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Mellár Mihály :
Common sense in nonsense inscriptions II


AVI 2208


from AVI numbers 1000 to 1999


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.


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, 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



AVI 1100; BAD 9016956

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. i, 1778. Frs. of BF cup. From Athens. Unattributed. Second half sixth.

Decoration: Int.: fr. a: wing and part of a mane. Fr. b: breast and front legs of Pegasus.

Inscriptions: Int.: fr. b: nonsense: κχκοσ.

Commentary: Frs. a - b. Done from the printed letters.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), i, no. 1778 (not ill.).

Author: H.R.I.

κχκοσ > KíGYó oKOS > kígyó okos (snake is clever)

AVI 1136; BAD 9017203

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. i, 2128. Frs. of BF pyxis lid. From Athens. Unattributed. Third quarter sixth.

Decoration: Center: seated woman. Frieze: chariot racing.

Inscriptions: Fr. a(?): in front of the woman: (τ)υ(σ)τυ{1}. Fr. a: Behind chariot: σιδπο(μ){2}. Fr. b: to right of chariot horses: συστ(.)τ{3}.

Commentary: Frs. a - b. Three-stroke sigma.

Footnotes: {1} first tau = Ionic gamma. {2} mu uncertain. {3} the bracketed letter looks like a reversed L-shaped lambda.

Bibliography: Photos. Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), i, no. 2128 (not ill.).

Author: H.R.I.

(τ)υ(σ)τυ > (γ)υ(σ)τυ{1} > GUSTÚ' > gustul (csavarosan) (deviously)

σιδπο(μ) > σιδπο(ς){2} > SZIDó BŐSZe > szidó bősze (scolding furious (person))

συστ(.)τ > συσγ(λ{1 & 3} > SUSoGó LeTT > susogó lett (has became whispering)

Gustul (csavarosan) szidó bősze susogó lett. (Deviously scolding furious (person) has became a whispering one.)

AVI 1148; BAD 310190

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. i, 2187. Frs. of BF Nikosthenic pyxis with lid. From Athens. Lydos. Second quarter sixth.

Decoration: Body: two women in one cloak; man. Lid: two women in one cloak; woman.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: Acr. fr. (body): to left of head of right woman in cloak: [...]κπυσ. To its right, similar: καγυ(σ)υ(σ̣){1}.

Commentary: 1 fr. + North Slope AP 1254 and 2347.

Footnotes: {1} the sigmas(?) very sloppy and miswritten.

Bibliography: Photo. Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), i, no. 2187, pl. 85. Roebuck (1940), 158/10, fig. 11. ABV (1956), 11/44. Tiverios (1976), pl. 73,d. Add.[2] (1989), 31. AttScr (1990), no. 123.

Author: H.R.I.

[...]κπυσ > [ÖReG] KaPUS > [öreg] kapus ([old] gate-/doorkeeper)

καγυ(σ)υ(σ̣) > Ki AGGÚ' aSZÚS > ki aggul aszús (who is dried out by old age)

[Öreg] kapus, ki aggul aszús. ([Old] gate-/doorkeeper, who is dried out by old age.)

AVI 1164; BAD 8528

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. i, 2416. Fr. of BF plate. From Athens. Unattributed. Date unclear.

Decoration: Parts of Aias with body of Achilles.

Inscriptions: To right: nonsense: >ο(.)σ(γ)λιοι[...]{1}.

Commentary: Hasty letters, almost imitation letters.

Footnotes: {1} here read downward, but could be read upward.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), i, no. 2416, pl. 98.

Author: H.R.I.

ο(.)σ(γ)λιοι[...] > ŐRSéGüL JŐJJ … > Őrségül jőjj … (Come for guarding ...)


AVI 1192; BAD 32212

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. i, 2569. Frs. of BF plaque. From Athens. Unattributed{1}. Early fifth.

Decoration: Chariot before a stoa; Athena with the reins; Heracles.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: to left of the left column, close to the capital, two lines, widely spaced: [...]δ̣μο and [...]δυω{2}. Between the left column and a leg of Heracles: λολοσ^λος, retr.{3}. Under the horses bellies, between the right column and the horses' legs: χαιρε{γ}, retr.

Commentary: Frs. a - b. All inscriptions probably nonsense, except for the word χαιρε.

Footnotes: {1} Boardman: "an Acropolis votive plaque of which little is left for comparison of the drawing, which is still quite compatible [with the Sappho Painter], offers with other inscriptions λολοσλοσ." I.e., B. relates the fr. to the Sappho Painter on the basis of one of the nonsense inscriptions. {2} Graef–Langlotz reads δυπ, but the last letter is an omega (with very short hastae). {3} considered by Peek a shout to the horses; see Acr. 2124.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), i, no. 2569, pl. 106. Boardman (1955), 62/under 28 (mention).

Author: H.R.I.

[...]δμο & [...]δυω > ?

λολοσ^λος > LÓ iLLŐS áLLÓS > ló illős állós (for a horse is fair stand still)

χαιρε{γ} > áGYA' Ű öREG > ágyal ű öreg (it prepares to lay down, it is an old one)

... ló illős állós. Ágyal, ű öreg. (… for a horse is fair stand still. It prepares to lay down, it is an old one.)


