The transliteration into modern Greek from the different
ancient handwritings is done by H. R. Immerwahr and others, which in turn is
transcribed by me, using this simple
ABC table, at the same time backfilling the left out vowels, to reconstruct
the inscriptions in today's spelling.
This work is based on Rudolf Wächter's
book, entitled Non-Attic Greek Vase Inscriptions. Would be advisable to
have the book at hand to follow the “scientific” side of the interpretations,
because I have only pasted the descriptions of the depicted scenes as the
readings I'm putting up are in organic engagement with these scenarios. (It is
not very ethical to promote this, but those, who otherwise cannot afford the
book, can download it for free from the Booksee website:
In the Introduction R. Wachter states these
general points: ”(1) We cannot deal with individual
elements of the inscriptions without considering the inscriptions by an
individual (e.g. a painter) in their entirety. (2) We must not consider the
inscriptions outside their pictorial context.“ But
than he observe that: “first, the majority
of the words that we shall discuss are personal names, both heroic and
non-heroic; and secondly, not very many individual items are longer than one
word.” By this “observation” he contradicts his (2) point, as the
”personal names” especially of non-entities are not really reflecting in any
substantial way on the pictorial context. And it is unwarranted and prejudiced
statement that the items on the inscriptions are only individual words. A
separated group of letters could be a word, but also a phrase or a whole
sentence, as they indeed often are.
The vases in Wachter's book are categorised
epigraphically, by the locally used variant of the alphabet, into 22 groups
named after these localities. We will follow this line, only breaking the text
up into more easily manageable pieces. Due to the limitations of our browsers,
we use only the transliterations of vase inscriptions to modern Greek alphabet,
which in turn we transliterate, using the table in the Alphabets blog, into
Magyar ABC and read the inscriptions by backfilling the left out vowels.
Vases from Boiotia
~ @ BOI 1 A-B ~
(A) Ring aryballos from Greece (bought from Geladakis in 1897), and
(B) Plastic vase in the shape of a sandalled r. foot from
Thebes (1898 or earlier).
within a generation of 550.
Wachter’s profound analysis, we can with great certainty assume that the
vessels make up a bonded pair and their inscriptions should be considered combined
and read as such in tandem or if individually than twice each.
Γρυτονεποιϝεσε > eGéR-ÚTON ÉP ÖJV ESZE/ESZ-E
> egér-úton ép
ölyv esze/esz-e (on
mouse’s escape root is a sound hawk’s mind/does eats)
(B) Γρυτονεποιϝεσε > eGéR-ÚTON E PÖJe VESZ E’ > egér-úton e pöl(y)e vesz el (on mouse’s escape root this dormouse gets lost)
Egér-úton ép ölyv esze.
(Egér-úton ép ölyv esz-e?) Egér-úton e pöl(y)e vesz el. (A sound hawk’s mind is on the mouse’s
escape root. (Does a sound hawk eats on the mouse’s escape root?) This dormouse
gets lost (will be eaten) on the mouse’s escape root.)
uncommonly clever and deeply meaningful double readings, R.
Wachter has came up with a very laconic “interpretation”: Potter’s signatures! The name Gryton is
derived from γρύτα ‘container for ointments’,
it only occurs here and as Grytes on a graffito. So, let us see that graffito
from the Ashmolean Museum 1956. 314. Oxford:
> eGéR-ÚT EZER MAJA IjEDŐKKE’ >
Egér-út ezer malya ijedőkkel. (The mouse’s escape root has thousands of
dark nooks with the easily frightened.)
In the Greek
reading of the graffito, – Γρύτἐς Ἐρμαἰᾱιἒ
δōκε – the linguists are not sure about the second name: a
female Ἐρμαἰα or a male
Ηερμαἰας, but definitely they go for
the easy way out: make the hard nuts into personal names and the problem is
solved, no more questions. So, the dispute here is not just about language,
Greek or Scythian, it is the way we look at the world. Is it the “Joe was here”
type meaningless environmental pollution of a nobody or is it a universal
message, although limited in extent? Science here cannot help, you are on your
own. Do you believe that ancient Greece was full of egoistic louts putting
their names everywhere or civilised humans with some message for posterity?
