Ancient Greek Inscriptions

from Bulgaria

Klada Bg

Funerary inscription of Tatianus

Monument SGLI.207
Editor
Vitalien Laurent, Veselin Beševliev, Nicolay Sharankov.
Type of monument
stele
Material
marble
Find place
Plovdiv, South Industrial Zone, in the southern necropolis of Philippopolis, near the Maltepe tumulus
Observed in
Origin
around Plovdiv, South Industrial Zone, in the southern necropolis of Philippopolis, near the Maltepe tumulus
Dimensions
height 66 cm, width 43 cm, depth 17 cm
Institution and inventory
Letter size
height 1.8 - 2.2 cm
Layout description
Stele with triangular pediment and acroteria (only the left one is preserved), broken in two; the upper right and lower right corners are missing. The stele had a tenon in the lower part, now only partially preserved. The epigraphic field is surrounded on all sides with a complex moulded frame. The first and the last lines of the inscription are engraved on the frame.
Decoration description
Α short spear and a round shield are depicted on the pediment.
Text
Category of inscription
funerary inscription - verse
Date
First half of III century AD
Dating criteria
lettering, material-context
Images
Text

ωπη´ (= Ἰησοῦς) (vac.) δ[---]
Τοῦτον ἐμοὶ Τατιανῷ περίολ[βον]
δόμον δώρου χάριν ἐξετέλεσ[εν]
ἀγάπην ἔχων παρὰ Θ(εο)ῦ Ζώσιμος ἀ-
5δελφὸς Χρυσογόνου, ἧς χάριτο[ς]
ἀντάξιον μισθὸν δώσε<ι> Κ(ύριο)ς μισθ[α]-
ποδότης. ἐξ Ἀσίης δ’ ἐξελθὼν πᾶ-
σαν πόλιν περινοστήσας ἦλθον
ἰς μητρόπολιν Θρῃκῶν Φιλιπ-
10πόπολιν. ἐνθάδε ζῶ. ἐξ Αἰγύ-
πτου δέ με ῥύσας ὁ Κ(ύριο)[ς] κα
γνῶσι{ι}ν ἔδωκε Θ(εο)ῦ ((·)) λούσας [με ὧ]-
δ’ ((·)) ἐν ἀϊδίοι<ς> ὕδασι Κ(υρίο)υ· ((·)) νῦν [δ’]
ἀμέριμνον ἔχω ζωὴν δῶρον
15ἔχων τοῦτον δόμον, ὃν π[ροεῖ]-
πα, παρὰ Ζωσίμου. ζῶ δ’ [ἅμα]
τοῖσι Θ(εο)ῦ δούλο<ι>ς ὑπο[---]
πλείονα ἵλεον οἶν[ον Κ(υρίο)υ πί]-
νων νύκτας ὅλας [---]
20μείμημα γραφῶν δ[ιὰ δόξαν]
Θ(εο)ῦ.
Ν(α)ζ(αρη)ν(ός)

