The Aretalogy of Sarapis by Maiistas: Some Literary Remarks

The aim of this paper is to retake into consideration some philological and literary aspects of the aretalogy of Sarapis by Maiistas.* After a brief introduction of the poem and its author, I will add commentary notes, focusing especially on its main textual problems. These notes are meant to complement Engelmann’s commentary, with the addition of a more recent bibliography. Since Maiistas’s aretalogy is not always easy to find in libraries, I have included the text of Engelmann’s edition before the commentary notes. [1]

What is the Delian Aretalogy of Sarapis and Who is Its Author?

The aretalogy of Sarapis by Maiistas is a poem consisting of 65 dactylic hexameters composed between the end of the 3rd century BCE and the first part of the 2nd century BCE. It was inscribed in a little column (125 cm = 49 in.) which was placed in one of the sanctuaries of Sarapis (the Sarapieion A) on the island of Delos. The inscription is the unique testimony of the poem. [2]
The poem tells the story of the foundation of the temple in Delos by the priest Apollonios II, who was part of a lineage of priests of Sarapis. His grandfather was Apollonios I, who had imported the cult of Sarapis from Egypt, his native land. The father of Apollonios II was Demetrios, who in turn had inherited the profession from his father, handing it then down to his son. The inheritance of the priesthood was customary in Egyptian religion.
In the little column, the poem is preceded by a prose section, in which the persona loquens is Apollonios II. This prose section gives some information about the grandfather and the father of the speaker and tells the story of the foundation of the sanctuary. There is, then, some overlap between the prose account and the poetic one.
Besides this inscription, there is no other occurrence of the name Maiistas (Μαιίστας). The comparison with Saistes (Σαΐστης), a presumably Egyptian priest attested in a Rhodian (?) inscription (IG XII 1.33; around 200 BCE), has led Hiller (SIG 663, n. 8) to think that Maiistas is an Egyptian-born poet. [3] On the other hand, Powell (1929:42) proposed a comparison with Persian names such as Masistes/-as (Herodotus 7.82, 9.107.1 et passim; v.l. Aeschylus’s Persians 30; 971). [4] Either way, the name is supposedly non-Greek. This fact had led scholars to overestimate Maiistas’s linguistic misuses and to conclude that he was not well enough trained in writing Greek. But, as Moyer (2011:183–184) has shown, this is not entirely true. Real linguistic flaws are actually few. What scholars have found to be incorrect has been proved by Moyer to be paralleled in other Hellenistic writers. However, some eccentricities remain: the line division at ll. 23–24 ἀλλοδαπῶι ἐν | οὔδει, the unclear οὗ at l. 33, the expression πᾶσαν | ἠῶ τε νύκτας τε at ll. 41–42, the use of περιώσιον at l. 50. [5]
The trend followed by the most recent scholars who have analyzed Maiistas’s poem is to consider it in full correspondence with the Hellenistic cultural environment. This trend is clear especially in Moyer’s 2011 study of the inscription, in which the scholar traces a series of allusions to the story of the Odyssey and some Egyptian traditional myths. [6] Moreover, as Furley (2012) notes, some faults could be due to the stonecutter or to the copyist(s) who prepared the fair copy for the stonecutter and not to Maiistas himself. As will be clear in the commentary on the individual passages, the present contribution complies with this recent trend.
Maiistas is a poet who proves to handle a large part of Greek literature. Engelmann (1975:25) notes that Maiistas “had read Homer and, of the tragedians, especially Euripides, and, of the Alexandrians, Theocritus and perhaps Lycophron.” Moyer (2011:184n141), building on Engelmann’s commentary, adds Hesiod, Pindar, Aristophanes and Apollonios of Rhodes to the authors whom Maiistas knows or with whom he apparently shares terms or expressions. [7] In fact, the connections with Hesiod and Aristophanes (see Engelmann (1975:48, 54) do not seem strong enough to support some influence of their works on Maiistas’s poem. Regarding the influence of previous literature, we may add that, at least in one case (l. 43), Maiistas seems to contaminate a passage from the Odyssey with another one from Apollonius’s Argonautica, thus adopting a typically Hellenistic technique.
As for the metrics, Moyer (2011:184) observes that Maiistas’s “verses make allowances in metrical quantity that were also permissible in Homer or in other Hellenistic poets” and that Maiistas exhibits a tendency to place syntactical breaks at the bucolic diaeresis which is comparable to that of other Hellenistic poets. [8] As for the infractions of metrical laws, there does not seem to be anything particularly relevant in comparison to other early Hellenistic poetry. [9] However, a thorough study of Maiistas’s metric and prosodic features remains a desideratum.
Maiistas uses the Homeric Kuntsprache but with elements deriving from different kinds of texts: see the Dorisms θυηπολέεν (l. 13) and συνάορος (l. 64), the Atticisms τἀπολλωνίου (7) and δίκη in the meaning of “accusation” (l. 38). About the latter, Furley (2012:121) speaks of “‘atticizing’ epic diction” and is willing to introduce new Attic elements in the text (see the comment on ll. 8 and 16). The presence of Attic elements may depend both on the influence of literary texts and on that of documentary texts (given the political influence that Athens had on Delos), while the presence of Dorisms should be accounted as an influence of the lyric poetry (from tragedy or Pindar) and/or Theocritus.
On a different level, the possible use of the Attic alphabet at ll. 6, 42, and 52 could be due as much to the poet as to the stonecutter or the copyist(s) who prepared the fair copy. In any case, it shows the influence of the Attic writing system in the Delian culture. The same can be said for the Attic elements in the prose account (see Engelmann’s comments on ll. 10 and 25 of that part of the inscription).
Other kinds of innovations of the Homeric diction in the aretalogy may concern the lexicon (e.g. τύρσιας at l. 2, ὅμευνος and the use of the middle form ηὔδηται at l. 3, the singular δέμνιον at l. 17) or the metrical-formulaic system (words that are attested in Homer but in different metrical sedes, such as e.g. Αἰγύπτοιο at l. 2; modified Homeric formula, such as the ones at l. 21 and 45; see also at l. 42).
As in the case of the metrical and prosodic features, also Maiistas’s language deserves a more in-depth analysis than what I have been able to do in these short introductory lines.

The text of the poem (Engelmann’s edition)

μυρία καὶ θαμβητὰ σέθεν, πολύαινε Σάραπι, 
ἔργα, τὰ μὲν θείας ἀνὰ τύρσιας Αἰγύπτοιο 
ηὔδηται, τὰ δὲ πᾶσαν ἀν’ Ἑλλάδα, σεῖό θ’ ὁμεύνου 
Ἴσιδος· ἐσθλοῖσιν δὲ σαώτερες αἰὲν ἕπεσθε
ἀνδράσιν οἱ κατὰ πάντα νόωι ὅσια φρονέουσιν. (5)
καὶ γάρ τ’ ἀμφιάλει Δήλωι ἀρίσημα τέλεσσας
τἀπολλωνίου ἱρὰ καὶ εἰς μέγαν ἤγαγες αἶνον.
