IRCyr   Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica

C.462. Fragment of an official letter

Description: Fragment of panel of fine-grained white marble (w: 0.135 x h: 0.234 x d: 0.076); its top, bottom and right-hand side are broken edges. Stained brown.
Text: Inscribed on face which is encrusted. The left-hand side might seem to be a cut edge, but in some lines letters are placed so close to the edge as to suggest either that the panel once extended further. Alternatively, if we have an original edge, it was placed up against another panel on which the inscribed lines began.
Letters: Lacking.

Date: First to second centuries CE

Findspot: Cyrene: Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore: area C13, 1, 3.
Original location: Unknown.
Last recorded location: Cyrene Museum, Storeroom of the American excavations (Inv. no. 77-685)


[---]ω̣ λειφθεῖσα ἀπὸ [---]
[---]Λ τῆς πατρίδος Ο̣[---]
[---] ὁμονομία Τ̣Ε̣[.]Ο̣Λ̣[---]
5[---]μ̣ατα πάντα ἅμ[α?---]
[---]Ε̣ κα̣λοκαγαθίαν κ[---]
[---]Ε̣Κ[.]Ε̣[.]ΑΝΑΝ ὅθεν [---]
[---] ἀγωγὰ̣ν καὶ σω̣φ[ροσύνην ---]
10[---] παιδέας ΕΠΕΜΕ[---]
[---] παρὰ Λακεδαιμο[νίων? ---]



1: May contain the word ἐπίτροπος but I am not sure of it. (Reynolds)
9: I once read σοφ[ίαν] but would now propose σωφ[ροσύνην. (Reynolds)
10: May contain the words ἐπ’ ἐμέ but these letters could equally well be part of the verb ἐπιμελέομαι.
12: May in fact be from the final line of the text, since what could be the top of a letter below could also be from a lower moulding.

English translation

Translation source: Reynolds, 2012

...? procurator (or ?guardian)... ...left behind from... ...of the country... ...participation in the same laws... ...all the ..?.. at once (?)... ...?guard... ...proper behaviour... ...whence... ...way of life and ?temperance... ...of training of the young... ...from the Lacedaimonians (or Lacedaimon)...


The text is in the koine, unless it is right to read ἀγωγάν in line 9 (but I am not absolutely sure that we should not read ἀγωγήν), and since it appears from line 11 that the Spartan way of life is likely to be what is meant, the Doric form may be what came to the writer’s mind. In line 10 there may be ἐπ’ ἐμέ, "to me", which would suggest a letter or address to the city from an individual, and if it is right to read ἐπίτροπος in line 1, perhaps an imperial procurator, but possibly the governor, or, I suggest, the emperor himself, who may be supposed to have referred to his procurator; but the earliest clear evidence for an imperial procurator in Cyrenaica is Severan (C.183) and the lettering of this text looks markedly earlier, so that it may imply an earlier appointment.

Overall the document seems to be discussing the traditions of Cyrenaean life - presumably what are represented as productive of the καλοκαγαθία (proper behaviour) of line 7 and involving ὁμονομία (shared law), which at least in the case of παιδεία (education, line 10) is apparently a matter of regulations learnt from Sparta; I would suggest tentatively that the Ὁμονομία as a whole is with the Dorians. This is the kind of subject matter on which the emperor Hadrian wrote to Cyrene (C.163 lines 25f, and see especially the reference in lines 42-43 to Dorians and to Spartan σωφροσύνη). It is arguable that this text is part of a statement of Hadrian’s views and of his policies in helping Cyrene to recover from the disaster of the Jewish Revolt of CE 115-7, similar to, but not quite the same as, that letter. Why an inscribed copy of such a document should be set up in the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore is far from clear, and we should at least bear in mind the possibility that when complete it was displayed elsewhere and only came to the Sanctuary when broken up into stones for re-use.

Bibliography: Reynolds, 1978a, 118-9 (phrases only), whence mentioned SEG 1978.1566; Reynolds, 2012, A.34, whence SEG 62.1794.
Text constituted from: Transcription (Reynolds).


   Fig. 1. Face (Donald White)

   Fig. 2. Face (Donald White)