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The archaic and classical Greek dedications on stone were usually composed in the own dialect of the dedicator; however, while prose dedications were entirely written in the local dialect, dedicatory epigrams were influenced by poetical models, showing many examples of literary (usually epic, but also lyric) forms, used instead of their local counterparts (cf. Mickey 1981; Buck 1913). Dedicatory Attic epigrams on stone were no exception, but there are some aspects of the relationship between the basic language of archaic and classical dedicatory Attic epigrams, i.e. the epichoric Attic dialect, and features from poetic traditions that deserve more comments. The present talk deals precisely with this relationship, interpreting it as an interaction between local elements (whose reference-point was Attica) and “extra-Attic” prestigious forms (whose reference-point was more “international”). For example, in my opinion, the dedication of Iphidike (CEG 198, Athens, 6th B.C.) achieved prestige and an “international” dimension by inserting on an Attic base (the dedicator is an Athenian, the dialect and the alphabetic conventions are Attic) some distinctive Ionic elements (form of the letters, morphology of the monument, origin of the artist). I shall argue that in this dedication the epithetformula Ἀθηναίᾳ πολιούχῳ was selected among the possible formulae because it was somehow “international” and referred to a context broader than the Attic one. In fact, Ἀθηναία πολιοῦχος, aside from CEG 198, is to be found also in verse dedications from Doric areas, while the formulae Διὸς γλαυκÏŽπιδι κούρῃ and Διὸς κρατερÏŒφρονι παιδί, which were metrically equivalent to Ἀθηναίᾳ πολιούχῳ and would have been a more expected choice, being frequently attested in Attic verse dedications – were discarded because they occurred exclusively in dedications from the Athenian Acropolis. I shall conclude this first section of the talk giving other examples of the interaction between local and prestigious elements in Attic dedications, e.g. in epigrams by Athenian victors dedicated in Athens and in panhellenic sanctuaries outside Attica. In the second part, in discussing the criteria that regulate the selection of elements from poetic traditions in Attic epigrams (metrical convenience, the possibility to convey a poetic flavour to the epigram etc.), I shall focus on the thorny issue of the presence of “Doric” features – i.e. the spellings with non-Ionic-Attic inherited [a:], such as gen. plur. -á¾±ν, [a:] in á¼±πποσá½»νᾱι, á¾½Αθᾱ́νá¾±, hαγνᾶι, κá½¹ρá¾±ι – in Archaic and Classical dedicatory Attic epigrams. I shall briefly discuss the interpretations that have been put forward so far, and propose that the forms with “Doric” (non-Ionic-Attic) [a:] were inserted in the basically Attic language of the dedicatory epigrams as high-styled elements. In fact, they were features of choral lyrics, a poetic tradition well-known and regarded as prestigious in Athens (revealing are the allusions to Doric lyric poetry in Attic literature, cf. Willi 2002: 139). Moreover, I shall point out that, in my opinion, a crucial reason for selecting the “Doric” (non-Ionic-Attic) [a:] forms for stylistic purposes, was that those features were expression of a tradition distinctively different not only from the Attic one, but also from the Ionic-epic and elegiac tradition.


  • Buck 1913 = C.D. Buck, The Interstate Use of the Greek Dialects, «CPh» 8, 1913, 133-159.
  • CEG = P.A. Hansen, Petrus Allanus Carmina epigraphica graeca saeculorum VIII-V a. Chr. n., Berolini et Novi Eboraci 1983.
  • Mickey 1981 = K. Mickey, Dialect Consciousness and Literary Language, «TPhS» 79, 1981, 35-66.
  • Willi 2002 = A. WILLI, Languages on Stage: Aristophanic Language, Cultural History, and Athenian Identity, in id. (ed.) The Language of Greek Comedy, Oxford 2002, 112-149.

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