Epitaph of Hermaios son of Agonis


Trismegistos ID: 738385

Source Description


Cyrene Museum, 3504.


Small stele of local limestone, reddish from earth, broken off at all four angles (0.265; 0.38;0.006); below, there are some traces of a circular feature, probably a wreath or rosette; the back is not very regularly cut.


Inscribed on the face in three lines, the end of line 2 leaning toward bottom.


average 0.01, irregularly but rather carefully cut; alpha with low bar, epsilon with three equal bars, (h)eta with both values, slanting mu, nu and sigma, the latter very tall, rho with nearly no tail, + as chi.

Place of Origin



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


Found before 1991 at Shtail, in the vicinity of Qasr Libya ; possibly from Kainopolis .

Last recorded Location

Seen by C. Dobias-Lalou in 1997 and again in 2001 in Shahat : Cyrene Museum .

Text constituted from

Transcription from stone (CDL).


Dobias-Lalou, 2015 , pp. 77-80 and fig. 10. Cf. Mohamed-Reynolds, 1992 , p. 115 (quick mention), whence SEG , 42.1661.


Ηερμαίō τō Ἀγό̄νιιο[ς] τόδε σαμ{ει}ε͂ιον ἁλιῆος̣ Χαίρōν


1 Ἀγό̄νιιο[ς] : SEG  (mentioned as Ἄγώνιππος) : Mohamed-Reynolds, 1992  (mentioned as Agonippos)

French translation

La tombe que voici est celle d'Hermaios fils d'Agônis, pêcheur, (édifiée par) Khairôn.

English translation

This is the tomb of Hermaios son of Agonis, a fischerman, (built by) Chairon.

Italian translation

Questa è la tomba di Hermaios figlio di Agonis, pescatore, (eretta da) Chairon.


The spellings Ηερμαίō and ἀλιῆος are contradictory and might belong to a time when the new value of eta was progressively coming into use. In fact, as psilosis happened early in Cyrenaican, the letter as spiritus asper was probably dropped earlier in the vocabulary than in a personal name; but its use in the new value of e cannot be assigned to a date earlier than the middle of the fifth century. Conversely, omicron is still used here for all qualities of the vowel o.

As noted by Mohamed and Reynolds, the provenance of the stone was a surprise, for Qasr Libya is mainly known for its Byzantine churches and no inscription was known up to now from that countryside. Dobias-Lalou supposes that the dead Hermaios, being a fisherman, lived probably in a place somewhat nearer to the see than Qasr Libya, perhaps in the kome of Kainopolis (see Laronde, 1983 ). Anyway, both places belonged at the time to the territory of Barce.

Although several metrical segments are perceivable, we decided eventually not to include this item into the verse-inscriptions corpus. See for instance Ἑρμαίω τῶ Ἀγώνιος, which might be spelled as three dactyls if it was not followed by a consonant, and -ος τόδε σαμεῖον, which might be spelled as the second hemistich of a hexameter after a hephthemimer caesura. Another fact that provides a poetic touch to this inscription is the mention of Hermaios' occupation, a fact that usually does not occur in prose epitaphs.

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