- Museum number
Marble stele which records the presentation of a wine-bowl with stand and a strainer to the Council House at Sigeion by Phanodikos, son of Hermokrates of Proconnesos. It is also recorded that the monument was the work of Haesopos and his brothers. The people of Sigeion are also appealed to to protect the monument from damage. The text is given first in Ionic dialect, then Attic.
- Production date
- 6thC BC (First half)
Depth: 12.70 - 17.70 centimetres (at top)
Height: 2.28 metres
Width: 51.80 centimetres (at bottom)
Width: 45.70 centimetres (at top)
Depth: 26.60 centimetres (at bottom)
- Curator's comments
For a history and bibliography to 2010 see L. Threatte, 'The Phanodikos stele from Sigeum' in Axon; Studies in Honor of Ronald S. Stroud, Athens 2015, 105-123.
A large stele, probably of Proconnesian marble (Jeffery, LSAG, 366–367). The top tapers, as part of the back has been cut off, thus accounting for the range in the depth of the block. On top is a dowel-hole, but what was attached to the top of the stone is unknown; conjectures have included a palmette, anthemion, or capital.
The stele was found in 1716 by Samuel Lisle and William Sherard (the latter an English botanist and the British consul in Smyrna from 1703–1716) in the village of Yenişehir, ancient Sigeion, near the site of Troy. It was removed by Lord Elgin in 1799 and eventually sold to the British Museum in 1816.
The stone has suffered from extensive wear and damage. The edges are eroded, and the front left edge has been damaged (possibly deliberately), leaving a large wedge-shaped indentation on the front of the stone. The surface of the stone is pitted and badly worn, especially in the middle, due to the fact that the stele was used as a talisman by local villagers afflicted with fever and illnesses in post-classical times (Cook 1973, 155).
Scholarly interest and activity on this stele have focused primarily on its dating and historical context, on the one hand, and its bi-dialecticality, on the other.
Both the Ionic (a) and Attic (b) versions relate that Phanodikos, son of Hermokrates, was a native of Prokonnesos, an Ionic-speaking island in the Black Sea. Both texts state that Phanodikos gave a mixing-bowl, a stand, and a strainer to the Sigeian prytaneion; the Ionic text in the 3rd-person (ἔδωκεν), the Attic in the 1st-person (ἔδωκα). The Ionic and Attic texts also use the 1st-person of the ‘speaking’ object. The spelling is erratic throughout (esp. the variant spellings for people of Sigeion/Sigeians). The Attic version elaborates upon Phanodikos’ gifts as a mnēma, which we have translated “monument,” and further enjoins the Sigeians to care for the stele in (b), ll. 7–9 – a formulaic phrase also reminiscent of those found on funerary monuments (Guarducci 1961). The Attic version also adds mention of “Aisopos and his brothers,” probably as the artificers of the ornament that once adorned the stele, and/or the engravers of at least the Attic version of the text.
Sigeion in the Troad was reportedly originally a colony of Mytilene (Hdt. V.94), and the dialect spoken by its inhabitants is thus presumed to have been Aeolic . However, the city was later seized by the Athenians, perhaps in two stages: the first dating to the end of the 7th c. B.C. (partly contingent on the dating for the poet Alcaeus), when according to the literary tradition Pittacus of Mytilene defeated Phrynon the Olympic victor (sent by the Athenians to occupy Sigeion; Alcaeus fr. 168 l.17; Strabo XIII.1.38; Diog. Laer. I.74; Plut. de Herod. malig. 15); the second dating to the time of Peisistratos (Hdt. V.94.1; in general, cf. Minon 2009, 94–95, and Viviers 1987, 8–10). The use of the Attic dialect in our inscription is therefore presumed to coincide with a period of Athenian influence in Sigeion. Given the use of boustrophedon (esp. common between 600–540 B.C.; cf. Jeffery, LSAG 43–50) and the letter forms in the Attic version (use of closed heta and tailless phi, but absence of qoppa), the Attic text at least seems to date to the mid-6th century B.C., and this part of the inscription thus appears to coincide with the historiographical tradition that Athens (re)gained control of Sigeion in the reign of Pisistratus. The Ionic alphabet used is that of the northern Ionian colonies and so would have been expected for both Prokonnesos and Sigeion (cf. Jeffery, LSAG 359 n.1, and 366–67).