<πα>τ<ρ>ὸς δ’ οἱ δηναιὰ πατὴρ ἐκόμισσεν ἀπ’ αὐτῆς 
Μέμφιδος, ὁππότε νηὶ πολυζύγωι ἤλυθεν ἄστυ 
Φοίβου· ἔνδον ἑιῶι δ’ ἀέκων ἵδρυσε μελάθρωι (10)
καί σε φίλως θυέ<ε>σσιν ἀρέσσατο· τὸμ μὲν ἄρ’ αἰών
γηραιὸν κατέπεφνε, λίπεν δ’ ἐν σεῖο τεράμνωι
υἷα θυηπολέεν Δημήτριον, ὧι ἐπίπαγχυ 
γήθησαν θέραπες. τοῦ μὲγ κλύες εὐξαμένοιο 
εἰκὼ χαλκείην νειῶι θέμεν εὖ δὲ τελέσσαι, (15)
ἔννυχος ἀντιπάτ<ρωι δὲ> καθυπνώοντι φαανθείς 
δεμνίωι ἤνωγες τελέσαι χρέος. ἀλλ’ ὅτε καὶ τὸν 
γηραλέον λίπε μοῖρα, πάϊς γε μὲν ἐσθλὰ διδαχθείς 
ἐκ πατρὸς μεγάλως σέβεν ἱερά, πᾶν δὲ κατ’ ἦμαρ
σὰς ἀρετὰς ἤειδεν, ἀεὶ δ’ ἐλλίσ<σ>ετο νειόν (20)
ὅππηι σοι δείμειεν ἀριφραδέως καταλέξαι 
ἔννυχο<ν> ὑπνώοντι, διηνεκὲς ὄφρα κε μίμνοις
σηκῶι ἐνιδρυθεὶς μηδ’ ἄλλυδις ἀλλοδαπῶι ἐν 
οὔδει ἐνιχρίμπτοιο. σὺ δ’ ἔφρασας ἀκλέα χῶρον
ὄντα πάρος καὶ ἄσημον, ἀεὶ πεπληθότα λύθρωι (25)
παντοίωι μετὰ πολλὸν ἔτι χρόνον· ἐννύχιος γάρ
εὐνῆι ἐπιπρομολὼν λέγες· “ἔγρεο· βαῖνε δὲ μέσσα 
παστάδος ἀμφὶ θύρεθρα καὶ εἴσιδε γράμμα τυπωθέν 
τυτθῆς ἐκ βύβλοιο τό σε φρονέοντα διδάξει 
ὅππηι μοι τέμενος τεύχηις καὶ ἐπικλέα νειόν.” (30)
αὐτὰρ ὁ θαμβήσας ἀναέγρετο, βὰς δὲ μάλ’ ὠκύς
ἀσπ<α>σίως ἴδε γράμμα, καὶ ὤπασεν ἀργυραμοιβόν
τιμὴν οὗ κτέαρ ἔσκε· σέθεν θ’ ἅμα βουλομένοιο 
ῥηϊδίως καὶ νειὸς ἀέξετο καὶ θυόεντες 
βωμοὶ καὶ τέμενος, τετέλεστο δὲ πάντα μελάθρωι (35)
ἕδρανά τε κλισμοί τε θεοκλήτους ἐπὶ δαῖτας. 
καὶ τότε δή ῥα κακοῖσι κακὸς Φθόνος ἔνβαλε λύσσαν
ἀνδράσιν οἵ ῥα δίκηι ἀνεμωλίωι ἐκλήϊσσαν
δοιὼ σὸν θεράποντα, κακὸν δ’ ἐπὶ θεσμὸν ἔτευχον
«ἢ τί χρὴ παθέειν ἢ ἐκ τίνα τῖσαι ἀμοιβήν (40)
θωῆς» ἐνγράψαντα. κακῶι θ’ ὑπὸ δείματι πᾶσαν
ἠῶ τε {ιν} νύκτας τε περὶ κραδίην ἐλέλιζεν
τάρβος θειοπόλοιο· σὲ δὲ σταλάων ἅμα δάκρυ 
λίσσετ’ ἀλεξῆσαι μηδ’ ἀκλέα τεῦξαι ἀμοιβήν
σῶι ἱκέτει, θανάτου δὲ κακὰς ἀπὸ κῆρας ἐρῦξαι. (45)
οὐδὲ σύ, παμνήστοισιν ἐφεσπόμενος πραπίδεσσι,
λήσαο τοῦ, νύχιος δὲ μολὼν ἐπὶ δέμνια φωτός
ηὔδησας· “μέθες ἄλγος ἀπὸ φρενός· οὔ σέ τις ἀνδρός 
ψῆφος ἀϊστώσει, ἐπεὶ εἰς ἐμὲ τείνεται αὐτὸν 
ἥδε δίκη, τὴν οὔτις ἐμεῦ περιώσιον ἄλλος (50)
ἀνὴρ αὐδήσει· σὺ δὲ μηκέτι δάμναο θυμόν.” 
ἀλλ’ ὁπότε χρόνος ἷξε δικασπόλος, ἔγρετο ναοῖς 
πᾶσα πόλις καὶ πάντα πολυμιγέω<ν> ἅμα φῦλα 
ξείνων ὄφρα δίκης θεομήτιδος εἰσαΐοιεν.
ἔνθα {σα} σὺ κεῖνο πέλωρον ἐν ἀνδράσι θάνβος ἔτευξας (55)
σή τ᾽{ε} ἄλοχος· φῶτας γὰρ ἀλιτρο<νό>ους ἐπέδησας
οἵ ῥα δίκην πόρσυνον, ἐνὶ γναθμοῖς ὑπανύσσας
γλῶσσαν ἀναύδητον τῆς οὔτ’ ὄπιν ἔκλεεν οὐθείς
οὔτε γ<ρ>άμμα δίκης ἐπιτάρροθον· ἀλλ’ ἄρα θείως 
στεῦντο θεοπληγέσσιν ἐοικότας εἰδώλοισιν (60)
ἔμμεναι ἢ λάεσσιν· ἅπας δ’ ἄρα λαὸς ἐκείνωι
σὴν ἀρετὴν θάμβησεν ἐν ἤματι, κα<ὶ>μέγα κῦδος
σῶι τεῦξας θεράποντι θεόδμητον κατὰ Δῆλον. 
χαῖρε, μάκαρ, καὶ σεῖο συνάορος οἵ τ’ ἐνὶ νειῶι 
ἡμετέρωι γεγάασι θεοί, πολύυμνε Σάραπι. (65)

Commentary Notes on Maiistas’s Poem

1–7. Proemium. The god is addressed in the second person (du-Stil) from the beginning, as typical of the aretalogies. The proemium briefly presents some characteristics of Sarapis: the many miracles which he performed both in Egypt and in Greece and therefore the spread of his cult in these regions; the company of Isis; the help which Sarapis and Isis give to honest people. Lines 6–7 connect the general presentation to the specific occasion in which these characteristics have been shown, that is the pars epica of the poem.
1–3. The first lines insist on the idea of abundance (μυρία, πολύαινε) and the spread of the cult of Serapis. The hymn itself is proof of this abundance.
1. θαμβητὰ: this verbal adjective is attested elsewhere only in Lycophron (552). On the other hand, θαμβέω is a very common verb and it occurs elsewhere in Maiistas’s poem (cf. ll. 31, 62). πολύαινε Σάραπι: the god is invoked with attribute + name. As Moyer (2011:185) observes, the epithet πολύαινος (“much-praised”) is not surprising at the beginning of a hymn: see at ll. 1–3. Moyer (2011:185–186) further notes that πολύαινος is used, before late antiquity—and especially in Homer—exclusively for Odysseus (Iliad 9.673 = 10.544 ≈ Odyssey 12.184; Iliad 11.430; Lyrica Adespota fr. 7e.1.10 PMG). Therefore, the association between Serapis and Odysseus, which is the central point of Moyer’s pages, is clearly established from the very beginning of the poem.
2. τύρσιας: the term is frequent in Lycophron (717, 834, 1209, 1273). Αἰγύπτοιο is not attested at the end of the hexameter before Maiistas.
3a. ηὔδηται: cf. l. 48. In Homer, only the active form is attested. The middle and passive forms are attested from Pindar onwards.
3b–5. The consort Isis is associated with the god, as at the end of the poem (ll. 55–56, 64–65), in a sort of ring composition. For the association of other deities with the one whom the hymn is dedicated to, see de Hoz (2017:8–10) (in particular, p. 8 for our aretalogy).
3b. ὁμεύνου: the term is rare. In Hellenistic poetry, it is attested in Callimachus (fr. 228.12 Pf.), Damagetus (III BCE; Anthologia Palatina 7.735.3*) and Nicander (Theriaka 131*).
4–5. The first attestation, in this hymn, of the παρουσία of Serapis (and Isis) among their worshippers, which will then be confirmed by the apparition of the god in the dreams and by the miracle on the day of the trial, as well as—outside the narrative section—by the greeting addressed to the god at the closing of the poem. For the παρουσία in the accounts of Hellenistic cultic foundations, see de Hoz (2017:5). It is possible that ll. 4–5 are not to be understood in a generic sense (Serapis and Isis help the honest people) but in a more precise sense (Serapis and Isis help those who respect their religious precepts): see at l. 5, and de Hoz (2017:12–13). For the idea of Sarapis as a helper god see, in this issue, the contributions by Cuppi and Palombi.