~ @ BOI 2 A-D ~
(A) Aryballos from Thebes (1887 or earlier), Paris,
Louvre CA 128,
(B) Gourd aryballos from Koroneia (?) (found ?), Athens,
P. & A. Canellopoulos Mus. 737,
(C) Pomegranate-shaped aryballos from ?
(1910 or earlier), Bonn, Akademisches Kunstmus. Der Univ. 2128,
(D) Piriform alabastron from ? (bought in the 19th
cent.), Heidelberg, Antikmus. Des Arch. der Univ. Z 1.
None. Date: (A), (C), and (D) 1st h. 6th cent. (Raubitschek, p. 162).
(B) within a generation of 550 (Raubitschek, p. 161, referring to P. N. Ure
(1946), 49); 1st h. 6th cent. (Raubitschek, p. 162); towards mid-6th cent.
> MÉN AJJaDÁS EME BŐJe VÉSSZE’ GYÁRÓ BŰ > Mén aljadás
eme bője: vésszel gyáró bű. (This abundance of baseness/vileness is going on:
wealth/abundance accompanied with catastrophe.)
> MÉN AJJaDÁS
ÉME(j)E BŐJe VÉSSZE’ GYÁRÓ BŰ >
Mén aljadás émelye, bője vésszel gyáró bű.
(This sickness of baseness/vileness
is going on: its wealth/abundance accompanied with catastrophe is a spell.)
alternative reading for both (B) and (C):
AJJaDÁS-ÉME’ E BŐJe VÉSSZE’ GYÁRÓ BŰ >
Mén aljadás-émely e bője: vésszel gyáró bű. (This abundance of debasement/degradation
sickness is going on: wealth/abundance accompanied with catastrophe.)
> GYÁRÓ BŰ EME
BŐJe VÉSSZE’ MENő AJJaDÁS >
Gyáró bű eme bője vésszel menő aljadás. (This running abundance of wealth/spell is
with catastrophe accompanied baseness/vileness.)
R. Wachter gives
this interpretation: “Potter’s signatures and
dedications (to a human?)” where
the potter is Menaidas and the dedication is addressed to Charops, but he has
some reservations: “The interpretation of these
inscriptions is not easy, since we do not know for sure who Charops was. I
would think that he was a human.” Does it really matter who or what this
Charops is? Compared to these messages, which are more timely than ever in the
past two and a half thousand years, a dedication to a nobody would be a trifle.
~ @ BOI 3 ~
Cup (‘à oiseaux’, Maffre) from ? (found ?), Athens,
P. & A. Canellopoulos Mus. 941
None. Date: 3rd q. 6th cent. (Maffre, pp. 423/5); probably c.550
EB ÜGYE íME BŐ IjESZETJE JŐ IS
PERI KALoDa ÉJi Á'DÓRA
Eb ügye íme bő,
jő is: peri
kaloda éji áldóra! (Look,
his dog cases are in abundance, its frightening comes: quarrelling pillory on
interpretation: “Metrical potter’s signature
(and dedication?): ‘Epiche made me for the gods. Beautiful gifts (he makes)!’”
~ @ BOI 4 A-C ~
A: Ring aryballos from Boiotia (Thebes?)
(1900 or slightly earlier), Athens, Nat. Mus. 12218.
B: Ring aryballos from Boiotia (1899 or earlier), Boston,
Mus. of Fine Arts 99. 513.
C: Ring aryballos from Greece, said to be from Thebes
(before 1939), Kilchberg, E Peters Coll.
None. Date: (A)–(C) within a generation of 550 (Raubitschek, p. 161,
referring to P. N. Ure (1946), 49); 1st h. 6th cent. (Raubitschek, p. 162); (C)
> MiNő AZZA’ LaK E’ S BŐ IjESZE > Minő (amilyen valaki) azzal lak
el (lakik jól) s
bő ijesze. (One is what
one eats and plenty is one’s fear.)
> MiNő AZZA’ LaK E’ BŐ IjESZE >
valaki) azzal lak el (lakik jól), bő ijesze.
(One is what one eats, plenty
is one’s fear.)
Μνασαλκεσ π[. . . . .
