, un garçon, fils de Dionysios,

est ici célébré à l'attention des hommes par la pierre de marbre ;

c'est que, de tous leurs sabots rapides, ses chevaux lui ont donné

avec son char la victoire parfaite dont il se couronna ;

les sages discours d'Hermès n'ont pas fait défaut dans les enseignements

dont sa patrie l'a nourri au sein de ses brillants gymnases,

non plus que le souci d'Héraclès ; il a donc accompli par la compétition athlétique

des exploits égaux à ceux qui lui vinrent des Muses.

C'est pourquoi —je n'en dis pas plus— à toi, Néôn, délice de Karnèios,

les dieux ouraniens ont accordé de faire modeler une image équestre.

(b) Par un deuxième poème ici le fameux Néôn fils de Theukhrestos

est célébré aussi par l'écrit à l'intention des mortels à venir:

loué chez les Muses, choyé d'Hèraklès,

il se couronna de la palme d'une double course de chars,

portant le nom de son aïeul Aristarkhos; en effet son père,

en le nommant, énonça pour son fils le renom ancestral :

"Ah, les  [---]  sacrés de la Grèce autrefois accomplis !";

Et [aussitôt] il s'équipe pour traverser la mer bleu sombre.

C'est pourquoi depuis longtemps s'est élevée une grande admiration pour toi, [divine Cyrène],

qui élèves de tels fils d'athlètes.

English translation

(a) Prince of the youngsters, a boy, son of Dionysios,

is being celebrated here at the attention of men by the marble stone;

for by means of all their quick hooves, his horses gave him

with his chariot the perfect victory with which he crowned himself;

Hermes' wise discourses were not failing in the education

given by his home-city in its luxurious gymnasiums,

neither was he deprived of Heracles' concern; he thus accomplished through gymnic competition

feats equal to those provided by the Muses.

That is why —be it my last word— you, Neon, Karneios' delight,

were granted by the Ouranian gods the modelling of an equestrian image.

(b) Through a second poem here the famous Neon son of Theuchrestos,

is also celebrated through the inscription for the mortals to come:

praised amongst the Muses, cared for by Heracles,

he crowned himself with the palm of a double chariot race,

wearing the name of his grandfather Aristarchos; indeed his father,

when naming him, spelled for his son the ancestral fame:

'Oh, the sacred  [---]  of Greece once accomplished!'

And [on the spot] he fits himself out for sailing through the dark blue sea.

That is why a great amazement has long since arosen towards you, [divine Cyrene],

who brings up such sons of athletes.

Italian translation

(a) Principe dei giovani, un ragazzo, figlio di Dionysios,

all’attenzione degli uomini è qui celebrato dalla pietra di marmo;

grazie infatti a tutti i loro zoccoli veloci, i suoi cavalli gli hanno donato

con il cocchio la vittoria perfetta con la quale si è incoronato;

i saggi discorsi di Hermes non sono mancati negli insegnamenti

di cui la patria l'ha nutrito nei suoi splendidi ginnasi,

e nemmeno la cura di Eracle; ha dunque ottenuto

risultati eguali nella competizione atletica e grazie alle Muse.

Per questo – sia la mia ultima parola – a te Neon, delizia di Karneios,

gli dèi urani hanno concesso di modellare una immagine equestre.

(b) Con un secondo poema qui l’iscrizione celebra anche

per i mortali a venire il famoso Neon, figlio di Theuchrestos,

lodato presso le Muse, accudito da Eracle,

che si è incoronato con la palma di una doppia corsa coi carri,

portando il nome del nonno Aristarchos; perché il padre,

dandogli il nome, determinò per il figlio la fama ancestrale:

“Oh le sacre  [---]  della Grecia una volta ottenute!”

e [di nuovo] si prepara per il cupo mare blu;

per questo da tempo si è levata grande l’ammirazione per te, [divina Cirene],

che allevi tali figli di atleti.


The added line, which C. Dobias-Lalou in the first publication considered illusory, may be detected on the ancient photograph. The lettering is later, the layout does not match the full width available and the lettering, especially the final omega, seems to belong to the first century A.D. or later. It reads Νεῖλος καὶ Γ++νιεὺς οἱ Φιλίνω and is similar to many ephebic graffiti of the Roman period. Combined with the themes developed in the verse, this confirms that the base originally stood in the gymnasium and was moved to Apollo's sanctuary for re-use at a later date.

After the first publication, C. Dobias-Lalou took advantage of thorough discussions with the late Jean Bousquet, who made several convincing suggestions.

The layout, with two parts side by side is that of the ancient papyrus rolls. Both poems develop parallel themes with similar words. Furthermore, both praised youngsters are named Neon. The first one is son of Dionysios. As to the second, he is son of Theuchrestos, but lines 15-16 mention another name, that of his grandfather, given by his father. In other words, he had a birthname and a byname and might have been mentioned as Ἀρίσταρχος Θευχρήστω ὁ καὶ Νέων. This happens often from the Hellenistic period onwards. However the sophisticated formulation and the exclamation of line 17 seem to hide a second meaning: ὄνομα, beside 'name' also means 'fame' and φάτις, beside 'talk' also 'rumour'. So in naming his son with his father's name, Theuchrestos also mentioned his father's fame, plausibly gained in sacred competitions, probably in one of the famous sanctuaries of Greece. So the second Neon sailed to Greece to one of those competitions, whereas the first Neon seems to have been winner at Cyrene only. We cannot guess what reason, beside their homonymous name and similar taste for horses, lead to honor both Neon on the same stone.

At l. 3 the singular ἵππος has a collective value, as followed by the mention of a chariot. The famous Cyrenaean chariots were led by four horses. At l. 14, διδύμας is ambiguous: either the chariot was led by only two horses or the second Neon winned twice.

Lines 5-7 (and 13) mention the two deities of the gymnasium (Hermes lacking at line 13 is probably meaningless). The mention of the Muses might mean that one Neon or both composed the poems.

Lines 9-10, if our restorations are good, might allude to a type of sculpted panels with a man leading a four horses chariot, of which a series has been found at Cyrene. For ΟΥ, rather than the negative particle, we prefer to read the relative adverb οὗ which might have its usual local meaning at this line. However, it is also used at line 19 with an obviously parallel intent and we choose for both places the explicative meaning.

At line 18 for the verb στέλλεται (middle voice) the most usual meaning is 'to set out', wich implies a shift of subject (so in our translation). An alternative might be that the middle is used instead of the active to show that the father is personally involved in his son's departure.

Metrical analysis: 10 regular elegiac couplets. At line 17, two metrical lenghtenings of the first syllable: ἱαραί and ἁνυσθεῖσαι. At line 9, the elision of the diphthong in the dative σοι, a feature inherited from epic prosody, deserves mention.

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