5. ὅσια φρονέουσιν: the iunctura, in a sacred context, is found in a couplet inscribed in the sanctuary of Asclepius in Epidaurus, of uncertain dating (IGM 207 Preger): ἁγνὸν χρὴ ναοῖο θυώδεος ἐντὸς ἰόντα | ἔμμεναι· ἁγνεία δ᾽ ἐστὶ φρονεῖν ὅσια. [10] Cf. LSCG suppl. 82 ἁγνὸν πρὸς τέμενος στείχειν ὅσια φρονέοντα, which belongs probably to the late Hellenistic period and may be influenced by the previous inscription (see Petrovic (2016:408)). Even more interesting is LSCG suppl. 108.4–7 (1st century BCE), which repeats, almost word by word, the couplet of Epidaurus’s sanctuary, but it is linked to the celebrations for Sarapis (see Robertson (2013:231)). For the idea of purity of thoughts, cf. also Totti (1985), no. 61. The iunctura, but in a different context, in Euripides’s Electra 1203, Plutarch’s de Iside et Osiride 378d1 (on the Delphic oracle of Apollo), and in Euripides’s Hypsipyle fr. 752k. 2 TGrF ὁσια φ̣[ρονοῦσ᾽ ἢ (integration by Grenfell and Hunt in the editio princeps).
6. ἀμφιάλει may be a rendering in the Attic alphabet of the dative ἀμφιάληι, feminine form not otherwise attested of the adjective ἀμφίαλος, or—more likely—the dative of the adjective ἀμφιαλής, -ές. Moyer (2011:190–192) thinks that ἀμφιάλει Δήλωι is a reference to the Odyssey formula ἐν ἀμφιάλωι Ἰθάκηι, which also falls on either side of the masculine caesura. With this allusion, Maiistas would be establishing a parallel between the foundation of the cult of Serapis in Delos, after the arrival of Apollonios I and the victory of Apollonios II against his accusers, and Odysseus’s return to Ithaca, followed by the killing of the suitors. ἀρίσημα: the adjective is quite rare: before the Byzantine era, it occurs in Homeric Hymn 4.12, Tyrtaeus fr. 12.29 IEG, in the corpus Hippocraticum (Epistulae 10.29, 44, 17.198), Theocritus 25.158 (with the meaning “visible”), GVCyren 5.1 (2nd century CE?), and, in the same position, in the Getty Hexameters col. 1 l. 2 (ed. Jordan-Kotansky) ὅστις τῶνδ᾽ ἱερῶν ἐπέων ἀρίσημα [sc. γράμματα] κολάψας.
7. αἶνον: in the sense of “praise” already at Iliad 23.795 and Odyssey 21.110. Here the semantic transition is perhaps further advanced: from “praise” to “fame,” “celebrity.” Cf. also Pindar’s Nemean 1.5–6 ὕμνος ὁρμᾶται θέμεν | αἶνον ἀελλοπόδων μέγαν ἵππων.
8–17. Apollonios II’s genealogy and the Delian cult of Sarapis. For the importance of genealogical succession and the maintenance of traditional customs, see Moyer (2011:161–164) and de Hoz (2017:10–11).
8. <πα>τ<ρ>ὸς is Wilhelm’s correction, accepted by Engelmann. The other editors, following the text of the stone, print αὐτός. The problem arises from the fact that the Apollonios of the previous verse must be the second, grandson of Apollonios I (see Wilhelm (1934:2–3)). If we read here αὐτός… πατήρ, then we must reconstruct a reference to Demetrios. But the cult of Sarapis was brought to Delos by Apollonios I. On the other hand, the correction <πα>τ<ρ>ός… πατήρ restores the meaning but requires a strong intervention on the text. In addition to the abovementioned solutions, i.e. (a) to accept the text transmitted on the epigraph, interpreting πατήρ of the epigraph in a broader sense (Roussel (1916:81)), or (b) to accept Wilhelm’s correction, other solutions have been proposed by Furley (2012:119–120): (c) to correct in αὐτόσε (“towards that place,” i.e., towards Delos), an adverb which would be “more at home in Attic prose” than in Homer, but not impossible given the presence of Atticisms in the poem; (d) to keep αὐτός and correct πατήρ in προπάτωρ (“ancestor”), changing the order of the words (Furley proposes e.g., αὐτὸς δ᾽ οἱ προπάτωρ δηναί᾽ ἐκόμισσεν ἀπ᾽ ἀυτῆς). A final hypothesis, rejected by Furley himself, is (e) to interpret οἷ as an adverb of place with a switch from “in the place where” to “in that place,” “there.” Furley (2012:120) eventually comes down in favor of Wilhelm’s <πα>τ<ρ>ὸς. As things stand, none of the proposed solutions seems entirely convincing.
9. νηὶ πολυζύγωι occurs elsewhere only in Iliad 2.293* (words of Odysseus). See Moyer (2011:187).
10. ἑιῶι = ἑῶι, as metrics and sense demonstrate. The iota on the stone is explained by Engelmann as a “consonantal glide.” μελάθρωι: cf. 35.
11a. θυέ<ε>σσιν ἀρέσσατο: cf. ἀρεσσ- θυέεσσιν | Apollonius of Rhodes 1.353, 3.846, 4.246.
11b–12. Already in the German edition of his commentary, Engelmann had found in the expression αἰών… κατέπεφνε a sign of Maiistas’s unfamiliarity with Homeric Greek. αἰών, in fact, indicates the period of life or life in general; therefore, αἰών could hardly kill anyone. In Homer, if anything, it is μοῖρα that takes life: cf. e.g., Iliad 16.849 με μοῖρ᾽ ὀλοὴ καὶ Λητοῦς ἔκτανεν υἱός. αἰών abandons, leaves someone: cf. e.g., Iliad 5.685. To demonstrate that this difficulty is not insurmountable, Vidal-Naquet (1966:144) quotes Euripides’s Children of Heracles 898–900 πολλὰ γὰρ τίκτει Μοῖρα τελεσσιδώτειρ᾽ Αἰών τε Χρόνου παῖς. In the updated English edition of the commentary, Engelmann reiterates his doubts about the use of Maiistas. Moyer (2011:183–184n138) proposes to explain the difficulty of the Greek expression in the light of the Egyptian concept of Shaï, which includes both the idea of ​​the duration of life and that of its end and, therefore, the idea of ​​death. Cf. ll. 17–18 τὸν | γηραλέον λίπε μοῖρα, whose iunctura μοῖρα λείπειν is not attested in Homer.
12. τεράμνωι: the term is quite rare; it can be found in Euripides (7 instances) and Lycophron (350, 361).
13. θυηπολέεν: according to Englemann, it is possible that Maiistas is using here the Doric ending (-εν) of the thematic infinitive because of Theocritus’s influence (for whose use of -εν, -ην, -ειν as infinitive endings, see Gow (1950:lxxiv–lxxv). But, on the basis of the literary and epigraphical documentation, we would expect the form θυηπολέν. [11] Therefore, we can conclude that we are probably dealing with an eccentric treatment of the infinitive Doric ending -εν by Maiistas. The verb θυηπολέω has its first attestations in tragedy. ὧι ἐπιπάγχυ: there is no difference between the adverb’s single-word form and the separated one (ἐπὶ πάγχυ). There is no epigraphic justification for one of the two forms. Gow (1950:342) on Theocritus 17.104 defends the single-word form. It would also be possible to read (a) ὧι ἔπι πάγχυ, with anastrophe, or (b) ὧι ἐπί… γήθησαν, with tmesis (ἐπιγηθέω, however, is attested only from the Imperial Age onwards).
