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Mellár Mihály :
Common sense in nonsense inscriptions I


Common sense in nonsense inscrip


from AVI numbers 0000 to 0999

All the descriptions are pasted in from Henry R. Immerwahr’s AVI (Attic Vase Inscriptions) Project homesite ( Where it could be identified, there the inscription’s Beazely Archive Database (BAD: ) number is also given, which can be very useful for the pictures supplied on this website to most of the inscriptions.

There are two categories of nonsense inscriptions: those with imitation letterings are real nonsense and not the subject of our attention, but most of the others – which imitate words by using real letters – are actually legible texts that make perfect sense when one fills back the left out vowels by the applied method of writing, the so called defective notation of vowels method, wildly used in the era and area (see for example I. J. Adiego in The Carian Language).

In the followings, the Greek letters of the “nonsense” inscriptions are transcribed or transliterated (in green) CAPITAL letters, while the left out vowels are filled back in small/lower case letters. It is still only a transcription/transliteration from one lettering (Greek alphabet) to Hungarian Roman lettering and from one method of writing (defective notation of vowels) to the today’s full phonetic notation in use by the current grammar. In these legitimate transcriptions the language of the inscriptions is not changing, we still read the inscriptions in their original language, that is in Scythian/Hun/Hungarian and only occasionally we need explanation for some words with, by now, faded away meanings.

This is all the science needed to read the “nonsense” inscriptions. But to analyse and further investigate these, from here and now on meaningful, common sense texts, all scientists are welcome, from linguists, historians, artists and art-historians, aestheticians etc.

Going the other way around is only groping about in the dark, like Alexandra Pappas, who is writing a book on “ the symbiotic relationship between ancient Greek words and images, Graphic Art: Alphabetic Images in Ancient Greece.” In her blog on site she mentions two vases. In the first she did not realise that the main actor in the picture is the walking stick, although as a sympotic object for measuring drunkenness! (see AVI 5258; BAD 200160). Her other example is very odd for making extensive conclusions about “ the drunk, the barbarian, or even the beastly animal in its utterance,” without understanding the text, which is not even backed with a picture (se AVI 0741; BAD 310409).

As it turns out the inscriptions are integral parts of the depictions. They complement it in such a way that our perception or first impression often changes for good. With the hindsight of the text we sometimes see and comprehend an entirely different picture with a valuable message only accessible by these readings. So, like it or not, these readings of the “nonsense” inscriptions are hard facts and without them neither the message nor the artistic value of the Attic vases cannot be fully apprehended nor it can be fully appreciated.


<>: omitted letters

(): miswritten letters

{}: letters inserted by mistake

[]: letters lost

^ : gap between letters, whether caused by intervening objects or not

v. vac. vacat: letter spaces left blank

: two-dot punctuation

:* three-dot punctuation

|: line break

dotted letters: letters uncertain when taken out of context accents and breathings: in principle omitted for the vase inscriptions, but sometimes added for clarity long marks: added sporadically especially for the ending –on strike-through: used for ligatures and for the so-called syllabic heta(h<e>)

For abbreviations of Books and Archives see

Let us start the readings with the two vases mentioned above and than follow the rest in AVI numbering order:

AVI 5258; BAD 200160

Munich, Staatliche Antikensammlungen 2307. RF amphora. From Vulci. Euthymides. Last quarter sixth. 510-500.

Decoration: A: Hector arming. B: komos of three bearded men.

Inscriptions: A: between Priam and Hector, vertically non-stoich.: ε(γ)ραφσεν{1} Πριαμος :* Ευθυμιδες hο Πολ<λ>ιο. I.e.: Ευθυμιδες | εγραφσεν | hο Πολ<λ>ιο. To lower left of Hector, not facing: hεκτορ. Similar, but a little higher and facing: hεκαβε, retr. B: Along the left-hand margin, facing it: hος ουδεποτε Ευφρονιος. To right of the left komast's forehead: Κομαρχος{2}. Between the central komast's legs: Ευ{ε}δεμος{3}. To left of the right komast's face: Τελες, retr.{4}. To left of his leg: ελεοπι, retr.{5}. Under the foot, Gr.: rho with extended vertical or a horizontal sign: see Johnston (1979), 85/31A,4 as against Hackl (1909), 109.

Commentary: Neumann: Teles could be Τελες or Τελ<λ>ες, short for Aristoteles, Euteles, etc., cf. Bechtel (1917), 422f. [but why not for Telekles, etc.?]. Eudemos (so also LGPN ii) is read Ε(γ)εδεμος, with gamma upside down [I doubt it, as the name is not in LGPN ii; but the first epsilon would look better upside down, so that two letters would be upside down ...]. Komarchos is here the only `redender Name', although it relates to κωμη rather than to κωμος. ελεοπι is read by N.: ἑ̅γέου, not retr. He thinks the final iota may be a scratch. I believe N. thinks the pi is a miswritten upsilon. Robertson (1992), : Komarchos might be a name, but is more likely a title; note the kantharos carried by him, which is often found in the hands of Dionysus or his followers, or of Heracles. Perhaps this is more than an ordinary revel. For the word order of the signature see AttScr (1990), 65 n. 27. Gill and Vickers: "It has ... been recognized that the crucial inscription ... is part of a sympotic dialogue." They refer to other sympotic dialogues mentioned by Lissarrague (1987), 59-64, 80. Sara Morris seems to assent. A. Linfert, Riv. di Archeologia 1 (1977) 19f.: follows Neumann and restores (spoken by Teles, despite the separation of the words): ἑ̅γέου{ι} hο̅ς οὐδέποτε Εὐφρόνιος. Engelmann connects: Komarchos + the statement: "(I am) leader of the komos such as never before Euphronios". I.e. κομαρχος is not a proper name. The next komast says: εὖ, ἔ̅δε̅ ’μός. "Gut! Jetzt (ist er aber) mein (der Kantharos)!". The inscriptions near the third komast may be read: τελε̃ς, ἑ̅γέου, πῖ! "Du bist am Ziel (du hast es geschafft), fang an, trink!". Engelmann also gives another possible explanation. For πῖ, E. refers to M. Leumann, MusHelv 14 (1957) 77A.8. None of the komasts are named. All this is fanciful. Cf. also *Moore (1997), 86 n. 10: on Euthymides' signatures and on the name Pollias.

Footnotes: {1} the gamma an alpha according to FR. {2} PA 8954 (5 B.C.): a real name, but here also punning. For Κωμαρχος see also Deubner (1932), 136, n. 4 and LGPN ii. {3} also read Ελεδεμος (FR), but see AttScr (1990), 65 n. 28. {4} or Τελ<λ>ης, see Pape. LGPN ii reads Τελης. {5} see J.D. Beazley apud Richter (1936), 106, n. 8 (nonsense).

Bibliography: FR (1904–32), i, 63-71, 266, pl. 14 (drs.). [[Lullies–Hirmer (1953), pls. 24–31 (Πριαμος pl. 26 quite cl., hο Πο pl. 26 cl., Hεκ pl. 27 cl., τε Ευφρονιος pl. 28 cl., Κομαρχος pl. 28 uncl., pl. 30 cl., ε and οπ of ελεοπι pl. 29 vis., ελε pl. 31 cl., Τελες pl. 31 cl., rest invis.)]]. R. Lullies, CVA Munich 4, Germany 12 (1956), pls. 165,1-2, 166,1-2, 167,1-2, 163,1-2, 172,1 and 188,5, pp. 16-17 (facs.). ARV[2] (1963), 26/1, 1620. Para. (1971), 323. Ohly-Dumm (1975), pls. 8-9 (from FR). Linfert (1977), 19-22. Neumann (1977), 38ff., fig. 2. Morris (1986), 360. Engelmann (1987), 129-34. Add.[2] (1989), 155 (much bibl.). AttScr (1990), no. 369, fig. 89 (facs., part). Gill–Vickers (1990), 10. Robertson (1992), 31-32.

Author: H.R.I.


A:       ε(γ)ραφσεν > ÉG uRA FeSSEN > ég ura fessen (the Lord of Heavens should paint it)

Πριαμος :* > ΠριαμοςΞ* > PRIÁMOSZ KeZe > Priámosz keze (the hand of Priamos)

Ευθυμιδες > Ευρυμιδες > E VeRőVe' MI' éDES > e verővel mily édes (with this fighter is so sweet)

hο Πολ<λ>ιο > Ha Ő áPOL JÓ > ha ő ápol jó (when he cares for someone, the good)

hεκτορ > HEKTÖRő (HEKTOR) > Hektörő (Hektor) (Hector (Arrogance-breaker))

hεκαβε > HÉKA eBBE' > héka ebben (he is fellow in this)


* As it turns out, the triple dots (:*) is the Ξ (iksz, ks, K_S/Z) letter. There is no use for word-divider where the single “words” are scattered.


