This inscription was found by R.C. Bosanquet in June, 1901, and first published by R.S. Conway ("The Pre-Hellenic Inscription of Praesos", Annual of the British School at Athens VIII, 1901-1902, pp. 125 sqq.) before being later published by Guarducci in Inscriptiones Creticae.
It is much later than the two Dreros inscriptions and the 1st Praisos inscription, being written dextrorsely throughout and in the standard Ionian alphabet except for lambda which is still written in the old Cretan style. It is probably from the 4th century BCE.
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Dimensions: width 325mm; height 260mm; thickness 70mm.
The inscription is rather more worn than either the 1st or the 3rd Praisian inscriptions; it can, however, still be read with care. The left hand side of the stone is damaged and the inscription is incomplete here. The right hand side is preserved as far as the 6th line; I assume the spaces at the end of lines 2, 4 and 5 coincide with word endings, which are otherwise unmarked.
|In standard Greek script||In modern Roman script|
We can be confident that in this Doric speaking part of the Greek world, υ still represented [u] and not the [y] of contemporary Athens which later became the norm in Hellenistic Greek.
- Line 1
- The first letter has almost gone but is probably ο
- Line 2
- I was not able to read either the 3rd or the 4th letters. After ιαραλα (iarala) the actual mark on the stone is like a badly formed Ο or Δ above the line of writing; this is almost certainly the circle of Φ to which the scribe has forgotten to add a downstroke.
- Line 3
- The initial ρ is damaged but certain.
- Line 4
- The φ is damaged but certain; the letter after it, however, is quite illegible. The letters before the final before the final -υν (-un) are damaged but are almost certainly τι (ti).
- Line 5
- The initial α is damaged but certain. The letter after παλυν (palun) is read by Guarducci as γ (g) and by J. Sundwall as Ϝ (w). It appeared to me rather to be ε; but it is, admittedly, very damaged.
- Line 6
- The initial σ and final α are damaged but certain.
- Line 7
- The initial letter is badly damaged but is probably τ. After the τεν (ten) towards the end of the line the letter is probably α (a) but may possibly be δ (d). There is no trace of any other legible letters where the stone is damaged on the right.
- Line 8
- The initial μ is damaged but certain. The last letter remaining on the right is very unclear but seemed to me most likely to be ι.
- Line 9
- The last remaining letter is unclear. A cross-bar remains, but the stone is so damaged here that the downstroke is not clear; the letter could be any one of: γ, ε, Ϝ, or τ (g, e, w, t).
- Line 10
- The last remaining letter is damaged but seems to be ο, though φ (pʰ) is possible.
- Line 11
- The stone is so damaged that only these five letters can be read.
- Line 12
- The first remaining letter is damaged but ι seemed likely; the second letters was too damaged for me to hazard any reading; the third is damaged but is certainly τ. Nothing else is legible on this line.
- Line 13
- I found nothing legible on this line.
A major difficulty in reading this inscription is the lack of word dividers. Conway, in fact claimed to have found interpuncts (dots) between certain letters; but Bosanquet considered these all to be accidental marks. That has been the opinion of others since. When I examined the stone for myself in 1976 I could detect no signs of any deliberate interpuncts.
However, the gaps at the ends of lines 2, 3, and 5 suggest word division at those points; we thus have in line 5 another example of word ending in -τ (-t).
Gemination of vowels and consonants are rare in these texts, and the three examples in this one may have arisen from word junction; they are:
- φ̣ραισοι ιναι (p̣ʰraisoi inai) in line 2
- σατοις στεφ̣ - (satois step̣ʰ-) in line 4
- τ̣σα αδοφτενα̣ (ṭsa adopʰtenạ) in line 7
Thus from line 2 we have isolated the word ιναι (inai) which appeared on the 1st Dreros inscription where it was suggested it corresponded to the Greek ἔϝαδε "it was decided". Before this we have φ̣ραισοι (p̣ʰraisoi ) and in line 6 we find φραισονα̣ (pʰraisonạ). It is very probable that these are forms of the city's name or of derived ethnonyms. It is, therefore, tempting to see φ̣ραισοι ιναι (p̣ʰraisoi inai) as equivalent to Greek Πραισίοις ἔϝαδε "the Praisians decided" [more literally: "it was pleasing to the Praisians"].
That 4th century Eteocretan used forms with aspirated initial, i.e. φραισο- (pʰraiso-) while their contempoary Greeks had non-aspirated initial forms, i.e. Πραισο- (praiso-) should not really cause any surprise. After one language has borrowed a name from another, the two words will then exist independently and be subject to sound changes of each individual language; one has only to think of modern English "Cardiff" and the modern Welsh "Caerdydd", both being derived from the same middle Welsh form. The middle Welsh final [ɨv] has developed independently to [ɪf] in modern English and to [ɨð] in modern Welsh, although the two languages were, and still are, spoken side by side.
The word ιναι (inai) may occur also in line 8, followed by the word ρερ (rer) which is repeated in line 9. However some caution is called for. The repeated word may equally well be ιρερ (irer); in which case line 8 would read as - μ̣απραινα ιρερ ι̣ - (-ṃapraina irer ị-).
In line 1 we see the sequence μιτ (mit) which occurred in the first line of the Praisos #1 inscription. Since the latter inscription does indicate word division, this is not likely to be a word itself, but it may have had morphemic status.
In line 3 we must have at least one example of a syllabic sonorant, otherwise ρ̣εστνμτορα - (ṛestnmtora-) becomes unpronounceable. If the word break is between ν (n) and μ (m) then both nasals must be syllabic. It is possible the break is after -εστ (-est), in which case the next word will begin /nm̩tora/.
Created August 2003. Last revision:
Copyright © Ray Brown