14–17. These lines are among the most problematic of the poem. If we accept the text of the epigraph, the two main verbs κλύες (14) and ἤνωγες (17) are linked without any coordination. Some problems also arise from the reading of ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΙΟ on the stone, which may be interpreted as the genitive of the proper name Ἀντίπατρος or of a common name ἀντίπατρος, not attested elsewhere. The solutions proposed so far are the following: (1) Wilamowitz, ap. IG 12.4.299, proposed to keep Ἀντιπάτροιο of the stone and to correct the following text in καὶ ὑπνώοντι. The proper name Ἀντιπάτροιο would be in grammatical agreement with τοῦ… εὐξαμένοιο of l. 14. But who is Antipatros? He is never mentioned elsewhere in the poem and appears here completely unexpected, since in the immediately preceding verses Maiistas is speaking about Demetrios. Furthermore, connecting the participle at l. 14 with the name at l. 16 would require a strong—though not impossible—hyperbaton. (2) Wilhelm proposes to correct in ἀντὶ πατρὸς δὲ καθυπνώοντι at l. 16. The possible interpretations of ἀντὶ πατρὸς are exposed by Engelmann (1975:33): (a) “in front of the father [sc. of Demetrios]”: therefore Sarapis would appear together with Apollonios I to Demetrios. (b) “In the place of the father” > “in the features of the father”: therefore Sarapis would appear to Demetrios in the features of Apollonios I. (c) ἀντὶ πατρὸς is to be connected to εἰκὼ χαλκείην … θέμεν: Demetrios should fulfill the commitment made by his father to raise a statue (of himself: see Engelmann (1975:34–36)). (3) Van Groningen proposes to interpret ἀντίπατρος as a noun referring to Demetrios with the meaning of “viva effigies patris mortui.” However, the syntactic value of the genitive in our passage is hard to understand (see J. and L. Robert (1953:154–155)). (4) Merkelbach, ap. Engelmann (1975:33) proposes to read ἀντιπάτρωι. The dative would be in agreement with the participle καθυπνώοντι; the noun would have the meaning “performing the service of his father.” (5) Vidal-Naquet suggests instead to keep Wilhelm’s ἔννυχος ἀντὶ πατρ <ός δέ> and modify εὖ δὲ τελέσσαι in εὖ δὲ τέλεσσας. Thus, we would have a clear construction at ll. 14–15, in which it is said that the deity has listened to his worshipper’s prayer and has fulfilled his request. The period would be followed by the explanation of what has just been said (ll. 16–17). (6) Longo (1969:112–115) proposes to punctuate at the end of l. 15, maintaining τελέσσαι. For the following period (ll. 16–17), Longo accepts Wilamowitz’s Ἀντιπάτροιο, which he refers to as a person who acts as a mediator for the practice of incubation: it is at his bed that Serapis appears at night to give instructions as to what Demetrios should do. [12] Antipater would be a worshipper of Sarapis who, perhaps for a grace received, would have expressed the will to raise a statue to the priest of the god (according to a custom attested in the Egyptian cult: see Engelmann (1975:27)). The statue would have been raised only with the consent of the god. (7) Moyer (2008:103–105) accepts the reading of the stone, ἀντιπάτροιο, and the connection of this genitive with the τοῦ of l. 14. He interprets ἀντίπατρος as a common noun, following Van Groningen. In a slightly different way from that of Vidal-Naquet, Moyer overcomes the problem of the asyndeton through the punctuation after ἔννυχος ἀντιπάτροιο. (8) Furley (2012:120–121) sees in the solution proposed by Moyer the problem of dividing, through punctuation, ἔννυχος from the nocturnal apparition described at ll. 16–17. He accepts the correction πατρὸς δέ and proposes to read κᾆθ᾽ ὑπνώοντι (κᾆθ᾽ = καὶ εἶτα, with an “Attizicing” krasis). The phrase ἀντὶ πατρὸς would indicate that Sarapis appears to Demetrios with the features of Apollonios I, his father (see above at point 2b). After all, the appearance of a deity with the features of a mortal is “standard Homeric theology” (Furley (2012:121)). Another solution could be the following: to adopt the slight correction τέλεσσας at l. 15 and punctuate after ἔννυχος in the following line (see the text below). The punctuation seems necessary if we admit that ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΙΟ in the same line is hard to accept (connecting it with the genitive which occurs two lines before does not seem convincing). [13] If we read ἀντὶ πατρὸς δέ or ἀντιπάτρωι δέ at l. 16, then the sentence would be an explanation (connected with an explanatory δέ in its common second position) of what was said previously. ἔννυχος would belong formally to the period of ll. 15–16, but, at the level of the content, it would refer to what is said in the following verses. As for ἀντὶ πατρὸς δέ or ἀντιπάτρωι δέ, both readings are possible. With the first one, as Furley correctly observes, a narrative development is reconstructed that is in line with many Homeric episodes—and the Homeric subtext (the Odyssey, in particular) is evident in Maiistas’s poem. The second reading, on the other hand, would fit in the context of genealogical succession of the previous lines. The text would be the following:

μὲν κλύες εὐξαμένοιο
15εἰκὼ χαλκείην νειῶι θέμεν, εὐ δὲ τέλεσσας
ἔννυχος· ἀντὶ πατρὸς δὲ καθυπνώοντι φαανθεὶς
δεμνίωι ἤνωγες τελέσαι χρέος.
The translation: “you heard his prayers to set a brazen image in the temple and you answered them (his prayers) at night: with the features of his father you appeared to him when he was sleeping on his bed (or: you appeared to his sleeping bed) and you ordered him to accomplish his duty.” Engelmann opposes the emendation in τέλεσσας because—he writes—it would imply that the temple (νειῶι, l. 15) [14] is already present under Demetrios, while we know that its construction took place only thanks to Apollonios II. Nevertheless, the objection does not seem so convincing. The small anachronism can be explained by the chronological flattening from the point of view of Maiistas (which is that of Apollonios II): Demetrios would have prayed to have a statue of himself—a statue which, at the temple of Apollonios II, was placed in the temple of Serapis (cf. ll. 10–11 of the prose account). Thence comes the word “temple.” A different explanation is also possible: i.e., that the private room that contained the statue of Sarapis is defined νάος. However, since both the poem and the prose account give great importance to the construction of the temple, even in opposition to the previous arrangement of the statue of Sarapis, this second option seems less convincing.
14. κλύες εὐξαμένοιο: cf. Iliad 1.453 ≈ 16.236, but also 9.509.
15. εἰκώ is a rare poetic accusative, recurring especially in tragedy (Aeschylus’s Seven against Thebes 559, Euripides’s Medea 1162, Iphigenia in Tauris 223, 816, Helena 73, fr. 125.2 TGrF).
17. δεμνίωι: in Homer, only the plural is attested; in later poetry, also the singular but rarely: cf. especially Pindar’s Nemean 1.2–4 Ὀρτυγία | δέμνιον Ἀρτέμιδος | Δάλου κασιγνήτα.
18–36. The construction of Sarapis temple. For the importance of specifying the cultural context within which the inscription is located, see de Hoz (2017:7).
20. ἀρετὰς ἤειδεν: cf. ll. 61–62. Singing praises is what Maiistas is doing with his aretalogy.
21. ἀριφραδέως κατάλεξαι: cf. Theocritus 25.175 ἀριφραδέως ἀγορεύει |. In the Homeric epics the καταλεξ- forms at the end of the verse are preceded by ἀτρεκέως or by ἀληθείην.
23–24. μηδ᾽ ἄλλυδις ἀλλοδαπῶι ἐν | οὔδει: Moyer (2011:188–189) interprets this expression as a mix of the formula ἄλλυδις ἄλλ- | (9 instances in Homer) with expressions indicating foreign territories and populations, such as ἀλλοδαπῶι ἐνὶ δήμωι (Iliad 19.324), δήμωι ἐν ἀλλοδαπῶι (Odyssey 8.211), γαίηι ἐν ἀλλοδαπῆι (Odyssey 9.36), ἄνδρας ἐς ἀλλοδαπούς (Iliad 24.382, Odyssey 14.231, 20.220). With this sentence, Maiistas “turns this unsettled time in the history of the cult on Delos into a period of Odyssean wanderings” (Moyer (2011:188)).
25. πεπληθότα λύθρωι: cf. Callimachus’s Hecale fr. 328 Pf. (= 62 Hollis) ἧχι κονίστραι | ἄξεινοι λύθρωι τε καὶ εἴαρι πεπλήθασι.
26. ἐννύχιος: cf. 16, 22.
27. ἐπιπρομολών: the verb occurs also in Apollonius of Rhodes (1.320 v.l., 3.665).
29. φρονέοντα διδάξει: cf. Theocritus 24.71 μάλα τοι φρονέοντα διδάσκω, but also 121.
30. ἐπικλέα: the exact opposite of ἀκλέα (l. 24). A neglected place becomes, unexpectedly and thanks to the intervention of the god, a place known and honored by all: see de Hoz (2017:5).
31. θαμβήσας: the reaction of amazement and/or fear is recurrent in mortals who witness forms of theophany: see e.g., Richardson (1974:208–209).
32. ἀργυραμοιβόν: for the use of the term as an adjective, cf. Manetho 3.99. Roussel (1916:82) recalls χρόνος… δικασπόλος at l. 52.
33–36. The easy growth of the sanctuary is due to the will of the god. In other similar narratives, an aggrandizement may be that of the deity her-/himself. This growth coincides sometimes with the transition from a situation of a god’s incomplete recognition, manifested by the absence of a temple for her/his veneration, to a situation of full recognition, with the dedication of a popular and/or rich temple.
