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

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

1. Athens and Attica

Chapter 8. Observations on writing practices in the athenian ceramicus1

Henry R. Immerwahr

Texte intégral

  • 1 In this paper, in addition to the usual epigraphical symbols, the caret ^ is used to indicate a gap (...)

1It was many years ago that Steve Tracy asked me what I thought of the validity of his then recently developed method of identifying the hands of stone masons by the types of errors they committed. I told him that from my experience with Beazley’s method of identifying the hands of vase painters in part by small technical differences in their drawing (the so-called Morelli method) I had no problem with it whatever. Meanwhile the method has been well established and has led to important results affecting the chronology of inscriptions, and thus ancient history, especially in the Hellenistic period where the material is copious.

2In the early period, we are reduced to more subjective criteria, but the study of the idiosyncrasies of the writers of inscriptions is similar, hence I am offering here some thoughts on the writing practices of Athenian vase painters.

  • 1 The corpus has been included in the data base of the Beazley Archive at the Ashmolean (without, how (...)

3Ever since Kretschmer’s fundamental book, Die griechischen Vaseninschriften ihrer Sprache nach untersucht (1894), the Attic vase inscriptions have rightly been considered an important source for the study of the spoken dialect, and it is certainly true that they deliver a large treasure of names, signatures and even spoken words for analysis. But what about the rest of the inscriptions which consist mainly of endlessly repeated formulas like καλός and ὁ πας καλός, or the numerous meaningless inscriptions that together form perhaps the majority of the extant corpus of vase inscriptions? They were collected for the first time in my Corpus of Attic Vase Inscriptions (CAVI)1 because my main interest was the history of writing. A study of certain unusual features of these inscriptions can in fact open a window into the conditions of writing practices, and to some extent of literacy, among a whole class of people not otherwise much represented in our sources. We shall begin, therefore, with some oddities in the use of nonsense and simple formulaic inscriptions.

  • 2 The numbers are of CAVI.

4A curious feature of the Attic nonsense inscriptions is the appearance of identical or very similar letter combinations (we cannot call them words) on a number of vases, either by the same artist, or by several. Two notorious examples have been mentioned by Beazley, the first, ελελειεν, or the like, in Beazley 1927, 83 and n. 50 (cf. Beazley 1956, 677/3). It occurs on three vases: 28352, Boulogne 417, a BF hydria in the manner of the Lysippides Painter (Beazley 1956, 260/32); 2929, Brussels, Musées Royaux R 291, a BF neck amphora by the Antimenes Painter (CVA, Belgium 1, III H e, pl. 8,1); and 4288, London B 333, an unattributed BF hydria (Immerwahr 1990, 301, Fig. 92). Clearly, we have here collaboration among three painters whose main connection seems to be that they painted large vases.

  • 3 The other vases by this painter are: 2208, Berlin 1686.2209, Berlin 1697.3360, Detroit, Fleischman (...)

5The other type, ειοχεοχε or the like, was discussed by Beazley 1929, 360-361, fig. 1. This occurs on at least 11 vases by the Painter of Berlin 1686 (five cited by Beazley) and on a few vases probably of the Princeton Group. For example, 2209, Berlin 1697, a BF amphora (Beazley 1937, BSA 32, 10/8 and 1929, 361-362) has the exact form ειοχ(ε)οχ(ε), marking the flutist of a chorus of knights. Other vases have nonsense letters more or less resembling this combination3.

  • 4 So Beazley 1956, 291/1; in Para. 130 Beazley says: “Compare Munich 1379 by the Painter of Munich 13 (...)
  • 5 Another vase related to the Princeton Group is 6278, Louvre F 5 (the inscriptions are rather differ (...)

6The Princeton Group’s main vase is 5998, Oxford 1965.141, a BF amphora in the manner of the Princeton Painter4 (Beazley 1929, 360-361 fig. 1), which has rather free versions: ειονϜιϜοι. ει(ο)ειοι. ε[.]οcϜιο(λ). ειοχχισ. ειοχε. ειοχειο(λ). ειο(.) ειοχ(σ)οχυ. The Oxford vase was attributed by Beazley to the manner of the Princeton Painter and in Para. he compared it with 5146, Munich 1379, which he considered very close. Boardman in CVA, Great Britain 14, pl. 31, 2, however, thinks the Oxford and Munich vases should also be by the Painter of Berlin 1686, in an early phase5. The correspondence between the inscriptions is here less close than in the ελελειεν type. The similarity consists more in the repetition of certain letters rather than in whole sequences. If Boardman was right, we have here a personal invention by the Painter of Berlin 1686; otherwise we have again collaboration of several painters.

7Two interesting conclusions can be drawn from these examples:

  1. Some painters may have developed their own system of nonsense inscriptions.

  2. Some painters copied such inscriptions from other painters with whom they came in contact in some way, perhaps simply by sitting next to them in the workshop.

  • 6 Immerwahr 1990, 85-87; Buitron-Oliver 1995, esp. 42-45.

8Douris was certainly one of the more literate painters; in Immerwahr 1990 I gave him high marks, while Buitron-Oliver was slightly more critical6. So far as I know he never used nonsense inscriptions, yet on two vases he departed from the strict use of sense inscriptions, on one adding two meaningless letters to the word καλός, on the other distorting the word καλῆ to read καοε. Neither case is accidental. The first example comes rather late in his career:

  • 7 Buitron-Oliver 1995 reads only καλός, but her photo. shows two signs following the sigma.

1927: Baltimore, Johns Hopkins B 9. RF cup.
CVA, USA 6, pl. 12. Vidi. D. Buitron-Oliver 1995, 85/239, pl. 111.
Int.: Hermes teaching a boy to spin a top. Ext.: plain.
Int.: Along the left margin:
καλός χh 7.

  • 8 καλῆ πχ: 4485, London E 85, Sabouroff Painter. καλός πι: 3741, Frankfurt, Liebieghaus St.V.9, Telep (...)