It is important to note that this stele was likely raised, then, not in a bidialectal, but rather tridialectal context. Despite this, the inscription is bidialectal (a bi-version bilingual text according to the typology proposed by A. Mullen (Multilingualism in the Graeco-Roman World, CUP 2012, 15-16), with no version in Aeolic. Neither does either of the inscription have Aeolic features. Actually, there is not a single linguistic feature in these inscriptions that can be classified as purely Aeolic; whereas there are features that are purely Ionic, or purely Attic (Minon 2009, 98–100). Based on the presumed political context and on linguistic analysis of both inscriptions, Minon convincingly argues that the use of a different dialect was motivated not by the desire to make oneself better understood, but rather by “the desire to render in linguistic features one’s own political identity” (Minon 2009, 99).
The historical interest of this pair of inscriptions has been related especially to archaic tyranny and oligarchy and to the foreshadowings of Athenian imperialism. Sigeion was important for trade routes to and from the Black Sea (note the reported protracted war between the Athenians at Sigeion and the Mytileneans at Achilleion, just a few miles away, Hdt. V.94), and was later a member of the Delian League. It is possible that Peisistratid involvement at Sigeion had more to do with domestic power politics at Athens rather than general Athenian colonial ambitions (cf. Viviers 1987 and Stahl 1987). On such a reading, the use of the Attic dialect alongside Phanodikos’ native Ionic might be seen as the symbolic representation of an appeal to, or even a response from, the beneficiaries–the Athenians at Sigeion.
(for the most recent and full bibliography, cf. Minon 2009, 92–93)
- E. Chishull, Antiquitates Asiaticae, 1–48 (London 1728) (based largely on the notes and drawings of Lisle, Sherard, Mould, and a Greek interpreter named “Homerus”).
- R. Chandler, Inscriptiones Antiquae (Oxford 1774), 2-3 (reproducing drawing by Revett).
- A. Boeckh, CIG I.8 (Berlin 1828).
- H. Roehl, Imagines Inscriptionum Graecarum Antiquissimarum in usum scholarum, editio tertia (Berlin 1882) p. 21, no. 9 (reproducing drawing by Revett; Chandler’s reproduction represents surface wear more accurately, but Roehl’s reproduction, unlike Chandler’s, shows the cutting on the back of the top half of the stele).
- H. v. Gaertringen, Syll.3 2 (Leipzig 1915).
- E.L. Hicks and G.F. Hill, Manual of Greek Historical Inscriptions (1901) 8.
- F.H. Marshall, Ancient Greek Inscriptions in the British Museum IV, 2 1002 (Oxford 1916).
- E. Schwyzer, Dialectorum graecarum exempla potiora (Leipzig 1923), 731.
- M. Guarducci, Annuario della scuola archeologica di atene e delle missioni italiane in oriente n.s. III–IV (1941–43), pp. 135–140.
- C.D. Buck, Greek Dialects (Chicago 1955) 1.
- L.H. Jeffery, LSAG (Oxford 1961) 72, 366–367, 371, no. 43–44, Pl. 71.
- D. Lewis and L.H. Jeffery, IG I3 1508 (Berlin 1994).
- S. Minon, “La stèle diglosse de Sigée en Troade (IG I3 1508, ca. 550 a.c.)”, in B. Bortolussi, M. Keller, S. Minon, and L. Sznajder (eds), Traduire, Transposer, Transmettre dans l’Antiquité Gréco-Romaine (Paris 2009) 91–105.
- U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Lectiones epigraphicae (Göttingen 1885) 3–5.
- A. Elter, “Epigraphica,” Rheinisches Museum LXVI (1911) 204–212.
- A. Brouwers, “Une hypothèse nouvelle sur la stèle de Sigée,” REG 41 (1928) 107–116.
- D. Page, Sappho and Alcaeus (1955) 155–8.
- M. Guarducci, “Epigraphical Appendix,” in G.M.A. Richter, The Archaic Gravestones of Attica (London 1961) 165–168, figs. 205–207.
- J.M. Cook, The Troad (Oxford 1973), 155.
- A.M. Cirio, Bolletino dei classici I (1980) 108–12 (SEG XXX 1038)
- M. Stahl, Aristokraten und Tyrannen im Archaischen Athen (Stuttgart 1987) 218–220.
- D. Viviers, “La conquête de Sigée par Pisistrate,” L’antiquité classique t.56 (1987) 5–25.
- F. Thomasson, “Justifying and Criticizing the Removal of Antiquities in Ottoman Lands: Tracking the Sigeion Inscription,” International Journal of Cultural Property 17, 3 (2010) 493–517.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number