IG XII2, 260 in the Castle of Mytilene

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In 1899, G. Paton published in the corpus Inscriptiones Graecae, vol. XII2, which comprises the inscriptions of the island of Lesbos, an inscription (see Fig.1) of the 1st c. A.D. (IG XII2, 260):

Φίλων Διαφ[ένεος—
Πρώταν γύνα[ικα —
καὶ φιλαγαθίας [ἕνεκα.

The editor mentions that the inscription was located «in muro castelli exteriore ad portam septentrionalem».

Fig.1 – The fragmentary monument of Philo (IG XII2, 260) granddaughter of Potamon of Mytilene (1st c. A.D.)

It was first published by Cichorius, AM XIII (1888) 72, ἀρ. 34. Following Cichorius, Paton suggested that Philon commissioned the statue of his wife Prota «φιλαγαθίας ἕνεκα». Moreover Cichorius identified Prota with the woman whose death is lamented by the Lesbian poet Krinagoras (see Anth. Pal. V, 108). Fr. Hiller de Gaetringen mentions in IG XII Supplementum, p. 23, published in 1939, that L. Robert, BCH 59 (1935) 473-74 [SEG 2. 497] offered a new reading:

Φίλων Διαφέ[νη, γύναικα δὲ τοῦ Δ., —]
πρώταν γυναί[κων – – – – – -ἀρέτας]
καὶ φιλαγαθίας [ἕνεκα τᾶς πρὸς – – -].

According to Robert’s reading, Φίλω (Aeolian dialect for Φιλώ), the daughter of Diaphenes, was first among all women in virtue and goodness. Diaphenes was high priest of Rome and Augustus, son of Potamon (75 B.C. -14 A.D.) the orator and distinguished statesman during the Augustan Period.1 Robert based his new reading on two other inscriptions related to Philo, IG XII Suppl., 622 and 22. In the first one Philo is honored by the demos for her virtue and her piety; in the second inscription Philo is dedicating to the Gods in her capacity as priestess of Isis.

I saw the inscription built at a low level into the wall of the external tower of the Medieval castle of Mytilene by the seaside, (location Epano Skala) at the same place where Paton had seen it in 1899 and thus I publish a photograph of it here.3 It is an inscribed fragment of an epistyle with elegant letters. C.Williams argues that this fragment belonged to a funerary monument.4
The Castle of Mytilene was built in the 14th c. A.D. by the Venetian Gateluzi conquerors. A great number of ancient stones from the Hellenistic theater of the city and inscriptions5 (mostly from the Potamoneion) were used as building material.6


1 See IG XII 2, 229. 656.

2 See also Σ. Χαριτωνίδου, Συμπλήρωμα, p. 49.

3 On the epigraphic evidence related to the activity of Potamon and his family see R.W. Parker, Potamon of Mytilene and his family, ZPE 85 (1991) 115-129.

4 See C. Williams, Hellenistic and Roman Buildings in the Medieval Walls of Mytilene, Phoenix 38 (1984) 38-45.

5 See op.cit. p. 115, note 2.

6 The Potamoneion was a monument erected by the city of Mytilene in honor of Potamon son of Lesbonax, for his political activity (relations to Rome and his personal friendship with Caesar, Augustus and Tiberius) that was conducive to peace and prosperity of the island.