9This was not a whim of the painter, for the peculiar mannerism of adding a few meaningless letters to a word is not uncommon in this period8, a custom which may perhaps go back to Euthymides and his circle, where combinations of sense and nonsense were favored. Compare:

4976: Malibu 84. AE. 63. Euthymides. RF neck amphora.
GettyMusJ 13 (1985), Acquisitions 1984, 168/17. Vidi. Immerwahr 1990, 375.
A: discus thrower. B: athlete with javelin.
Α: ΦάImage 10000000000000090000000E74925534.pngλ<λ>ος [vac. 1-2] ιο. κοτελο. B: εχοπει. χοισι.
The inscriptions frame each figure vertically, Two nonsense letters are added to the name; the other words are altogether meaningless.

10The aim of adding these letters to καλός was presumably aesthetic, i. e., it lengthened the word and thus gave it more weight. It also shows that there really was not that much difference, from the ornamental point of view, between writing sense and just writing letters, but what interests us here specifically is the spread of the custom among a number of vase painters, which makes it into a fashion, and one that was specific only to pottery.

11Another fashion that is even more peculiar is the distortion of the words καλός and καλῆ by writing καλοες, καλοε and even καοε. Here again, Douris participated, but only once:

5736: New York 1986.322.1. RF cup. Ca. 500, i. e. very early Douris.
Buitron-Oliver 1995, 58, 73/16, pl. 11.
Int.: a woman at a laver. Ext.: athletes.
Int.: ho
πας καλός (halos is retr.). καοε. A and B: traces of ho πας καλός,καοε should refer to the woman.

  • 9 I illustrated an example by the Inscription Painter in Immerwahr 1990, 175, 1177a, fig. 124: 5678, (...)
  • 10 Other examples are: καλοες: 713, Athens, N. M. 465; 755, Athens, N. M. 1222; 2053, Basel, Cahn 113. (...)

12Again, this and the other distortions are common in the first half of the fifth century, although there is one later example of the form without lambda9. It appears that καλοες refers to males and καλοε usually to females, while καοε always refers to females. A good example of the forms with lambda is 813, Athens, N. M. 1708, a RF pyxis by the Amphitrite Painter, which pictures Nereus and (probably) two Nereids, Poseidon pursuing Amphitrite to an altar, and two more Nereids. Nereus is καλοες; Poseidon, also καλοες; above the altar: [κ]αλο[-?], referring to Amphitrite; two Nereids are καλοε each. Clearly we have here καλός and καλῆ, with an extra letter added (epsilon and omicron respectively)10.

  • 11 Probably 769 and 789, above note 10 (uncertain whether there is a lambda); 2176, Basel Market (M. M (...)
  • 12 767, Athens, N. M. 1276; 2176 and 5905, cited above.

13The form καοε is also mainly confined to painters of small vases in the first half of the fifth century (except for the Polygnotam vase cited in note 9)11, but it is somewhat different in that it seems to have become a specialty of the Aischines Painter, as it occurs on three of his vases12, although he also uses the form with lambda (see note 10, 768, perhaps also 769 and 789).

  • 13 CVA, USA 28, on pl. 35,1-2.
  • 14 καλῆ is often spelled correctly: see 832, Athens, N. M. 1984; 1440, Athens, N. M. Acr. ii, 843; 577 (...)
  • 15 For the term, see Immerwahr 1990, 101, etc., and index, s. v. alphabet, mixed.

14The Aischines Painter was a prolific painter of small vases, largely RF lekythoi (many showing a woman). Inscriptions are infrequent; I list only 22 inscribed vases. There is one vase with a kalos-inscription: 2721, Boston 01.8122: Αισχίνες καλός, after which the painter is named. Two other vases have the word κόρε: 5774: New York Market (Sotheby): καλὲ κόρε, referring to a woman; and perhaps 1946: Baltimore, Walters 48.255: κόρε, again referring to a woman, if Oakley’s reading is correct13. Otherwise we have only the single καλός or καλῆ and numerous nonsense or miswritten inscriptions14. The alphabet used by the painter wavers between Attic and Ionic letters (sometimes he uses the so-called mixed alphabet15); confusion concerning the shape of lambda may have played a part in the odd form καοε, since lambda now seemed to resemble alpha.

  • 16 See Webster 1972, passim, who despite some exaggeration, makes an important point.

15The context of the form καοε in the Aischines Painter is thus the frequent use of the simple καλῆ in scenes with women. Since it usually refers to a person, καοε is not a nonsense word but miswritten. As for the Aischines Painter, the few sense inscriptions and his correct spellings do not relieve him from a suspicion that he was barely literate, for the kalos-inscription could have been written by instruction from a purchaser16, and the other inscriptions could also be copied. It certainly took little knowledge of letters to write the ubiquitous kalos/kale. Lack of literacy may have led the Aischines Painter to adopt the form καοε from some unknown source, since in this period it was fashionable. Again, there is little real difference between writing one of the standard inscriptions and writing a meaningless one.

  • 17 Kretschmer 1894, 188-190.
  • 18 Threatte 1996, 278-279. I had voiced similar concerns in CAVI; see my comments on 2364, Berlin 2331

16A similar distortion occurs in the formula ho πας καλός when πας is tranformed into παυς as it has usually been read. Kretschmer declared it an alternate form of πας17. However, Threatte has recently shown that it, as well as other spellings such as παυoς and παυις (which had also been considered by Kretschmer), are only spelling variants and should probably all be read with lambda (παλς, etc.)18. Threatte’s treatment is based largely on the similarity of V-shaped upsilon and Attic lambda as they appear in the two words παυς and καλός. He further points out that most examples are on vases by a few painters (all of the first half of the fifth century), such as the Pythokles, Oionokles, and Penthesilea painters. Of interest in the present context is his statement: “... it is also possible that the frequent use of one letter for another is due to an attempt of an illiterate to copy a text he could not understand”.

  • 19 1326, Athens, Acr. ii, 284; 4449, London E 36; 4513, London E 161; 4516, London E 168; 5041, Malibu (...)

17There are at least six examples of the clearly miswritten ho παλoς καλός, which are crucial for Threatte’s argument19. Threatte rightly posits that the crucial letter in these examples must be read as lambda and not upsilon, but his own explanation of παλoς as πα<ς κα>λός, which is apparently based on instances like 4516 and 7276 (note 19), which have only ho παλoς, founders on examples like 1326 and 5041 where we have the whole formula. The ho πας καλός formula is here written mechanically and παλoς anticipates καλός. Thoughtlessly, the painter has conflated the two words, even if elsewhere on the same vase he had written (or copied?) the formula correctly (4513 and 4516).