οιαυτο > MiNő AZZA’ LaK E’ S B[Ő IjESZE T]EMPED JÓ NaDÁJ A VéTő[K]Re HÓDO’
Ki E VÉRÖN FŰLÖTT A SZű JÓNÁ’ IS GYÚL Ő JAVíTÓ > Minő (amilyen valaki) azzal lak
el (lakik jól)
s b[ő ijesze. T]emped (tömörül) jó nadály (pióca) a vétő[k]re, hódol ki e vérön fűlött. A szű jónál is gyúl,
ő javító. (One is what
one eats and p[lenty is one’s fear. T]ickens the good leech on the sinners, it
pays respect for this blood it heated on. Even the good people’s heart ignites,
it (the leech)
is an improver.)
question who (Mnasalkes) made it for whom (Empediondas) and passed it to whom
(Aischilos) is really matters? Isn’t the little treatise on obesity and the
curing of high blood pressure with leeches more useful than the names of those
nobodies? The receiver of a gift knows his/her own name and knows the giver,
than why vesting on them the precious writing surface? These “names” turning up
everywhere are only a pathological casting back into the past our own egoistic
~ @ BOI 5 A-B ~
(A) Gourd aryballos from Greece (1897 or earlier); ex
Tyszkiewicz coll., lost.
(B) Ring aryballos from Thebes (1896 or earlier), Vienna,
Kunsthistorisches Mus., IV 1864.
None. Date: within a generation of 550 (Raubitschek, p. 161, referring
to P. N. Ure (1946), 49); 1st h. 6th cent. (Raubitschek, p. 162).
> FITY-ADÁS EME’ BŐJe VESZ E’ >
(fricskázás) emel, bője vesz el. (Giving a flip of it is uplifting, plenty
of it takes away.)
> FITY EME’ BŐJe VESZ E’ >
Fity (fricska) emel, bője vesz el. (A flip of it is uplifting, plenty of it takes away.)
adequate guidance on a flask for eau de cologne!
interpretation: “Potter’s signatures”,
Phithadas and Phith(?).
~ @ BOI 6 A-E ~
(A) Fr. of an
aryballos from Thebes (1887 or earlier), Paris, Louvre L4 (CA 70).
(B) Plastic vase (‘rhyton’) ending in a bull’s head from
Boiotia (1898 or earlier), Paris, Louvre CA 938.
(C) Plastic vase in the shape of a coiled snake from
Thebes (1895 or earlier), Paris, Louvre CA 638.
(D) Plastic vase in the shape of an animal’s head
(‘panthère’, Ducat) from Greece (Attica, Helbing) (1899 or earlier),
Paris, Louvre CA 1634.
(E) Plastic vase in the shape of a seated monkey from ?
(1912 or earlier), Boston, Mus. of Fine Arts 13. 115.
None. Date: (A) 1st h. 6th cent. (Waiblinger). (B) 1st h. 6th cent.
(Raubitschek, p. 162); 2nd q. 6th cent. (Waiblinger). (C) and (E) 1st h. 6th
cent. (Raubit schek, p. 162). (D) 1st h. 6th cent. (Raubitschek, p. 162);
towards mid-6th cent. (Waiblinger).
(A) Πολονεμε[. .
.] > áPOLÓN EME’ > Ápolón emel. (Taken caringly, it lifts one up.)
Πολονεποεσε > áPOLÓN EBBŐ’ ÉSSZE’
> Ápolón ebből ésszel. (Caringly take from this with reason.)
(C) & (D) & (E)
> áPOLÓN EME’
BŐ IjESZE > Ápolón emel, bő ijesze. (Taken caringly, it lifts one up, plenty is one’s fear.)
interpretation: (B)–(E) Potter’s signatures; (A)
~ @ BOI 7 A-B ~
(A) Oinochoe from excavations made by farmers at Tanagra
(1872 or earlier). Paris, Louvre MNB 501.
(B) Aryballos probably from Thespiai (1870 or earlier),
London, British Mus. 1873. 2-8. 2.
(A) Shepherd with cattle, not related to the inscrs. which are painted inside
the lip and on the frieze. (B) and (C) none.
