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Sara Kaczko: Archaic and Classical Attic Dedicatory Epigrams. An Epigraphic, Literary and Linguistic Commentary (= Trends in Classics - Supplementary Volumes; Vol. 33), Berlin: de Gruyter 2016, XXIV + 625 S., 178 s/w-Abb., ISBN 978-3-11-040255-1, EUR 169,95
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Rezension von:
Joseph W. Day
Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN
Redaktionelle Betreuung:
Matthias Haake
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Joseph W. Day: Rezension von: Sara Kaczko: Archaic and Classical Attic Dedicatory Epigrams. An Epigraphic, Literary and Linguistic Commentary, Berlin: de Gruyter 2016, in: sehepunkte 17 (2017), Nr. 6 [15.06.2017], URL:

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Sara Kaczko: Archaic and Classical Attic Dedicatory Epigrams

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Scholars of inscribed Greek epigram will find Kaczko's volume a necessary addition to their libraries. There is much here also for historians of language, poetry, art, religion, and society. This "interdisciplinary commentary on all the early Attic dedicatory epigrams" (ix) is the only such full treatment in print. A. Raubitschek's Dedications (1949), comparable in some ways, limits itself to the Acropolis, considers prose as well as verse, offers little philological commentary, and is dated. Other works are corpora with minimal commentaries. [1]

Kaczko recognizes that dedications "communicated with [...] the divine recipient [...] and [...] the fellow citizens of the dedicator [...] by means of three different 'semantic systems': that of art and archaeology (the dedicated, often artistically crafted, object), that of epigraphy (the script and form of the letters, the layout of the text on the stone), and that of language and style (often enhanced by poetic, especially epic, features)" (ix). Each of the 154 items begins with a description, bibliography, text (earlier editions checked against autopsy, squeezes, or images), apparatus, and translation. General comments on all three "systems" follow and then lemmata on words or phrases. Images accompany nearly all items; but, while most photographs credited to institutions are clear (if often too small to discern the texts easily), those scanned from publications are of lower quality.

Philological matters receive the fullest treatment. No synthesis is offered, but wide reading aided by cross-references and indices yields a portrait of epigrammatic language that considers morphology, dialect, onomastics, and meter, semantic and syntactic conventions and variations, debts to poetic phraseology, and stylistic register. Kaczko is attuned to "high style" derived from, inter alia, mixing literary "Doric" features with Attic or Ionic poetic ones. For example, in no. 55 (IG I3 718 = CEG 235), the goddess' name following an Attic-Ionic epithet, πολι(ή)οχε [...] Άθάνα, is said to come "from a Kunstsprache influenced by 'Doric' choral poetry [...]" (222). At no. 103 (IG I3 557 = CEG 284), Kaczko comments that epic-Ionic κούρη or "Doric" κόρα is chosen for Athena, not κόρη which "was perceived as too local [...] not suitable to the elevated diction of epigrams" (394). In no. 120 (IG I3 1469 = CEG 302), we read that dialect mixing and other refined features in Alkmeonides' epigram at the Ptoion were intended for a wider audience than his purely Attic, prose IG I3 597 on the Acropolis.

The results, excellent from the perspective of literary criticism, support the argument that epigram is poetry. Those interested in the religious force of epigrams, however, might be somewhat dissatisfied. For instance, Kaczko defines charis well in commenting on the prayer χά]ριν άντι[δίδο(υ) in no. 51 (IG I3 711 = CEG 231): "the response of charis and favor towards the dedicator that the beauty of the dedicated object (along with the act of dedicating itself) prompted in the god" (211). The beauty-pleasure side of charis, however, tends to disappear in Kaczko's use of the term do ut des to describe such epigrams, and thus we miss the full force of prayers for return charis or to accept the dedication's charis.