ΩΠΗ(=IΗΣΟYΣ) vacat Δ---
ΤΟYΤΟNEMΟIΤΑΤΙΑNΩΠΕΡIΟΛ[...]
ΔOMΟNΔΩΡΟΥΧAΡΙNEΞΕΤEΛΕΣ[..]
AΓAΠΗNEΧΩNΠΑΡAΘYΖΩΣΙMΟΣA
5ΔΕΛΦOΣΧΡΥΣΟΓONΟΥHΣΧAΡΙΤΟ[.]
ANΤAΞΙΟNMΙΣΘONΔΏΣΕ[.]ΚΣMΙΣΘ[.]
ΠΟΔOΤΗΣEΞAΣIΗΣΔEΞΕΛΘΩNΠA
ΣΑNΠOΛΙNΠΕΡΙNΟΣΤHΣΑΣHΛΘΟN
IΣMΗΤΡOΠΟΛΙNΘΡHΚΩNΦΙΛΙΠ
10ΠOΠΟΛΙNENΘAΔΕΖΩEΞΑIΓY
ΠΤΟΥΔEMΕPYΣΑΣO.[.]..I
ΓNΩΣΙΙNEΔΩΚΕΘY · ΛΟYΣΑΣ[...]
Δ · ENAIΔIΟΙ[.]YΔΑΣΙΚΥ · NYN[..]
AMEΡΙMNΟNEΧΩΖΩHNΔΩΡΟN
15EΧΩNΤΟYΤΟNΔOMΟNONΠ[....]
ΠΑΠΑΡAΖΩΣIMΟΥΖΩΔ[...]
ΤΟIΣΙΘYΔΟYΛΟ[.]ΣYΠ.---
ΠΛΕIΟNΑIΛΕΟNΟIN[..........]
NΩNNYΚΤΑΣOΛΑΣ---
20MΕIMΗMΑΓΡΑΦΩNΔ[.......]
ΘY
NΖN
Text
888 (= Jesus) [---]
This most blessed home is a gift for me, Tatianus,
made by the god-loved Zosimus, brother of Chrysogonus.
May Lord, the Rewarder, give him an appropriate reward for his kindness!
I went out from Asia, and after travelling through countless cities,
I came to Philippopolis – the capital city of Thrace, where I live now.
“The Lord rescued me from Egypt” and gave me knowledge about God,
after purifying me here in the Lord’s eternal waters.
And now I live a life free of cares and own this home –
a gift from Zosimus, as I already told.
I live together with the servants of God and enjoy a great mercy, drinking the Lord’s wine.
All night long, I follow the Scriptures and glorify (?) the God.
The Nazarene [---?]
⤦ n: 1

tag: lb
ωπη

value: 888
tag: num
(= Ἰησοῦς)

tag: note
(=

tag: #text
Ἰησοῦς

type: divine
ref: Jesus
tag: persName
)

tag: #text

extent: unknown
unit: character
tag: space
δ

tag: #text
< GAP >

extent: unknown
unit: character
⤦ n: 2

tag: lb
Τοῦτον

lemma: οὗτος
tag: w
ἐμοὶ

lemma: ἐγώ
tag: w
Τατιανῷ

tag: persName
περίολβον

lemma: περίολβος
tag: w
περίολ

tag: #text
βον

tag: supplied
⤦ n: 3

tag: lb
δόμον

lemma: δόμος
tag: w
δώρου

lemma: δῶρον
tag: w
χάριν

lemma: χάρις
tag: w
ἐξετέλεσεν

lemma: ἐκτελέω
tag: w
ἐξετέλεσ

tag: #text
εν

tag: supplied
⤦ n: 4

tag: lb
ἀγάπην

lemma: ἀγάπη
tag: w
ἔχων

lemma: ἔχω
tag: w
παρὰ

lemma: παρά
tag: w
Θεοῦ

lemma: θεός
tag: w
Ζώσιμος

tag: persName
ἀ δελφὸς

lemma: ἀδελφός
tag: w

tag: #text
⤦ n: 5

break: no
tag: lb
δελφὸς

tag: #text
Χρυσογόνου

tag: persName
,

tag: #text
ἧς

lemma: ὅς
tag: w
χάριτος

lemma: χάρις
tag: w
χάριτο

tag: #text
ς

tag: supplied
⤦ n: 6

tag: lb
ἀντάξιον

lemma: ἀντάξιος
tag: w
μισθὸν

lemma: μισθός
tag: w
δώσει

lemma: δίδωμι
tag: w
δώσε

tag: #text
ι

tag: supplied
Κύριος

tag: expan
μισθα ποδότης

lemma: μισθαποδότης
tag: w
μισθ

tag: #text
α

tag: supplied
⤦ n: 7

break: no
tag: lb
ποδότης

tag: #text
.

tag: #text
ἐξ

lemma: ἐκ
tag: w
Ἀσίης

type: ethnic
ref: Asia
nymRef: Ἀσία
tag: placeName
δ’

lemma: δέ
tag: w
ἐξελθὼν

lemma: ἐξέρχομαι
tag: w
πᾶ σαν

place: margin
tag: add
πόλιν

lemma: πόλις
tag: w
περινοστήσας

lemma: περινοστέω
tag: w
ἦλθον

lemma: ἔρχομαι
tag: w
⤦ n: 9

tag: lb
ἰς

lemma: εἰς
tag: w
μητρόπολιν

lemma: μητρόπολις
tag: w
Θρῃκῶν

type: ethnic
ref: Thrace
tag: placeName
Φιλιπ πόπολιν

ref: Phil
nymRef: Φιλιππόπολις
tag: placeName
Φιλιπ

tag: #text
⤦ n: 10

break: no
tag: lb
πόπολιν

tag: #text
.