  • 20 See the chart of letter forms in Immerwahr 1990, xxii-xxiii.

18Threatte also points out that it is very difficult to distinguish Attic lambda from upsilon. Attic lambda has two basic shapes: upright (lambda 120) and leaning backward (lambda 2); the latter may have a longish right leg (lambda S 4) which is identical with upsilon S 2. Early upsilon is V-shaped and frequently has the right leg somewhat shortened, which makes it identical with lambda 2. A persuasive indication that pauj existed as a word could be adduced if the accompanying καλός had an Ionic lambda, but this does not seem to exist.

  • 21 So Furtwängler’s text (1885, no. 2331); the reading is uncertain.
  • 22 Kretschmer 1894,189 also lists BM 757 [= E 183? See CAVI 4523?] as having παυις together with ὁ παῖ (...)

19If correctly read, the sequence παλς-καλς also suggests reading lambda rather than upsilon; see 2364, Berlin 2331, RF Nolan amphora by the Oionokles Painter: ho [π]αλς καλ<ό>ς. ho παυς [sic], κ(α)λός, retr21. Finally, παυις, a form Kretschmer 1894 too has doubts about (p. 189), is found in 3091, Capua inv. 7552. RF Nolan amphora, Oionokles Painter. A: and καλός. B hε (π)αυις, i.e. παλις, and καλῆ. Here the iota corrects the lambda22.

  • 23 6387, Paris, Louvre G 10, Beazley 1963, 83/3. Beazley’s restoration. Cf. also 7094, Rome, Villa Giu (...)

It seems certain that the Image 10000000000000320000000E2B4A10A5.png reading is always with lambda, and not with upsilon. In origin it is clearly based on thoughtless confusion of the two words πα~ ις and καλός, such as would hardly occur in a fully literate environment, but might easily arise when semi-literates have to write inscriptions hastily. The phenomenon can be paralleled in other routinely written inscriptions, such as signatures and kalosinscriptions, when for example they are conflated by Skythes who writes Έπλυκο[ς (a kalos-name) ἔγραφ]σεν καλός23. A similar confusion is found on an a lip cup, 5236, Munich 2172 (CVA, Germany 56, pls. 32,5-8 and 33,1-4) among a plethora of misunderstood inscriptions: hιπ<π>οτελε<ς> καλοσε̣ν. The name is not known and no doubt wrongly copied. But the form παλς was also taken up by literate painters because it had spread as a fashion.

  • 24 For the Oionokles Painter and his inscriptions see the detailed study by Serbeti 1989.
  • 25 The others are: CAVI 120, Amherst, Beazely 1963, 647/17; 2366, Berlin 2334; 4564, London E 301; 612 (...)

20Although the miswritten formula occurs already in the late sixth century (see 4449 and 7276 in note 19) it is basically a fashion of the early fifth. It is particularly characteristic of the Oionokles Painter24, where it occurs seven times, of which two have been cited above (2364 and 3091)25.

  • 26 Threatte 1996, 278.
  • 27 Examples: Oionokles kalos with triangular omicron: 4557, London E 294. Variable alphas including hi (...)

21The Oionokles Painter uses peculiar letter forms which are well rendered in Furtwängler’s Berlin catalogue26. Notorious is triangular omicron resembling rho 7, which once led to the reading of his kalos-name as Διονοκλɛ̃ς. Alpha appears in shapes that resemble delta (alpha S 2 or S 4) but is also D-shaped; elsewhere it is the highkicker (9) reversed. This bewildering and haphazard array of shapes seems to me to show a lack of formal training in the shapes of the letters. Lambda also appears in several different shapes. Interesting is sigma: on one vase it is four-stroke (reversed), three-stroke and rounded (Sigma 7, S 2 and S 10), but on another it is the regular three-stroke and once a hook (S 11). Elsewhere it is once the regular three-stroke, once reversed, and once a squiggle (1, 2 and S 17)27.

  • 28 The characteristic letter forms are: 2856: Alpha 2, S 2 disjointed and miswritten in retr. Sigma ne (...)

22The letter forms so far discussed suggest a relation with the Providence Painter who also sometimes uses irregular lettering. In fact paus/pals is attested twice from him (whose follower the Oionokles Painter is thought to have been), namely on the Nolan amphoras 2856, Braunschweig 257, and 8004, Warsaw 142,33628.

  • 29 CAVI 2393, Berlin 2548; 2797, Boston 28.48; 3688, Florence 18 B 48; 6224, Cab. Méd. 820; 6228, Cab. (...)
  • 30 3179, Christchurch, N. Z., University of Canterbury, Beazley 1963, 898/140.

23The miswritten paus/pals is however of wider use than these two painters. It appears on several cups by the Penthesilea Painter29 and on a skyphos by the Splanchnopt Painter30. The Pythocles Painter’s cup, 2355, Berlin 2318, is a bit earlier. But I do not believe that any of these examples were the models for the Oionokles Painter who had his inspiration closer at hand. The writing shows enough similarities to suggest that the Oionokles Painter may have copied the mistaken phrase from the Providence.

  • 31 For a fuller list of examples by the Oionokles and Briseis painters see Serbeti 1989, 40-41. It sho (...)
  • 32 On the Brygan circle see Immerwahr 1990, 88-89.

24While it is not surprising to find the Oionokles Painter copying from his mentor, the links for his nonsense inscriptions are quite different, for as Serbeti has shown, sequences like υγιοσ, εγυ., γυιοσεγυ (3202, Cleveland 28.660), etc., are copied from nonsense inscriptions by the Briseis Painter who belongs to the Brygan circle31. So, e.g., υγιοκι and υιοσγυισ on 2705, Boston 01.8028. Since nonsense inscriptions are very common in the Brygan circle, it is reasonable to assume that the Oionokles Painter is the one who is copying here32.

  • 33 Serbeti 1989, 35 and 39.