Epigraphical commentary is slimmer than philological, but it represents a great improvement on CEG's laconic remarks. Kaczko explains very clearly possible ways of organizing fragments and construing lacunose epigrams. At no. 31 (IG I3 659 = CEG 210), for example, she reviews attempts to reconstruct a text of which only the first twelve letters of each of two lines survive. Probably, an elegiac couplet in two lines (with its hexameter, a first line, lost) preceded another verse or a line of prose, although other reconstructions are explored. Errors in the texts are rare and minor. [2]

Kaczko is sound on inscriptions' mise en page, although her texts are laid out by poetic verse; arranging them (also) by inscribed line would better support photographs and verbal descriptions. She articulates well the ways dedicatory texts are separated from artists' signatures by means both (148) "archaeological" (e.g., on different surfaces) and "epigraphical" (e.g., different sized letters). Comments on Iphidike's dedication (no. 21 = IG I3 683 = CEG 198) stand out: "the two lines" (signature and dedication) "are engraved so as to end (almost) in the same point, towards the end of the column [...]. The reading of the correct sequence is guided" because "the line containing the proper dedication begins higher on the shaft so that the eye of the viewer is led to it" (105). At no. 27 (IG I3 = CEG 205), Kaczko correctly punctuates with a colon at pentameter end, thereby separating dedication from signature. She fails to observe that, in addition, the signature's letters are painted blue and the dedication's red.

Archaeological commentary is least full, although basics are supplied. Where possible, provenience is discussed, e.g., no. 1 (IG I3 501 = CEG 179) on both the original and the renewal seen by Herodotus and Pausanias. When sculptures are associated with inscribed supports, Kaczko comments helpfully, e.g., no. 15, on the aesthetic complementarity of Antenor's kore (AM 681) and the stoichedon texts (IG I3 628 = CEG 193); no. 73, on the polemarch Kallimachos' dedication (AM 690 plus IG I3 784 = CEG 256), although identifications of the base and its original location are ignored. [3] Kaczko rejects some associations of supports with sculptures, e.g., no. 17 (IG I3 618 = CEG 195) with the "scribe" (AM 629). [4] When dedications do not survive, Kaczko gives information about their form deduced from cuttings on the tops of inscribed members and the like, but sometimes she does not push paper reconstruction far enough. [5]

A stronger editorial hand might have caught infelicities of English, as well as formatting inconsistencies in the Bibliography. More importantly, the book could be shortened by eliminating repetitions in general comments, lemmata, and notes.

Despite some criticisms, I find Kaczko's volume an important addition to epigram studies. It presents a treasure of information intelligently, critically, in an accessible manner. Kaczko shines brightest when articulating the quality that dedications such as those of Smikros (no. 55) and Alkmeonides (no. 120) achieve by joining high-styled epigrams, fine or regionally meaningful lettering, effective layouts, and artistic skill. Her book richly deserves the Prix d'épigraphie in Greek Epigraphy to be awarded to it at the XV International Congress for Greek and Latin Epigraphy in September 2017.


[1] Peter Alan Hansen: Carmina Epigraphica Graeca = CEG I (1983); IG I3.2. Berolini 1994; Konstantin Kissas: Die attischen Statuen- und Stelenbasen. Bonn 2000.

[2] E.g., no. 1b, read ⎣παĩδ⎦ες not ⎣παĩδε⎦ς; no. 29, read εν not εν; no. 57, delete line divider at hexameter end; no. 59A, initial chi should be underlined to reflect damage after Raubitschek's photograph; no. 94, read άνέθ|[εκ(εν) not άνέ|[θεκ(εν); no. 106, for [ό] read <ό>; no. 121, read Διον[ύσοι not Διονύσ[οι; Dub. 1, read ϙόρ[ει] not ϙό[ρει].

[3] Manolis Korres, in Richard Economakis: Acropolis Restoration. 1994, 174, 178.

[4] Cf. now Catherine Keesling: Early Greek Portraiture. Cambridge 2017, 121-123.

[5] E.g., at no. 59 (IG I3 695 = CEG 239), Catherine Keesling: Hesperia 74 (2005), 403-406, should be considered; at no. 95 (IG I3 880 = CEG 278), Manolis Korres, in Anne Jacquemin: Delphes. Paris 2000, 296-313, merits attention.

Joseph W. Day