A:     Ég ura fessen! Priámosz keze e verővel mily édes ha ő ápol. Jó Hektörő (Gőgtörő, Hektor) héka (társ) ebben. (The Lord of Heavens should paint it! The hand of Priamos with this fighter is so sweet when he cares for someone. The good Hector (Arrogance-breaker) is fellow in this.)



B:       hος ουδεποτε > HOSSZa Ó ÜDE BOT E > hossza ó üde bot e (its length protects, this is a fresh stick)

Ευφρονιος > EVVe' FéRŐN JÓS > evvel férőn jós (with it foreseeing is comfortable)

Κομαρχος > KOMÁRa/KÓMÁRa íGY OSSZa > komára/kómára így ossza (on friend/coma deals as follows)

Ευ{ε}δεμος > E VÉDE'Mi ŐS > e védelmi ős (this defensive ancestor )

Τελες/Τελης{4} > íTÉLÉS/TELe HaS > ítélés/tele has (judging/full stomach)

ελεοπι ρ* > ELÉ Ő BÍR > elé ő bír (in front of it can take/carry one)


* Under the foot, Gr.: rho...


Hossza ó, üde bot e, evvel férőn jós. Komára/kómára így ossza e védelmi ős: ítélés/tele has elé ő bír. (Its length protects, this is a fresh stick, with it foreseeing is comfortable. On friend/coma this defensive ancestor deals as follows: in front of judging/full stomach it can take/carry one.)

But there is an alternative reading with a similar plot:

hος ουδεποτε Ευφρονιος > HOSSZú ÓVóD E BOT-E EUPHRONIOS/EVVe’ FúRÓN JÖSSZ > hosszú óvód e bot-e Euphronios/evvel fúrón (tekervényesen/furfangosan) jössz (it is long (but) is this walking-stick your saver, Euphronios / you come with this tricking)

Κομαρχος > KÓMÁRa aGYOS > kómára agyos (eszes) (for coma it is clever)

Ευ{ε}δεμος / Ευ{ε}λεμος{Δ>Λ!} > E VÉDE'Me ŐSi / EVVE’ iLLEMÖS > e védelme ősi / evvel illemes (its safeguard is ancient / with this in good manner)

Τελες ελεοπι ρ > íTÉL ESEL-E Ő BÍRó > ítél esel-e ő bíró (it judges are you falling it is a judge)

Hosszú, óvód e bot-e, Euphronios / evvel fúrón (tekervényesen/furfangosan) jössz. Kómára agyos (eszes), e védelme ősi / evvel illemes: ítél esel-e? Ő bíró. (It is long, (but) is this walking-stick your saver, Euphronios / you come with this tricking. It is clever for coma, its safeguard is ancient / with this in good manner, it judges: are you falling? It is a judge.)

Playful text to a playful picture! - missed by the scientist.

The alternate readings are not necessarily and invariably a bad feature of this writing method, as when it is required, one can write out all the vowels for an exact and unambiguous reading.


AVI 0741; BAD 310409

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1104. Plain lip cup of special shape. Exekias (?). Exekias, potter. Third quarter sixth. 540-530. 545-540 (CVA).

Decoration: No figured decoration.

Inscriptions: Handle zone: A: Εχσεκιας εποιεσεν plus a blot (JHS 52, 185): Ε{α}χσεκιας εποιεσεν. B: ενεοινοιοιεν{1}. B: Threatte (1980), 353, mentions an unlikely reading: εν ε<ι> οινο<ι> ιοιεν. (ἐν <ι> οἶνο<ι> ἴοιεν.)

Commentary: Large and firm lettering as on early LM cups. On B, and perhaps also on A, the space is completely filled, whence B is more widely spaced. The writing possible for Exekias, but the cup is perhaps earlier. The first alpha smeared and partly wiped off. - Mock inscription on B, playing on οινος.- Callipolitis-Feytmans thinks it is from the beginning of Exekias' career: but is the hand of the inscription his?

Footnotes: {1} Threatte (1980), 353, mentions an unlikely reading: εν ε<ι> οινο<ι> ιοιεν.

Bibliography: Hoppin (1924), 91 (after WV 1888, pl. 7,3). Beazley (1932), 185. ABV (1956), 147/5 (top). D. Callipolitis-Feytmans, CVA Athens 3, Greece 3 (1986), pl. 30,1-4 (phs. of inscriptions). AttScr (1990), no. 146.

Author: H.R.I.

A:     Ε{α}χσεκιας εποιεσεν > Hχσεκιας επϙιεσεχ > HeGYeS ÉK JÁSZ E BéKéJE SZÉGY- > hegyes ék jász e békéje szégy- (This peace of the Jazygian is a sharp wedge)


B:     ενεοινοιοιεν > ενεϙινοζοιεχ > -EN E KÍNOZÓ JEGY > -en e kínozó jegy (this tormenting stamp is a disgrace)

Hegyes ék jász e békéje, szégyen e kínozó jegy. (This peace of the Jazygian is a sharp wedge, this tormenting stamp is a disgrace.)

Even on this poor quality picture one can see that the first letter (Ε{α}) is a seven-stroke heta (t is seven in Scythic/Hun/Hungarian!), the first omikrons on both sides have a dot at the bottom for koppa, and that both of the last letters are x-shaped khis. The zeta is not so obvious, but as in every handwriting, the context decides when the reading of a sign is in doubt.


AVI 0004; BAD 208143

Abingdon, Private: Robertson. WG lekythos. From Vulci. Bowdoin Painter. Second quarter fifth.

Decoration: Nike flying to altar, with oinochoe and flower.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: to her upper right: σταοσασ.

Commentary: Formerly Cambridge, Robertson. Clear letters, Attic with (once) four-stroke sigma.

Bibliography: Photo. ARV[2] (1963), 685/185.

Author: H.R.I.

σταοσασ > σταπσασ > iSTÁP-SAS > istáp-sas (propping eagle)


AVI 0005; BAD 7985

Eichenzell, Schloss Fasanerie (Adolphseck) 6. BF hydria. From Italy. Unattributed. Third quarter sixth. Soon after mid-sixth (CVA).

Decoration: Shoulder: Peleus and Thetis; a cauldron between them. On each side, two men. Body: departure of a bearded warrior, between a woman and an old man.

Inscriptions: Body: above the old man: nonsense: ο(π)ουκνκ{1}.

Footnotes: {1} the first three letters uncertain; they could be three omicrons.

Bibliography: F. Brommer, CVA Adolphseck 1, Germany 11 (1956), pl. 10,1-2 (bibl.).

Author: H.R.I.

ο(π)ουκνκ > ο(ρ)ουκνκ{1} > ŐRe Ő ÜKNeK > őre ő üknek (he is the guard of great-great parent)

AVI 0006; BAD 351531

Eichenzell, Schloss Fasanerie (Adolphseck) 13. BF/WG oinochoe. From Gela? Theseus Painter. Early fifth.

Decoration: Two youths with drawn swords; helmets in shape of female busts{1}.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: imitation: to left and right of left youth's head: (.)ιοο(.)(τ). To his lower left: (υ)γο. To his lower right: (.)ιγοο.

Commentary: Letters disjointed and uncertain.

Footnotes: {1} Beazley calls it a masquerade.

Bibliography: Brommer (1954), 42-44, fig. 4. F. Brommer, CVA Adolphseck 1, Germany 11 (1956), pls. 14,1,4 and 16,3-4. Para. (1971), 256.

Author: H.R.I.

(.)ιοο(.)(τ) > υιοολ(τ) > VíJÓ ÖLeT > víjó ölet (the lap of the fighter)

(υ)γο > VáGÓ > vágó (cutting)

(.)ιγοο > ριγοο > RIGO' Ó > rigoly ó (blare saves)


Víjó ölet vágó rigoly ó. (The cutting blare saves the lap of the fighter.)


AVI 0011; BAD 208806

Eichenzell, Schloss Fasanerie (Adolphseck) 57. RF alabastron. From Greece. Aischines Painter. Second quarter fifth. Ca. 470 (CVA).

Decoration: A: woman with mirror, head turned back; at left, stool. B: youth leaning on his stick.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: A: above her outstretched arm and to left of the head: κ(ο)λ,{1}. retr. B: in front of head: κοο(λ), retr.{2}.

Commentary: Are these attempts to write καλος?

Footnotes: {1} the omicron in the first inscription is given in CVA as wide open at the bottom. {2} the lambda reversed (not retr.).

