This paper focuses on the phenomenon of bilingualism on the island of Delos in the Hellenistic Roman Period as it manifests in some forty inscriptions carrying Greek and Latin texts dating from the second and first centuries BCE. The group has been brought together and studied by the author as a corpus whose organization is based on the topographical divisions of the site established by the École française d’Athènes, the major excavator at Delos since 1873. With very few exceptions, the majority of the Greek and Latin bilinguals are dedications, and in a publication simply organized according to genre, they could appear very homogeneous. In fact, these inscriptions are remarkably diverse based on what is being dedicated, from sculpture to architecture; by whom, from associations to single individuals, liberated slaves to military generals; and where, from the free port, through the agoras and sanctuary of Apollo, to the domestic quarters. Emphasizing the topographical range of their provenance is essential given the fact that the island of Delos is so small and compact. Each inscription has its own autonomy and context that can be examined and then tied in with larger questions of the interaction between the two dominant cultures of the Mediterranean at the time, whether resident at Delos or not.
The corpus also concentrates on the look of bilingualism as one of its key and unique approaches. The physical placement of the Greek and Latin portions of the texts, the palaeographic features of each, and their wording and translation are at the core of every entry. Such elements serve as a springboard into discussion of the rich social ambiance generating this relatively small yet influential group of inscriptions. Three examples from the corpus are used to demonstrate this for the paper. From the Agora of the Compitaliastai, and highly visible to the visitor arriving at the port during its Hellenistic heyday, is the so-called Circular Monument with its minute bilingual dedication located in the epistyle (ID 1738). From the Quartier du Stade, one of the most distant of the neighborhoods relative to the port, comes the dedicatory statue base by the freedmen of Q. Tullius Q. F. to their patron (ID 1802). The only bilingual law from Delos, the Gabinia-Calpurnia Decree dated 58 BCE (ID 1511), was discovered on Mykonos and will also be highlighted. This abbreviated view of the corpus strongly attests to the ever-cosmopolitan nature of the site as reflected in the employment of its Greek and Latin bilingualism for select and distinctive monuments.