April 19th 1916

For those of you still struggling with your ‘Liddell and Scott’ to interpret the inscription on Roger Mott’s “Balkan find” (see previous post), ‘The Balkan News’ comes to your rescue:

“We present our readers with a translation, as we fear that the original text might be Greek to some, not to say all, of them.

‘The city (erected this tablet in honour of) Manius Salarius Sabinus, the head of the gymnasium and benefactor, who very often in times of dearth sold (corn) far below the market price, and when the armies of the Lord Caesar passed through, supplied to their stores 400 bushels of wheat, 100 bushels of barley, 60 bushels of beans and 100 firkins of wine at far less than the market price, and contributed 370 francs towards the repair of the gymnasium, and at the festivals gave gratuities to the tables of the councillors and ex-mayors and to those citizens who shared the banquet, and in all other respects frequently proved of service to the city. Pereisi as son of Phila, who is also called Biesias, and Herod, son of Beithys, supervised (the memorial) in the year 269.’

Some contractor, this Sabinus! We don’t fancy we have come across any of his descendants in Macedonia today. If there are any, we should like to meet them…

The inscription seems to belong to 123 A.D., and the Caesar referred to  would in that case be Hadrian, that much travelled statesman-emperor who paid a visit to Britain and organised a strong defence line to rescue northern England from the depredations of the savage Scot.”

An interesting discovery by Roger Mott and the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Hopefully the tablet will find a safe home and that we will all be able to inspect and enjoy it one day, when the war is over.

 

April 15th 1916

A Balkan Find!

Major Roger Mott has written from “somewhere in Macedonia,” where he has indulged in some archaeological digging alongside his military duties.

“At ******** we have for some time been digging trenches and, being situated in a country of such classical associations, you may imagine that quite a number of interesting ‘finds’ have come to light – for instance, a tour of the trenches would reveal several old stone coffins, which make excellent ammunition or grenade stores; whilst for the storage of water you would, here and there, come across an amphora.

But the particular ‘find’ I refer to is a memorial tablet in white marble, in practically perfect condition and believed to date from the first or second century.

So I bethought me to have a copy made and sent to you. Maybe it will interest the modern Dragon, for I think ingenuity and a ‘Liddell & Scott’** will be able to unravel the hidden meaning thereof.

Alas, the early instruction in those class-rooms in Crick Road has been allowed to rust within my brain, so that my attempts to decipher the thing have not been altogether a success.

I got it reproduced somehow in small Greek characters, then tried to split it up into separate words, then searched a modern Graeco-French dictionary and finally a French-English one, with the result that I gather the city was extremely grateful to the gentlemen who bust up a ring of evil merchants. But you never taught me the last letter of the last line but one, which is annoying!”

Mott find

I am sure readers would like to have the opportunity to exercise of their brains over this Easter holiday to work this out. To help, Hugh Sidgwick has transliterated thus:

Sidgwick transliteration

** This capital text book has a close link with the OPS.  Dragons will know the rhyme:

Liddell and Scott, Liddell and Scott:
Some of it’s riddle, and some of it’s rot.
That which is riddle was written by Liddell,
That which is rot was written by Scott

Whereas Mr Scott (and his rot) has no connection with us, the riddle-some Dean Liddell (of Christ Church) is one of our founders.

(I am tempted, by the way, to add an extra line: “And little or none of it learnt by Mott!”)