25As Serbeti points out, the link between the similarities of the Oionokles Painter’s inscriptions with those of the Providence, Briseis and Penthesilea painters is that a large number of them occur on Nolan amphoras which are sufficiently similar to suggest a single potter. The Oionokles Painter picked up the inscriptions when he had contact with these painters, regardless of the stylistic groupings they belonged to33.

26On the whole the Oionokles Painter looks like an imitator, a fact which, together with some of the idiosyncrasies of his letter forms, suggests a somewhat unstable literacy, which caused him to copy other painters’practices. Painters of his limited abilities might be inclined to copy other painters, especially if they involved no sophisticated understanding.

  • 34 This analysis is based on nine inscribed vases by the Acheloos Painter listed in CAVI: 2011, Basel, (...)

27If the examples above show the relations between painters of different workshops, the Leagros Group furnishes evidence for the inner workings of a single workshop. These painters revel in nonsense inscriptions (meaningful inscriptions are less common), among which a certain type stands out. This style is most clearly articulated by the Acheloos Painter, whereas other members of the group, while copying it, vary from the pattern to larger or lesser degrees. The so-called Leagran nonsense inscriptions are well known and need not be documented here in detail. They consist typically of short “words” of repeated letter combinations such as δεχο(δ), (χ)δεδεο, (ν)χδνι, νχεδε, (ν)χαει, (ν)δε, (ν)δευδο, (ν)δεδ, together with many other less standardized groups34.

  • 35 5700, New York 49.11.1, a BF pelike with the Capture of Silenus and athletes, but the inscriptions (...)

28I know of only one vase with sense inscriptions by this painter which does not inspire much confidence in his literacy35.

29The Acheloos Painter’s typical Leagran nonsense inscriptions are all on large vases; the two lekythoi attributed to him (6049 and 6050 in n. 34) have different nonsense inscriptions. This is significant, for as we shall see the typical Leagran nonsense inscriptions by other painters also occur principally on such large vases, i. e. on products presumably manufactured by painters working in close proximity.

  • 36 The queried letters are doubtful.
  • 37 See CVA, USA 10, 29-31 and Immerwahr 1990, 76.

The typical inscriptions are in large letters, but are rather short and do not seem to be attempts to simulate proper names. It is remarkable that they represent a restricted number of letters of the alphabet. Common are delta, epsilon, iota, nu, and chi. Fairly frequent are gamma, omicron, rho, and sigma. Rare are: alpha, beta(?), heta, kappa, lambda(?), mu, pi, and upsilon(?)36. Not found are: zeta, theta, tau, and phi. It is of course difficult to distinguish between Attic lambda and upsilon. A similar problem arises with the identification of the very common and distinctive nu, which usually, but not always, is reversed (nu S 2). This resembles the sideways sigma (sigma S 3) in many instances, and it is possible that these nu’s should all be read as sigmas, or that the painter confused sideways sigma with nu, which he then wrote as reversed. Remarkable is also the rarity of alpha, the commonest vowel in the Greek language. This makes it unlikely that the suggestion of H. R. W. Smith that these inscriptions make use of the letters in the name of the potter Image 100000000000003A0000000E323CDAF3.png can be correct37.

  • 38 The nu is imperfect but not reversed.
  • 39 ‘psi’ = psi S 1. It is of course not a real psi! The reading of this inscription (from the photo.) (...)
  • 40 Attributed to the same hand as Würzburg 210 by M. Z. Pease.
  • 41 E.g., 6442, Louvre G 93, RF cup (CVA, France 28, pls. 53,1-4 and 54,1): Int ιωδυν. χιμε̣o. A: (ν)δχ (...)

30Taking the inscriptions by the Acheloos painter as a model (without regarding him necessarily as the originator), the individual painters belonging to the Leagros Group that have been identified by Beazley can be classified by the proximity of their inscriptions to them. The closest correspondence is with the Antiope Group where the inscriptions are hardly distinguishable from the Acheloos Painter’s, except that reversed nu (that trademark of the painter) seems to be used less frequently. For example, the nu’s are correct in 6989, Vatican 372 (Albizzati 1925, 161-163, fig. 1106, pl. 50): νχδεο, νοεη(λ)χδι, retr., (.)χασ retr38. Painter S, while also using chi, delta and reversed nu, is nevertheless freer in the use of these inscriptions, as in 5149, Munich 1413 (CVA, Germany 3, pls. 45,1, 46,1, 47,4-5, 52,2): A: νχχνγ. Β: (ν)εχιποιχι. σι. ιψιπ(ν)39. The Painter of Würzburg 210 likewise differs sometimes, as in 5695, New York 41.162.179, Group of Würzburg 21040 (CVA, USA 8, pl. 38,2): A: υγγ^υ. χχπχνχγ. ι(σ)χδχπο. Some letters are imitation letters. The Chiusi Painter is rather far removed. Peculiar is the closeness to the Acheloos Painter of the inscriptions by the red-figured (cup) Painter of London E 2, who is usually dated in the early fifth century41.

  • 42 See further 2074, Basel, Cahn HC 912; 3331, Cracow, Czartoryski Museum inv. 1245; 3350, Delos 547; (...)
  • 43 E.g., 4260, London B 222. BF neck amphora. Leagros Group. [(ν)χπ(ο)ι(ν)πΡ(σ)ι, complete. Nu S 2. Su (...)

31Leagran painters also used other types of nonsense inscriptions. The Acheloos Painter himself uses somewhat different inscriptions on two lekythoi attributed to him (6049 and 6050 in n. 34). The painters of small vases rarely, if ever, imitate the system used on the amphoras and hydrias42. There are numerous examples of contemporary painters of large vases who write different nonsense inscriptions, even while some of them use the Acheloan reversed nu or other `Acheloan´ letter forms43. Hence the Acheloan type is a special invention, we do not know by whom, within the circle of Leagran painters, which was copied fairly widely but was not used as the exclusive type of nonsense inscriptions. Its wide reception argues for a workshop in which many painters needed help in writing inscriptions, a help forthcoming from some of their more competent colleagues.