AVI 1208; BAD 32193

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. i, 2655. Fr. of BF thymiaterion. From Athens. Unattributed. Date unclear.

Decoration: Seated woman holding a wreath; at right, trace of another woman.

Inscriptions: Between the two, facing the second woman: nonsense: (.)τολτο, retr.{1}.

Footnotes: {1} my reading; Graef–Langlotz reads it left to right: οτυο(.); Peek reads: οτυοτ(1) and thinks it is an interjection. The first letter is a diagonal stroke.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), i, no. 2655, pl. 112; *Peek, ibid. ii, 130.

Author: H.R.I.

(.)τολτο > (iDő)TÖLTŐ > (idő)töltő (pastime)

AVI 1215; BAD 200933

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 3. Fr. of RF plate. From Athens. Unattributed. Cachrylion, potter. Last quarter sixth.

Decoration: One carrying baskets on a pole.

Inscriptions: To right, close to the margin: [Χα]χρ̣υλι̣[ον ...].

Bibliography: Hartwig (1893), 17,1, 70. Hoppin (1919), i, 148/2. Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 3, pl. 2 (dr.). ARV[2] (1963), 109/30.

Author: H.R.I.

[Χα]χρ̣υλι̣[ον ...] > [íGY A]DJa áRULI [ÖNMaGa] > [Így a]dja, áruli [önmaga] ([He gives] it, sales it [by himself])

AVI 1221; BAD 9774

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 14. Fr. of RF plate. From Athens. Unattributed. Ca. 500.

Decoration: Archer and hoplite.

Inscriptions: Along the margin (the left portion is preserved), nonsense: [...]εοεγλγυευ[...]{1}.

Footnotes: {1} the spacing is very irregular: [---]εο^ε ^ γ^λγ^υ ^ ε ^ υ.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 14, pl. 2 (photo) and p. 2 (dr.).

Author: H.R.I.

[...]εοεγλγυευ[...] > … Ó ÉG eLéGÜ' EVVe' … > … ó ég elégül evvel … (… old heaven is satisfied with this …)

AVI 1241; BAD 200650

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 75. Frs. of RF cup. From Athens. Unattributed{1}. Last quarter sixth.

Decoration: Int.: owl between olive branch and tendril. A: Ajax and Achilles playing dice? B: warriors setting out (central warrior's shield device: satyr mask with kylix).

Inscriptions: B: in thick red paint: [... αν]εθ[εκ]εν. On the kylix: nonsense: υκχ(.)ρι, retr.{2}. Above the kylix, on the shield: εχοτ(.)h, retr.{3}.

Commentary: A bespoken dedication?

Footnotes: {1} bears some resemblance to Epiktetos (Beazley). {2} the fourth letter is the beginning of a horizontal stroke. {3} the fifth letter shows indistinct traces.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 75, pl. 5 (parts). ARV[2] (1963), 80/1.

Author: H.R.I

[... αν]εθ[εκ]εν > [HÍJÁN] E CS[EKK]ENő > [híján] e cs[ekk]enő (this diminishing is in short)

εχοτ(.)h υκχ(.)ρι > EGYÓT(A) Ha Ű KeGY (Ü)RŰ' > egyóta ha ű kegy ürül (from sometimes if she is favourite empties)

[Híján] e cs[ekk]enő, egyóta (egy idő óta) ha ű kegy, ürül. (This diminishing is in short, from sometimes if it is favourite, it empties.)

AVI 1264; BAD 9017231

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 146. Fr. of RF cup. From Athens. Unattributed. Date unclear.

Decoration: Int.: discus.

Inscriptions: Int.: on the discus [in BG?], nonsense: ειτοσ. Beside it: εποε[σεν], retr.{1}.

Footnotes: {1} so Beazley, but Graef–Langlotz has εποε]σεν (not retr.), which is probably in error.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 146 (not ill.). ARV[2] (1963), 1557/3.

Author: H.R.I.

ειτοσ εποε[σεν] > EJTŐS EBBŐ' E[SEN] > Ejtős, ebből e[sen]. (Dropping, from this it drops.)


AVI 1319; BAD 203955

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 258. Fr. of RF cup. From Athens. Brygos Painter. First quarter fifth.

Decoration: Int.: part of seated male. A: part of seated male tying sandal; male.

Inscriptions: Int.: around margin of scene, Gr.: [... ανεθεκε]ν̣ τ̣ει Αφροδι[τει]{1}. To left of figure, Dip.: [... κα]λος?{2}.

Footnotes: {1} my reconstruction. Graef–Langlotz has: ιερα] ΕΙ Αφροδι[της, meaning perhaps ιερα ει Αφροδιτης. Peek reads: hιερα] τ̣ει Αφροδι[τει, but the dative is not usual in this phrase. {2} so Peek; Graef–Langlotz considered it nonsense.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 258, pl. 14; Peek, ibid., 130. ARV[2] (1963), 374/57.

Author: H.R.I.

[... ανεθεκε]ν̣ τ̣ει Αφροδι[τει] > [(HíJ)ÁN E CSEKKE]Nő TEJ A FoRRÓ DŰ[Ti-E Ű], AFRODITÉ > [(Híj)án e csekke]nő tej, a forró. Dű[ti-e Ű], Afrodité? (Getting short of this waning milk, of the steaming hot. Is She, Aphrodite, pouring it?)*

* The name has a double reading and meaning, as usual.


