Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum: 54.1568


Greek text:   SEG_54.1568
Provenance:   Alexandria , Arachosia
Date:   late 2nd century B.C.
Format:   see key to translations

This inscription, composed in elegiac couplets, has rightly received a lot of attention since it was first published in 2004. It is one of the two key pieces of evidence for an interest in Greek literature, as well as just the Greek language, in the distant kingdom of Bactria - the other evidence being the inscriptions from Ai-Khanoum.

The inscription was probably discovered near Kandahar in Afghanistan. The translation is by Adrian Hollis, as adapted by Rachel Mairs in "A Companion to Diaspora and Transnationalism" ( Google Books ).

The irresistible force of the trio of Fates destroyed the house of my forefathers, which had flourished greatly for many years. But I, Sophytos son of Naratos, pitiably bereft while quite small of my ancestral livelihood, after I had acquired the virtue of the of the Archer [Apollo] and the Muses, mixed with noble prudence, then did consider how I might raise up again my family house. Obtaining interest-bearing money from another source, I left home, keen not to return before I possessed wealth, the supreme good. Thus, by travelling to many cities for commerce, I acquired ample riches without reproach. Becoming celebrated, I returned to my homeland after countless years, and showed myself, bringing pleasure to well-wishers. Straightaway I built afresh my paternal home, which was riddled with rot, making it better than before, and also, since the tomb had collapsed to the ground, I constructed another one and, during my lifetime, set upon it by the roadside this loquacious plaque. Thus may the sons and grandsons of myself, who completed this enviable work, possess my house.

The first letter of each Greek line spells the acrostic: "Through Sophytos the son of Naratos."

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