32One observation that can be made from these examples is the importance of writing–any writing–for the makers of Attic vases. A second observation is the wide spread of competence among the painters. For it is certainly true that there were many painters who were fully literate, if by that we mean that they were able to reproduce in writing what they heard so that their inscriptions can be used as sources for the Attic dialect. On the other hand, the frequency of copying of inscriptions that should have been easy to write shows that many vase painters were not that competent. These were people who needed models for their inscriptions and who were satisfied with meaningless letter sequences if they thought that they were fashionable.

  • 44 See 172-73.
  • 45 In Immerwahr 1990, 25 and 173 I pointed to certain misspellings on the François Vase which I consid (...)
  • 46 I have called such inscriptions trademarks; see Immerwahr 1990, index, p. 211, right bottom.
  • 47 Wachter 2003, 145ff. and 155ff.
  • 48 See Fellmann, CVA, Munich 10, p. 28; Bothmer 1962, 257 and n. 39.
  • 49 2228, Berlin 1764; 4214, Limassol (Fellmann 1984, 156ff., pl. 26, 1-2); 5224, Munich 2151.
  • 50 2107, Basel Market (M. M.) (Para. 77/1); 5002, Malibu 86. AE. 160; 5380, Munich 9419; 7025, Vatican (...)
  • 51 5231, Munich 2165; 5702, New York 51.125.10; 7523, Sydney 39.

33However, copying was not confined to incompetents, nor to nonsense inscriptions, for as I pointed out in Immerwahr 199044, there is ample evidence from misspellings and misunderstanding of letters that show copying of sense inscriptions. The reasons are not necessarily lack of literacy, but rather the fact that there were models for many of the scenes and the inscriptions went with the subjects45. Similarly, workshops saw to it that their signatures and other much repeated inscriptions followed certain formulas. Consequently, copying could become a mechanism by which different workshops established an identity46. For example the two main formulas of the drinking inscription recently discussed by Wachter47, χαρε κα πίει ε and χαρε κα πίει τένδε were adopted by different workshops, the first by Tleson48, the second by Elbows Out49, The Group of Vatican G 6150, and Sakonides51, although they both spread further.

  • 52 It is of course possible that some of them are misreported or wrongly restored, but many of them we (...)

34A remarkable series of misspellings, consisting of single names misspelled, often in company with properly spelled inscriptions, may be pertinent here52. Examples are:

  • 53 This is not on the side of the neck that has nonsense inscriptions and which is probably not by Eup (...)

165: Arezzo 1465, Euphronios. RF volute krater.
Furtwängler and Reichhold 1904, ii, pls. 61-62 and p. 14.
Neck, A:
Χσένον and καλ{.}ός. Χοριθον. Τεσις. Χσνις. καλό(ς) and
Image 100000000000002F0000000CBBE4F188.png i. e. a kalos-name. Λύσις and καλ{λ}ός53.

2371: Berlin 2382. RF hydria. Akin to Clio Painter. 3/4 5.
Furtwängler 1885, no. 2382.
Image 10000000000000340000000EA86902C9.png καλός. [κ]αλῆ.
The first letter, hastily written, may be nu or mu (Furtwängler).

3731: Once Fort Worth (Texas), Hunt 7. RF cup. Epidromos Painter.
Add.2 394, 398. Beazley Archive db, no. 8840.
A:
Έπίδρομος καλός. Α: ΝΟΝΝΟΣ(?) καλός. Β: ΝΟΝ[ΝΟΣ](?).

  • 54 So Beazley 1956, 364/56; CVA suggests Κλειτα[γóρας], but there is not room for the rest of the name
  • 55 So Beazley 1956, 364/56; I do not know to whom this would refer; perhaps nonsense, but probably mis (...)
  • 56 Beazley 1956, 364/56; CVA has what looks like an incomplete pi instead of the dot.

4278: London B 309. BF hydria. Leagros Group (Simos Group).
CVA
, Great Britain 8, III H e, pls. 78,2 and 81,2.
Body:
Σμoς. Κλετα, complete.54 ΤελοΙιυυς = Τέλ<λ>ο hυύς (??).55Image 10000000000000360000000D33312D14.png56

4601: London E 455. Fragmentary RF stamnos. Polygnotos.
CVA
, Great Britain 4, III I c, pl. 24,2a-c. C. Smith, BM
Cat. iii, no. 455. S. B. Matheson 1995, 46-47, 276 and nn., 347/P8, pl. 35A-B.
A: ’
Αρχεναύτης. Νικόδημος, καλός. ΣΩΣΙ(Ρ)ΟΣ. Perhaps for Σώσιπ<π>ος or Σωσθεος, C. Smith. The digamma’ is not that, but a miswritten letter; its top horizontal is that of a tau, the rest of the letter looks like an F. Sigma is four-stroke and rounded (sigma 7).

5317: Munich 2614. RF cup. Ambrosios Painter.
Beazely 1963, 173/2.
Int.: [h
ε]ρμɛ̃ς. Α: Μαντίθεος. Κυδιας. ’Ετεοκλɛ̃ς. Καλλίας. Β: [.]γ[--]. Eαρχος.
[--]
φον. Image 10000000000000370000000E3B346D2F.png

5571: New York 07.286.66. RF calyx krater. Spreckels Painter. 3/4 5.
Richter-Hall, 160/127, pls. 126, 129 and 170.
A:
Eὔαρχος | καλός. Image 100000000000003D0000000E68925FBF.png| καλός. B: καλòς | καλός, stoichedon.

7164: Villa Giulia 42,884. BF/WG lekythos.Unattributed.
Vidi
.
To Hermes’ right: hε^γμ(σ)(λ). Above Dionysus’ head: ’Iακχ(σ)ε^.
To right of Heracles’ back: (h)
ερ(α)κλɛ̃ς.

7823: Unlocated. Fr. of BF neck amphora. Red-Line Painter. 4/4 6.

100 Werke Antiker Kleinkunst: Katalog 1 (December 1989;
H. A. C., Kunst der Antike) 12/ 22.

Above Heracles and the lion: εαImage 10000000000000090000000C94144648.pngσκδις. Cahn thinks rightly that the inscription imitates hερακλɛ̃ς.

