Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum: 8.13


Greek text:   SEG_8.13 ,   IG_12.4.2.690
Provenance:   Kos
Date:   c. 30 B.C.
Tags:     tyrants
Format:   see key to translations

This inscription is famous because it has long been associated with Nazareth. However, recent research has shown that the stone on which it was carved came from the island of Kos ( Journal of Archaeological Science ). It has been suggested that if the inscription was originally located in Kos, it could be associated with the desecration of the tomb of the 'tyrant' Nikias. This cannot be proved, but the specific mention of 'casting out bodies' fits in with an epigram of Krinagoras ( Anth.Pal. 9.81 ), which describes the fate of Nikias.

For a full discussion of the career of Nikias of Kos, see K. Buraselis, "Kos between Hellenism and Rome", pp. 25-65 ( ). Over twenty short inscriptions referring to Nikias have been found on Kos, with almost identical texts; an example is given at B.

The translation of A is adapted from B.M. Metzger, "The Nazareth Inscription Once Again" ( Google Books ).

[A]   Ordinance of Caesar.

It is my pleasure that graves and tombs - whoever has made them as a pious service for ancestors or children or members of their household - that these remain unmolested in perpetuity. But if any person lay information that another person has destroyed them, or has in any other way cast out the bodies which have been buried there, or 10 with malicious deception has transferred them to other places, to the dishonour of those buried there, or has removed the headstones or other stones, in such a case I command that a trial be instituted, protecting the pious services of mortals, just as if they were concerned with the gods. For beyond all else it shall be obligatory to honour those who have been buried. Let no one remove them for any reason. 20 If anyone does so, however, it is my will that he shall suffer capital punishment on the charge of tomb-robbery.

[B]   To the ancestral gods, on behalf of the safety of Nikias, son of the people {damos}, the lover of his fatherland, hero, and benefactor of the city.

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