Bibliography: F. Brommer, CVA Adolphseck 1, Germany 11 (1956), pl. 40,7-9. ARV[2] (1963), 717/227.

Author: H.R.I.

κ(ο)λ > κπλ{1} > Ki aPoL > Ki apol? (Who kisses me?)

κοο(λ) > κοθ(λ) > Ki OCSuL > Ki ocsul? (Who wakes/comes to senses?)


AVI 0015; BAD

Eichenzell, Schloss Fasanerie (Adolphseck) 134. RF cup. Ancona Painter. Early Classic. 470-460 (Brommer).

Decoration: Int: Youth reading from a stele (meta?). Ext.: plain.

Inscriptions: Int.: nonsense: To youth's left curving upward: γιγιυ. On the stele: imitation inscription (seven rows of three letters each, in a kind of stoich.): (.)οι υτυ (.)σ(ν){1}. (.)(.)(ν){1}. στυ γ(ο)α{2}. τιρ{3}.

Commentary: Done from the photo in AttScr, so far as visible. From same tomb as Adolphseck 135? (Brommer). Svenbro rightly illustrates this vase as an example of an erotic reader. - A parallel: Ferrara, Museo Nazionale di Spina T 381. RF volute krater, Altamura Painter, ARV[2] 589/3, 1660, Para. (1971), 393, Add.[2] (1989), 264 (bibl.), AttScr (1990), no. 672. - CVA gives parallels for a youth at a stele: see Chamoux, who explains all as palaestra scenes, but Brommer thinks perhaps not always true. B. adds: Adolphseck 62, q.v.; Mainz 114.

Footnotes: {1} nu reversed. {2} disjointed alpha. {3} D-shaped rho.

Bibliography: Cf. Chamoux (1957), 141ff. F. Brommer, CVA Adolphseck 2, Germany 16 (1959), pl. 67,1-2. ARV[2] (1963), 875/17. Svenbro (1988), 214. AttScr (1990), no. 671, frontispiece. Jung (1995), 95ff., fig. 5 (Int.).

Author: H.R.I.


γιγιυ > γιχιυ > GÜGYŰ'Ve > Gügyűlve (keverve) (mingled)

(.)οι > (B)OJa > boja (lurking boy)

υτυ > VéTVe > vétve (sinfully)

(.)σ(ν) > (A)SSZoNY > asszony (woman)

(.)(.)(ν) > (Lá)(TTá)N > láttán (seeing)

στυ > SuTÚ' > sutúl (squeezes)

γ(ο)α > γθα > GaTYA > gatya (drawers)

τιρ > TŰRi > tűri (abide it)


Gügyűlve (keverve): boja (bujdosó) vétve asszony láttán sutúl (sajtol). Gatya tűri! (Mingled: the lurking boy sinfully squeezes (masturbates) seeing a woman. The drawers abide it!)


Svenbro was right!

AVI 0017; BAD 9016375

Adria, Museo archeologico nazionale . Frs. of BF vase. From Adria. Unattributed. Date unclear.

Decoration: Lower part of a nude male. Nude man, head missing, with one hand raised.

Inscriptions: Between the legs of the first male: Ε, retr. To right: ερογυο. Between the legs of right male: σο(.)γ̣.

Commentary: Frs. non-joining, but position clear. Nonsense inscriptions?

Bibliography: Fuhrmann (1941), 349 ("Mitt. G. Brusin und Le Arti 2, 1939/40, 387 f. Abb. 15 u. 16"), [[353]] fig. 8.

Author: H.R.I.

E ερογυο > E ERŐ aGGÚ' Ő > e erő aggul ő (this force is getting old he is)

σο(.)γ̣ > SZO(L)Ga > szo(l)ga (servant)

E erő aggul, ő szo(l)ga. (This force is getting old, he is a servant.)

AVI 0079; BAD 15931

Aegina, Aphaia Museum N.T. 50. Frs. of BF lip cup. From Aegina, Sanctuary of Aphaia. Unattributed. Third quarter sixth. Ca. 540 (Moore).

Decoration: A: lip: cock to left. B: cock to right.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: A: χχ. B: ισισιχσιχ{1}.

Commentary: Two frs.

Footnotes: {1} text, not visible in photos.; unclear where located (presumably in handle zone) and whether complete, esp. A.

Bibliography: Moore (1986), 76/49, fig. 13.

Author: H.R.I.

χχ > GYóGYú' > gyógyul (recovering)

ισισιχσιχ > ISZI S IGYeS ÍGY > iszi s igyes így (one drinks it and one is clever this way)

Iszi s igyes így gyógyul. (One drinks it and the clever is recovering this way.)

AVI 0080; BAD 15724

Agrigento, Museo archeologico regionale . BF lekythos. Sappho Painter{1}. Late sixth.

Decoration: Draped man; warrior charging.

Inscriptions: To right of warrior's chest: στ στι. Under his shield: λ^τισ. Between the warrior's legs: τστε, retr.

Commentary: Typical nonsense inscriptions by Sappho Painter, all complete.

Footnotes: {1} no. 26 in Haspels' list.

Bibliography: Photo.

Author: H.R.I.

στ στι > SZűT SZíTI > szűt szíti (He inflames the heart)

λ^τισ > éL üTI S > él üti s (the edge/front hits and)

τστε > TaSZíTi E' > taszíti el (pushes one away)


Szűt szíti. Él üti s taszíti el. (He inflames the heart. The edge/front hits and pushes one away.)


It's all about the shield: it makes one braver, and can be used to hit or to push the enemy away. The commentary is the typical nonsense.


AVI 0091; see 0080, has the same Haspels 26 no.!

Agrigento, Museo archeologico regionale C 847. BF/WG lekythos. Sappho Painter. First quarter fifth. 490-480 (CVA).

Decoration: Ajax carrying the body of Achilles; at left, draped male with stick.

Inscriptions: Nonsense in large letters: to right of left figure's chest: (σ)(σ)^στι{1}. Below the large shield: (π)ι̣σ. Between Ajax' legs: τστε, retr.

Commentary: Typical Sappho Painter nonsense.

Footnotes: {1} the first two sigmas quite uncertain; the first seems like a reversed three-stroke sigma.

Bibliography: Haspels (1936), 226/26. A. Calderone, CVA Agrigento 1, Italy 61 (1985), pl. 71,1-2.

Author: H.R.I.

(σ)(σ)^στι > (SZó) (SZó’) SZűTŰ’ > szó szól szűtűl (word calls from heart)

(π)ι̣σ > υι̣σ > VISZi > viszi (hiss)

τστε > TiSZTTE' > tiszttel (he pushes it away)


Szó szól szűtűl. Viszi tiszttel. (Word calls from heart. He carries him with honour.)


AVI 0093: BAD 15691

Agrigento, Museo archeologico regionale C 870. BF/WG lekythos. Manner of Athena Painter (Haspels). First quarter fifth. 480-470 (CVA).

Decoration: Duel of two warriors; at left, two women.

Inscriptions: Between the two warriors: nonsense: (ν)(.)σ(π)ε̣σδ.

Commentary: Poorly preserved. - Probably the same vase as that taken, without number, from: *Photo. Haspels (1936), 262 (III)/2. ins: Neat-type letters.

Bibliography: Haspels (1936), 162 and 262/3. A. Calderone, CVA Agrigento 1, Italy 61 (1985), pls. 75,3-4 and 76,3-5.

Author: H.R.I.

(ν)(.)σ(π)ε̣σδ > Nő (Ve)SZi éP ESZeD > Nő (ve)szi ép eszed! (Woman takes your right mind!)

AVI 0112; BAD 207818

Altenburg, Lindenau-Museum 266. RF Nolan amphora From Vulci. Painter of London E 342. Second quarter fifth. Ca. 460 (Bielefeld).

Decoration: A: maenad with thyrsus. B: youth, wrapped in himation.

Inscriptions: A: nonsense: λσληλ{1}.

Footnotes: {1} so the text; not visible in the photo. Read by me as Ionic, but it could be Attic with four-stroke sigma as printed in CVA: γσγhγ.

Bibliography: E. Bielefeld, CVA Altenburg 1, Germany 17 (1959), pl. 46,3-4 and 47,8. ARV[2] (1963), 668/24.

Author: H.R.I.

λσληλ > eLSZeLEL > elszelel (goes with the wind)


OR (in CVA):


γσγhγ > eGéSSéGe HíG > egészsége híg (hes health becomes thin)

AVI 0122; BAD 302870


Amiens, Musée de Picardie 3057.225.47a. BF hydria. Acheloos Painter. Last quarter sixth. Ca. 515-510 (Rouen cat.).