35In addition there are names that resemble a known name but are misspelled in such a way that they suggest faulty copying:

4991: Malibu 86. AE. 114. BF hydria. Lykomedes Painter (Bothmer). 4/4 6.
CV, USA 23, pls. 52,3, 55, 57,3-4; p. 90. Bothmer in J. Paul Getty
Museum, Greek Vases: the Molly and Walter Bareiss Collection 18/ 9, 72/60.
Λαχεμιδες for ’Αρτέμιδος. ’Από[λ<λ>ο]νος, retr. Ιιερακλῆος. [Ά]θενς.
Immerwahr 1990, 173.

5182: Munich 1563. BF neck amphora. Unattributed. 4/4 6.
Add.2 391. Bothmer 1957, 48/107, pl. 38,3. CVA, Germany 37, pls.
363, 2, 365,1-2 and 367,2, Beilage A 2; p. 12, facs. of Dip.
Image 100000000000003F0000000EFD16330C.pngκαλός.

6063: Palermo, Museo Nazionale V 692. RF lekythos. Nikon Painter. 2/4 5.
Beazley 1963, 651/29, 1610.
κ(α)λ{λ}òς Τ(.)μινιδεν. The second letter of the name is printed to resemble a reversed drachma sign.

6607: Paris, Louvre C 10,917.+ RF cup. Magnoncourt Painter. 1/4 5.
Beazley 1963, 456/4, 1565, 1605. CVA, Italy 8, pl. 10 B 99 (Florence fragment).
Αρισσαγτγο..., for ’Αρισσταγόρας, and [κ]αλ[ός].. Β: Φαιδρί[ας ?)].

6673: Paris, Louvre CA 2243. RF Nolan amphora. Nikon Painter. 2/4 5.
CVA, France 9, III I c, pl. 48,7-9.
A: hoF
μις, for Ιιερμɛ̃ς? Perhaps misreported.

7543: Syracuse 18,418. BF lekythos. Edinburgh Painter.Ca. 500.
Vidi. Beazley 1950, 316, no. 9.
καλός, ναίχι. Πηοες for Πελεύς. καλός. Πε<λε>ίδες ναίχι.

36It seems unlikely that most of these errors are attempts at reproducing the pronunciation of names, for they are isolated and often accompanied by perfectly well spelled words and names. Hence I suggest that they are instances of faulty copying, perhaps because the original was not clear. It should also be noted that among these groups are several kalos-names. It may be legitimate to suggest that these names were requested by patrons, perhaps in writing, and that they were imperfectly copied.

37Nonsense inscriptions and the endlessly repeated kalos inscriptions are of little interest except for the manner in which individual painters and workshops handled them. The errors and idiosyncrasies we have observed open a window that the much better written signatures, kalos-names, and name labels do not. In Immerwahr 1990, 172ff. I stressed the evidence for copying but left the question of the sources from which copying was done open. The examples cited in this paper suggest that there is a simple solution. While no doubt there were instances when painters copied from outside sources (for example, from inscribed dedicatory tablets as on the Pronomos Vase), the main copying occurred from painter to painter, both within a group of stylistically related vase painters and between those that were engaged in the production of certain shapes of pottery, that is they were sitting next to each other. We must consider that we are dealing with a social class that did not have access to formal schooling. The general system of imitation had two major consequences: first, it enabled workshops to achieve a certain uniformity, for as I showed in Immerwahr 1990, workshops had their own characteristics when it came to inscriptions, just as they were distinguished by style. The prime example of this coherence are the signatures and drinking inscriptions of the Little Masters. The second consequence was that it enabled those not fully literate to write. The problem is that we cannot demonstrate copying when it is successful, but only when it contains errors or deals with meaningless inscriptions. This is the importance of studying erroneous inscriptions such as the addition of nonsense letters to the word καλός or perpetuating wrong spellings like kaloej and παλς, or else relying on specific letter combinations in nonsense inscriptions. An unfortunate byproduct of the system of mutual copying, however, was the appearance, at certain times and in certain contexts, of fashions that did not contribute to legibility but were used only as ornaments.

38The study of vase inscriptions as sources for the Attic dialect must be based on the assumption that the source is literate, at least in the sense that the painter is able to reproduce what is heard (or what he remembers he has heard). There were of course many literate painters of this kind, but among other major and minor painters there were many who had difficulty writing; we have met two, the Aischines Painter and the Oionokles Painter. And no doubt there were illiterate painters whom we cannot identify since they wrote nothing. All this means that we cannot accept the writing on vases simply at face value, but must first ask whether a specific reading was copied, perhaps erroneously, before we accept it as evidence for popular pronunciation. The vase inscriptions are, to be sure, a principal source for the Attic dialect but one that must be used with some caution.

Notes

1 The corpus has been included in the data base of the Beazley Archive at the Ashmolean (without, however, the CAVI numbers). It is now available at two websites: www.unc.edu/hri,and www.libiunc.edu/digitalprojects.html

2 The numbers are of CAVI.

3 The other vases by this painter are: 2208, Berlin 1686.2209, Berlin 1697.3360, Detroit, Fleischman (Fleischman 1994, 81/34). 4877, Madison, private (see Moon & Berge 1979, 54/32). 5147, Munich 1401.6085, Paris, Cab. Méd. 207.6085, Paris, Cab. Méd. 207.6768, Once Paris Market (Beazley 1956, 297/19). 6797, Philadelphia, University Museum 3441.7214, Rome, Villa Giulia 64, 217.8029, Washington, Smithsonian Institution 136,415. But there are at least two vases where the nonsense inscriptions differ: 4253, London B 197 and 2563, Bologna PU 192 (imitation letters).

4 So Beazley 1956, 291/1; in Para. 130 Beazley says: “Compare Munich 1379 by the Painter of Munich 1379 [Beazley 1956, 303/1]”, but I think the inscriptions are different.

5 Another vase related to the Princeton Group is 6278, Louvre F 5 (the inscriptions are rather different).

6 Immerwahr 1990, 85-87; Buitron-Oliver 1995, esp. 42-45.

7 Buitron-Oliver 1995 reads only καλός, but her photo. shows two signs following the sigma.

8 καλῆ πχ: 4485, London E 85, Sabouroff Painter. καλός πι: 3741, Frankfurt, Liebieghaus St.V.9, Telephos Painter, κολός πσ: 6911, Rhodes, Arch. Museum 12, 296, Telephos Painter, καλός πχ and καλό(ς) λ: 2766, Boston 10.572, Boot Painter, καλός χσ: 5355, Munich 7821, Carlsruhe Painter. Cf. also εποιεσ and ποέσεν οχ: 7630, Tarquinia, Museo Nazionale RC 1091, Epiktetos.