AVI 1357; BAD 202826

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 425. Fr. of WG plate. From Athens. Near Painter of New York 21.131. First quarter fifth.

Decoration: Fleeing Amazon; on the ground, a helmet.

Inscriptions: To her right: καλοιγ vac.

Commentary: Nonsense: mocks καλος.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 425, pl. 32. ARV[2] (1963), 269, bottom.

Author: H.R.I.

καλοιγ > Ki A LÓIG! > Ki a lóig! (Out to the horse!)

AVI 1391; BAD 46736

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 544. Fr. of RF kyathos (?){1}. From Athens. Unattributed. First quarter fifth. Ca. 490 (Graef–Langlotz).

Decoration: Eros flying with a sprig.

Inscriptions: υιδε{2}.

Commentary: Unclear whether this is nonsense or part of a name. Dotted delta?

Footnotes: {1} `Becher,' Graef–Langlotz. {2} so Graef–Langlotz, text.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 544, pl. 41.

Author: H.R.I.

υιδε > ÚJ üDE > Új, üde! (New, fresh!)

AVI 1392; BAD 204096

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 546. Fr. of RF kyathos{1}. From Athens. Brygos Painter. First quarter fifth. Late (?).

Decoration: Youth seated, playing the lyre and singing; triglyph frieze and columns; flute case.

Inscriptions: Starting from his mouth in an upward curve{2}: nonsense: ολονονο{3}.

Commentary: Nonsense here imitating a song: the nonsense letters νονο are common for the Brygos Painter. - Beazley does not say this is late, but `nono' inscriptions are mostly by the late Brygos Painter.

Footnotes: {1} called `Becher' by Graef–Langlotz. {2} `spruchbandartig,' Graef–Langlotz. Graef–Langlotz, reads ννυνννν, wrongly (`Der Brygosmaler scheint zu seiner ersten Zeit Analphabet gewesen zu sein'); `praeludierend,' Peek, who gives the correct reading.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 546, pl.41; *Peek, ibid., 130. ARV[2] (1963), 383/197.

Author: H.R.I.

ολονονο > ÖLÖN Ő NŐ > Ölön ő nő. (On the lap is a girl/it get larger.)


AVI 1436; BAD 202359

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 806. Fragmentary RF column krater. From Athens. Myson. Myson, potter. First quarter fifth.

Decoration: A: Athena and a male at an altar. B: Athena seated and a youth.

Inscriptions: On the neck, horizontal two-liner: Μυσον εγραφσεν καποι|εσεν{1}. A: on the base of the altar, nonsense partly covered by lines: (.)o(.)>γ(.)(.). I am not certain that these are letters.

Commentary: Frs. a - b. A small vase. - Robertson thinks it reasonable to hypothesize that the painter is the dedicator, a theory he thinks supported by the subjects on the vase. Pottier, Mon. Piot 29 (1928) 149-92, rejected Beazley's construction of Myson's works, but see now L. Berge, Myson: a Craftsman of Athenian Red-figured Vases (1992). A and B both have Athena and a youth: Pottier suggested that he was Myson himself; Robertson has a different idea; see p. 127, where he cites Berge who thinks the figure with Athena on A is Myson, that on the other side, the Pig Painter; the occasion of the dedication being the latter's entry into the workshop, being perhaps a son or nephew. This is too speculative. - The nu reversed three times.

Footnotes: {1} the second line is centered under the letters ραφσ, with seven letters on either side.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 806 (bibl.), pl. 72 (photo, dr.). ARV[2] (1963), 240/42. Para. (1971), 349. Add.[2] (1989), 201. Robertson (1992), 18 and 124, fig. 127 (most of signature); cf. n. 524.

Author: H.R.I.


Μυσον εγ ραφσ εν καποι > MŰ SZÓ’Na ÉGRe A’ FeSSEN Ki A BÓJa


And now we read it again, but this time replacing the four letter group ραφσ with the four letters εσεν written under them:

Μυσον εγ εσεν εν καποι > Mi ÚSZÓN ÉGÉSEN ENNeK A BOLY


and once more, now adding the under written letters εσεν to the ραφσ group:

Μυσον εγ ραφσ εσεν εν καποι > MŰ aZON ÉG RÁ FiZESS ENNEN KAPÓJa


And to finish the sentence, let us add the potter’s name, and read the lot together:


MŰ SZÓ’Na ÉGRe A’ FeSSEN Ki A BÓJa Mi ÚSZÓN ÉGÉSEN ENNeK A BOLY MŰ aZON ÉG RÁ FiZESS ENNEN KAPÓJa MÜSZON/MYSON > Mű szólna égre. A(z) fessen ki a bója mi úszón: égésen ennek a boly (tűzifa-rakás) – mű azon ég! Rá fizess, ennen kapója Müszon! > (The work would talk to Heaven. He should paint who is the buoy, which is on a float: in baking/firing to this is the pile (of firewood) – the work bakes on that! Pay the excess, its receiver is myself Myson!)