Decoration: Shoulder: chariot race: two chariots. Body: Heracles and Cerberus: Heracles; Athena turning to face Hermes; two-headed Cerberus held by Hermes; old man (Hades?).

Inscriptions: Nonsense: shoulder: under left chariot-horses: χενγ^ι. Similar under the right horses: χγχ^πλι. Body: to right of Heracles' face: (χ)γι^ε. To right of his middle: γχδ. Between H.' legs and Athena's skirt: δ(.)δχδο{2}. Between Athena's skirt and Cerberus: μκ(φ)^ογ(α), retr.{3}. To left of Hermes' face: ιγχ, retr. (or χγι, not retr.). To right of old man's head: σχγ (resembling kionedon).

Commentary: Attic alphabet. Alpha with short vertical stroke? Gamma pointed and with uneven legs.

Footnotes: {1} the last two are probably one inscription, with Heracles' right arm intervening. {2} I cannot read the second letter. {3} the club intervenes. The phi resembles circular phi, except that the verticals are not centered; this is probably not a phi but a rho or an omicron.

Bibliography: ABV (1956), 384/25. Brommer (1973), 93/2. Boardman (1975a), 1-12, pl. 3,a. Rouen Musée Dép. (1982), 244/100. Add.[2] (1989), 102.

Author: H.R.I.


χενγ^ι > GYENGe Ű > Gyenge ű! (This (horse) is weak!)

χγχ^πλι > GYüGe íGY éPüL Ű > Gyüge (élhetetlen), így épül ű! (Dud, (but) it improves this way!)



(χ)γι^ε > Hγι^ε > HiGGÜ'-E > higgül-e (will it calm down)

γχδ > γχρ > éG aGYaRa > ég agyara (its fang is burning)

δ(.)δχδο > δHδχδθ > Du(Ha)D íGY DaC > duhad így dac (defiance streams out)

μκ(φ)^ογ(α) > MiKó’ FOGA > mikor foga (when its teeth)

ιγχ > χγι{not retr.} > GYuGI > gyugi (are hiding)

σχγ > éSZ GYüGe > ész gyüge (the mind is dud)


Higgül-e (higgad-e)? Ég agyara. Duhad (kitódul) így dac, mikor foga gyugi: ész gyüge. (Will it calm down? Its fang is burning. Defiance streams out, when its teeth are hiding: the mind is dud.)


Both hetas (H) are obvious from the picture, the other two corrections follow from the context, but technically (shape-wise) are well acceptable.


AVI 0131; BAD 201615

Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum 591. RF cup. From Megara. Probably Painter of Agora Chairias Cups. Last quarter sixth.

Decoration: Int.: wounded warrior retreating. Ext.: plain.

Inscriptions: On warrior's right, at mid-height, symmetrical with the stream of blood gushing from his left side, i.e. diagonally downward, not straight: καοσ(ο)οι. [This differs somewhat from CAVI.]{1}. Int.: to right of his body, starting under the armpit, nonsense: καοσε(ο)(γ) vac.{1}.

Commentary: Coarse Attic writing, suitable for Agora Chairias Painter, but are there other vases with nonsense inscriptions by him? - I noted that there might be another line of inscription to the right of that reported. Ex collections, M.E. and The Hague, Scheurleer.

Footnotes: {1} My reading from photo.; the facs. has the sixth letter as a blob and the last as an iota. The `gamma' probably some other letter. Hemelrijk thinks perhaps corruption of καλος παις. [The fifth letter is probably not an omicron; it may be a miswritten pi. - My addition, but see my original reading in CAVI.]

Bibliography: NNN (1904), Collection de M. E[vangelos Triantaphyllos], vente Paris 2-4 juin 1904: pl. 10/223. Lunsingh Scheurleer (1909), 380, pl. 42,1. C.W. Lunsingh Scheurleer, CVA The Hague 2, Netherlands 2 (1931), pl. 6,2,4 and facs. of inscription in text. ARV[2] (1963), 177/1. J.M. Hemelrijk, CVA Amsterdam 1, Netherlands 6 (1988), pls. 23,2,4 and 24,1-2 (inscr. not shown), figs. 21,a (dr. of Int.) and 21,b (facs. of inscr.).

Author: H.R.I.

καοσ(ο)οι > καοσ(φ)οι{Footnote 1} > oKA ŐSFOLYó (Í=J=LY) > (az ábrázolt vérontás) oka ősfolyó (ősidőktől folyamatos) (the cause (of the depicted bloodshed) flows from ancient times onward)

καοσε(ο)(γ) > καοσε(φ)(ι){Footnote 1} > oKKA’ ÖSSZEFoLYó > okkal összefolyó (with reason they conflate)

(Az ábrázolt vérontás) oka ősfolyó (ősidőktől folyamatos), okkal összefolyó. (The cause (of the depicted bloodshed) flows from ancient times onward, with reason they conflate.)*


* It is an allusion to the old FOE FlOWing between the native Scythian population and the colonizing Greeks. Playing with words related to (blood)flow (bloodshed).

AVI 0140; BAD 200533

Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum 2229. Fr. of RF cup. Oltos. Last quarter sixth.

Decoration: A: athletes (youth running; flautist; javelin thrower).

Inscriptions: A: to right of the flautist: Χιον{1}. To right of the javelin thrower's head: (π){2}.

Commentary: Chion or Chilon? Possibly a kalos-name without kalos.

Footnotes: {1} so Beazley at ARV[2] 63/under 87, Copenhagen inv. 3877, Oltos, where Χιον also occurs and may be a kalos-name; he takes it with καλος there. On p. 1573, B. does not list the Amsterdam fr., but adds to Copenhagen 3877 a BF stamnos fr. in Reggio with Χιον as the name of a komast. But the old dr. I saw among Beazley's photographs seemed to show a lambda as the second letter (CVA's statement disagrees with its facs.!): nonsense or Χ<ι>λον? If Χιον is accepted, read Χ(ι)ον. {2} so CVA, facs.; the letter smeared, and the inscription no doubt incomplete.

Bibliography: C.W. Lunsingh Scheurleer, CVA The Hague 2, Netherlands 2 (1931), pl. 6,5 *dr. and facs. of inscriptions. ARV[2] (1963), 64/100.

Author: H.R.I.

Χιον (π) > íGY N / GYőJJÖN éP > Így jön / győjjön ép! (Healthy comes this way! / Let the healthy come!)

AVI 0147d; BAD 201333

Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum 8209. RF cup. Unattributed. 500 (Hemelrijk). 500-490 (Wolf).

Decoration: Int.: a bearded komast with oinochoe and skyphos, running to right. A: at right, Dionysus reclining; at left, a satyr with drinking horn to right and satyr near a full wineskin to left. B: Heracles reclining in the cave of Pholos: at left, two centaurs attacking; at right, top of a pithos, with partially opened lid.

Inscriptions: Readings from Hemelrijk, CVA: nonsense: Int.: (after fig. 8,c:) on the komast's left, starting at the head, and curving downward following the margin: χαλοκ^εχ(.){1}; on the komast's right, starting at head, similar: χαλοεhο. A: [no doubt at head height and roughly horizontal:] fig. 8,e: λοαχhροια; also: καλοι(.), retr.{2}; also two letters at some distance from the preceding and from each other: κ and >. B: [no doubt similar to A:] fig. 8,f: (.)λοχχ; and at a distance, `quotation marks'. On the rim of the pithos: [no doubt in BG:] χ(σ)ο(λ), with one empty space at right{3}; on the rim of the open lid, well spaced: χhοεh. Under foot, Gr. hε [[lig.]]{4}. Readings from Wolf: the ph., fig. 130, shows to right of Heracles, at the right end of the scene, a huge pithos; above it, diagonally, a bar which looks to me like the cover which has just been opened. On the cover are letters in BG: χh(θ)εν. Possibly another letter is hidden in a smudge. On the rim of the pithos itself are similar letters: [.]καλο(ι)χ, retr. (to judge by the lambda).

Commentary: Ex Amsterdam, Six (no. 29). - Hemelrijk: "The inscriptions seem to show that the painter could not write very well: they are corrupted from "kalos" and perhaps "epoiesen"." - The pithos, left by Dionysus, was to be kept closed until Heracles arrived (Diodorus 4.12.3); when opened it attracted the other centaurs which led to the battle. See Wolf, pp. 171-72. Are the nonsense inscriptions placed on the pithos to indicate Dionysus' command?

Footnotes: {1} a leg intervenes; the last letter a dot. Should be retr., but I did not note it. {2} the last letter unclear. The inscriptions on the Ext. are reproduced very small in CVA, and the readings are not quite certain. {3} this could be read retr.; the letter indicated by 9 is probably omicron S 8 or 9 in the chart in AttScr. {4} cf. Johnston (1979), 11B, fig. 4,f.

