Honors for the city of Cyrene


Trismegistos ID: 738935

Source Description


Cyrene Museum, 77+81.


Two punctually adjacent fragments of a white marble stele; fragment a is broken off on all sides but at back (0.22; 0.28;0.15); fragment b is a much larger fragment, reconstituted from five adjacent pieces (0.37; 0.80;0.15) and bears below IRCyr C.415 in a different hand.


Inscribed on the face (beginning at 0.11 of the surviving top) in at least eight lines covering fragment a and the upper part of fragment b; lines are more or less grouped by pairs with alternate inset for the metrical part and larger though irregular spaces between the pairs.


0.015-0.023 (phi is 0.035 tall); irregular cutting, generally speaking more careful in the three first lines; alpha with horizontal or oblique bar, alpha and lambda with right stroke protruding on top, square or lunate epsilon, lunate sigma, phi with very tall hasta, omega like a M upside down.

Place of Origin



Perhaps second century, or rather first half of third century A.D. (lettering)


Probably found already in 1925 at Cyrene : photographed in 1926 as from the Sanctuary of Apollo .

Last recorded Location

Seen by C. Dobias-Lalou in 1977 and again in 2001 in Shahat : Cyrene Museum .

Text constituted from

Transcription from stone (CDL).


SECir , 69 (no image) and SECir , 68 (photo). Cf. Reynolds, 1978 , p. 118.


|(vac.) [c. 7] Α̣ ἀνακείμενον γ  [- max.3 -]  [c. 8]  ὑφ' Ἑλλήνων ( vac. ) (vac. 1 line)

|  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  [δί?]σ̣σους καὶ ἐπὶ κ̣ι̣ ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ±  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ   [c. 1 - 2]|ν̣ λαούς Ι̣  ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ 

| (5) | ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  [φ]α̣τ|ὶ ὅλου̣  ˉ  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ±  | [ν]α̣ῦς ἑκατὸν π̣[έμψα] [c. 1 - 3]  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ± 

5 | σείτου δωρο<δο>κήσα[τε?]  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ± · | σ[ε]ῖτον ἀνελπίσ̣[τον]  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  (vac. 1 line)

| Ἕλλανες σώζεσθε [ ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ± ]  | (10) ματ 'έ' ρα Κυράνα[ν]. [ ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ˉ  ˘  ˘  |  ± ] 


1 α̣ : SECir  (not transcribed) || γ : SECir  σ̣

4 ν̣ : SECir  +|Ị

5 [φ]α̣τ|ὶ : SECir  [---] α̣τ|ι

6 [ν]α̣ῦς : SECir  [---] εις || π̣[έμψα] [c. 1 - 3] : SECir  τ̣[---] 

French translation

 [---]  consacré  [---]  par les Grecs.

 [---]  doubles  [---]  sur  [---]  les peuples  [---]   [---]  [dit] que tous  [---]  [ayant expédié] cent navires  [---]  vous avez reçu en cadeau  [---]  des céréales  [---] ; les céréales inespérées  [---]  Grecs, vous êtes sauvés  [---]  maternelle Cyrène.

English translation

 [---]  dedicated  [---]  by the Greeks.

 [---]  double  [---]  on  [---]  the people  [---]   [---]  [says] that all  [---]  [having sent] hundred ships  [---]  you received as a gift  [---]  grain  [---] ; the unexpected grain  [---]  Greeks, you were rescued  [---]  motherly Cyrene.

Italian translation

 [---]  dedicato  [---]  dai Greci.

 [---]  doppi  [---]  su  [---]  i popoli  [---]   [---]  [dice] che tutto  [---]  [avendo spedito] cento navi  [---]  avete ricevuto in dono  [---]  del grano  [---] ; grano inaspettato  [---]  Greci, voi siete stati salvati  [---]  madre Cirene.


The two fragments were published by G. Pugliese Carratelli as prepared by †Oliverio. Of fragment b, the former found a photograph and transcription and was able to check the stone at Cyrene. Of fragment a he only found in Oliverio's papers a drawing (not given) and suggested that it might belong to the same stone. Thanks to a reexamination of both fragments, C. Dobias-Lalou is able to confirm their respective placement, joining them at lines 4-5 and thus to calculate the extent of the lost parts.

Both in its less regular cutting and in its letter forms, this text is clearly distinguished from the list inscribed below fragment b (IRCyr C.415), but they could nevertheless be approximately contemporary, although by different hands (from J.M. Reynolds' commentary in notebook). For the list, which begins with Hadrian deified, J.M. Reynolds (IRCyr C.415) hesitates between a list of priests cut once at a time after the latest was out of office and a list of contributors to a fund. The second option might fit better the poem, if ever related to it. Whatever the discrepancies between both parts, it is also difficult to explain why so much space was left on the stone above the list if it was not intended for the poem to be added.

At l. 1, what is preserved of the first letter might also belong to a lambda. However no Greek words ends with that letter, so alpha is compulsory. As to the last letter, of which only a small upper part of a hasta is preserved, J.M. Reynolds (notebook) suggested gamma, but eta or pi are also possible. Αs usual, ἀνάκειμαι is worth the perfect passive of ἀνατίθημι and is here completed by the mention of the Greeks at line 2. This sounds like a heading and is formulated in koine, whereas the dialectal Ἑλλᾶνες is used at the last line.

At l. 3, the last letter of which only the upper part of a hasta is preserved, might be as well iota or kappa, the former being less plausible because of the hiatus, the more so if we read with elision ἐπ' ικ̣.

At l. 4 the vestiges, now lost, of an illegible letter seen by Oliverio on top of fragment b should belong to the letter of which only a hasta is left on fragment a, forming together a nu.

At line 5, as two short syllables are preserved, the preceding one should be long. The dialectal verb φατί seems a good guess.

At line 6 some form of πέμπω would be a tantalizing reading.

On one side, the special place allowed to Hadrian on the stone, if the poem is related to the rest, would explain a poem alluding to his action as 'restorer' of the city after the Jewish revolt. On the other hand, the three last verse-lines mention grain presented to someone who despaired of it and tells that the Greeks were rescued. This might recall the delivery of grain to many cities about 320 B.C. (IGCyr010900; for a similar use of σώζω and related words in a case of famine, see the Athenian decree for Epikerdes IG , I(3) 125, ll. 11-12. Might this glorious deed of Cyrene be reminded five centuries later and explain some help received by the Cyrenaeans from the Greeks at the time? Ἕλλανες might also mean 'members of the Panhellenion'. Are the hundred ships related to the ancient grain transport or to a more recent rescue expedition?

Metrical analysis: lines 1-2 have larger and more carefully cut letters. Although the remnant parts are consistent with the dactylic rhythm, various reasons forbid to restore a verse: 1) the dimensions of the lost parts on both sides are too small for an elegiac couplet; 2) the ending of line 2 cannot belong to a hexameter nor to a pentameter. It seems thus better to consider those lines a heading. The eight following lines are four elegiac couplets, as shown through the inset of pentameters in the last lines.

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