Note the Footnotes! The placement of the second line of letters intentionally has been put under the middle of the first line, indicating the double/triple use of the letters before and after the ραφσ letter-group and the group itself a bit differently! The text is exceptionally clever, very cunningly formulated to emphasise the high skill and indispensable work of the potter in firing the pot for Heaven to pay the artist with lasting fame. This trick with the double reading is so language and writing method dependant that just the reading of this one inscription should be enough proof about the language (Scythian/Hun/Hungarian) and method of writing (defective notation of vowels) to ascertain the nature of “nonsense” inscriptions. The reading also shows how miserable and chauvinistic is the attempt of the “scientists” to present the well educated attic potters and painters as illiterate, half-literate people or just ordinary frauds pretending to know how to write.

AVI 1451; BAD 19237

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 926. Fr. of RF vase. From Athens. Unattributed. Date unclear.

Decoration: Symposium: man on a couch turning hishead; knee of another.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: ιππο̣λ(??){1}.

Footnotes: {1} barely visible in photo.; not given in text.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 926, pl. 76.

Author: H.R.I.

ιππο̣λ(??) > Ű PaPOL > Ű papol!? (He jaws away!?)

AVI 1453; BAD 202902

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 965. Fr. of RF pot. From Athens. Syleus Painter. First quarter fifth.

Decoration: Male and youth chopping meat.

Inscriptions: Nonsense? υιαλ{1}.

Footnotes: {1} so Graef–Langlotz, text; the photo hardly shows any letters.

Bibliography: Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 965, pl. 78. ARV[2] (1963), 253/56.

Author: H.R.I.

υιαλ > UJJ ALá > Ujj alá! (Finger underneath!)

AVI 1480; BAD 9016983

Athens, National Archaeological Museum Acr. ii, 1209. Fr. of omphalos phiale in Six' technique. From Athens. Unattributed. Date unclear.

Decoration: Siren with lyre, head turned back; ornaments.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: above the lyre: οστσ.

Bibliography: Six (1888), 193/40. Graef–Langlotz (1925–33), ii, no. 1209, pl. 87.

Author: H.R.I.

οστσ > OSZíTóS > oszítós (uszítós) (inflammatory/provocative)

AVI 1737; BAD 9017238

Athens, Ceramicus Museum . RF lekythos. From Athens, Aghia Triada{1}. Unattributed. Date unclear.

Decoration: Woman with wreath and woman with mirror; a chest between them.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: between the heads: κγοκ{2}.

Footnotes: {1} excavations of Aghia Triada. {2} complete (seen through glass).

Bibliography: Photo AI Ker. 3026.

Author: H.R.I.

κγοκ > őK aGGÓK > Ők aggók. (They are worried.)

AVI 1761; BAD 2947

Athens, Ceramicus Museum 4290. RF oinochoe (chous). From Athens, Ceramicus. Meidias Painter (Knigge){1}. Last quarter fifth. Ca. 430, early (Knigge). 425-420 (Lezzi-Hafter).

Decoration: Amymone with a water jar surprised by four satyrs, two on each side.

Inscriptions: Above the fourth satyr: Ενα[υ]λο{2}.

Commentary: Not in Kossatz-Deissmann (1991); the name not in Pape or LGPN ii. εναυλος is an adj. related to flutes or an abode. - Knigge identified the extant Aison with the young Meidias Painter but Burn does not agree. Cf. Burn 12 n. 59: Cramers and Lezzi-Hafter consider Aison the teacher of the Meidias Painter. Burn is uncertain about the attribution of Ceramicus 4290: she is inclined to Aison but keeps it provisionally under Meidias Painter; she thinks the vase influenced by theater.

Footnotes: {1} but see D]. {2} so Knigge who says on p. 128: from εναυλος, `Ausdruck des Erstaunens oder der Überraschung'. [I do not understand.] The inscription is above the two right-hand satyrs, slightly bearing upward. It could refer to the fourth satyr and be a name, or a remark of some kind or even nonsense. It should not refer to the woman. Consider εναθλος or εναλλος(?). Possibly a satyr name: Ενα[λ]λο[ς], `jumper, dancer,' from εναλλομαι(?).

Bibliography: Michaud (1973), 263 (principal frs.). Knigge (1975), 129, fig. 4, pls. 44-47, 49,2 [[invis.]]. Cramers (1980), figs. 10,b (profile), 67-70, M 16. Burn (1987), 12-13, 50f., 98/M 15, pl. 33. Lezzi-Hafter (1988), 206, 340/223, pl. 195,c.

Author: H.R.I.

Ενα[υ]λο > Ενλ[θ]λο{2} > E Nő Lo[CSo]LÓ > E nő locsoló. (This woman is sprinkling.)


g. Danaus had found Argolis suffering from a prolonged drought, since Poseidon, vexed by Inachus’s decision that the land was Hera’s, had dried up all the rivers and streams. He sent his daughters in search of water, with orders to placate Poseidon by any means they knew. One of them, by name Amymone, while chasing a deer in the forest, happened to disturb a sleeping satyr. He sprang up and tried to ravish her; but Poseidon, whom she invoked, hurled his trident at the satyr. The fleeing satyr dodged, the trident stuck quivering in a rock, and Poseidon himself lay with Amymone, who was glad that she could carry out her father’s instructions so pleasantly. On learning her errand, Poseidon pointed to his trident and told her to pull it from the rock. When she did so, three streams of water jetted up from the three tine-holes. This spring, now named Amymone, is the source of the river Lerna, which never fails, even at the height of summer.(R. Graves: The Greek Myths, 60.g.)