9 I illustrated an example by the Inscription Painter in Immerwahr 1990, 175, 1177a, fig. 124: 5678, New York 41.162.102.-The late example is 3477, Ferrara, Museo Nazionale di Spina 2897, RF volute krater, Group of Polygnotos, 3/4 5. CVA, Italy 37, pl. 11,1-4. Sabazios(?) and Cybele(?), with worshippers. By S.’s head: χ(.)oς. (Aurigemma restores’Ίακχυς)Βγ C.’s tiara: καοε.

10 Other examples are: καλοες: 713, Athens, N. M. 465; 755, Athens, N. M. 1222; 2053, Basel, Cahn 113. καλοε: 651, Athens, Agora P 25,965; 768, Athens, N. M. 1277; 769, Athens, N. M. 1278(?); 789, Athens, N. M. 1506(?); 798, Athens, N. M. 1589; 1900, Athens, Theodoracopoulos in Schefold 1974, 137/1 and ff.; 6501, Paris, Louvre G 187.+ In the two queried numbers, the form may be καοε without lambda.

11 Probably 769 and 789, above note 10 (uncertain whether there is a lambda); 2176, Basel Market (M. M.), Auktion 34 (M. M.) 94/179; 5678, above note 9; 3477, above, note 9; 5736 above (Douris); 5905, Oxford 327 (Beazley, in CVA. Great Britain 3, pl. 41,7-8, notes that the lambda in καλῆ reduced to a dot).

12 767, Athens, N. M. 1276; 2176 and 5905, cited above.

13 CVA, USA 28, on pl. 35,1-2.

14 καλῆ is often spelled correctly: see 832, Athens, N. M. 1984; 1440, Athens, N. M. Acr. ii, 843; 5774, New York Market (Sotheby), ARV2 716/199, Add.2 282; 6071, Palermo, Banco di Sicilia, Mormino Collection 185 (with eta); 7458, San Francisco, Palace of the Legion of Honor 1873: καλῆ, retr. (the woman is facing left); 7749, Trondhjem, Art Gallery 807; and 7773, Tübingen E 58 (again with eta). But there are also several unsuccessful attempts to write it: 11, Adolphseck 57: κ(o)λ, retr. and κoo[λ]; 2015, Basel, Antikenmuseum BS 1921.366: κ(.)(.)(.), retr. Καλός alone occurs only twice, each time miswritten by reversing the two-letter group lambda-omicron: 754, Athens, N. M. 1202, and 7749, Trondhjem, Art Gallery 807, καoλς for καλός. The remaining inscriptions consist of short nonsense inscriptions, which sometimes may be attempts to imitate καλῆ: see above, CAVI 11; 751, Athens, N. M. 1198, κoυκι, retr.; 792, Athens, N. M. 1522, [--](σ)oκ[--]. 800, Athens, N. M. 1604, illegible; 2015, Basel, Antikenmuseum BS 1921.366: κ(.)(.)(.), retr.; 5905, see above; 5920, Oxford 536: δ(ε)υ(.). κκκκ(recalling καλός).

15 For the term, see Immerwahr 1990, 101, etc., and index, s. v. alphabet, mixed.

16 See Webster 1972, passim, who despite some exaggeration, makes an important point.

17 Kretschmer 1894, 188-190.

18 Threatte 1996, 278-279. I had voiced similar concerns in CAVI; see my comments on 2364, Berlin 2331.

19 1326, Athens, Acr. ii, 284; 4449, London E 36; 4513, London E 161; 4516, London E 168; 5041, Malibu S. 80. AE. 248; 7276, Once Rome, Spagna.

20 See the chart of letter forms in Immerwahr 1990, xxii-xxiii.

21 So Furtwängler’s text (1885, no. 2331); the reading is uncertain.

22 Kretschmer 1894,189 also lists BM 757 [= E 183? See CAVI 4523?] as having παυις together with ὁ παῖς [κ]αλός, but Threatte 1996, 279, points out that E 183 does not have those inscriptions according to later publications. There must be some error.

23 6387, Paris, Louvre G 10, Beazley 1963, 83/3. Beazley’s restoration. Cf. also 7094, Rome, Villa Giulia.+, Beazley 1963, 83/8.

24 For the Oionokles Painter and his inscriptions see the detailed study by Serbeti 1989.

25 The others are: CAVI 120, Amherst, Beazely 1963, 647/17; 2366, Berlin 2334; 4564, London E 301; 6124, Cab. Méd. 370; 6508, Louvre G 210.

26 Threatte 1996, 278.

27 Examples: Oionokles kalos with triangular omicron: 4557, London E 294. Variable alphas including high kicker (A 9): 4564, London E 301; very irregular: 2364, Berlin 2331. Sigma: 120, Amherst, Beazley 1963, 647/17 (7, i. e. rounded four-stroke and reversed, S 2 and near S 10); 2366, Berlin 2334 (1, 2, S 17); 2364, Berlin 2331 (1 and S 11).

28 The characteristic letter forms are: 2856: Alpha 2, S 2 disjointed and miswritten in retr. Sigma near S 1 (once with squiggle) and S 10.8004: alpha 2 and mostly S 2 (= delta). Sigma 1 and once with a big squiggle that makes it look like sigma 4.

29 CAVI 2393, Berlin 2548; 2797, Boston 28.48; 3688, Florence 18 B 48; 6224, Cab. Méd. 820; 6228, Cab. Méd. 841.

30 3179, Christchurch, N. Z., University of Canterbury, Beazley 1963, 898/140.

31 For a fuller list of examples by the Oionokles and Briseis painters see Serbeti 1989, 40-41. It should be noted that the letter I have transcribed as (Attic) gamma is by some read as an Ionic lambda, whence Bothmer 1986, 67 has made the suggestion that these inscriptions are attempts to write the kalos-name Λύκος, in which he is followed by Serbeti 1989, 41 n. 167. It seems to me unlikely that there would be so many attempts at such a common name and I prefer to consider the inscriptions true nonsense, which somehow caught the fancy of these painters.