Bibliography: Hemelrijk (1967), 12f./17, 27 and 40. Schauenburg (1971), 47. Noel (1983), 146ff., fig. 7. J.M. Hemelrijk, CVA Amsterdam 1, Netherlands 6 (1988), pls. 8,3 and 9-11 (9,3 shows the Gr.), figs. 8,a-f (8,a is facs. of Gr., 8,c,e, and f are facss. of nonsense inscriptions) (bibl.). Wolf (1993), 42, 256, 215/rf. 15, figs. 129-30 (A). LIMC viii (1997), (suppl.) Pholos [[i.e. s.v. Kentauroi et Kentaurides, but not found]].

Author: H.R.I.


χαλοκ^εχ(.){Footnote 1} > iGYÁL OK EGY {TuS}* > Igyál: ok egy tus! (Drink: reason for it is a toast!)

χαλοεhο > iGYÁL Ő EHŐ’ > Igyál, ő ehől (éhezik)! (Drink, it (the meal) starves!)



λοαχhροια > λϙαχμρφα > LuKA' GYoMoR FoLYA > Lukal gyomor folya. (The stream of the stomach finds the hole.)

καλοι(.) κ ‘>’ > καλοιτ κ {Λ DőL}** Ki ÁLL OLYaT Ki eLDőL > Ki áll olyat, ki eldől. (One can withstand/stomach such, the other falls.)



(.)λοχχ > (I)LLŐ GYóGY > illő gyógy(szer/mód) (the suitable medicine)

χ(σ)ο(λ) > íGY (SZ)Ó(L) > így szól (sounds this way)

χhοεh > iGYá' HO' ÉH > igyál hol éh (drink where hunger)

hε > > (heves) (intense)


Illő gyógy(szer/mód) így szól: igyál hol éh . (The suitable medicine sounds this way: drink when hunger is intense.)


* ligature: dot = ToSZ > T_S/Z > TuS!

** ligature: ‘>’ = Λ DőL (Λ is falling!) > _L_D_L > eLDőL

AVI 0151a & b (Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum RALS 801a-b) the nonsense inscriptions are not provided.

AVI 0151d; BAD 212696

Amsterdam, Allard Pierson Museum RALS 801a-b (loan). Fragmentary BF band cup. Circle of Amasis Painter (Heesen). Ca. 550 (Heesen).

Decoration: A: handle zone: in the center, Heracles and the Lion; at his left, Iolaus holding out a sword; at his right, Athena to left; at the far left, two youths looking on; at the far right, a youth looking on (an eighth figure on the right is probably missing). B: handle zone: a fragmentary: warrior approaching two horses, one black, the other white; on each side three onlookers{1}.

Inscriptions: A: handle zone: between the two onlookers at left, vertically down, nonsense: υσλογ(α)σ{2}; behind Iolaus' upper body, vertically down and facing: [Ι]ολεος, retr. To left of Heracles' back, diagonally downward: hερακ{ε}λες, retr. (this inscription is in larger letters than the others); between the lion and Athena, in a curve that follows the lion's tail, a faint nonsense inscription of 10 very small letters. Behind Athena's back, downward and somewhat curved, partly facing: Αθεναια{3}. This inscription is also somewhat larger than the nonsense inscription, but is smaller than Heracles'. To right of the right-hand youth, downward, is another nonsense inscription of five preserved letters (unless at the top there is another letter to begin the inscription, with a break following, but the facs. does not indicate this). There are further traces at the right edge, I do not know whether of an inscription. B: each onlooker is given a downward nonsense inscription, usually not straight; the warrior has a horizontal inscription, of which the first four letters are preserved. The horses, which face right, seem not to be `inscribed'.

Commentary: On loan from Amsterdam, R.A. Lunsingh Scheurleer collection. Not previously published. - An important vase for the mixture of sense and nonsense. Heesen 86 compares a vase in Winchester, ABV 303; the incriptions show that our vase is not by the Amasis Painter. - The nonsense inscriptions seem to use somewhat different letter forms, e.g lambda 1 (in the chart in AttScr) vs. lambda 2.

Footnotes: {1} P. H. thinks perhaps Achilles stalking Troilus. {2} the facs. however, has: λσλοσ(δ)σ. The delta may be a miswritten omicron rather than alpha. {3} The first letter is retr. and not facing; it takes with it the next two letters (ΑΘΕ), but the next four letters face Athena and are not retr. The nu is somewhat misshapen.

Bibliography: P. Heesen, CVA Amsterdam 2, Netherlands 8 (1996), pl. 102,1-2 (both show inscriptions), figs. 31 (profile) and 32 (small facs. of inscriptions on A) (no bibl.).

Author: H.R.I.

υσλογ(α)σ > λσλοσ(δ)σ{Footnote 2} > öLéSSeL Ő SZóDéS > öléssel ő szódés (with killings ancestor is eager)

[Ι]ολεος > [J]ó ÖL E ŐS > jó öl e ős (this ancestor kills well)

hερακ{ε}λες > HÉ aRRA KELL ÉS > hé arra kell és (zeal is needed for that and)

Αθεναια >A CÉ'NÁ' ÍjA > a célnál íja (at the target his bow)


Öléssel ő szódés (mohó). Jó öl e ős, hé arra kell és a célnál íja. (With killings he is eager. This ancestor kills well, zeal is needed for that and at the target his bow.)

AVI 0165; BAD 200068

Arezzo, Museo archeologico statale Gaio Cilnio Mecenate 1465. RF volute krater. From Arezzo (perhaps). Euphronios. Last quarter sixth. 510-500 (so also Euphr.). Very late (Robertson).

Decoration: Neck: A-B: komos. Body: A-B: Heracles and the Amazons.

Inscriptions: Neck: A: Χσενον and καλ{.}ος. Χοριθον. Τεισις. Χσινις. καλο(ς) and Καικειος. Λυσις and καλ{λ}ος. B: 6 nonsense inscriptions; the following read by Reichhold: χιχυος. .δες. υκον. Euphr. reads a vertical καλον and `quelques lettres dispersees sans signification.' Body: A: [Τ]ει[σ]ις̣ Τογσις. Τελαμον. hερακλες. Κυδοιμε, retr. Υφσεπυλε, retr. Θρασο, retr. Τεισιπυλε. B: Φιλ{λ}ιαδες καλος. Χσενο<ν> καλο(ς). Χ[...](.)ιλα̣{1}. Under foot, Grr.: = Hackl (1909), no. XVI. plus large E(?); facs., p. 118. Not in Johnston (1979), or Hackl (1909).

Commentary: E. Simon dates the vase very late when E. already owned the pottery workshop. - The komos on the neck has 11 figures, not all inscribed, on A. The kalos' are portrait-kalos. On B, there are 8 figures, with nonsense inscriptions representing their names. Kaikeios and Hyphsepyle are miswritten; for ε = short ι, see Threatte (1980), 138. [Τ]ει[σ]ις: Reichhold gives: .ει.ις, Bothmer ..]ει.ις. The name may be repeated as is that of Xenon. Furtwängler's hε παις? will not do. Readings mainly after FR. - Robertson 44-45: neck figures compared to Proto-Panaitian cup figures; note 20: R. cites Mingazzini who thought the neck pictures by Smikros. R. is attracted by Williams' idea tha the front figs. of the neck are by Euphronios, the back being by Smikros. Note that the neck pictures have sideways sigma, which Euphronios otherwise avoids; see `The lettering of Euphronios,' in Euphronios und seine Zeit (colloquium Berlin 19/20 April 1991) 52, where the Arezzo vase is omitted. R. Cromey has sent me readings but I have not seen a publication.

Footnotes: {1} see Agora P 13,125 ([--]ρ̣υκιλα)? Χ[--](.)ιλ<λ>α?

Bibliography: FR (1904–32), ii, pls. 61-62 and p. 14. ARV[2] (1963), 15/6, 1619. Mingazzini (1967–8), 336-67. Para. (1971), 322. Add.[2] (1989), 152. AttScr (1990), no. 359. Iozzo (1990), 115/13 (ill.; bibl.). Simon (1991), 92. D. Williams (1992), 93.a. Robertson (1992), 44-45 and n. 20.

Author: H.R.I.