AVI 1769a; BAD 9016904

Athens, Museum of the Ancient Agora (?) (North Slope of Acropolis). Fr. of BF vase (cup?). From Athens, Acropolis, vicinity of Sanctuary of Aphrodite and Eros (North Slope). Unattributed. Last quarter sixth (?).

Decoration: A: upper part of a female flute player to right.

Inscriptions: A: nonsense: to left, along left margin, vertically down, facing down: ιοεσ(ο)ρ{1}.

Commentary: Odd letter forms. The second omicron seems to have a small `<'-shaped sign attached to its right.

Footnotes: {1} there is a bit of blank space before the break at right; hence the inscription may be complete aft (as well as fore); but this is uncertain.

Bibliography: Michaud (1972), 597, fig. 22.

Author: H.R.I.

ιοεσ(ο)ρ > JÓ ESŐRe > Jó esőre. (It is good for rain.)

AVI 1901; BAD 14654

Athens, Vlastos (now N.M.?) . Fragmentary BF amphora. Unattributed. Second quarter sixth.

Decoration: Shoulder: A: two lions killing an animal. B: similar? Body: all around: five youths on horseback. Under one handle: youth running.

Inscriptions: Body: nonsense inscriptions related to the horses: First rider's horse: between the legs: χευστε̣[..]. To right of the horse's head: τοε[.]εσλ[.(?)]. Second rider's horse: between the legs: τρε(.)[..]ν̣υ̣σ. To right of the head: τεδϝσλσ̣. Third rider's horse: between the legs: εολυοελσ. Fourth rider's horse: between the legs: τεοε(π)ενευ. To right of the head: παστοεσ. Fifth rider's horse: between thelegs: (.)[.](.)ευσ̣υ. To right of the head: [.]σ.

Commentary: A small vase. Digamma U-shaped. One pi miswritten. Rho D-shaped.

Bibliography: Photo.

Author: H.R.I.

χευστε̣[..] τοε[.]εσλ[.(?)] > uGYE USZíT E [HaJ]-TÓ E[LL]ÉS eL[ŐTT] > Ugye uszít e [haj]tó e[ll]és el[őtt]? (Does this driver/rider incite you before foaling?)

τρε(.)[..]ν̣υ̣σ τεδϝσλσ̣ > TeREL [GYA]NÚS üT-E De ViSeLőS > Terel, [gya]nús üt-e, de viselős (He drives me, I suspect he would hit me, but he is bearable.)

εολυοελς > E ÖLŰ Ő ÉLeS > E ölű ő éles. (This is a buzzard, he is sharp.)

τεοε(π)ενευ παστοες > üT-E Ő ÉPPEN EVVe' BASZuTa Ő ES > Üt-e ő éppen evvel? Baszuta (együgyű, élhetetlen) ő es. (Does he hits me with this exactly? He is also foolish/helpless.)

(.)[.](.)ευσ̣υ [.]σ > []ευιυ [.]σ > [TeRH]E ÚJU' [I]S > [terh]e újul [i]s (Its burden also renews.)

AVI 1903; BAD 390305

Athens, Vlastos (now N.M.?) . BF lekythos. Sappho Painter. Early fifth.

Decoration: Athena fighting a giant; at left another, fleeing.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: to right of the left giant's face: hπσν. To right of Athena's face: κλστπ.

Commentary: The inscriptions typical of this painter.

Bibliography: Photo. Haspels (1936), [[227/]]34.

Author: H.R.I.

hπσν > HiBáSaN/HiBáS Nő > hibásan (by mistake)

κλστπ > oKoL eSTéBe’ > okol estében (in his/her fall one blames others)


Hibásan okol estében. (In his/her fall one blames others by mistake.)

AVI 1927; BAD 205298

Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum B 9. RF cup. From Chiusi. Douris. 480-470. Late (Beazley). Late period (Buitron-Oliver).

Decoration: Int.: Hermes teaching a boy to spin a top; two floral ornaments above. Ext.: plain.

Inscriptions: Int.: Along left margin: καλοςχh{1}.

Footnotes: {1} two nonsense letters added to καλος.

Bibliography: VA (1918), 99. D.M. Robinson, CVA Robinson 2, USA 6 (1937), pl. 12 (bibl.). ARV[2] (1963), 445/251. E.R. Williams (1984), 175-76 (Int., A). Add.[2] (1989), 241. Buitron-Oliver (1995), 85/239, pl. 111.

Author: H.R.I.

καλοςχh > oKA iLLÓS GYuHa > Oka illós gyuha (juha, keresztfa). (Its cause/reason is a volatile/spiritual bearer/prop.)


Today we would call that cause that makes a rotating rigid body maintain its state of uniform rotational motion rotational inertia, but two and a half thousand years ago it was a mystery.



AVI 1937; BAD 7481

Baltimore, Walters Art Museum 48.41. BF band cup. Unattributed. Third quarter sixth. 550-530.

