5 - Ritual performances of divine justice: the epigraphy of confession, atonement, and exaltation in Roman Asia Minor  pp. 115-153

Ritual performances of divine justice: the epigraphy of confession, atonement, and exaltation in Roman Asia Minor

By Angelos Chaniotis

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SAXA LOQUUNTUR: THE EPIGRAPHY OF ORAL PERFORMANCE

Stones speak. And until the invention of a time machine allows us to observe ritual actions in antiquity as eye-witnesses, it is the petrified voices of stones that we will have to listen to. Sometimes they captured loud voices in the context of ritual performances, as in the case of an inscription from Lydia:

  • Great is the Mother of Mes Axiottenos.
  • Glykon, the son of Apollonios, and Myrtion, the wife of Apollonios, (set up) this praise [eulogia] for Mes Ouranios and for Mes of Artemidoros who rules over Axiotta, for their rescue and for that of their children.
  • For you, Lord, have shown mercy, when I was a captive.
  • Great is your holiness! Great is your justice! Great is your victory! Great your punishing power! Great is the Dodekatheon that has been established in your vicinity!
  • For the son of my brother Demainetos made me his captive.
  • For I had neglected my own affairs and helped you, as if you were my own son. But you locked me in and kept me a captive, as if I were a criminal and not your paternal uncle!
  • Now, great is Mes, the ruler over Axiotta!
  • You have given me satisfaction. I praise you.

Although this inscription characterises itself as ‘praise’ (eulogia), its affinity to a group of inscriptions commonly labelled ‘confession inscriptions’ (‘Beichtinschriften’) is obvious. The term ‘confession inscriptions’ designates a continually growing group of documents from Lydia and Phrygia (first to third centuries CE) written on stone stelae and set up in sanctuaries.