Neck A:

Χσενον καλ{.}ος > üGYeS E NŐNeK AL{aK}OS > ügyes e nőnek alakos (a clever man to this woman is cunning)

Χοριθον > Χϙριθον > íGY KeRÍTSÖN > így kerítsön (nyerje meg) (he wins her over this way)

Τεισις > TEJeS/TELJeS IS > tejes/teljes is (she is busty/complete too)

Χσινις > üGYeS INNi IS > ügyes inni is (and also skilled in drinking)

καλο(ς) Καικειος > καλο Κδικειος > KiÁLLÓ KeDéLYe KÉJÖS > kiálló kedélye kéjös (her outstanding spirit is delightful)

Λυσις καλ{λ}ος > éLVeS IS KiÁLL {iLL}ŐS > élves is kiáll illős (amusing as well, she stands out in proper manner)

Ügyes e nőnek alakos, így kerítsön (nyerje meg). Tejes/teljes is, ügyes inni is, kiálló kedélye kéjös, élves is, kiáll illős. (A clever man to this woman is cunning, he wins her over this way. She is busty/complete as well as skilled in drinking, her outstanding spirit is delightful and amusing as well, she stands out in proper manner.)

Neck B:

χιχυος > úGY IGYa iVÓS > úgy igya ivós (the drinker should drink that way)

.δες > (É)DES > édes (the sweet)

υκον > iVóKON > ivókon (on drinkers)

καλον > KALLÓN > kallón (waning)


Úgy igya ivós: édes ivókon kallón (fogyón). (The drinker should drink the way (that) the sweet on drinkers is fast waning.)


Body A:

hερακλες > HÉRAKLÉSZ HÉ RÁ KeLÉS > (Héraklész), hé rá kelés ((Heracles) fieriness is on him a fester)

Κυδοιμε > Ki VéDŐ ÍME > ki védő íme (look, it guards him)

Υφσεπυλε > eVVe' Fi SZÉPÜL-E > evvel fi szépül-e (does with this the head looks nicer)

Θρασο > óCSáR A SZÓ > ócsár a szó (the word belittles him)

Τεισιπυλε > íTÉLJe SZŰBüL E' > ítélje szűbül el (let it condemn him from the heart)

[Τ]ει[σ]ις̣ > [íT]ÉLJe [éSZ] IS > [ít]élje [ész] is (let the mind condemn him also)

Τογσις Τελαμον > Τoμσις Τελαμον > TO'MáS IS íTéL Á'MON > tolmás is ítél álmon (interpreter also dooms on dream)


(Héraklész), hé rá kelés ki védő, íme! Evvel fi szépül-e? Ócsár a szó, ítélje szűbül el, [ít]élje [ész] is. Tolmás is ítél álmon. ((Heracles), fieriness is on him a fester, look, it guards him! Does with this the lad look nicer? The word belittles him, let it condemn him from the heart, let the mind condemn him also. Interpreter also dooms on dream.)

Body B:

Φιλ{λ}ιαδες καλος > FÜLe{L}I A DESZKA iLLŐS > füleli a deszka illős (the (coffin)plank is listening politely)

Χσενο<ν> καλο(ς) Χ[...](.)ιλα̣ > üGYeS E NŐ oKKA' öLŐ (He)GYe[S] (NY)ILLA' > ügyes e nő okkal ölő (he)gye[s] (ny)illal (this woman is skilful with sharp bow in killing for a good reason)


Füleli a deszka illős: ügyes e nő, okkal ölő hegyes nyillal. (The (coffin)plank is listening politely: this woman is skilful with sharp bow in killing for a good reason.)


AVI 0281; BAD 9016548

Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora P 2575. Fragmentary RF cup. From Athens, Agora G 6:3. Unattributed. Ca. 490. Ca. 500 (Moore).

Decoration: Int.: hanging bag; man seated to right holding stick and flower.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: to man's left, in a downward curve: σεσεσγ. To man's right, down: [...]εγ/ ε(λ). In the exergue, in BG: (σ)εμ[.]σ / (σ)εμεσ{1}.

Commentary: Type C. From rectangular rock-cut shaft. All inscriptions nonsense. Irregular sigmas. Inscriptions not in exergue are in red. Done from Vanderpool, but corrected from the pictures in Moore.

Footnotes: {1} very sloppy writing. The ph. in Moore (1997) shows that σεσεσ^γ is right against the reading in the sketch on p. 341: σε(ν)ε(ν)γ with reversed nu. In the exergue (in BG) read (σ)εμ[.]σ, as there is a piece missing where the fourth letter should be.

Bibliography: Photos. Vanderpool (1946), 282/41, pl. 32. Moore (1997), 341/1567, pl. 148 (shows inscriptions).

Author: H.R.I.

σεσεσγ > SZESZESSéG > szeszesség (spirits-loving)

[...]εγ / [...]ε(λ) > [SZESSZ]EL > [szessz]el (with spirits)

(σ)εμ[.]σ / (σ)εμεσ > (SZ)EMEZ > szemes (makes eyes)


Szeszesség [szessz]el szemes. (Spirits-loving is eyeing with spirits.)


AVI 0403; BAD 7833

Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora P 9275. Fragmentary BF stand. From Athens, Agora M 17:4. Unattributed{1}. First quarter fifth. Ca. 500-490 (Moore–Pease).

Decoration: Artemis mounting a chariot; palm tree; Apollo facing the horses; palm tree and deer.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: above the horses' backs: οιε. Between the horses' legs: ορειο{2}. In front of the horses' legs, facing them (rather than Apollo: οιϝεογ{3}.

Commentary: Ht.: 13.4 cm. Largish letters.

Footnotes: {1} compared by Moore to work by the Diosphos Painter and the Golonos Group (ABV 481/δ). {2} so M.&P. and Hesp. 7; but photos. in AJA 41 and Moore–Pease (1986) seems to show: ορε v. ο. {3} so dr. in Hesp. 7; M.&P. give οιεειε; there is damage to the third and sixth letters: οιϝ̣εογ(??)

Bibliography: Shear (1937a), 179/80, fig. 4. Shear (1938), 343f., fig. 24 (photo) and 25 (dr.). D.B. Thompson (1963), ill. 38. Camp (1980), ill. 14. Moore–Pease (1986), 174/575, pl. 55.

Author: H.R.I.

οιε > Ő JE' > Ő jel. (He is a sign.)

ορειο > Ő RÉJÓ > Ő réjó (rívó, rivalkodó). (He is crying/yelling.)

οιϝεογ > οιϝεφγ > OLY eVVE' FoG > Oly evvel fog (kezd). (Some starts with this.)


AVI 0444; BAD 31085

Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora P 12061. Fr. of BF calyx krater{1}. From Athens, Agora O-Q 18-19. Unattributed. Last quarter sixth. Ca. 520-510 (Moore–Pease).

Decoration: A: lower legs and feet of males to left.

Inscriptions: A: on the cul, in large and well spaced letters, horizontal: [...]ισιπυγα̣[...]{2}.

Commentary: The inscription is said to be a nonsense inscription by M.&P., but it is very well written and the ending recalls καταπυγαινα.

Footnotes: {1} from wall and cul, with start of handle. {2} the last letter the bottom of a diagonal stroke, alpha, gamma, lambda(?), nu(?), sigma(?), chi 1. The first letter is complete according to the photo.; the sketch shows it as incomplete.

Bibliography: Moore–Pease (1986), 165/503, pl. 47.

Author: H.R.I.

[--]ισιπυγα̣[--] > [Ki V]ISZI eB UGA[TJA] > [ki v]iszi eb uga[tja]. (who takes it, the dog barks at him)

AVI 0500; BAD 41236

Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora P 15376. Frs. of BF lekythos. From Athens, Agora B 21:20. Unattributed. Ca. 550.

Decoration: Body: Two youths; running youth; youth; horseman; eagle to left; youth. Shoulder: coursing hares; youths; runners; cock; dog.

Inscriptions: Nonsense. Shoulder: below the runner to right: ουγτγι. Behind the draped youth who faces left: γ(.)νγ, retr.{1}. Below the runner to left: [...]γγ. The body scene is not inscribed.

Commentary: Many small frs. Imitation letters, but rather large. Gammas vary in shape. Not in Moore–Pease (1986).

Footnotes: {1} read as γγ[ ]γ by M.&P. The gammas could be read as pi's.

Bibliography: Vanderpool (1946), 227/11, pl. 20,1-4,6. Young (1951), 89, Grave 6, no. 1, pl. 39,b1. Moore–Pease (1986), 203/791, pl. 74.

Author: H.R.I.


ουγτγι > (futó és lovas runner & rider) > Ő ÜGeT iGJó' > Ő üget igjól (igen jól). (He runs/trots very well.)

(kutya ’dog’) > Ő UGaT iGJó' > Ő ugat igjól (igen jól). (It barks very well.)

