Re: Fwd: Byzantine fountain

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Oct 23 1998 - 08:25:49 EDT

At 12:43 AM -0500 10/23/98, wrote:
>Can Carl or others please confirm my hasty translation and interpretation of
>the implications of an inscription in an ancient Byzantine church?
>Karl Schulte
>(normally silent list reader)
. . .
>For John Goodman and others who may be interested;
>The fountain inscription you (John) sent me was just what my intuition said it
>would be:
>COUPLE OF PLACES). This means "Wash sins not only (the) face."
>The second part is a fairly standard memorial. EIS AIWNIAN MNHMHN PROSPHILON
>A rough translation without having my lexikon handy is " Think on/remember me
>kindly through the ages in my tomb." or "Think of me through the ages in my
>friendly/welcome tomb." The former is the more likely. The inscription's
>signature is odd; the Greek is old "Atticized" or at least "high class "
>Byzantine, yet the name style is more modern. It should be Sokraths of
>somewhere, not a first initial and a patronymic. The altar or dedication
>stone at least, could therefore be from, say, a couple of hundred years ago,
>but imitating or copying an older style. This palindrome, as I have said, is
>from St. Sophia. A possible explanation is a rennovation or modern
>(relatively) addition to the shrine, by a sculptor of the apparn't sarcophagos
>or under -floor burial memorial stone with an educationin classical Byzantine

You are, of course, quite right about the palindrome; apart from the
spelling of MI = MH, the MONAN is not Attic, since the Attic form would be
MONHN, but here, of course, the A of MONAN corresponds in the palindrome to
the A of ANOMIMATA. I suppose, actually that that's also the explanation
for the spelling of MI = MH in order to correspond to the MI going in the
other direction in ANOMIMATA.

In the second part I'm bothered by the NEKRWN: I think it is those already
dead rather than the author of the text to be remembered; I make it: "To
the everlasting memory of the dead who are dear to me." Here the problem is
PROSPHILON (or in the more common BG transliteration PROSFILON). The
ordinary form of the adjective in antiquity is PROSFILHS/ES and I don't see
a form PROSFILOS/ON at all; I doubt therefore that PFOSFILON is intended to
be an accusative to go with MNHMHN (as a 2-termination compound adjective,
it could construe with MNHMHN if we accept that form of an adjective--in
which case we'd have "to the perpetual memory, dear to me, of the dead."
However, PROSFILON MOI would make better sense, I think, if PROSFILON is
really genitive plural = PROSFILWN, which would give us "to the everlasting
memory of the dead (who are) dear to me."

The name, S. SARANTIDHS, is indeed a modern one; we used to have a
professor of chemistry named Sarantidis here with an accent so thick that
students had difficulty following his lectures. My guess is that the
inscription is indeed relatively recent, perhaps more recent than 200
years. I think I've seen that palindrome before--perhaps from the same
source, but perhaps not. It looks to me like the sort of thing one might
commonly see inscribed on a fountain, rather like "I count only sunny
hours" on sundials.

Good to hear from you again, Karl. I still remember your dropping in to see
me here a couple years ago. Best regards, c

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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