33. οὗ: Engelmann interprets this genitive as genitivum pretii. Paarman and Dillon ap. Furley (2012:121) interprets οὗ as referring to the owner of the property, who would not have been previously indicated. The difficulty that arises from the lack of an explicit antecedent of the relative pronoun could be overcome by the emendation of the accusative ἀργυραμοιβόν to the dative ἀργυραμοιβῶι (already conjectured, but only hypothetically, by Engelmann). However, the problem of the very referent would remain: the ἀργυραμοιβός, in fact, would not be the owner of the property but the intermediary of the transaction. According to Furley, it would be easier to correct the genitive of the pronoun to ὧι and to assume an attraction of the relative, which would have been either a genitive (τούτωι οὗ> ὧι), or a dative of possession (τούτωι ὧι> ὧι). Furley’s conclusion, however, is to keep the text of the inscription and to imagine an implicit antecedent. This would be “one of his [Maiistas’] less elegant constructions” (Furley 2012:121).
34–35. θυόεντες| βωμοί: for the iunctura, cf. Pindar’s fr. 52c.8–9 (= Paean 3.8–9) Maehler, Euripides’s Trojan Women 1061 and the Homeric formula τέμενος βωμός τε θυήεις | (Iliad 8.48, 23.148, Odyssey 8.363). For the practice of fumigation see, in this issue, the contribution by Palombi.
36. For the practice of cultic feast, see Palombi.
37–63. The trial. For a discussion of the possible motives and intentions of the prosecutors, see Engelmann (1975:44–47) and Moyer (2011:194–207) (with further bibliography). According to Moyer (2011:175–179) the trial brought against Apollonios would have been identified with the mythical struggle between Horus and Seth, that is between good, on the one hand (Apollonios, Horus), and evil, on the other (the prosecutors, Seth).
37. καὶ τότε δή: the collocation at the beginning of the hexameter is common in the archaic epic (e.g., Iliad 1.92, Odyssey 11.99), sometimes followed by ῥ(α) (Iliad 16.780, 23.822, Odyssey 7.143, 24.149). κακοῖσι κακός: polyptoton. Φθόνος: whatever the reason for the charge against Apollonios II, the poet presents envy as its cause. For the association of envy with Seth/prosecutors, see Moyer (2011:176–177). The construction of κακοῖσι… Φθόνος ἔμβαλε λύσσαν | ἄνδρασι is Homeric: see LfgrE s.v. βάλλω ΒΙΒ6aγ. The fact that the one who inspires the feeling in these epic occurrences is almost always a deity leads us to believe that in our line envy is personified.
38. ἀνεμωλίωι: the adjective is quite common in Homer (6 instances) but occurs also at Theocritus 25.239. It does not seem necessary to see in the use of ἀνεμώλιος an allusion to the assimilation between Seth and Typhon as the entity that governs the winds (Moyer (2011:177)). Since the Homeric occurrences, only the translated meaning of ἀνεμώλιος is attested (“groundless,” “fanciful”), not the original one (“windy”). ἐκλήϊσσαν is interpreted by Engelmann, on the basis of the Roussel’s note at IG 12.4.299, as aorist of κλήιζω, with the meaning of “issue a summons to.” Furley (2012:121–122) argues, quite convincingly, that we should read a form of κλείω < κλήιω, with the meaning of “lock up, imprison” (see his note for parallels). Then, Apollonios II would have been locked up for a certain period, waiting for the trial.
39. Does δοιώ refer to δίκηι or to οἵ? If we accept that it refers to δίκηι (the prosecutors brought two different accusations against Apollonios II), then we should interpret ἐγγράψαντα at l. 41 as referring to θεσμόν at l. 39. We would therefore have an hypallage similar to that of ll. 16–17 καθυπνώοντι… δεμνίωι. This is the position of Roussel (1916:82), Powell (1925:71), Engelmann and (cautiously) Longo (1969, II:19). Wilhelm (1934:14–15) believes instead that δοιώ refers to οἵ. Therefore, he would emend ἐγγράψαντα at l. 41 to the dual ἐγγράψαντε. The error (of the stonecutter?) would be due to the influence of the accusative θεράποντα at l. 39. This interpretation is accepted by Furley. Longo (1969, I:115) connects δοιώ to οἵ but does not consider it necessary to correct ἐγγράψαντα.
40. ἐκ-τῖσαι (= -τεῖσαι) ἀμοίβήν: the iunctura, attested already in Homer (Odyssey 12.382) is common especially in Apollonius of Rhodes (4 instances, always at the end of the line).
41–51. Apollonios’s turmoil and his second dream. It is probable that here Maiistas had in mind the tale of Odysseus’s nocturnal turmoil, after his incognito return to his palace, in Odyssey 20. This would strengthen the association between Odysseus and the faction of Sarapis in Delos, which has been amply illustrated by Moyer. The similarities of the story of Odyssey 20 with that narrated by Maiistas, in fact, are many. In both cases, the protagonist’s rest is troubled by the threats of an adverse party: the worry for the suitors disturbs Odysseus’s sleep, the worry for the trial disturbs Apollonios II’s. Another point in common between the two stories is the nocturnal aid of the patron deity. Athena comes to the aid of Odysseus (Odyssey 20.30–55), Sarapis to the aid of Apollonios. Both deities encourage their assistants and foretell them the victory over their opponents. A further association can thus be proposed: that between Athena and Sarapis. This association seems far more convincing than that between Ino-Leucothea and Sarapis proposed by Moyer (2011:189), based on the help that the sea goddess gives to Odysseus at Odyssey 5.333–355. [15]
41. ὑπὸ δείματι: cf. Apollonius of Rhodes 4.53 τρομερῶι ὑπὸ δείματι πάλλετο θυμός.
42. For the difficulty in the expression (πᾶσαν) ἠῶ τε νύκτας τε, see the introduction. τε {ιν}: the expunction of ιν was proposed by Wilamowitz ap. IG 12.4.299. Moyer (2008:105) interprets the presence of two ny as metri causa: they would signal the lengthening of the epsilon in τε, required by the meter—a phenomenon attested in some Ptolemaic papyri of Homer. The iota, on the other hand, could be an unconventional graphic representation of the same lengthening, due to the scribe or the stonecutter. Furley (2012:122) proposes instead to read τε̅ι, i.e., the rendering of τῆι (“in that place”) in the Attic alphabet and to remove only the ny, which would be an error of duplication. The place indicated by τῆι would be the one where Apollonios II is detained before the day of the trial (for which, see at l. 38). περὶ κραδίην ἐλέλιξεν: Engelmann interprets the phrase as a possible contamination of the following Homeric places: Odyssey 5.314 (κῦμα) δεινὸν ἐπεσσύμενον, περὶ δὲ σχεδίην ἐλέλιξεν |, Iliad 2.171 ἄχος κραδίην καὶ θυμὸν ἵκανεν | and 23.47 ἵξετ᾽ ἄχος κραδίην. Moyer (2011:189) limits himself to the first of the abovementioned passages and observes that the allusion not only gives epic breath to the events, but also heralds divine intervention (in the passage from Odyssey 5, the protagonist is rescued by Ino-Leucothea). Nevertheless, I would argue that the main influence on Maiistas’s text is primarily—if not exclusively—that of Odyssey 20. In fact, the verb used to indicate the physical and mental restlessness of Odysseus, who cannot sleep, is ἑλίσσω (Odyssey 20.24 and, in a simile, 28)—that is, a verb whose forms were soon mixed with those of ἐλελίζω (see Chantraine (1942:132)). For the possibility of tmesis, but with ἑλίσσω, cf. Theocritus 25.242 περὶ δ᾽ ἰγνύηισιν ἕλιξε |; for κραδίην ἐλέλιξεν, cf. Apollonius of Rhodes 4.351 δή ῥά μιν ὀξεῖαι κραδίην ἐλέλιξαν ἀνῖαι.
