Dreros #2

[The facsimile]  [Transcription & Comments]

This inscription, from the Delphinion in Dreros, was published by Henri van effenterre in Bulletin de correspondance hellénique 70 , 1946 (Paris), pages 602 & 603. According to the publication, this is a block of grey schist, of long, irregular form.

Two breakages have detached important chips at each end. The fragment on the left had been recovered and fitted exactly; but the fragment (or fragments) on the right was lost at the time of publication (the entire block is now, alas, lost).


facsimile of inscription

Dimensions of the block: width 990 mm; height 230 mm; thickness 230 mm.

The first line is written sinistrorsely and all the letters, apart from the last three, are much larger than the rest. This part is meaningless in Greek. The rest of the inscription is written in smaller letters and is certainly Greek; it is boustrophedon as we would expect Greek to be written at this period, with the initial line (just three letters) being sinistrorse. The Greek was possibly added later. Some word dividers are noted.

It will be seen that the letters follow the irregular shape of the stone; thus we can be certain that the text on the left is complete. We cannot, however, be certain how much is missing on the right. As Van Effenterre points out, the text on the right could well have continued on another stone. Indeed, if this is a bilingual there must be much of the Eteocretan text missing.

According to Van Effenterre, the reading of the letters on the remaning part of the stone is certain. In the transcription below, I will indicate the larger Eteocretan letters by using upper case, and transcribe the Greek in lower case.


Transcription & Comments

(a) In standard Greek script Direction
of writing
  2. σαιδαπερενορκιοισι|α--
  3. --καθαρονγενοιτο

(b) In modern Roman script Direction
of writing
  2. saidaperenorkioisi|a--
  3. --katʰarongenoito

The Greek text

This may be read as:
ὀμόσαι δ᾽ ἅπερ ἐν ὁρκίοισι· ἀ.... καθαρὸν γένοιτο
"but may he swear the very things [which he has sworn] in oaths; .... may it become pure."
or as:
ὀμόσαι δ᾽ ἅπερ Ἐνορκίοισι· ἀ.... καθαρὸν γένοιτο
"but may he swear the very things [he has sworn] to the Oath-keepers [i.e. deities]; .... may it become pure."

The Greek text cannot be fully understood since part of it is missing. All we can say is that it is about oaths to be sworn and about a matter of purification.

The Eteocretan text

Unhappily, most of the Eteocretan text had disappeared. All we have is the final -ς (s)of a word, and the single complete word τυπρμηριηια (tuprmēriēia) which, if this is a bilingual inscription, will correspond to the Greek καθαρὸν γένοιτο "may it become pure".

The word τυπρμηριηια /tupr̩meːrieːia/ gives us another instance of a syllabic sonorant and also shows the existence of long vowels. Indeed, there may have been other long vowels, but the archaic Cretan alphabet did not distinguish between long and short varieties of any vowels other than ε /e/ and η /eː/.

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Created August 2003. Last revision:
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