Decoration: A: Calydonian boar hunt. B: Similar.

Inscriptions: A: a nonsense inscription by each figure: γ̣σεσυ (rider). εσυλ (horse). ειϝ (rider). χεσ(π)λ (horse). πυρρφ̣ (rider). χεσϝσκϝ (horse). οεσυαοτοσ (the boar). εσυρι̣σος (horse). πασει (rider). χειπυ (horse). χενι (rider). εσλ(σ)λ (horse). I have no note of an inscription for the last rider. B: I have no record of an inscription for the leftmost horse. θελοσ (rider). πασυ̣κοϝ (horse). θεοκοασ (rider). χε(ο)υ(ο)υ̣α (the boar? or a horse). I have no record of inscriptions to the right of the boar.

Commentary: Cartwheel theta. Alphas hard to distinguish from digammas. Digamma F- and U-shaped. Omicron, pi and sigma in many shapes.

Author: H.R.I.


γ̣σεσυ εσυλ > λσεσυ εσυλ > éLeS ESZŰ E SULa > Éles eszű e sula (kajlafülű). (This droopy eared (boar) is sharp-minded.)

ειϝ χεσ(π)λ > E JóVa' üGYE SZéPüL > E jóval ügye szépül. (With this goodies its case is getting nicer.)

πυρρφ̣ χεσϝσκϝ > BŰRéRe FeGYES VeSZeKVő > Bűrére fegyes (fegyelmezett) veszekvő. (A quarrelsome disciplined on its skin.)

οεσυαοτοσ > ϙεσυαϙτοσ{Commentary} > KÉSő VAKíTÓ SZó > Késő vakító szó. (The blinding word is too late now.)

εσυρισος > εσυρισϙς{Commentary} > E SZó ÚRI SZoKáS > E szó úri szokás. (This word is mastery convention.)

πασει χειπυ > aBBA' eSÉLY íGY E JóBÚ’ > Abban esély így e jóbúl. (In that is the chance from this good.)

χενι εσλ(σ)λ > íGY ENNI E SuLa SüL > Így enni e sula sül. (So, to eat this droopy eared is roasting.)



θελοσ πασυκοϝ > CSELÖS iPA' SZŰK ÓVó > cselös ipall szűk óvó (it hides guileful in narrow protecting)

θεοκοασ χε(ο)υ(ο)υα > Φεϙκοϝσ χεϙυθυα{Commentary} > FEK KÖVeSSe iGYEKVő CSóVA > fek kövesse igyekvő csóva (lair, if a striving bunch follow him)


Cselös ipall (rejtőzködik) szűk óvó fek, kövesse igyekvő csóva. (It hides guileful in narrow protecting lair, if a striving bunch follow him.)


AVI 1938; BAD 207782

Baltimore, Walters Art Museum 48.56. RF neck amphora. Ethiop Painter. Second quarter fifth. 460-450 (Oakley).

Decoration: A: youth with spears (Theseus?){1} pursuing a woman. B: draped youth with his staff.

Inscriptions: A: nonsense: to right of youth's open mouth: νκοσσ(ο){2}. To right of woman's head: κ. Under foot, Gr.: ligature of R, Π, Ο. Not in Hackl (1909) or Johnston (1979){3}. The mark seems to be new.

Commentary: I have rubbings of the Gr.

Footnotes: {1} so ARV[2]. {2} vidi. CVA has: νκοσ. {3} Johnston (1979) has only rho plus omicron and pi plus omicron, neither in ligature (Oakley).

Bibliography: Massarenti (1897), ii, 37/188. ARV[2] (1963), 665/11. J.H. Oakley, CVA Baltimore 1, USA 28 (1992), pls. 3 and 4,1-2, p. 3 (facs.).

Author: H.R.I

νκοσσ(ο) > eNYe'KŐS SZÓ' > enyelkős szól (wantonly speaks)

κ ρπο > Ki RaBO' > ki rabol (he who robs)


Enyelkős (enyelgős) szól, ki rabol. (Wantonly speaks (jacks around) he who robs.)


AVI 1947; BAD 207963

Baltimore, Walters Art Museum 48.257. RF lekythos. Bowdoin Painter. Ca. 480-470 (Oakley).

Decoration: Nike with phiale flying to an altar.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: imitation letters{1}: to left of her middle: σ(ο)(.)σ(.). To right of the forehead: (h)(h)(h)(ο̣). To right of the middle: (.)(σ)(σ)ισ. To her lower right: ιυσλισ.

Commentary: Most of the letters misshapen and hard to identify.

Footnotes: {1} my readings.

Bibliography: ARV[2] (1963), 678/16 (no bibl.). J.H. Oakley, CVA Baltimore 1, USA 28 (1992), pls. 34,3-4 and 37,2, fig. 9,2; p. 33, fig. 33.

Author: H.R.I.

σ(ο)(.)σ(.) > SZÓ E’SZÁ’ > szó elszáll (word flies away)

(h)(h)(h)(ο̣) > Ha HuHO’ > ha huhol (when hoots/ululates)

(.)(σ)(σ)ισ > KiS SÜSü > kis süsü (little simpleton)

ιυσλις > JuSS LISZa > juss lisza (patrimony is interlocking)


Szó elszáll ha huhol kis süsü, – (de) juss lisza (fonat, összefonódás). (Word flies away when hoots/ululates a little simpleton, (but) patrimony is interlocking.)