tag: #text
ἐνθάδε

lemma: ἐνθάδε
tag: w
ζῶ

lemma: ζῶ
tag: w
.

tag: #text
ἐξ

lemma: ἐκ
tag: w
Αἰγύ πτου

type: ethnic
ref: Egypt
nymRef: Αἴγυπτος
tag: placeName
Αἰγύ

tag: #text
⤦ n: 11

break: no
tag: lb
πτου

tag: #text
δέ

lemma: δέ
tag: w
με

lemma: ἐγώ
tag: w
ῥύσας

lemma: ῥύω
tag: w

tag: #text
Κύριος

lemma: κύριος
tag: w
κα

tag: unclear

tag: #text
⤦ n: 12

tag: lb
γνῶσιιν

lemma: γνῶσις
tag: w
γνῶσι

tag: #text
ι

tag: surplus
ν

tag: #text
ἔδωκε

lemma: δίδωμι
tag: w
Θεοῦ

lemma: θεός
tag: w

type: dot
tag: g
λούσας

lemma: λούω
tag: w
με

lemma: ἐγώ
tag: w
ὧ δ’

lemma: ὧδε
tag: w

tag: supplied
⤦ n: 13

break: no
tag: lb
δ’

tag: #text

type: dot
tag: g
ἐν

lemma: ἐν
tag: w
ἀϊδίοις

lemma: ἀίδιος
tag: w
ἀϊδίοι

tag: #text
ς

tag: supplied
ὕδασι

lemma: ὕδωρ
tag: w
Κυρίου

lemma: κύριος
tag: w
·

tag: #text

type: dot
tag: g
νῦν

lemma: νῦν
tag: w
δ’

lemma: δέ
tag: w
⤦ n: 14

tag: lb
ἀμέριμνον

lemma: ἀμέριμνος
tag: w
ἔχω

lemma: ἔχω
tag: w
ζωὴν

lemma: ζωή
tag: w
δῶρον

lemma: δῶρον
tag: w
⤦ n: 15

tag: lb
ἔχων

lemma: ἔχω
tag: w
τοῦτον

lemma: οὗτος
tag: w
δόμον

lemma: δόμος
tag: w
,

tag: #text
ὃν

lemma: ὅς
tag: w
προεῖ πα

lemma: προλέγω
tag: w
π

tag: #text
ροεῖ

tag: supplied
⤦ n: 16

break: no
tag: lb
πα

tag: #text
,

tag: #text
παρὰ

lemma: παρά
tag: w
Ζωσίμου

tag: persName
.

tag: #text
ζῶ

lemma: ζῶ
tag: w
δ’

lemma: δέ
tag: w
ἅμα

lemma: ἅμα
tag: w
⤦ n: 17

tag: lb
τοῖσι

tag: #text
Θεοῦ

lemma: θεός
tag: w
δούλοις

lemma: δοῦλος
tag: w
δούλο

tag: #text
ι

tag: supplied
ς

tag: #text
ὑπ

tag: #text
ο

tag: unclear
< GAP >

extent: unknown
⤦ n: 18

tag: lb
πλείονα

lemma: πολύς
tag: w
ἵλεον

lemma: ἵλεως
tag: w
οἶνον

lemma: οἶνος
tag: w
οἶν

tag: #text
ον

tag: supplied
Κυρίου

lemma: κύριος
tag: w
πί νων

lemma: πίνω
tag: w
πί

tag: supplied
⤦ n: 19

break: no
tag: lb
νων

tag: #text
νύκτας

lemma: νύξ
tag: w
ὅλας

lemma: ὅλος
tag: w
< GAP >

extent: unknown
⤦ n: 20

tag: lb
μείμημα

lemma: μίμημα
tag: w
γραφῶν

lemma: γραφή
tag: w
διὰ

lemma: διά
tag: w
δ

tag: #text
ιὰ

tag: supplied
δόξαν

tag: supplied
⤦ n: 21

tag: lb
Θεοῦ

lemma: θεός
tag: w
.

