What is written on the Library of Celsus and is it still readable easily for a modern average Greek?

By: | Post date: 2017-04-26 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Linguistics, Modern Greek

Well, there’s a whole bunch of writing on the Library. In order of size:

  • The four statues: ΣΟΦΙΑ ΚΕΛΣΟΥ, ΑΡΕΤΗ ΚΕΛΣΟΥ, ΕΝΝΟΙΑ ΚΕΛΣΟΥ, ΕΠΙΣΤΗΜΗ ΚΕΛΣΟΥ. “Wisdom of Celsus, Virtue of Celsus, Meaning of Celsus, Science [Knowledge] of Celsus”. False friend in “Science”, but no problem.
  • The facade: I actually got this from a Google Books publication of the inscription (“����������� ὕ�����” – ��������� GoogleAnnée Épigraphique 1968), it is faded (and reconstructed—the stuff in brackets was not legible in 1968, and the library was reconstructed in the 70s).

Τι. Ἰού[λιον Πολεμαιανὸν] ὕπατον ἀνθύπατον Ἀσίας Τι. Ἰούλιος Ἀκύλας ὁ υἱὸς κ[α]τεσκεύασεν τὴν βιβλιοθήκην [ἀπα]ρτ[ισάντ]ων τῶν Ἀκύλα κ[λη]ρ[ονόμων καθιερώσα]ντος Τι. Κλαυδίου Ἀριστίωνος Γ Ἀσιάρχου

Haven’t sighted a translation, but don’t really need to:

Tiberius Julius Polemaeanus, consul, proconsul of Asia: Tiberius Julius Aquila his son built the library, which Aquila’s heirs completed, and Tiberius Claudius Aristion three-times Asiarch dedicated.

Two things throw an educated Modern Greek speaker like me: the use of ἀπαρτίζω to mean “complete”; the word has been reborrowed into Modern Greek, but there it only means “constitute”; and the use of Γ to mean “three times” instead of “the third”.

Then there’s the more detailed inscription in the middle; see Library of Celsus Ephesus. With no spaces between the words, it’s harder to read, but it’s mostly understandable. I beg you not to ask me to do a line by line of it.

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