AVI 1977; BAD 260

Basel, Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig BS 415. RF column krater. Unattributed. First quarter fifth. Ca. 480 (CVA).

Decoration: A: dithyrambic or tragic chorus? Six youths in pairs of two, moving to left with outstretched arms; at left, an altar and behind it, the upper part of a bearded man, singing. B: two satyrs dancing around a large volute krater.

Inscriptions: A: on the middle step of the altar, interrupted by the front youths' forward legs, hasty: (κ)(α)^(λ)(ο)<ς>{1}. To right of the bearded man's open mouth: φε(.)σεο{2}. Under the raised arms of the first pair, facing the figures: αοοι(ο), retr.{3}. B: on the reserved neck of the krater: καλ[ος].

Commentary: Unusual mixture of sense and nonsense. Are the two inscriptions attached to figures representing their songs?

Footnotes: {1} CVA has the last letter as [ς], but there is not room. {2} the third letter is a dot in the facs., not visible in the photo. Nonsense or miswritten? {3} the last letter open at the bottom and more like a narrow pi with equal verticals. Nonsense.

Bibliography: M. Schmidt (1967), 70ff., pls. 19,1-2 (A, B) and 21,1 (A). LIMC iii (1986), pl. 401, Dionysus 845 and pp. 505, 507. V. Slehoferova, CVA Basel 3, Switzerland 7 (1988), pls. 6,3-4, 7,3-5, Beilage 2,1, p. 22 (facs) (much bibl.).

Author: H.R.I.

A:       (κ)(α)^(λ)(ο)<ς> > Kő ÁLLÓ > Kő álló. (Stone stands.)

φε(.)σεο > φε(ToSZ ‘dot’)σεο{2} > FÉ'TőS éSSZE' Ő > Féltős ésszel ő (With jealous mind he)

αοοι(ο) >αφϙιπ{3} > A Fő KaJaBa/KaJBa > a fő kajaba/kajba (the main roaring/fatigue)


Kő álló. Féltős ésszel ő a fő kajaba/kajba (galiba). (Stone stands. With jealous mind he is the main roaring/fatigue.)


B:       καλ[ος] > Kő ÁLLóS > Kő állós. (The stone is lasting.)

AVI 1978; BAD 252

Basel, Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig BS 424. BF amphora. Very close to Lydos (CVA). Third quarter sixth. Ca. 550 (CVA).

Decoration: A: three satyrs and two maenads dancing (the central satyr has a frontal face). B: similar, but no frontal face.

Inscriptions: Nonsense: A: ten strings of letters: E.g.: between the central satyr's legs: νεο^νο^νι^α̣σ{1}. To left of the same satyr: ονεολ... {2}. Above the central satyr's left arm: νεονεονυσ. To right of the central satyr's raised left leg: νεονεονε^πο. B: similar: eight inscriptions.

Commentary: The facs. in CVA is not accurate. Some inscriptions seem to imitate names, cf. my readings from the postcard which are somewhat better: A: ... to left of left satyr's back, vertically down: 13 letters. To right of his left leg, curving downward: σονσ̣οπνεσ. To right of left maenad's chest, under her raised left arm, diagonally downward, not facing her: [--]ονεου̣[...]σ̣, retr. Between middle satyr's legs, vertically down: νεονονι̣οσ. To right of his right arm, diagonally downward: νεονεονυσ. To right of his legs, vertically downward, facing him: νεονεονεπο. Complete. To right of right maenad's chest, under her raised left arm, downward: νει̣εονενσ. To right of right satyr's chest, downward: 6+ letters. To right of his legs, vertically down: 9 letters.

Footnotes: {1} the alpha could be a rho. {2} cut of by the photo, pl. 28,4.

Bibliography: Photo (post card). Schefold (1966), no. 102,1. Tiverios (1976), 130/31. J. Descoeudres, CVA Basel 1, Switzerland 4 (1981), pl. 28, p. 86 (facs. of one inscr.). AttScr (1990), no. 124.

Author: H.R.I.

σονσ̣οπνεσ{Commentary} > σϙνσ̣ϙπνεσ > SoK NőS KiBeN ÉSZ > Sok nős kiben ész. (There are many married man with brain.)

νεο^νο^νι^α̣σ > νεονονι̣οσ{Commentary} / νεϙνϙνι̣ρσ{1} > NE' KiNeK NYŰ RoSSZ > Nej kinek nyű rossz! (The one, to whom wife is a burden, is bad!)

ονεολ... > [--]ϙνεϙυ̣[...]σ̣{Commentary} > [NeJ] KöNNYE KiVé[TeLe]S > [Nej] könnye kivé[tele]s. (He would back away/go around anyway.)

νεονεονυσ > νεϙνεϙνυσ > NE' KöNNYE KöNNYŰ eSő > Nej könnye könnyű eső. (The wife's tear is a light rain.)

νεονεονε^πο > νεϙνεϙνε^πο > NE' KöNNYE KéNNYE' BŐ > Nej könnye kénnyel bő. (The wife's tear is abundant with pleasure.)

