Author Topic: ΕΥΛΑΜΩ ΛΑΡΞΙΜ ΑΘΑ  (Read 894 times)

Euterpe

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ΕΥΛΑΜΩ ΛΑΡΞΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« on: 05 Dec, 2015, 04:21:51 »
Well, it's been a VERY long time. I am back with a fun one (or I hope it will be a nice change from the usual epigraphy, tattoos, Bible passages, etc).

This is an inscription I have found on a "magical" gem. It is a fairly common type from the Roman period: one side bears an image (usually a god or some kind of protective device) and the other has a magical inscription. This one shows a herm on one side (no mystery here; they were thought to be apotropaic), the other side has an inscription on 3 lines:

ΕΥΛΑΜW
ΛΑΡZΙΜ or ΛΑΡΞΙΜ
ΑΘΑ

The first line is easy enough: "Eulamo" for Olam, the Hebrew phrase for "everlasting God" (I know of many gems with this inscription)

The next lines are another matter. "larzim" sounds like something that could be derived from Hebrew too? Or am I way off track?

"atha" could simply be the string of various vowels and sounds (basically non-sensical) used in incantations.

Any idea?
« Last Edit: 06 Dec, 2015, 23:24:26 by billberg23 »


billberg23

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Re: ΕΥΛΑΜW ΛΑΡΣΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« Reply #1 on: 05 Dec, 2015, 05:57:19 »
Welcome back, Euterpe!  Long time no see ...  But I see your scholarly life continues to be exciting, and that's good.
Can't help thinking of the Lares (singular Lar), the Roman spirits of the household whose name and function derives from the Etruscans (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lares).  You say the gem is Roman.  Wild guess:  could LARXIM possibly be the Etruscan equivalent of Latin laribus?
As for ΑΘΑ, see 1 Corinthians 16:22, and the Liddell & Scott gloss, μαρὰν ἀθά, Syriac phrase, = ὁ Κύριος ἥκει, 1 Ep.Cor.16.22. 
So for the whole inscription, I get "The everlasting God has come/returns to our household" (definitely not for publication! (-:).
« Last Edit: 05 Dec, 2015, 23:05:38 by billberg23 »
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Euterpe

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Re: ΕΥΛΑΜW ΛΑΡZΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« Reply #2 on: 05 Dec, 2015, 22:06:52 »
I just realized that I made a mistake. It is LAPΖIM or LAPΞIM (I corrected my previous post). I first thought it was meant to be a Zeta (but written like a lower case character so I misled you in reading "Larsim"), but now I think it might be a Xi.
« Last Edit: 05 Dec, 2015, 22:09:26 by Euterpe »


Euterpe

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Re: ΕΥΛΑΜW ΛΑΡZΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« Reply #3 on: 05 Dec, 2015, 22:09:01 »
Also I say Roman as in "Roman period." I have no provenance for this piece. They have been found all over the Mediterranean.

billberg23

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Re: ΕΥΛΑΜW ΛΑΡΞΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« Reply #4 on: 05 Dec, 2015, 23:06:56 »
Laure, may we see the herm on the obverse?
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Euterpe

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Re: ΕΥΛΑΜW ΛΑΡΞΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« Reply #5 on: 06 Dec, 2015, 00:36:36 »


Euterpe

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Re: ΕΥΛΑΜW ΛΑΡΞΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« Reply #6 on: 06 Dec, 2015, 00:49:14 »
I am familiar with the Lares and their iconography, but they are not usually represented as herms. That being said, herms had similar connotations as protectors of boundaries and spaces.
Interesting reading. Thank you, Bill!

billberg23

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Re: ΕΥΛΑΜW ΛΑΡΞΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« Reply #7 on: 06 Dec, 2015, 03:20:47 »
Agreed that Etruscan is out the window.  The inscription must be all Hebrew, and LAPΞIM is pretty obviously a Hebrew plural.  Typing in "larxim" here (http://www.doitinhebrew.com/Translate/default.aspx?kb=IL+Hebrew+Phonetic), I get lartzim = "the congregation."  The herm is strange, with its arm stumps extended to form a cross.  Could the gem be crypto-Christian?  In Greek, "congregation" would be ἐκκλησία.  "The everlasting God is coming to his ἐκκλησία"?
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Euterpe

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Re: ΕΥΛΑΜΩ ΛΑΡΞΙΜ ΑΘΑ
« Reply #8 on: 07 Dec, 2015, 00:08:14 »
I thought that larxim sounded Hebrew, but I have no experience with Semitic languages. I am less convinced by the proto-Christian reading. Such herms with side projections are well known (many examples are found in gardens in the Bay of Naples for instance). Furthermore the cross does not become such an important Christian symbol until much later (4th cent onwards). I also find the use of the Hebrew Olam at odds with the reading when IAW was available.

"Atha" as "has come" seems like a promising reading, although I need to look into its occurrence without "Maran" in religious contexts.

I knew this would be tricky; magical inscriptions usually are very obscure (and regularly non-sensical; they play with sounds and visual impact; see for instance non-sensical palindromes). As I said, I thought you might find the exercise fun and it is not for publication :)