γ(.)νγ > γγ[.]γ{1} > (kakas ’cock’) > GuGo[Ri]Gu > gugorigú (kukorikú) (cock’s cry)

(nyulak ’hares’) > GuGo[Ro]G > gugorog (one keeps squatting)

[...]γγ > (fiú youth) > [VÍG] éGiG > Víg égig (He is cheerful up to the sky)

(sas eagel) > [ViJJoG] éGiG > Vijjog égig (it squawks up to the sky)

AVI 0513a

Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora P 15960. Fr. of RF lekythos. From Athens, Agora F 19:4. Carlsruhe Painter. Ca. 470-460 (Moore).

Decoration: A woman to right, with staff and phiale.

Inscriptions: In front of her: γ(ν)ο(ν)π{1}.

Commentary: Clearly nonsense.

Footnotes: {1} I only have the sketch on p. 260 to go on. The first letter may be an alpha without the cross stroke; the nu's are backward.

Bibliography: ARV[2] (1963), 732/47. Moore (1997), 260/866, pl. 88.

Author: H.R.I.

? γ(ν)ο(ν)π > iGe (N)Ő (Nő)Be’ > ige nő nőben (the verb/word grows in woman)

AVI 0518a

Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora P 16911a. Fr. of RF oinochoe (chous). From Athens, Agora A-B 21-22:1. Unattributed. Ca. 410 (Moore).

Decoration: Face of a youth to right; upper parts of two youths (lower than the first) with one having his arm around the other; at right, top of a column surmounted by a tripod.

Inscriptions: Above the heads: ανροναι{1}.

Commentary: I doubt that this is a nonsense inscription. The appearance of pointed and tailed rho at this late period, if correctly reported, is very odd (cf. AttScr (1990), 157). The inscription is in white and very faint.

Footnotes: {1} I have only the sketch on Agora 30, p. 244, to go on; hence I do not know whether this inscription is complete either fore or aft. The location is also unclear, since the head of the first figure is much higher than the heads of the other two. `Above the heads' is Moore's phrase. - Is this for αν<δ>ρ...? Are the two smaller figures boys in a ritual of manhood? The tripod suggests a victory in a contest.

Bibliography: Hoorn (1951), 91/234, fig. 153. Moore (1997), 244/714, pl. 75.

Author: H.R.I.

? ανροναι > ANNi éRŐN ÁLLJ ... > adni érőn állj ... (stand worthy to give ...)

AVI 0612

Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora P 23125. Fragmentary RF cup. From Athens, Agora H 12:15. Pithos Painter. Ca. 500. Ca. 510-500 (Moore).

Decoration: Int.: warrior or hoplitodromos kneeling.

Inscriptions: Int.: nonsense, curved, to left and right of the helmet: γοι^(γ)ι.

Commentary: Type C.

Bibliography: H.A. Thompson (1954), 54, pl. 15,g. ARV[2] (1963), 139/10. Moore (1997), 340/1558, pl. 147 (shows inscription).

Author: H.R.I.

? γοι^(γ)ι > éGŐ Ű (éG)I > égő, ű égi (burner/burning, it is heavenly)

AVI 0679; BAD 203098 (not marked as nonsense!)

Athens, National Archaeological Museum BF lekythos. From Vari. Diosphos Painter. First quarter fifth.

Decoration: Shoulder: hound and hare. Body: horseman and two warriors.

Inscriptions: Body: Σοναυτιος καλος.

Commentary: Little-lion Class. Inscription in large rough letters. Beazley compares Σωναυτης, Σωφορτος, and refers to Hesp. 12, 88.

Bibliography: ARV[2] (1963), 300 (no bibl.). Para. (1971), 249 and 318 (no bibl.).

Author: H.R.I.

Σοναυτιος καλος > SZÓN AVaTó JÓ SZű Ki ÁLLÓS > Szón avató jó, szű ki állós. (Initiation is good on words, the heart that carries on.)


AVI 0723; BAD


Athens, National Archaeological Museum 535. BF Siana cup. From Corinth. Griffin-Bird Painter. Second quarter sixth. 550-540.

Decoration: Int.: panther. A: top: cocks between hens. Bottom: mock inscriptions. B: top: cocks and hens. Bottom: mock inscriptions.

Inscriptions: Handle zone: A and B: nonsense inscriptions, slanting and not centered: A: πγγογγγοχ(π)γπορ̣γτρ̣σγ. B: υγαγιγ(.)νιγγ̣γγ(.)γ(.)γ(.)(.){1}.

Commentary: BF cup (between Siana and lip cup). Two-row decoration. Inscriptions placed as on LM cups? Small letters. Gamma has many shapes.

Footnotes: {1} The letters somewhat larger than on A.

Bibliography: P.N. Ure (1915), 116. Payne (1931), 184. ABV (1956), 74/51. Schauenburg (1974), 211-12. Bakir (1980), 100/102. D. Callipolitis-Feytmans, CVA Athens 3, Greece 3 (1986), pl. 29,1-5. Add.[2] (1989), 20.

Author: H.R.I.

πγγογγγοχ(π)γπορ̣γτρ̣σγ > éP GáGOGó GáGÓ' GYö(Pi)G PÖRGeTi RéSZeG > Ép gágogó gágól gyö(pi)g, – pörgeti részeg. (The bouncing gaggling goose goes jogging to grass, – twists his tongue the drunk.)

υγαγιγ(.)νιγγ̣γγ(.)γ(.)γ(.)(.) > Ű GÁGó ÍGé(R)NI éGiG GáG(O)G (Í)Gé(Rő)(N) > Ű gágó (bárgyú) ígé(r)ni, égig gág(o)g (í)gé(rő)(n). (He is simpleton to promise, gaggles to heavens promising.)

AVI 0736; BAD 46897

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1067. BF lekythos. Athena Painter. Early fifth.

Decoration: Komast playing the flutes, with a boy and a dog.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: to left of the komast: ϙ(ε)σοασ{1}. Between boy and komast: (σ)κο(σ)ε>ο>εχο, retr.{2}.

Commentary: The readings from a photo.

Footnotes: {1} the epsilon reversed, the sigma's not: perhaps to be read retr. {2} the sigma's not reversed.

Bibliography: Photo. Haspels (1936), 150, 154, 157, 258[[/91]], pl. 47.

Author: H.R.I.

ϙ(ε)σοασ > KÉSŐ A SZó > késő a szó (it is to late to say)

(σ)κο(σ)ε>ο>εχο > οχ(ε)γογ(ε)σο(κ)σ* > ŐGYE'GŐ eGÉSZ OKoS > őgyelgő egész okos (the wanderer is very clever)


Késő a szó, őgyelgő egész okos. (It is to late to say, the wanderer is very clever.)

AVI 0741; BAD 310409

(See at the beginning of this document)

AVI 0765; BAD 212384

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1263. RF chous (oinochoe). From Attica. Manner of Meidias Painter. Last quarter fifth. 410-400.

Decoration: Paris and Helen?

Inscriptions: Above the head of the youth, to left of the spear, nonsense(?): ΛΛΚ.

Commentary: Done from ARV[2].

Bibliography: ARV[2] (1963), 1324/38 (bibl.).

Author: H.R.I.

ΛΛΚ > LéLeK > lélek (soul/spirit)

AVI 0771; BAD 2572

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1295. RF lekythos. From Eretria. Unattributed. Second quarter fifth.

Decoration: Departure (warrior and woman).

Inscriptions: Non-stoich. two-liner between the two: οοσγασ | γογρλ.

Commentary: Nonsense inscription (imitating hο παις καλος?).

Bibliography: Collignon–Couve (1902–4), no. 1197.

Author: H.R.I.

οοσγασ | γογρλ > Ő ŐSi iGÁS GŐG áRuLi > Ő ősi igás gőg (el)áruli! (He is an ancestral yoke-man, his pride gives this away!)


AVI 0777; BAD 9016794

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1336. RF pelike. From Tanagra. Unattributed. Date unclear.

Decoration: A: winged Nike with kerykeion. B: Zeus with scepter and thunderbolt.

Inscriptions: A: nonsense: above Nike: λσεσ{1}.

Commentary: Lambda pointing up? Three- and four-stroke sigma?

Footnotes: {1} CC, text: ΛΣΕΣ.

Bibliography: Collignon–Couve (1902–4), no. 1186.

Author: H.R.I.

ΛΣΕΣ > λσεσ > éLeS ESZű > éles eszű (sharp minded)

AVI 0781; BAD

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 1409. RF cup. From Akraiphia. Unattributed. Pamphaios, potter. Last quarter sixth. 500 or earlier.

Decoration: Int.: naked youth with laver.

