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Studies in Greek epigraphy and history in honor of Stefen V. Tracy

 | 
Gary Reger
, 
Francis X. Ryan
, 
Timothy Francis Winters

Part I. New inscriptions

Chapter 2. A new bilingual votive monument with a “Thracian rider” relief

Nora Dimitrova and Kevin Clinton

Full text

1The monument that we present here in honor of Stephen Tracy exhibits a votive relief of the “Thracian rider” type and a bilingual Greek and Latin dedication by a certain Felicio, slave of Gaius Menanius.

Physical Description

  • 1 We have not seen the stone. We are very grateful to the current owner for kindly providing us with (...)
  • 2 Before the 1970’s the relief was part of R. Wagner’s private collection. Fortuna Fine Arts acquire (...)

2Votive monument of white marble, preserved on all sides, rough-picked in back1. The relief above the inscription shows a horse and a rider facing a snake-entwined tree on the right; the rider is dressed in a chlamys, which lies flat on his back; he is holding a round patera in his right hand; his hair is tied in a band; his horse is walking and lifting up its front right leg. fig. 1. Original provenance unknown2.

H. 0.235 m, W. 0.165 m, Th. 0.038 m, L. H. 0.006-0.01 m
post med. saec. I p.-saec. III p.?

Fig. 1. Bilingual dedication with a Thracian rider relief. Courtesy of the present owner.

Felicio C. Menani
ser(vus). votum solvit pro
se / Φηλικίωνν Гάου Μενα-
νίου δοῦλος εὠχῂν vacat
ἀπέδωκεν ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ.

3“Felicio, slave of Gaius Menanius, fulfilled a vow for himself.”

  • 3 Cf. Gočeva & Oppermann 1984, passim; Horsley 1999, passim.

4The formula D(is) M(anibus) gives us a date after the middle of the first century AD, hence the suggested terminus post quem, although the second or third centuries AD seem more likely in view of the large number of parallels dated to this period3.

Iconography (fig. 2, detail)

  • 4 See, most recently, Dimitrova 2002, with bibliography.
  • 5 Cf. Dimitrova 2002, 209-210.

5The relief belongs to the type of the so-called “Thracian riders”4, which helps us to locate its origin with a great degree of probability in a territory characterized by Thracian presence, perhaps Thrace itself or its neighboring provinces. The known “Thracian rider” reliefs number over 2000, and are Hellenistic and mostly Roman in date. They are usually 0.30-0.40 m wide and 0.20-0.30 m high, depicting a horseman facing a tree, hunting, or returning from hunt, his horse walking, galloping or standing still. They are either funerary or votive, the latter being dedicated to an enormous variety of Greco-Roman and Thracian divinities5.

  • 6 Type A, as defined and applied by Kacarov 1938, passim.
  • 7 This view has been argued by Dimitrova (Dimitrova 2002, passim), in contrast to the traditional in (...)
  • 8 Most notably in the sanctuary at Glava Panega (NE Bulgaria), where we see Asklepios both represent (...)

6The particular iconography of the present relief – the horseman facing a snake-entwined tree on the right, his horse walking – is especially typical of (but not limited to) the Black Sea coast of present-day Bulgaria and Romania6. The horseman in this relief, as in the other monuments of the “Thracian rider,” most probably represents a conventional image of a god7, and in particular the deity to whom Felicio made this dedication. The deity’s name is not specified: the relief must come from the sanctuary of a well-known god or hero, where other votive monuments must have been dedicated, some presumably identifying the recipient of the dedication in his traditional iconography (without a horse), as is the case with a number of Thracian rider reliefs8.

Fig. 2. Iconography: detail. Courtesy of the present owner.

7Although the monument’s iconography contains elements generally typical of hundreds of “Thracian rider” reliefs, we have not found an exact parallel, since most of these monuments have subtle or more pronounced variations. There is a close resemblance with Gočeva and Oppermann 1984, 534, a thank-offering to the hero Eisasemes, a monument from the region of Targovishte (NE Bulgaria). In both monuments the position and overall appearance of the rider and his horse are very similar, the noteworthy differences being that in Gočeva and Oppermann 1984, 534 the horseman is wearing a short chiton; the horse has lifted up its front left leg; there is a distance between the horse and the tree; and an altar is clearly discernible.