43. σταλάων… δάκρυ: Engelmann rightly refers to Apollonius of Rhodes 4.1064 σταλάει δ᾽ ὑπὸ δάκρυ παρειάς. The situation of the Argonautica passage is similar to ours: Medea, worried about ending up in the hands of the Colchians who are chasing her, cannot sleep and sheds tears, while her heart spins in her chest (ἀλλά οἱ ἐν στέρνοις ἀχέων εἱλίσσετο θυμός, 1061). Odyssey 20.25–30 has been identified as a model of the passage of the Argonautica: see Hunter (2015:227) on Apollonius of Rhodes 4.1062–1065. The possibility that Apollonios II’s anguish is implicitly compared to that of Medea is strengthened by the fact that the loci from the Argonautica quoted on ll. 41 and 42 come from the description of Medea’s feelings in two different situations. Is Maiistas contaminating the Odyssey passage with that of the Argonautica (an example of “window reference”)? It would be a choice worthy of a well-read Hellenistic poet.
44. ἀκλέα: as Engelmann notes, the final short alpha is not explained by abbreviation in hiatus, as in Odyssey 4.728 | ἀκλέα ἐκ μεγάρων (for which ἀκλεέ᾽ ἐκ has been proposed).
45. κακὰς ἀπὸ κῆρας ἐρῦξαι: cf. Iliad 12.113 κακὰς ὑπὸ κῆρας ἀλύξας |, Odyssey 23.332 κακὰς ὑπὸ κῆρας ἄλυξεν; cf. also Odyssey 2.316, 19.558.
46: cf. l. 4. παμνήστοισιν: the form is attested elsewhere only in a 4th century BCE tablet from Thurii (Orphica fr. 491 Bernabé = 4 Graf-Johnston, p. 10), in which it is an attribute of the Μοῖραι.
47–48: cf. ll. 26–27.
50. περιώσιον ἄλλος: cf. περιώσιον ἄλλων | Homeric Hymn 2.362, Apollonius of Rhodes 1.466, but also Pindar’s Isthmian 5.3. The attempts to clarify the passage made by Engelmann, ad loc., and Longo’s (1969:115–116), are not totally convincing. Following the other instances of περιώσιον, the translation of Maiistas’s wording would be “no other man will speak (far) beyond me,” which does not give a good sense. It seems as if Maiistas writes περιώσιον ἄλλος under the influence of one or more of the abovementioned passages.
52. ἔγρετο: the expected meaning here would be that of ἀγείρω, not that of ἐγείρω. In two Iliadic passages (7.434 ≈ 24.789), most manuscripts give the lection ἔγρετο although we would expect a form of ἀγείρω. ἔγρετο (instead of ἤγρετο) could be the incorrect transcription of an ΕΓΡΕΤΟ in a writing code that did not graphically distinguish between long or short e sound: see Brügger (2017) on Iliad 24.789, with further bibliography. Cf. also Iliad 23.287 ἔγερθεν / ἄγερθεν. The ΕΓΡΕΤΟ of our inscription would therefore represent an ἤγρετο in the Attic writing system. Otherwise, we have to imagine that the ἔγρετο-transcription was common in the Homeric manuscripts already in the 3rd century BCE.
53. Alliteration of the sound p (πᾶσα πόλις καὶ πάντα πολυμιγέω<ν>). [16] The presence of the entire city and various populations increases the importance of the event and underlines the internationalism of the Delian cult of Sarapis. Vidal-Naquet (1966:145) wonders whether the miracle which shut the prosecutor’s mouth was not, first of all, the presence of a huge crowd. πολυμιγέων: the double my on the epigraph is metri causa (see the comment on l. 42).
55. {σα} of the stone gives no sense and has been deleted since the editio princeps. κεῖνο: here it could have the specific meaning of “that famous” vel sim. (see LSJ ἐκεῖνος 2). The miracle that occurred at the trial must have been famous in Delos: cf. ll. 62–63. πέλωρον could be both a noun and an adjective in agreement with θάμβος. This ambiguity is also in the Homeric occurrences: Iliad 12.202 = 220, Odyssey 9.257, 15.161.
56. ἀλιτρο<νό>ους: the adjective is rare and not attested before Maiistas. It occurs in an oracle, difficult to date, quoted by Porphyry (fr. 329.21 Smith, ap. Euseubius’s Praeparatio evangelica 14.20).
58. ὄπιν ἔκλεεν: from Wilamowitz, ap. IG 12.4.299, onwards, Maiistas is believed to confuse ὄπις (“divine vengeance”) with ὄψ (“voice”). ἔκλεεν may be an aorist form of κλύω (see Strunk (1967:83–86), and for our passage, p. 84). Furley (2012:122–123) proposes to correct the text of the stone to ὄπ’ ἐνέκλαεν or ἐνίκλαεν; therefore, the sentence should be translated: “whose [i.e. the prosecutor’s] voice no person thwarted nor helping writ of law.” Maiistas would be underlining the fact that it was enough for the god to silence the prosecutors, without any other intervention. The prosecutors simply failed to speak and lost the case. The correction proposed by Furley would solve the following problems: that of postulating an error in Maiistas’s interpretation of ὄπις; that of postulating a zeugma of the verb “to listen” in reference to something written; that of having to connect a positive adjective such as ἐπιτάρροθον to the evil side of the prosecutors; that of postulating the presence of a form of κλύω which, although theoretically possible, has no other attestation. As an alternative to the correction to ἐνέ/ίκλαεν, Furley also provides the possibility of correcting in ἔκλυεν—but this would solve only the last of the aforementioned problems.
60. στεῦντο: most scholars interpret the verb as meaning “to declare.” The unspecified subject would be the witnesses of the affair. Wilhelm (1934:16–17) prefers to interpret the verb as meaning “standing still” vel sim. and to change ἐοικότας to ἐοικότες. In favor of the first interpretation, in addition to Engelmann’s observation that witnesses are important in aretalogies, it may be observed that one can easily deduce a subject from a verb of statement (especially if in the third person plural) and furthermore that, if we accept the second interpretation (στεῦντο = ἵσταντο, on the base of the much-debated στεῦτο in Odyssey 11.584), it would be difficult to explain ἔμμεναι. Interpreted with the meaning “to declare,” the verb constitutes an aside in the present tense within the past narrative. This establishes a link to the present of the performance or, more concretely, of the reading of the inscription. θεοπληγέσσιν: Engelmann derives the dative from θεοπλήξ (which would be hapax; cf. e.g., κυματοπλήξ in Sophocles’s Oedipus at Colonus 1241, ἁλιπλήξ in Callimachus’s Hymn to Delos 11), but it could also derive from θεοπληγής (attested only from the Late Antiquity). εἰδώλοισιν: Engelmann, following Roussel’s translation, interprets the noun in the sense of “statues.” Longo (1969, II:19–20) objects that this would not be the normal meaning of εἴδωλον. This is not true, because the meaning of “statue” is well attested: see DGE εἴδωλον ΙΙ.1. Furthermore, statues or temples struck by the god, that is, by lightning (cf. e.g., κεραυνοπλήξ, κεραυνόπληκτος; Διὸς πληγεῖσα κεραυνῶι in Odyssey 12.416), are not rare in classical antiquity: cf. Aristophanes’s Clouds 401–402, Lucretius 6.417–420, Cicero’s de divinatione 1.12.19, and Seneca’s Naturales quaestiones 2.42.1. Otherwise—as Wilhelm (1934:16–17) and Longo (1969, II:19–20), note—these εἴδωλα could be understood as “ghosts,” “images.” However—as Longo himself admits—“ghosts struck by the god” is an expression with little sense.
63. τεῦξας: Moyer (2008:105–106) notes that on the stone it is not written ΤΕΥΞΑΣ, as printed by all previous publishers, but ΖΕΥΞΑΣ. He therefore prefers to keep the text of the stone and interprets ζεύγνυμι in a wide sense. To the observations of Moyer, Furley (2012:123) correctly objects that there are no occurrences of ζεύγνυμι in the positive sense of “to allow” and, moreover, that Maiistas often uses the verb τεύχω (cf. ll. 30, 39, 44, 55). Therefore, ΖΕΥΞΑΣ may be an error of the stonecutter or the copyist(s) who prepared the fair copy for the stonecutter. θεόδμητον is an adjective that is particularly frequent in Pindar, who uses it for Delos in Olympian 6.59 and fr. 33c. 1 Maheler. The adjective, in the same sedes as in our passage, also in Iliad 8.519 θεοδήτων ἐπὶ πύργων | (of Troy).
64–65. For the association of one or more deities with the one whom the hymn is dedicated to, see the comment to 3b–5.