(A) 1st h. 6th cent. (Raubitschek, p. 162); c. mid-6th cent. (Waiblinger);
early 2nd h. 6th cent. (Kilinski II, p. 65). (B) 1st h. 6th cent. (Raubitschek,
(A) & (B)
> éGi AMi ÉDES, EBBŐ’ E SÉ >
Égi ami édes, ebből e sé (pici folyás). (All the sweet is heavenly, from this: a
Potter’s (or potters’?) signatures. (C)
is attributed to Gamedes by C. Fossey, and K. Kilinski II (
accepts this view; it seems uncertain to me, however.
~ @ BOI 9 ~
Boiotia (bought in 1906, found ?). Berlin, Antikensammlung V. I. 4859.
None. Date: c.575 (Gehrig et al.); mid to 3rd q. 6th cent. (Kunisch,
because of the palmette ornaments); 2nd q. 6th cent. (K. Kilinski II, per
> áPOLi ŰT ÍM IDő ÁSKÁLÓ SZóBAN aGY
ÜTi Ő E KALLÓS > Ápoli (zápíti) űt ím idő, áskáló szóban agy
üti, ő e kallós (aki
ütögetéssel /kelmévé/ képez). (Look, time makes it bad, in intriguing words the brain
hits it, it is what hammers it into felt.)
. .]αλονα[.] > éPÖLi/áPOLi ŰT ÍM IDő ÁZiK A LOCSÁBAN aGY ÜTi [éSZ Ki
ŐR]ÁLLÓ NÁ[La] > Épöli/Ápoli űt ím idő, ázik a locsában (locspocsában) agy, üti
[ész ki őr]álló ná[la]. (Look, time tends it, the brain soaks in
its sludge, the reason, who is the guard at it, hits it.)
(each perhaps a short dialogue): ‘Polytimidas is handsome. Yes, very handsome
~ @ BOI 12~
Fr. of kantharos, from near the Kabirion at Thebes81
(1938 or earlier). Reading, Univ., Ure Mus. 38. IV. 9.
Reclining dwarf with a bird on his r. hand (where Kabiros would hold a cup, see
mid-5th cent. (Ure (1951), 194; (1954) ).
> VŐ E NőHöZ VŐ ÉHöZő > Vő e nőhöz,
vő éhező. (Son-in-low
to this woman is son-in-low starving.)
Labels? Nonsense inscription?
~ @ BOI 15 ~
Lekane from ? (c.1874 or earlier). Paris, Louvre MNC 743.
A warrior (a) on horseback to r., seconding a gigantic warrior with spear (b). The
latter is ﬁghting an archer to l. (c) who is backed by a woman (d) who
is about to throw her spear.
last q. 5th cent.
(a) Αρες >
(b) Γαγενες >
iga égen es
on the sky also)
(c) Ηερακλες >
(d) Αθανα >
A része iga égen is. Héra
ökle is atyánál. (His share is also the yoke
on the sky. Hera's fist is also at the father.)
interpretation: Herakles and (a) Gegenes
~ @ BOI 16 ~
Fr. of a big deep bowl from the Kabirion (1887/8).
Athens, Nat. Mus. 10426.
A man to r. (a) and a woman to l. (b) standing close to him with one hand on
his shoulder; a boy to l. (c) watching them, his hands folded in front of him.
To their r. a youth to l. (d) is about to dip an oinochoe into a large krater,
and the deity (e) is leaning back (head to r. facing l.) and stretching out his
arm with a kantharos (as if to have it reﬁlled). On an isolated fr.
there is the face of a woman with her chiton pulled over her head (f ). The
ﬁgures (a), (c), and (f ) have grotesque faces, the others not. The
whole painting shows strong Attic inﬂuence.
after 440 (Wolters–Bruns, p. 125); late 5th to early 4th cent. (LIMC i);
410–400 (Braun–Haevernick, p. 6; LIMC vi, vii).