Lettering and Language (fig. 3, detail)

8The lettering is clear, somewhat uneven and careless, in contrast with the well-carved relief. The inelegant appearance of the text is emphasized by the smaller letters in the last two lines, necessitated by lack of space, and by the text on the right, crowded into the border. This may well mean that the relief was prefabricated and the text added later, in contrast with reliefs whose text conforms perfectly to the monument.

9The hand is consistent with a Roman Imperial date, though difficult to pinpoint more precisely. Both the Latin and the Greek text show cursive elements; in fact the cursive Latin M in line 2 resembles the Greek letter mu. The Greek letters have lunate shapes, notably epsilon and the omega in the last line (as opposed to the Classical one in Φηλικιών). The end of line 4 seems to be damaged, and was left uninscribed.

  • 9 Threatte 1980, 91.
  • 10 Wingo 1972, 96.
  • 11 Hooker 1990, 304.

10The oblique line in line 3 is most probably a punctuation mark dividing the Latin from the Greek text. Such oblique lines are sometimes used in Greek inscriptions to denote abbreviations; they are usually placed slightly above and to the right of the final letter of the abbreviation9. In Roman epigraphical and palaeographical texts, however, such slash-like marks are very common, placed to the right and sometimes above the final letter of the word they follow10. They are called virgulae, and denote punctuation, be it the end of a word, a line, or a syntagm. Thus it is not surprising that virgula-like marks are found in Greek inscriptions of the Roman period, though much less frequently than in Roman documents. A parallel for their use in Greek texts is provided by a wooden tablet inscribed with ink and found in Egypt, containing several verses from the Iliad. All of its words are separated by oblique strokes11.

Fig. 3. Text: detail. Courtesy of the present owner.

  • 12 See, on the influence of Latin on Greek, Zgusta 1980, esp. 131-135, with bibliography on 143. We o (...)

11Both the Latin and the Greek texts are correct, revealing a good level of literacy or conscientiousness on the part of the dedicant. The specific terminology, however, is typical of Latin inscriptions: the Greek expression εὐχὴν ἀπέδωκεν is a literal translation of votum solvit, influenced by the Latin original, and it occurs only in a few inscriptions, notably in a bilingual Latin and Greek dedication from Gaul, IG, XIV, 2427. The standard Greek equivalent is simply εὐχὴν or ἀνεθηκε(ν). The use of the highly Latinized εὐχὴν ἀπέδωκενs shows that the dedicant, who must have known some Greek, probably did not spend much time among Greek speakers, since he was not well-acquainted with the appropriate Greek terminology12.

  • 13 See Gerov 1980 for the distribution of Greek and Latin on the Balkan peninsula.
  • 14 This is not a Greek translation of a Latin text or vice versa, as in most other bilingual monument (...)

12The presence of the Greek text is indicative of the attempt of the dedicant, whose name is Roman and whose preferred language is Latin (as revealed by the non-idiomatic use of Greek), to make the dedication more understandable to the local population by providing a Greek translation. Greek was better known and more widespread in Thrace than Latin, even during the Roman period13. The only bilingual inscriptions with “Thracian rider” reliefs known to us are Hampartumian 1979, 205, and Cermanoviç-Kuzmanoviç 1982, 3414, 72. The use of Latin in Thrace is usually associated with the presence of military personnel, and it is possible that the dedicant was connected with a Roman military unit stationed in Thrace.

Prosopography

  • 15 Cf. Schulze 1904, 361; Solin & Salomies 1994, s. v.

13Felicio is a typical slave name, bearing connotations similar to the English name “Lucky.” The nomen Menanius, however, is very rare, attested to our knowledge only in an epitaph from Rome, CIL, VI, 22398, dated after the second half of the first century AD15:

D(is) M (anibus)

C(aio). Menanio Batyllo et

C(aio). Menanio. Anthimo

Menania. Martina

bene. merentibus. coniugibus. suis. fecit.

  • 16 Of course, this does not mean that she was married to them simultaneously or that they died at the (...)

14This is a remarkable monument, put up by Menania Martina in memory of her two husbands simultaneously16. Both the husbands and the wife must have been slaves of a Gaius Menanius, judging by their names.