64. χαῖρε: the traditional greeting in Greek hymns. In the case of Maiistas’s poem, which has come down to us inscribed in a column, the deity is invited to rejoice not only over the poem but also over the installation of the artifact. Through the dedication of a poem and/or an artifact, the poet and, together with him, the worshippers’ community entwine a relationship of mutuality with the god. συνάορος is a Doric form recurring especially in Pindar and Euripides. The term has only one attestation in Homer (συνήορος, Odyssey 8.99), but with a more general meaning. For the association of Isis with Sarapis in this poem, cf. ll. 3–4, 55–56.
65. ἡμετέρωι: Moyer (2008:106) brought to the attention that on the epigraph is written ὑμετέρωι and not ἡμετέρωι, as printed by all publishers. This second-person plural could be understood as a reference to both Sarapis and Isis, or even as a pluralis maiestatis for Sarapis. πολύυμνε Σάραπι: the closing of the aretalogy recalls the opening verse (πολύαινε Σάραπι): the two compounds are similar both phonically and semantically. πολύυμνος: the adjective is not common; it is used for deity also in Euripides’s Ion 1074.


The aretalogy of Sarapis by Maiistas is a poem with many interesting aspects. First of all, it is a clear case of a cultural melting pot: the language of the poem is (more or less) Homeric Greek; it has been composed on a Greek island; the deity who is praised in the poem is of Egyptian origin; the author of the poem is mostly likely non-Greek, possibly Egyptian; the priest who commissioned the poem is the grandson of an Egyptian priest of Sarapis who moved from Memphis to Delos. Moreover, I. S. Moyer argues for the presence in the poem itself of some elements of Egyptian culture and myth (see at ll. 11b–12, 37–63, 37, 38).
Other interesting aspects are those that pertain to the philological and literary analysis of the poem, on which my contribution is focused. As we have already said in the introductory lines, Maiistas has been considered by some scholars an amateur poet; some difficulties of the poem have been easily explained as errors due to the author’s poor linguistic and poetic ability. Thanks especially to Moyer’s and Furley’s contributions, although, Maiistas’s reputation among scholars has changed. In fact, on the one hand, some linguistical eccentricities of the poem which cannot be easily attributed to the stonecutter, or the copyist(s) of the fair copy remain (see on ll. 33, 42, 50, and the introduction). On the other hand, Maiistas not only proves to know a large part of Greek literature, from Homer to poets almost contemporary to him, but he also contaminates the various influences in a way that, albeit certainly not the same of that of the most refined Hellenistic poets, nevertheless seems to follow the same trend. The poet’s use of Atticisms and Dorisms within the Homeric Kuntsprache is not unparalleled among the early Hellenistic poets. We can just quote the famous passage of Callimachus’s Iambus 13, in which the poet remembers having composed his Iambi in Ionic, in Doric and a mixed dialect. [17] Furthermore, the allusions to the Odyssey, both from the point of view of the text and that of the plot, and the possible window reference to the Odyssey and Apollonius’s Argonautica (see on ll. 41, 42, and especially 43) make Maiistas’s aretalogy a clear enough example of Hellenistic poetics. To this must be added that, if Moyer is right in seeing allusions to the Egyptian culture and myth, then “Maiistas’ appeal to both Greek and Egyptian cultural tradition is reminiscent of certain works by the Alexandrian poets Callimachus and Theocritus.” [18]
What has been said so far does not tell us something only about the (obscure) author of the aretalogy: in fact, if Maiistas’s knowledge of the works of poets such as Theocritus or Apollonius of Rhodes is confirmed, then his aretalogy is a document of the early reception of these poets. This topic, however, would take us away from the purpose of my contribution.


Bremmer, J. N. 2002. “How Old is the Ideal of Holiness (of Mind) in the Epidaurian Temple Inscription and the Hippocratic Oath?.” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 141:106–108.
Brügger, C. 2017. Homer’s Iliad. The Basel Commentary: Book XXIV. Trans. W. Millis, and S. Strack, ed. S. D. Olson. Boston. Orig. pub. 2009 in German.
Chantraine, P. 1942. Grammaire homérique. Tome I: Phonétique et morphologie. Paris.
de Hoz, M.-P. 2017. “Religious Discourse in Hellenistic and Roman Times: Content Topoi in Greek Epigraphic Cult Foundations and Sacred Norms.” Kernos 30:1–31.
Engelmann, H. 1975. The Delian Aretalogy of Sarapis. Trans. E. Osers. Leiden. Orig. pub. as Die delische Sarapisaretalogie, 1964. Meisenheim.
Furley, W. D. 2012. “Revisiting Some Textual Problems in the Delian Sarapis Aretalogy by Maiistas (IG XI 4 No. 1299), Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 180:117–125.
Gow, A. S. F. 1950. Theocritus. Vol. II: Commentary, Appendix, Indexes and Plates. Cambridge.
van Groningen, B. A. 1951. ΑΝΤΙΠΑΤΡΟΣ. Mnemosyne (3rd series) 4.3–4:302–303.
Hiller von Gaertringen, F. 1917. SIG 663, in W. Dittenberger’s Sylloge inscriptionum Graecarum (3rd edition). Vol. 2.
Hunter, R. 2015. Apollonius of Rhodes. Argonautica: Book IV. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Cambridge.
Longo, V. 1969. Aretalogie di età ellenistica. Parte I: Epigrafi e papiri; Parte II: Traduzioni e commento. Genoa.
Magnelli, E. 1995. “Le norme del secondo piede dell’esametro nei poeti ellenistici e il comportamento della ‘parola metrica’.” Materiali e discussioni per l’analisi dei testi classici 35:135–164.
———. 2002. Studi su Euforione. Seminari Romani di cultura greca. Quaderni. N. 4. Rome.
Marek, C. and E. Zingg, E. 2018. Die Versinschrift des Hyssaldomos und die Inschriften von Uzunyuva (Milas/Mylasa). Asia Minor Studien Band 90. Bonn.
Moyer, I. S. 2008. “Notes on Re-Reading the Delian Aretalogy of Sarapis (IG XI.4 1299).” Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 166:101–107.
———. 2011. Egypt and the Limits of Hellenism. Oxford.
Palmieri, V. (forthcoming). “Teocrito e [Teocrito]: problematiche di paternità e di genere letterario nello Herakles Leontophonos.” Seminari Romani di cultura greca.
Palumbo Stracca, B. M. 1987. “Gli infiniti tematici brevi in Alcmane.” Studi italiani di filologia classica 5:37–50; now in ΣΥΜΦΩΝΙΑ. Studi di dialettologia e metrica greca, ed. L. Bettarini, 17–32.
Petrovic, I. 2016. “The Style and Language of Epigrammatic Programmata.” In Dialect, Diction, and Style in Greek Literary and Inscribed Epigram. Trends in Classics: Supplementary Volumes 43, ed. E. Sistakou, and A. Rengakou, 391–413. Berlin.
Powell, J. U. 1925. Collectanea Alexandrina. Oxford.
———. 1929. “Later Epic Poetry in the Greek World.” In New Chapters in the History of Greek Literature. Second Series, eds. J. U. Powell and E. A. Barber, 35–46. Oxford.
Richardson, N. J. 1974. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Oxford.
Robert, J., and L. Robert. 1953. Review of B. A. van Groningen 1951. Revue des études grecques 66:154–155.
Robertson, N. 2013. “The Concept of Purity in Greek Sacred Laws.” In Purity and the Forming of Religious Tradition in the Ancient Mediterranean and Ancient Judaism, eds. C. Frevel, and C. Nihan, 195–244. Leiden.
Roussel, P. 1914. IG XI 4. 1299. In Inscriptiones Graecae XI. Inscriptiones Deli. Fasc. 4. Berlin.
———. 1916. Les cultes égyptiens à Délos du IIIe au Ier siècle av. J.-C. Nancy.
Strunk, K. 1967. Nasalpräsentien und Aoriste. Heidelberg.
Totti, M. 1985. Ausgewählte Texte der Isis- und Sarapis-Religion. Subsidia Epigraphica XII. Hildesheim.
Turkeltaub, D. W. 2003. The Gods’ Radiance Manifest: An Examination of the Narrative Pattern Underlying the Homeric Divine Epiphany Scenes. PhD diss., Cornell University.
Vidal-Naquet, P. 1966. Review of Die delische Sarapisaretalogie by H. Engelmann. Revue de philologie, de littérature et d’histoire anciennes 40 (3rd series):143–145.
West, M. L. 1982. Greek Metre. Oxford.