(a) Μιτος > Mi' ITOS > mily itos (what an alcoholic)
(b) Κρατεια > KúRA TE(J)A/TEJ A' > kúra
te(j)a/tej a' (cure
Πρατολαος > BoRRA TŐLe A' ŐS > borra tőle a' ős (for vine from it the old)
(d) Παις > aPA IS > apa is
(e) Καβιρος > KÁBa ÍRÖS > kába írös (írt használ) (dazed
(f ) Σατυ[. . .] >
Σατυ[ρα] > S
ATTú' Ú[R A'] > s attól ú[r a'] (and due to that he is a gentleman)
Mily itos kúra te(j)a/tej a'
borra, tőle a(z) ős apa is kába írös (írt használ) s attól ú[r a']. (What an alcoholic cure tea/milk is for
vine! From it, the old father also dazed on medication and due to that he is a
interpretation: Probably a sacriﬁcial
~ @ BOI 18 ~
Deep bowl (with horizontal handles) from ? (1892 or
earlier), Oxford, Ashmolean Mus. G. 249 (v 262).
of a bearded man (a) leaping to the l. over (a raft made of) two amphorae which
are ﬂoating on the waves of the sea. He points a trident down into the
water, apparently just missing a ﬁsh. To the r. a bearded head with
inﬂated cheeks (b), as if suspended from the wall, seems to blow upon
the man’s back. On the reverse of the vase there is a scene with Odysseus and
Kirke (no inscrs.).
410–400 (Braun–Haevernick, p. 8); 400– 375 (Webster); late 5th to early 4th
cent. (LIMC i); 440–430 (LIMC iii); late 5th cent. (Moret, p. 229; LIMC vi,
‘Odysseus’); 3rd q. 4th cent. (sic, LIMC vi, ‘Kirke’).
Βοριας > Ő
aLU' SE ÚSZóBó' ÓRIÁS > Ő alul se úszóból óriás. (He
is not even from underneath a giant in swimming.)
interpretation: Odysseus on his raft, and Boreas
(labels). (They are actually on the other side, and anyhow the name
is of "non-Greek" origin (§254)!)
~ @ BOI 19 ~
Deep cup (with horizontal handles) from Exarchos in
Lokris (1882 or earlier). Athens, Nat. Mus. 442.
Scene: Lively scene in a potter’s workshop, grotesque
silhouette-painting, palmette decoration under the handles. The inscr. has no
obvious connection with the ﬁgures. Date: late 5th cent.?
> űZI BŐNeK ALOSa >
Űzi bőnek alosa (aljosa). (The vile of plenty hunts him.)
~ @ BOI 20 ~
Fr. of a bf. jar
from the Kabirion (1887/8). Athens, Nat. Mus. 10470.
Probably a sacrificial procession; not directly related to the inscr.
Σµικρος > SeMMI KáROS > semmi
> A NEVEKKE' > a
nevekkel (with names)
Καβιροι > Ki A BIRÓJa > ki a
birója (who is its
Semmi káros a nevekkel, (de) ki a birója (hordozója). (Nothing
adverse with names (but) who is its bearer.)
R. Wachter's interpretation:
Dedication. "Smikros is either the potter himself or a customer."
or nothing adverse or egoistic as who to whom, just a bit of
kitchen-lecture for all of us!
~ @ BOI 23 ~
Deep bowl from the Kabirion (1887/8), Athens, Nat. Mus.
Caricature pygmy wearing a petasos, running after his dog and a fox (the
‘Termessan fox’) who is looking back. On the other side a cart laden with four
amphorae (wine supply for the Kabirion?).
3rd q. 4th cent. (Braun–Haevernick, because of the ‘Rebrankenverzierung’, see
BOI 22); mid-4th cent. (LIMC).
> Ki E FALÓS > Ki e
falós? (Who is this
interpretation: Kephalos and the Termessan fox
~ @ BOI 30 ~
Alabastron, Boiotian imitation of Corinthian, from ?
(1898 or earlier). Boston, Mus. of Fine Arts 98. 899.
Bearded creature with wings running to the l., on the other side a cock.
> AVVa' ESZI
Ha BeTeSZi KöZé > avval eszi ha beteszi közé
(you eat it by putting it between)
(b) ΞΦΕ > KeZéVE' > kezével (with your hand)
Avval eszi ha beteszi közé
kezével. (You eat it by putting it between (your teeth) with your
interpretation: Nonsense inscription.