Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum: 557


Greek text:   Magnesia_6   ( I.Magn. 16 )
Date:     after 208/7 B.C.
Tags:     inviolability ,   games+festivals ,   oracles

This inscription contains the Magnesians' own account of the epiphany of the goddess Artemis in 221/0 B.C., and their subsequent attempts to celebrate it. It reveals that there was a delay of thirteen years before the 'crowned' games were established - a surprising delay, which has given rise to much debate among modern scholars.

The translation of this 'difficult text' is adapted from the translations by J.D.Sosin, "Magnesian Inviolability", page 371 ( PDF ) and by K.J.Rigsby, "Asylia: Territorial Inviolability in the Hellenistic World", pp.186-7 ( Google Books ). Both these writers have provided full commentaries on the inscription.

. . . but later, after Artemis Leukophryene manifested herself to them, [they sent] Agaristos {to Delphi} and the god {Apollo} proclaimed in response to [their] enquiry: "It is better and more auspicious for those who honour [Pythian] Apollo and Artemis Leukophryene, and who recognise the city and country of the Magnesians [as sacred and inviolable]." 10 After the manifestation [of Artemis] had occurred and they received the oracle, when Zenodotos was stephanephoros, and Thrasyphon was archon in Athens, in the year after the citharode . . . of Boeotia won the contest at the [Pythian games], and the year before the 140th Olympiad, in which Hagesidamos of Messenia won the pankration [for (?) the third time]; first of those dwelling in Asia, they [voted] to establish [crowned] games, taking this to be the sense of the oracle: [that those] who are pious [towards] the divine will honour Artemis Leukophryene best if, 20 in [following] the Magnesians to the [old] altar, [they should render] pleasing gifts to the Foundress, inasmuch as also other games were at first established with prizes of money, but subsequently [became] crowned games owing to oracles.

But after they had been hindered in their attempts, when the stephanephoros was Moiragoras, who was the fourteenth from Zenodotos, under whom the oracle came to them, they recalled their ancestral [friendships] and they revealed also to others [all that had been proclaimed in the oracle]. When Moiragoras was stephanephoros, they [proclaimed] the crowned games equal to the Pythian games, giving a crown of 50 gold staters [to the goddess]. 30 The kings and the other Greeks to whom they sent embassies accepted the games, having [voted] in nations and cities to honour Artemis Leukophryene, and to recognise the city and territory of the Magnesians [as inviolable] because of [the god's] advice, and [to retain] the [friendship] and kinship that has existed since ancestral times between the Magnesians and all of them . . .

inscription 558

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