Dedication by a king Ptolemy probably to Zeus Soter


Trismegistos ID: 738337

Source Description


Cyrene Museum, 301 (a) and 189 (b).


Two fragments of a white marble panel, later re-used on the reverse after a quarter turn for IRCyr C.154; in their present condition, fragment a (inv. 301) is the upper right angle (0.15; 0.14;0.06); fragment b (inv. 189) is broken off at left and right and above (0.15; 0.115;0.06) and has a dowel hole full of metal where the lower edge is broken off at right. The tiny joint between both fragments is made sure by the inscription cut on the reverse.


Inscribed on the face, beginning at 0.075 from the upper edge and ending at 0.04 from the bottom. The spacement of letters varies at each line. There might be a vacat before the last word at line 3.


0.028-0.03 carefully cut, with serifs; especially broad eta, kappa with long oblique bars, large omikron, non-slanting sigma.

Place of Origin

Cyrene .


Probably second half of second century B.C. (lettering)


Found before 1938 (at least for fragment a) at Cyrene : exact findspot of both fragments unrecorded and anyhow related to the re-use.

Last recorded Location

Fragment a seen by C. Dobias-Lalou in 1976 and fragment b in 1979, both in Shahat : Cyrene Museum .

Text constituted from

Transcription from stone (CDL).


Fragment a Pugliese Carratelli-Oliverio, 1961 , p. 30, n. 10 (from †Oliverio's papers), fig. 19, whence SEG , 20.721, a; fragment b not previously published.


[Βασιλεὺς Πτολε]|μ̣αῖος [c. 7]  [Ζη?]|νὶ Σ̣[ω]|τ̣ῆρι̣ [.........] | (vac. 1) οἰκ [- max.5 -] 


1 [Βασιλεὺς] : Pugliese Carratelli-Oliverio, 1961  [---] 

2 [Ζη]νὶ Σ̣[ω]τ̣ῆρι̣ : Pugliese Carratelli-Oliverio, 1961  [Σω]τ̣ῆ̣ρ̣ι̣

French translation

[Le roi] Ptolémée  [---]  à [Zeus?] Sôtèr  [---] .

English translation

[King] Ptolemy  [---]  to [Zeus?] Soter  [---] .

Italian translation

[Il re] Tolemeo  [---]  a [Zeus?] Sotere  [---] .


In spite of the addition of a new fragment, this inscription remains fragmentary and escapes a thorough restoration. As the lettering is closely similar to that of IGCyr063000, a date in the second half of the second century B.C. seems plausible. The layout both of this side and of the reverse lead to consider that the stone was not re-cut at its right, so that we have the original ends of ll. 1 and 2, whereas a good part may be lost at left.

At line 2, the dative ending in -νι allows to retain a divine epithet rather than a royal title for Soter . As a divine epithet, this is known for two deities in the Hellenistic period at Cyrene: 1) Zeus Soter became the patron of the dynasty in relation with Ptolemy Soter and his immediate followers; he was namely the leader of the theoi Soteres to whom a monumental altar was dedicated on the agora (IGCyr100000); 2) Apollo is said Soter in the quite different context of the dedication made earlier in the port of Cyrene by thearoi travelling to Delphi (IGCyr064100). Both divine names having the same ending at the dative, we choose Zeus on behalf of the mention of a Ptolemy. However the junction gained from the reverse in IRCyr C.154 leaves a limited space for the royal titulature. The one which would fit best would be that of Ptolemy Philadelphus if it was Πτολεμαῖος Σωτήρων 'Ptolemy son of the Soteres', as at IGCyr062900. However his reign seems too early on behalf of the script. Another possibility would be a short formulation of Ptolemy IX Soter II's titulature with only θεός Σωτήρ (shorter than at IGCyr015900 and IGCyr063000). This would fit perfectly the presumable date of the lettering. Neverhteless, there remains a major problem: all other dedications known to us from Cyrenaica give the king's name either at the accusative because his statue is dedicated by another person or in the phrase ὑπὲρ βασιλέως for a dedication made for the king's salvation by an officer. This one, having him acting directly would mean that the king was present at Cyrene. We know of no sure instance of that, except for Ptolemy Apion, who was for a time king of Cyrenaica alone. But we have no sure occurrence of his titulature (in IGCyr065000 and IGCyr104100 Ptolemy IX may be mentioned as well as Apion; the titulature in his purported will IGCyr011200 is probably spurious). It is thus cautious to leave the question open.

The third line, provided by fragment b, is also open to many interpretations. After a short space, we find οἶκος (or perhaps οἰκία). This might either be taken in the meaning of 'house, building', consecrated to the god, or in the meaning of '(royal) house, family'.

The provenance of the stone is unknown. It might well have been found in the excavations of the sanctuary of Isis and Serapis of the acropolis, where it would have been brought for re-use from the neighbouring agora. In that area, Zeus' temple on the South side of Battos' street would be an adequate place for the original dedication.

Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

All citation, reuse or distribution of this work must contain a link back to DOI: and the filename (IGCyr000000 or GVCyr000), as well as the year of consultation.