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Forgetfulness in the Golden Tablets of Memory

  • R. Janko (a1)

With the publication in 1974 of an inscribed ‘Orphic’ gold leaf from Hipponium (Vibo Valentia) in Southern Italy, and that in 1977 of another, now at Malibu, California, we have a relatively extensive series of gold leaves from graves bearing brief instructions concerning the afterlife. Whether these are Orphic, Pythagorean or whatever, will not be in question here; but the relation between the different texts constitutes a problem interesting in itself, whose dispassionate exploration may also contribute to the eventual understanding of the religious background.

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1 See Foti, G. and Carratelli, G. Pugliese, ‘Un Sepolcro di Hipponion e un nuovo testo orfico’, La Parola del Passato 29 (1974), 91126, who provide an enlarged photograph and reprint all the texts with which we are concerned, M excepted. There has been extensive discussion of the text: see Guarducci, M., Epigraphica 37 (1975), 1924; Gigante, M., PP 30 (1975), 223–5; H. Lloyd-Jones, ibid. 225–6; Carratelli, ibid. 226–31; Merkelbach, R., ZPE 17 (1975), 8f.; West, M. L., ZPE 18 (1975), 229–36; Marcovich, M., ZPE 23 (1976), 221–4; Zuntz, G., Wiener Studien 10 (1976), 129–51; Carratelli, , PP 31 (1976), 458–66; Namia, G., Vichiana vi (1977), 288 f.; Guarducci, , Epigrafia Greca iv (Rome, 1978), 258–70; Gil, J., Cuadernos di Fil. Clás. 14 (1978), 83 ff. (not seen); Luppe, W., ZPE 30 (1978), 23–6; Gallavotti, C., Museum Criticum 13–14 (19781979), 337–59. For wider commentary on the religious background see Cole, S. G., GRBS 21 (1980), 223–38; her n. 1 gives further bibliography on this. Citations by name only refer to the articles mentioned above.

2 Published by J. reslin, Pasadena; cf. Merkelbach, R., ZPE 25 (1977), 276.

3 Persephone (Oxford, 1971), 277 ff., where both series are discussed in detail with transcriptions and photographs.

4 On the dating see Guarducci, , Epigrafia Greca 258, 266 n. 3.

5 Art. cit. 235 f.

6 Art. cit. (n. 1).

7 Art. cit. The attempt is approved by Guarducci, , Epigraphica 37 cit. 20 n.

8 PP 30 (1975), 228 f.

9 Persephone 376–83, WSt cit. passim.

10 Loc. cit. (n. 7).

11 cf. Marcovich n. 1. Below I have translated ‘ghostly’, with both aspects in mind.

12 Loc. cit. (n. 7).

13 cf. Zuntz, art. cit. 130.

14 So Zuntz, ibid. 135 f., from personal reinspection.

15 That this, and εἰς in H2, are not verbs in the second person, is affirmed by Zuntz, ibid. 135, 136; as far as the Ionic archetype is concerned, he must be right. But the Doric writer of H may have understood them thus; cf.Carratelli, , PP 29 (1974), 112.

16 West, art. cit. 229n.

17 Hence my translation of the line, below.

18 Persephone 366.

18 Denniston, J. D., The Greek Particles 55.

20 Orpheus and Greek Religion (1952), 173.

21 Gallavotti, 349 n. 17.

22 PP 30 (1975), 228 f.

23 There are rather few parallel cases in antiquity, but it is worth comparing the relation of Homeric Hymn 18 to Hermes with the opening lines of Hymn 4 to the same deity. The versions are largely identical, but with minor variations, and cases of the poet anticipating himself. Cf. Janko, , Homer, Hesiod and the Hymns (Cambridge, 1982) 3 with n.

24 Or at any rate sub-Homeric, as seen in Hesiod and the Homeric Hymns. In defence of πείἂν (1) see Il. Z 412, Zuntz, art. cit. 135 n. 15; the psilosis in πύπερθεν is the proper Ionic form, and in some papyri it evades the superficial Atticism of our epic texts (e.g. POxy 2510. 18, [κα]тύπρθεν. I have written ϕρε πευκαλίμησι (10), but ϕρασί is an archaism more widely current than is usually thought, e.g. in Attic and Halicarnassian inscriptions (Carratelli, , PP 29 (1974), 112); it is not necessarily a Doric form introduced by the scribe of H. The same is true of the dative in -αισι, an ending rarely found in post-Homeric hexameters, but not necessarily to be emended to -ησι (cf. Cypria fr. 5. 3, Hy. Dem. 368). I take тοί in 18 as the pronominal definite article, with ὑποχθόννιοι βασλῖες, e.g. Il. B 402; cf. Chantraine, P., Gramm. Horn. II 161.The style is simple and pleasing; the most complex touch is the postponement of ìερήν in 21, but the pattern of enjambement remains unpretentious throughout.

25 I would like to thank the Cambridge Greek Seminar's members in 1981 and an anonymous referee for commenting on versions of this paper, and Mr N. Lowe in particular for encouraging me to persevere with it.

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