Wilhelm, A. 1934. “Zu dem Gedichte des Maiistas. IG XI 1299.” Symbolae Osloenses, 13:1–18.


[ back ] * I wish to thank L. Bettarini, F. Camia and A. Cinalli, for reading the draft of my paper.
[ back ] 1. In the commentary entries, I will follow Engelmann’s text. My numbering differs from that of Engelmann: I only consider the number of the poem’s lines, while Engelmann combines the lines of the prose account with those of the poem. With “line” or “l.,” I will refer to the text of the poem, not to the whole inscription. Whenever the reference will be to the prose account, that will be made explicit.
[ back ] 2. The inscription was discovered in 1912 and edited as IG XI 4. 1299 by Roussel. As to the date of the inscription, see Moyer (2008), 101–102. An interesting parallel for our text is the verse-inscription of Hyssaldomos, discovered in the Uzunyuva district of Carian Mylasa and published by Marek and Zingg (2018). Among the points of similarity between the two texts we have to mention the date (around 200 BCE), the narration of a story involving historical figures who receive divine aid, and the fact that the author of the poem is not the protagonist of the narration. For other parallels, see Marek and Zingg (2018), 105–107, and their commentary on ll. 103, 109 and 119. Another major point of similarity between the two poems would be their dedication to the same god, Sarapis, but while this is certain for Maiistas’s aretalogy, it remains only a probable hypothesis for Hyssaldomos’s poem: on the identity of the divinity to whom the latter is dedicated, see at least Marek and Zingg (2018), 85–136 (for Sarapis, 91–107).
[ back ] 3. If the name is Egyptian, then its first part can be interpreted either 1) as coming from demotic mr < middle Egyptian mri (“to love”) or 2) as coming from middle Egyptian mȝ‛ (“to be truthful, just”). The second part of the name can be interpreted either a) as the common suffix -ιστης/-ιστας (compare, e.g., the abovementioned Saistes) or b) as an aberrant form of the demotic is(.t) < middle Egyptian ȝś.t (“Isis,” the goddess). The same aberrant form could be at the basis of the second part of the names Σαΐστης (which could be analyzed as sa-aset, “the man of Isis”) and Ἁρτυσαείστης (O. Deiss. 72, III c. CE; the first part of the name could be a Greek rendering of demotic hr < middle Egyptian hr.w, “Horus,” son of Isis). The interpretation 1b would be comparable to Greek names such as Φιλιστῆς, Φιλίστας, etc. According to the interpretation 1b, Maiistas’s name would be translatable as “beloved of Isis” and it would be comparable to Meriamun (“beloved of Ammon”), translated in Greek with Φιλάμμων. In this regard, we can remember that mr is(.t) (“beloved of Isis”) is one of the royal titles of Ptolemy IV. Following the interpretation 2b, the name Maiistas would be translatable as “truthful, just Isis”: compare Μαιεῦρις (“truthful, just Horus”; e.g., in O. Strasb. 1.50). The interpretations 1a and 1b are the most convincing. I thank Marta Addessi and Alessandro Piccolo for their fundamental help in analyzing the name of Maiistas.
[ back ] 4. The comparison can be extended to the name Masistios (Herodotus 7.79, 9.20 etc.).
[ back ] 5. For the division between ll. 23 and 24, see West (1982:153), who calls it an “unusual line division.” For details on οὗ at l. 33 and on the wording at l. 50, see ad loc. As to πᾶσαν | ἠῶ τε νύκτας τε, see Furley (2012:122), who admits that his reading τῆι (instead of τε {ιν}) only “alleviates the difficulty” in the expression. I would be tempted to add to the eccentricities the repetition of the verb τεύχω throughout the poem (ll. 30, 39, 44, 55, 63), with a great variety of referents—but this could be due to my modern aesthetic perception.
[ back ] 6. For an early example of this trend, see Vidal-Naquet (1966:144).
[ back ] 7. Particularly present to Maiistas’s mind may have been Apollonius’s Argonautica 4 (see below, the comment on ll. 41, 42, 43); perhaps also Pindar’s first Nemean Ode, whose introductory lines are on Ortigia, which is called “sister of Delos” (see the comment on ll. 7 and 17), and Theocritus’s (?) Idyll 25 (see especially the comment on ll. 21 and 42). Idyll 25 is usually considered, if not authentic, at least contemporary to Theocritus. For a discussion on its authorship and its relationship with other Hellenistic poetry, see Palmieri (forthcoming), with further bibliography.
[ back ] 8. See Moyer (2011:184n140) for the data on the bucolic diaeresis and the predominance of feminine caesura (64%) over the masculine.
[ back ] 9. Magnelli (1995:151) lists the following infractions of metrical laws: infraction of Meyer’s first law at l. 37 (due to Wortbild), of Meyer’s second law at l. 10, of both Meyer’s first (due to Wortbild) and second law at l. 59, of Giseke’s law at l. 7 and at l. 52 (due to Wortbild). We may add an infraction of Tiedke-Meyer’s law at l. 5 and two cases of ephtemimeral caesura after spondaic 3rd foot. These kinds of metrical laws are strictly avoided only by Callimachus and his followers; the infractions are more common in other Hellenistic poets. The percentage of Maiistas’s infraction of Meyer’s first law is 3.077%, whereas that of Callimachus is 0.9% and that of other early-Hellenistic poets oscillates between the 6.1–5.7% of Theocritus and the 2.5% of Apollonius. The percentage of Maiistas’s infraction of Meyers’s second law is 3.077% and is comparable to that of Theocritus’s bucolic poetry (3.14%). The percentage of Maiistas’s infraction of Giseke’s law is 3.077%, which is considerably higher than that of other early Hellenistic poets (from Callimachus, hymns’ 0.21% to Euphorion’s 1.97%). The percentage of Maiistas’s infraction of Tiedke-Meyer’s law is 1.54%, which stands between the very law ones of Callimachus, Apollonius of Rhodes, bucolic Theocritus and Euphorion (all smaller than 1%) and the high ones of epic Theocritus (3.89%) and Aratus (3.73%). The percentage of ephtemimeral caesura after spondaic 3rd foot is 1.54% in Maiistas, which is higher than Callimachus, hymns’ 0.64% and bucolic Theoritus’s 0.50%, but smaller than the percentages of the other poets (epic Theocritus 2.40%, Apollonius of Rhodes and Euphorion 2.80%, Aratus 10.90%). For the statistic criteria and the data of the other Hellenistic poets, see Magnelli (1995) and (2002).
[ back ] 10. The couplet is mentioned by Porphyry (de abstinentia 2.19), who perhaps derives it from Theophrastus (de pietate fr. 9 Pötscher), and by Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis 5.1.13; cf. 4.22.142). Cyril of Alexandria (contra Iulianum 9.28.14) and Bessarion, who however cites only the first verse, derive it from Porphyry. If the source of Porphyry is really Theophrastus, then the inscription must be earlier than the mid-4th century CE. Bremmer (2002:106–108) expresses doubt about Porphyry’s dependence on Theophrastus in that passage from the de abstinentia and proposes for the Epidaurus’s inscription a date around the turn of the Common Era.
[ back ] 11. For a survey of the documentation, see Palumbo Stracca (1987).
[ back ] 12. For the hypallage Ἀντιπάτροιο καθυπνώοντι… δεμνίωι Longo compares ll. 46–48.
[ back ] 13. Longo (1969:113) rightly analyses τοῦ at l. 14 as a “pronome con normale valore anaforico nei confronti di Δημήτριον del verso che precede.”
[ back ] 14. For the iota as a glide, see on l. 10.
[ back ] 15. See also on l. 42.
[ back ] 16. I do not include φῦλα, since it is doubtful whether in Hellenistic times φ was still pronounced /ph/ or already /f/, not to mention the fact that certain sounds could vary considerably from region to region.
[ back ] 17. Callimachus Iambus 13 fr. 203.17–18 Pfeiffer τοῦτ᾽ ἐμπ[έ]πλεκται καὶ λαλευς[..]..[ | Ἰαστὶ καὶ Δωριστὶ καὶ τὸ σύμμικτ̣ο̣ν. I owe the reference to Davide Massimo. The interpretation of Callimachus’s verses is far from being certain; nevertheless, whether Callimachus refers to his own work or to the work of some other contemporary poets, the fact remains that these verses testify to the existence of poems composed in a mix of dialects in the early Hellenistic period.
[ back ] 18. See Moyer (2011:184–185); the quote is from p. 184.