Description of a building and offering to the Lord


Trismegistos ID: 738931

Source Description


Plain wall on the North wall of a rock-cut chamber; on the West wall IRCyr M.271 and IRCyr M.272 were cut above niches (dimensions not registered).


Inscribed within a tabula ansata (1.47; 0.46;). There are three plain crosses above, and monogram crosses inside both handles.


Average 0.04 to 0.05; line 1 has mainly taller letters; alpha with oblique bar, square epsilon and sigma, phi with losange loop.

Place of Origin



Fifth to sixth centuries A.D. (lettering)


Found in 1959 1 km South of Bir Tarakanet , on the east side of the Wadi Tarakenet.

Last recorded Location

Studied by J.M. Reynolds in 1959 in situ.

Present Location

Not seen by GVCyr team.

Text constituted from

Transcription from editors


Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962 , pp. 41-46, whence SEG , 20.705c; Reynolds, 1988 , pp. 171-172, whence SEG , 38.1866; Ward-Perkins-Goodchild-Reynolds, 2003 , pp. 415-417 and fig. 366, whence SEG , 53.2035; Dobias-Lalou, 2012 .


| Θεσπέσιον ἔργον, ξένε, θαύμασον· καὶ γὰρ ἄριστόν

| ἐστιν ἔχιν, θαυμαστὸν δ’ ἄρ’ ἰδῖν καὶ κτίσθεν ὑπὸ ἀνδρὸς

| τούτου Σαμφουδιονος· ὂς μυρία ἔργα ἐτέλεσ⸢σ⸣ ⸢ε⸣ ς {ΕΣ},

| βέλτερον Ἀλκινόου ἡγησάμενος τόδε ὔκου.

5 | (5) Σοὶ δὲ θεός καμάτους πολλοὺς πησὶ<ν> κατανεῦσαι

| λεῖψαι· καὶ γὰρ πᾶσι{ν} συνευχομένυς τόδ' ἔελδωρ·

| πρεποσιδίης γὰρ ἀρχὴν κατέχων ἐν Μαρύσ[οις?]

| ἤρξω̣ δ' ἀθάνατον στήλην ἐνταῦθα <ἀ>ε̣ί̣ρ{ρ}ιν·

| κεῖθεν δὲ στρατηγὸν ἐχιροτόνησε πόλις σ̣[ε]

10 | (10) καὶ τήν[δ' ἐ]ξετέλεσσας ἅμα ἔργῳ σὺ ἐφεστώς


3 Dobias-Lalou, 2012  ἐτέλεσ⸢σ⸣ ⸢ε⸣ ς{ΕΣ} : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962  ἐτέλεσσε ἐς

5 πησὶ<ν> : Dobias-Lalou, 2012  πησὶ (clear from the photograph) : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962  πεσί || Dobias-Lalou, 2012  κατανεύσαι : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962  κατανεῦσαι

6 πᾶσι{ν} : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962  πᾶσιν || Dobias-Lalou, 2012  τόδ' ἔελδωρ : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962  τόδε ἔλδωρ

7 SEG , Ward-Perkins-Goodchild-Reynolds, 2003  πρεποσιδίης (W. Morel's suggestion for SEG, 20.705c) : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962  ΠΡΕΠΟΣ ἰδίης

8 ἤρξω̣ δ' : Dobias-Lalou, 2012  ἤρξ⸢ω⸣ δ' : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962  ἦρξ' ὅδ'

9 Ward-Perkins-Goodchild-Reynolds, 2003  πόλις σ̣[ε] : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962  πόλις Ε̣[---] 

10 SEG  [ἐ]ξετέλεσσας ἄμα (Pleket in SEG, 38.1866) : Goodchild-Reynolds, 1962 , Ward-Perkins-Goodchild-Reynolds, 2003  [ἐ]ξετέλεσσα σᾶμα (with συ for σοι)

French translation

Admire, étranger, cet ouvrage divin; il est excellent

à posséder, étonnant à voir et fondé par un homme,

Samphoudion que voici, toi qui as accompli

d'innombrables ouvrages, en faisant plus de cas de celui-ci que de la demeure d'Alkinoos.