νειεονενσ > νειεϙνενσ > NEJJE' KöNNYű-E NőS > Nejjel könnyű-e, nős? (Husband, is it easy with wife?)

AVI 1983; BAD 200195

Basel, Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig BS 437. RF hydria (kalpis). Pioneer Group. Last quarter sixth. 510-500 (CVA).

Decoration: Shoulder: Heracles and the Lion; behind them, a tree.

Inscriptions: Shoulder: nonsense: above Heracles' back and the tree, below the top margin: λοκρε. Behind the lion, along the right-hand margin, facing in: εγονο(.){1}. Under the foot, two Grr. opposite each other: ligature of alpha with horizontal sign shaped like an I-bar plus a three-stroke sigma(?).

Commentary: Ex Arlesheim, Schweizer. For the type of `Euthymidean' nonsense inscriptions on these kalpides, see AttScr (1990), 71 n. 35 and Immerwahr (1992), 53.

Bibliography: ARV[2] (1963), 34/13. Johnston (1979), 129/8E 28. V. Slehoferova, CVA Basel 3, Switzerland 7 (1988), pl. 14,1-3, Beilage 5,2, p. 32 (facs.).

Author: H.R.I.

λοκρε εγονο(.) {Α+Γ+Σ} {Α+Γ+Σ} > éLŐKRE E GONO(SZ) ÁGoS AGGoS > Élőkre e gonosz ágos aggos. (On living people this evil furry beast is qualmish.)


AVI 1984;

Basel, Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig BS 438. RF cup. From Vulci. Bonn Painter. First quarter fifth.

Decoration: Int.: a woman dancing with krotala; at right, a mirror. A: athletes: flautist; discobolus; bearded man (trainer or lover?); acontist; spears; discobolus; jumper; spears. B: deer hunt: nude rider; stag, dog and falcon; tree; horseman; hunter; archer; palm tree.

Inscriptions: Int.: along the woman's back, facing away from her, the words separated: hο παις καλος, retr. To left of her legs: καλε, retr. On the mirror, in relief, one letter in each quadrant: καλε. Ext.: litter of letters reminiscent of the Nikosthenic circle. Mixture of nonsense inscriptions with attempts to write ho pais kalos. A: hο παις κ(α)λ(ο)ς. καλε. In other positions: nonsense: ιοαγλα. (κ)(μ)(.)(.)(.)(.), retr. Other nonsense and more repetitions of ho pais kalos or parts of it. Ten inscriptions in all. B: eleven inscriptions similar to those on A. E.g., between the legs of one horse: hο (π)(.)ιακ<α>(λ)ο(ς), retr. except pi, and partly upside down.

Commentary: Ex San Simeon, Hearst (see ARV[1]). Ex Arlesheim, Schweizer. (Ex Brummer collection?) - Attic alphabet. Idiosyncratic letter forms.

Bibliography: Photos. ARV[1] (1942), 44/β. ARV[2] (1963), 351/8. V. Slehoferova, CVA Basel 2, Switzerland 6 (1984), pls. 13,1, 14,1-2, 35,1,5, 39,3, Beilage 4,1, facss. on pp. 31-32 (much bibl.). Add.[2] (1989), 221.

Author: H.R.I.

hο παις καλος καλε > Ha Ő PAJZS Ki ÁLLÓS KiÁLL-E > Ha ő pajzs ki állós, kiáll-e? (If he is the shield who stands, will he stand out?)

καλε > KiÁLL-E > Kiáll-e? (Will he stand out?)

ιοαγλα > JÓ A GáLA > Jó a gála. (The gala is good.)

AVI 1992; BAD 7692

Basel, Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig BS 460. BF skyphos{1}. Group of Rhodes 11941 (CVA){2}. 530-520 (CVA).

Decoration: A: chariot with apobates. B: similar.

Inscriptions: A: nonsense: to left of scene: εινεονεν(γ)ν. To right: εινει(.)νει. B: similar (partly imitation letters): ε̣(.)(.)ϝ̣ο̣(.)νινεν{3}. And: ειονεγ.

Commentary: Tiny letters. For attribution and parallels see CVA.

Footnotes: {1} of Hermogenean type. {2} add to Para. 86f. {3} I am not sure that my note indicated a digamma.

Bibliography: J. Descoeudres, CVA Basel 1, Switzerland 4 (1981), pl. 33,5-6,8-9; p. 94 (facss.).

Author: H.R.I.



εινεονεν(γ)ν εινει(.)νει > εινεϙνενλν εινει(.)νει > ÉJ NEKi íNYÉN LáNY ÉJeN EJ[Tő] NEJ > Éj neki ínyén, lány éjen ej[tő] nej. (The night is on his palate, the girl is at night falling wife.)



ε̣(.)(.)ϝ̣ο̣(.)νινεν ειονεγ > ε̣(.)(.)ϝ̣ο̣(.)νινεν ειϙνεγ > É[L Ti]VO[R]NYa INNEN ÉJ KéNYE'Gő > É[l ti]vo[r]nya, innen éj kényelgő! (Bacchanal/orgy lives, from here the night is at pleasure!)