Inscriptions: Int.: around the figure: Παν(φ)αιος εποιεσεν. On the laver, in thin BG, complete: οοσεν{1}.

Commentary: Dotted phi (= theta).

Footnotes: {1} nonsense: mocking εποιεσεν?

Bibliography: Klein (1890), pl. 2 (dr.). K. Rhomaios, CVA Athens 1, Greece 1 (1930), pl. 3,2. ARV[2] (1963), 130/31, and 131-32. Para. (1971), 333. Immerwahr (1984), 351/49. Add.[2] (1989), 177. AttScr (1990), no. 1129.

Author: H.R.I.


Παν(φ)αιος εποιεσεν > BÁNYa FA JÓS(a) ÉPP OLY E SZÉN > bánya fa jós(a) épp oly e szén (The (coal)mine is the determinant of a tree what exactly this coal is)

BÁN/BANYa FAJ ŐS(e) ÉPP OLY ESZÉN > bán/banya faj ős(e) épp oly eszén (Pendragon (chieftain)/grandam is the ancestor of race/tribe exactly the same on his/her mind)

οοσεν > Ő ÖSSZÉN > ő összén (it/he/she is on its entirety)


Bánya fa jós(a): épp oly e szén, ő összén. (The (coal)mine is the determinant (seer) of a tree, what exactly this coal is, it is on its entirety.)

Bán/banya faj ős(e): épp oly eszén, ő összén. ( Pendragon (chieftain)/grandam is the ancestor of race/tribe, exactly the same on its (the race's) mind, s/he is on its entirety.)

This is a masterpiece! Only one or two vowels are missing from both readings of this inscription, but just moving the word dividers we have got this two very clever sentences, where the first enforces the moral of the second. Furthermore, in the second reading both the matriarchal and patriarchal aspect of lineage derivation is present, which rightly could be expected in the era of the fight for supremacy between Hera and Zeus (“a rebellion of the pre-Hellenic population, described in the Iliad as a conspiracy against Zeusbut as a matter of fact, a revolt against “the patriarchal Hellenes who invaded Greece and Asia Minor early in the second millennium BC as it described by Robert Graves in The Greek Myths).

AVI 0871; BAD 305511

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 12272. BF/WG lekythos. Near Sappho Painter. Early fifth.

Decoration: Heracles fighting two Amazons.

Inscriptions: To left and right of Heracles' head: nonsense: σιε^οκποα(ν̣)ογ(.)(.).

Commentary: Much restored. A small gap after the third letter.

Bibliography: Photo. Nicole (1911), 194/961. ABV (1956), 508/2. Para. (1971), 247.

Author: H.R.I.

σιε^οκποα(ν̣)ογ(.)(.) > éSZI-E Ő KaPÓ A NŐ Gu[GoL] > Észi-e? Ő kapó: a nő gu[gol] (magán átejtetve kapja el). (Is he brainy? She is the catcher: the woman who crouches (to make him fall over her).)

AVI 0877; BAD 390357

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 12533. BF/WG lekythos. Diosphos Painter. Early fifth.

Decoration: Three athletes with a flautist.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: 4 imitation inscriptions: γοσνοχ(.). τγτσιπ.

Bibliography: Photo. McMahon (1907), 12. Nicole (1911), no. 966, pl. 14. Haspels (1936), [[234/]] no. 38.

Author: H.R.I.

γοσνοχ(.) τγτσιπ > aGGÓ éSZeN Ő aGY(aT) TáGíTó SÍP > aggó észen ő agy(at) tágító síp (on a worried mind this flute is brain-loosening)


AVI 0928; BAD


Athens, National Archaeological Museum 17873. BF Droop cup. From Koropi. Kallis Painter. Third quarter sixth. 550-540 (Vanderpool; but see BCH 317 n. 2).

Decoration: Handle zone: A: head of a woman flanked by heads of two men, between snakes. B: similar, but the three heads are female.

Inscriptions: A: to right of bearded male's face, downward: νειονενο, retr. except nu's. To left of woman's face, downward: κνιο(ν)ι. To right of the top of her head, horizontal but curved: Καλιτινε, for Καλ<λ>ιτι(μ)ε (Vanderpool). To left of face of man at right (pointed cap), downward: νε[2-3]ι̣ε, retr. except nu (differently CVA: οε[.](.)ε.). B: to right of face of left woman, diagonally down: [1-2]σ[...]. To left of face of woman in middle: (.)να...{1}. To left of top of head at right, horizontal: Σιμυλις, retr.{3}. These readings are all from E.V.; see below for Feytman's readings.

Commentary: Ex Athens, Private. Attic alphabet. One nu reversed. For the controversy of the placement of the Kallis Painter in relation to Sakonides or the group of Lydos, see BCH 318ff. By the same hand as Naples Stg. 172, q.v. C.-F. 325ff. discusses the subject: she thinks the female on A is Aphrodite, καλλιτι(μ)η being an epithet; E.V. had her as a nymph. The subject is the Anodos of Aphrodite (note the snakes). The males are bearded; that at right has an inscription read by her as hε[ρμε]ς; the other she thinks is Adonis, although the accompanying inscription is meaningless (it has however the same number of letters as Αδονιος).

Footnotes: {1} so Vanderpool in text (this or the preceding inscription is given in CVA as: απα[--].). {3} the name also on the fountain hydria London B 331. Similar heads on Naples Stg. 172 (ABV 203/1) by the same painter, with names of maenads (Kallis, Sime). Are the names on our cup those of mortals (as Vanderpool and Beazley seem to imply and LGPN ii prints) or also Dionysiac? Simylis on London B 331 perhaps argues against the latter.

Bibliography: Vanderpool (1945), 436 ff., figs. 1-6. Villard (1946), 172 n. 3. P.N. Ure (1953), 49 n. 10. ABV (1956), 203/2. Para. (1971), 92. Vacano (1973), A 126 and 128, pp. 228-29. Boardman (1974), 61. Callipolitis-Feytmans (1980), 317ff., figs. 1-3 (A, detail of A, B). D. Callipolitis-Feytmans, CVA Athens 3, Greece 3 (1986), pl. 39.

Author: H.R.I.

νειονενο > NE JÖNNE NŐ > ne jönne nő (should not come a woman)

κνιο(ν)ι > Ki iNNI ÖNNI > ki inni önni (who to drink, to eat)

Καλιτινε > KiÁLLÍTI NE > kiállíti ne (puts out should not)

οε[.](.)ε > Ő E[TeT]NE > ő e[tet]ne (she feed us)

Σιμυλις > SÍMUL IS > símul is (and one cuddles up to her)

Ne jönne nő, ki inni, önni kiállíti, ne ő e[tet]ne? ... símul is. (Should not come a woman who puts out to drink, to eat, should not she feed us? ... and one cuddles up to her.)

AVI 0941; BAD 2247

Athens, National Archaeological Museum 21023. BF lip cup. Unattributed. Third quarter sixth. 540-530 (CVA).

Decoration: Lip: A: panther. B: similar.

Inscriptions: A, B, each: handle zone: a short and widely spaced nonsense inscription. A: γλ(α)λ(.)γγλ̣. Imitation letters. B: illegible in CVA.

Commentary: = Athens, N.M. R 11. Ex Roussopoulos Collection 11. Gamma has various shapes.

Bibliography: BADB 2247. Callipolitis-Feytmans (1972), 80-81, figs. 4-5 (A, B). D. Callipolitis-Feytmans, CVA Athens 3, Greece 3 (1986), pl. 29,6-7, fig. 11 (A, B, profile).

Author: H.R.I.

γλ(α)λ(.)γγλ̣ > γλ(δ)λ(δ)γγλ̣ > GaLáDuL iDe GuGGoL > Galádul (piszkosan) ide guggol. (One will crouch down here when dirty.)

What an appropriate instruction on a wash-bowl!

AVI 0943; BAD 44047

Athens, National Archaeological Museum CA 514. BF lekythos. From Athens, near Acharnian Gate, Hodos Eupolidos 6. Unattributed. Last quarter fifth (Alexandri). 450-400 (Bea. Arch.).

Decoration: Poseidon riding a hippocamp; swimming fish.

Inscriptions: Around the hippocamp's head: nonsense: (.)του(ρ)γογ. There is also a gamma further down.

Commentary: The surface is badly damaged.

Bibliography: Haspels (1936), pl. 44,4. Shapiro (1989), 109 n. 77, pl. 51,c-d.

Author: H.R.I.

(.)του(ρ)γογ γ > (áR)TÓ Ú(Ri) GŐG éGi > Ártó úri gőg, égi. (Harmful rulers arrogance, heavenly.)