Puisse Dieu t'accorder de laisser à tes enfants le fruit

de tant de peines ! Tel est l'espoir de tous ceux qui partagent tes prières ;

car tout en détenant la charge de praepositus chez les Maures,

tu as commencé à ériger ici un monument immortel ;

ensuite, la cité t'a élu stratège

et tu as mené à bien cette (charge) en même temps que tu te préposais toi-même à l'ouvrage.

English translation

Stranger, wonder at this marvellous piece of work; for it is very good

to have and wonderful to see, and founded by this man,

you Samphoudion, who completed

very many works, regarding it as better than the house of Alkinoos.

May God allow you to leave to your sons many achievements,

for this is the desire of all who pray with you.

For holding the office of praepositus among the Moors,

you began to raise here an undying memorial;

later on, the city elected you general

and you accomplished this (office) while having set yourself over the work.

(J.M. Reynolds' translation with some changes)

Italian translation

Ammira, straniero, quest'opera divina; è eccellente

da possedere, meravigliosa da vedere e fondata da quest'uomo,

da te, Samphoudion, che innumerevoli opere hai portato a termine,

considerando questa migliore della casa di Alcinoo.

Possa Dio concederti di lasciare ai tuoi figli i frutti

di tante fatiche! Tale è la speranza di quanti condividono le tue preghiere;

Ricoprendo la carica di praepositus presso i Mori,

hai cominciato a erigere qui un monumento immortale;

più tardi la città ti elesse stratego

e tu hai portato a termine questo (incarico) mentre sovrintendevi all'impresa.


Although a legacy for the children is mentioned, this inscription is no epitaph, nor is the chamber a tomb. The two main purposes of the poem are describing the fittings (an oil-press) and celebrating Samphoudion's deeds as a public officer and as a private builder.

Insofar as the poor illustration allows to assert, the lettering seems rather regular and careful. However the spelling follows the development of phonology, whence: many instances of iotacism; η for αι in πησί and in the transcription of prae ; υ for οι in ὔκου and συνευχομένυς; some confusion between ου and ο in the spelling of the probably Libyan name of the owner in the various inscriptions of the cave; the voiced δ instead of voiceless τ expected in the word built upon Latin praepositus ; an unexpected geminated ρρ for ἀείρειν.

Contrasting with those untidy spellings, the stamp of traditional paideia is evident both in words such as θεσπέσιος, ἔελδωρ, ἀείρω and in the reference to Alkinoos' palace. The poet also takes advantage of some fluctuations of the epic language such as the form in -ες at the 2nd person of sigmatic aorist.

The Μάρυσοι seem to be the Μαυρούσιοι, originally a tribe from the far West of North Africa. By the sixth century A.D., the ethnic was used for all Libyans (see Procopius, BV II.10 and Desanges, 1962 , pp. 35-36). The switching υ/ου in the tribe's name is echoing that of the personal name Samphoudion, written Samphodion in the other inscription of the chamber. The verse part shows that it was a short vowel, a very close o or a rather open u /

L. 10, the usual final word-play relies on the equivalence between praepositus and ἐφεστώς. The feminine τήνδε should refer to ἀρχή, which is not explicit in this sentence, but may be subaudible because of the parallelism between the two elections.

Metrical analysis: although made of dactylic meters, the poem has many irregularities. L.1: the digamma is regularly taken into account in (ϝ)έργον, whereas the last syllable of θαύμασον is taken for short. L. 2 has a supplementary syllable between 2nrd and 3d feet. L. 3: in the first hemistich, the personal name produces a very irregular sequence; the second part is what normally follows a penthemimer caesura. L. 4 is a regular hexameter. L. 5 is also a hexameter, if only we read πησὶ<ν>. At l. 6 on the contrary, we should drop a final nu metri causa . L. 7 seems to have a iambic first part; the second part is approximately dactylic, with great uncertainty concerning the ethnic of the Moors. L. 8 may form a hexameter if only we admit a hiatus and restore a second alpha in the fifth foot, which is a desperate answer. L. 9 is a nearly regular hexameter, with a strange lengthening of the first syllable in στρατηγόν. L. 10 is a regular hexameter, except for the lengthening of the second in ἅμα.

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