15In view of the extreme rarity of the name Menanius, and the fact that in both monuments Menanius has the same praenomen, Gaius, it is tempting to entertain the hypothesis that Felicio was a slave either of the same master as the slaves in the epitaph from Rome or of a member of the same family. If this is correct, it could provide a curious detail about the family of Gaius Menanius, namely that he himself or a relative may have spent time in Thrace or its neighboring provinces at some point in his life.

16If this monument had not been removed from its original finding place, its significance would be much greater. The god to whom it was dedicated could most likely be identified. The monument would contribute to our knowledge of local iconography of rider reliefs and the linguistic and social character of the local population. All this has been lost by the deprivation of its archaeological context. Even so, we can only hope that someday its original context can be identified.

17In conclusion, this monument adds to our repertory of bilingual Greek and Latin inscriptions (in this case apparently by a Latin speaker in a predominantly Greek environment), provides a new example of a Thracian rider relief, and contains an instance of the very rare name Menanius.

Notes

1 We have not seen the stone. We are very grateful to the current owner for kindly providing us with the physical description and some excellent photographs as well as for allowing us to publish this monument. We also wish to thank Nicolay Sharankov for his useful comments.

2 Before the 1970’s the relief was part of R. Wagner’s private collection. Fortuna Fine Arts acquired it from this collection in 1986; then sold it to a New York collector in 1990, who in 2002 consigned to Sotheby’s, whence it was purchased by a private collector, who is the present owner. A photograph, a translation and a basic description of the monument have been published in a Sothesby’s catalog, Antiquities and Islamic Art 112, no. 129.

3 Cf. Gočeva & Oppermann 1984, passim; Horsley 1999, passim.

4 See, most recently, Dimitrova 2002, with bibliography.

5 Cf. Dimitrova 2002, 209-210.

6 Type A, as defined and applied by Kacarov 1938, passim.

7 This view has been argued by Dimitrova (Dimitrova 2002, passim), in contrast to the traditional interpretation that the rider is a multi-purpose Thracian divinity, an extreme case of religious syncretism, combining the features of nearly every Greco-Roman deity.

8 Most notably in the sanctuary at Glava Panega (NE Bulgaria), where we see Asklepios both represented as a rider and in his traditional iconography; see Dimitrova 2002, 217.

9 Threatte 1980, 91.

10 Wingo 1972, 96.

11 Hooker 1990, 304.

12 See, on the influence of Latin on Greek, Zgusta 1980, esp. 131-135, with bibliography on 143. We owe this reference to Nicolay Sharankov.

13 See Gerov 1980 for the distribution of Greek and Latin on the Balkan peninsula.

14 This is not a Greek translation of a Latin text or vice versa, as in most other bilingual monuments, but a Latin epitaph with an addition of a Greek verse, which happens to be a citation attributed to Menander: ὃν οἱ θεοί φιλοῦειν, ἀποθνήσκει νέος (“he whom the gods love dies young”). Cf., most recently, Boyadzhiev 2000, 131-133.

15 Cf. Schulze 1904, 361; Solin & Salomies 1994, s. v.

16 Of course, this does not mean that she was married to them simultaneously or that they died at the same time. For other cases of a single monument dedicated to more than one husband or wife, cf. IGBulg., I2, 174, III, 1005, CIL, VI, 6250 (We owe the last two examples to Nicolay Sharankov). IGBulg., I2, 174 is an epitaph for Diogenes, son of Zopyrion, and his two wives. The relief of this monument is a conventional cena funebris, showing a husband with just one wife (cf. Boyadzhiev 2000, 18-19). The epitaph for Menania’s husbands has no relief; cf. the drawing in Disney 1849, 101.

List of illustrations

Caption Fig. 1. Bilingual dedication with a Thracian rider relief. Courtesy of the present owner.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ausonius/docannexe/image/2108/img-1.jpg
File image/jpeg, 229k
Caption Fig. 2. Iconography: detail. Courtesy of the present owner.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ausonius/docannexe/image/2108/img-2.jpg
File image/jpeg, 141k
Caption Fig. 3. Text: detail. Courtesy of the present owner.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ausonius/docannexe/image/2108/img-3.jpg
File image/jpeg, 238k

Author(s)

Department of Classics, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA

© Ausonius Éditions, 2010

Terms of use: http://www.openedition.org/6540