tag: #text
⤦ n: 22

tag: lb
Ναζαρηνός

type: divine
ref: Nazarenus
tag: persName
Apparatus
Letters in ligature:
2 νε, νωπε;
3 ωρ, νε;
4 πηνε, ωνπ;
5 ησ;
6 ντ, νμ, ωσ;
7 τησ, ησ, ων;
8 νπε, τησ, ων;
9 μητ, ηκ, ων;
10 νε, ωε;
11 με;
12 νωσ, νε, ωκ;
14 με, μν, νε, ωην, ωρ;
15 ωντ, νπρ;
16 ωσ;
19 νων;
20 με, μημ, ων.
Apparatus:
The text of the editions of Laurent and Beševliev is revised and improved after a comparison through personal observation by N. Sharankov.
Some lines go beyond the epigraphic field to the right and continue over the frame.
1 Two groups of letters at the two ends of the line.
2 Laurent: Τατιανῷ ἐργοδ[ότῃ]; Beševliev: Τ. ἐργολ[άβῳ]; on the stone: ΤΑΤΙΑNWΠΕΡΙΟΛ[---] with ligature NWΠΕ.
7-8 The word πᾶ|σαν was originally omitted and then added in the margins on the frame.
15-16 Laurent, Beševliev: π[αρὰ] | πάπα {α} Ζωσίμου, on the stone: Π[---]|ΠΑΠΑΡΑΖ.
21 The letters of this short line are centered and surrounded on both sides by large vacats.
22 Another group of letters could have been engraved in the now missing part of the stone.
Commentary

The text contains numerous poetical words and expressions as well as some parts in dactylic metre, but is not composed throughout in verse.

The lettering and the type of the stele set the date of the inscription to the first half or even the first quarter of the third century AD. Contrary to the suggestion of the first editor V. Laurent, the stele had not been re-used and this is its original and only inscription.

Tatianus’s inscription is the earliest Christian epigraphic text from the territory of Bulgaria and count among the earliet Christian inscriptions in Europe. It was still not safe to proclaim oneself a Christian in that period, so Tatianus preferred to declare his religion in cipher, in several letter combinations engraved on the upper and lower frames. The first one is ΩΠΗ, or the number 888 – a symbol of Jesus, because the numerical values of the letters in his name in Greek sum up to 888 (ΙΗΣΟΥΣ = 10 + 8 + 200 + 70 + 400 + 200). This type of encoding a word through the numerical value of its letters, so-called isopsephy, is attested in one more inscription from Philippopolis, a dedication to θεὸς Ὕψιστος (IGBulg 937). The second group of letters, which once stood in the upper right corner, is only partially preserved – it started with the letter Δ and could have represented the epithet Christ or another name of the Christian Lord. The third combination, ΝΖΝ, on the lower frame below the text, is an abbreviation for Ναζαρηνός, “the Nazarene”; a fourth group of letters might have once been engraved on the now missing right part of the lower frame.

In the main text of the inscription, there is also no direct mention of Christ or Christianity. The baptism is represented as “purification in the Lord’s eternal waters”, and the Christian doctrine is alluded to as “knowledge about God”, “Lord’s wine”, and “following the Scriptures”.

Tatianus was one of the numerous migrants from Asia Minor who settled in Roman Philippopolis in the 2nd – 3rd centuries AD and played crucial role for the spread of eastern cults, including Christianity, in the city. The phrase “the Lord rescued me from Egypt” is a reminiscence of the Exodus from Egypt mentioned numerous times in the biblical text (e.g. Ps. 80:11, κύριος ὁ θεός σου ὁ ἀναγαγών σε ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου; Ex. 16:6, κύριος ἐξήγαγεν ὑμᾶς ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου; etc.). It should probably not be interpreted literally as evidence that Tatianus visited Egypt during his wanderings in search of a better life.

Bibliography