32 On the Brygan circle see Immerwahr 1990, 88-89.

33 Serbeti 1989, 35 and 39.

34 This analysis is based on nine inscribed vases by the Acheloos Painter listed in CAVI: 2011, Basel, Antikenmuseum BS 1906.294, BF amphora (CVA, Switzerland 4, pls. 42,6 and 43,3, pp. 106-107 (facss.). 2256, Berlin 1851, BF neck amphora (Furtwängler 1885, no. 1851). 2261, Berlin 1900, BF hydria (Furtwängler 1885, no. 1900). 2264, Berlin 1907, BF hydria, (attributed by H. Mommsen) (Furtwängler 1885, no. 1907). 5179 Munich 1549, BF neck amphora (CVA, Germany 48, pls. 12,3, 15,1-2, and 17,5). 5392 Munich SL 459, BF Panathenaic amphora (Sieveking, Sammlung Loeb 54, pl. 40. CVA, Germany 48, pls. 18,1, 19,1-2 and 29,5). 6049, Palermo GE 1896.2, BF lekythos (Haspels, ABFL 47-48, pls. 15,4 and 20,2). 6050, Palermo GE 1896.3, BF lekythos (Photo). 8062, Würzburg 204 BF neck amphora (Langlotz, Griechische Vasen in Würzburg 36, pl. 45).

35 5700, New York 49.11.1, a BF pelike with the Capture of Silenus and athletes, but the inscriptions (on B only) are only ho παῖς καλός and καλός, the latter illegibly written, words almost anyone in the Ceramicus could write.

36 The queried letters are doubtful.

37 See CVA, USA 10, 29-31 and Immerwahr 1990, 76.

38 The nu is imperfect but not reversed.

39 ‘psi’ = psi S 1. It is of course not a real psi! The reading of this inscription (from the photo.) is rather uncertain.

40 Attributed to the same hand as Würzburg 210 by M. Z. Pease.

41 E.g., 6442, Louvre G 93, RF cup (CVA, France 28, pls. 53,1-4 and 54,1): Int ιωδυν. χιμε̣o. A: (ν)δχαυι. γαι. νδ. Β: χανιọ retr. νχδ̣. Attic alphabet with omega(?). Delta S 1 (retr.) and S 4. Mu 4 very low. Nu once S 2. Omega S 5? The Interior inscriptions are different. See also the cups: 2586, Bonn 315; 441, London E 2; 4902, Madrid 11,266.

42 See further 2074, Basel, Cahn HC 912; 3331, Cracow, Czartoryski Museum inv. 1245; 3350, Delos 547; 6048, Palermo GE 1896.1; 7895, Palermo GE 1896.1 (this mixes sense and nonsense, unusual in this group).

43 E.g., 4260, London B 222. BF neck amphora. Leagros Group. [(ν)χπ(ο)ι(ν)πΡ(σ)ι, complete. Nu S 2. Such long strings of letters are not Acheloan.-4289: London B 334. BF hydria. Leagros Group. Body: σκε(ṿ). χελκυ. χε(ν)οελ, retr. νε(ν)(σ). Nu 5 and mostly near S 2. The inscriptions are small and not very clear; the nu’s, idiosyncratic. 5833: Orvieto, Faina 186, BF amphora, Chiusi Pianter: A: e.g.: (ν)(ν)υρ. ννναγ. Alpha 3. Nu in the first inscription is nu S 2. Nu in the second inscription: 3 short.

44 See 172-73.

45 In Immerwahr 1990, 25 and 173 I pointed to certain misspellings on the François Vase which I considered copying errors. Wachter 1991, 101-104, objected on the grounds that a painter so obviously literate had no need to copy. But copying is not always due to illiteracy. In the particular case of the François Vase we know that its main frieze (the Wedding of Peleus) was a traditional theme of which we have two inscribed examples by Sophilos (963, Athens, N. M. Acr. i, 587, and 4748, London 1971.11.1.1). Wachter’s attempts at explaining the mistakes seem to me rather far-fetched.

46 I have called such inscriptions trademarks; see Immerwahr 1990, index, p. 211, right bottom.

47 Wachter 2003, 145ff. and 155ff.

48 See Fellmann, CVA, Munich 10, p. 28; Bothmer 1962, 257 and n. 39.

49 2228, Berlin 1764; 4214, Limassol (Fellmann 1984, 156ff., pl. 26, 1-2); 5224, Munich 2151.

50 2107, Basel Market (M. M.) (Para. 77/1); 5002, Malibu 86. AE. 160; 5380, Munich 9419; 7025, Vatican G 61.

51 5231, Munich 2165; 5702, New York 51.125.10; 7523, Sydney 39.

52 It is of course possible that some of them are misreported or wrongly restored, but many of them were clearly written by painters who were otherwise quite literate.

53 This is not on the side of the neck that has nonsense inscriptions and which is probably not by Euphronios.

54 So Beazley 1956, 364/56; CVA suggests Κλειτα[γóρας], but there is not room for the rest of the name

55 So Beazley 1956, 364/56; I do not know to whom this would refer; perhaps nonsense, but probably miswritten (although listed as Ìuçuj in Threatte 1996, 221). Another Tellos: Hdt. 1.30.

56 Beazley 1956, 364/56; CVA has what looks like an incomplete pi instead of the dot.

Notes de fin

1 In this paper, in addition to the usual epigraphical symbols, the caret ^ is used to indicate a gap between letters, which is often caused by an intervening object in the design, but can also simply be a small blank space between letters. Pointed brackets <> mark omitted letters, round brackets () mark letters badly written or miswritten. (.) indicate an indistinct letter. The numbering of the letter forms is troughout based on the letter charts in Immerwahr 1990, xxii-xxiii. The abbreviation Para. refers to J. D. Beazley, Paralipomena, 1971. Add.2 refers to T. H. Carpenter et al., Beazley Addenda2, 1989.

Auteur

Classics Department, University of North Carolina, Chapell Hill, North Carolina, USA

© Ausonius Éditions, 2010

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