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7.2.Bitner

Recent archaeological (Wickkiser, 2010; Thomas, 2010), numismatic (Papageorgiadou-Bani, 2004) and integrative studies (Millis, 2010) have demonstrated the complex interplay of Greek and Roman identity in the Roman colony of Corinth. This paper undertakes the first systematic examination of the Corinthian inscriptions employing both Greek and Latin, all dating roughly from the first three centuries AD. Relatively few in number (eight in total), these bilingual inscriptions are significant outliers in an otherwise predictable linguistic-epigraphic environment (Latin inscriptions overwhelm until the time of Hadrian, after which Greek is the norm). A close analysis of the language, diplomatics, and archaeological contexts of these unusual stones adds an important dimension to our view of cultural definition and difference as well as of the dynamics of linguistic choice (cf. Kearsley and Evans, 2001) across several different epigraphical genres (epitaphs: e.g. West 65, a proconsular letter: Kent 306, and a temple inscription: Dixon, Hesperia 69.3 [2000], 335-342) and a variety of social strata. Comparison with epigraphical and numismatic evidence from other colonies and cities of Achaia provides an opportunity to glimpse in greater relief the unique bilingual and bicultural colonial and personal personae that Roman Corinth and Roman Corinthians presented to themselves and to their world. Results of a contextualized investigation of these bilingual Corinthian inscriptions both adds to and challenges claims of “hybrid identities” and “adaptive strategies” current in studies of Roman Corinth by Roman historians and by scholars of Early Christianity.

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