I’ve been making my way through The Inscriptions of Sinope, the latest in the series on Greek inscriptions of Asia Minor (bibliography below). Sinope was a Greek city on the northern coast of Turkey. Its location on the Black Sea made it important for sea trade, and the sailor and “heretic” Marcion was from this city. A few of the inscriptions stood out to me and I thought I’d share them with you.
The first is a very successful boxer of the first or second century who may well match or beat Sugar Ray:
M(arcus) Iutius Marcianus Rufus, outstanding boxer of Sinope, who won victories in the sacred triumphal competitions: at Rome in the Capitoline, 3 times in succession — at Neapolis, twice — at the Actian (games), twice, the first and only Sinopean (to do so) – at the Nemean (games), twice – at the Isthmian (games), twice – at the Pythian (games) – at the Olympic (games) – at the Panathenaic (games), the first and only Sinopean (to do so) – at Antiocheia (in Syria), 3 times, the first and only ever of the youth and men’s classes in one day, in the men’s class – in the Pythian games at Antiocheia – at Nicomedia, 3 times, the first and only ever in the under-age, youth and men’s classes – at the (Provincial) Community of Asia games at Smyrna, Pergamum, and Ephesus – at the Aspis at Argos, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Asia games at Sardis, twice, at Philadelphia, twice, at Traelles, twice, at Hierapolis, twice, at Laodiceia, twice, at Thyateira, twice, at Mytilene, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Pontus games, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Galatia games, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Macedonia games – at the (Provincial) Community of Bithynia games at Nicaea, twice – at the (Provincial) Community of Cappadocia games – and at other competitions in the half-talent class, 110 times. (In all) 150 victories. By decision of the Senate (ISinope 105; trans. by French with adaptations, see below).
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” I guess.
The second is the grave of a Cynic philosopher of the second or third century. This is the first grave of such a philosopher I have encountered, but there may well be others:
This then is (the) stone of a man whom, moreover, — an expounder of wisdom — this city has produced, [ – – ] of [ – – ] Perseus. Why does he have the name “wing”? Tell us! Because a raised wing too drew (him) through the air of Greece. This Perseus (was) [inclined] too towards Cynic thought, since he carried a wallet (and) a scimitar (small sword) in the place of a staff . . . (ISinope 171; trans. French, with adaptations).
The third involves the grave-stone of a shipper from Sinope (first-third century CE), the hometown of another more renowned shipper, named Marcion:
Hail, O passer-by! (I), Callinicus, having sailed (over) many waves, sailed (on) the last voyage of Lethe, (I) whom the sea in the deeps did not extinguish, but the earth destroyed by a heavy sickness; having lived two and thirty years, eager to come to (the) fate of (my) younger brother Calligonus, long dead, having lived nobly for fourteen years; thus are the plans of (the) fates arranged. Iulius Callinicus, ship-master (naukleros), lies here (ISinope 169).
This inscription also points to another reality of life in the ancient world, namely, the short life expectancy: Callinicus lived to the age of only 32 and his brother had died when he was only 14.
I plan to do more posts on interesting inscriptions I encounter.
David H. French, ed., The Inscriptions of Sinope (Inschriften griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien, vol 64; Bonn: Rudolf Habelt, 2004).