V 238. Phouna. Building inscription, 1459 C.E.



"Single-horned" tombstone. 



Dimensions (cm)

H. 60.0, W. 190.0, Th. 60.0.

Additional description

In secondary use. On the underside of the original monument: inset panel with raised border. The inset field has two registers: the top register bears five medallions in relief, each surrounded by floral motifs and divided from one another by vertical lines, all in relief; two medallions contain coats of arms, and three medallions contain monograms; the bottom register carries an inscription, cut in relief. Broken into three parts; the surface is weathered. 

Place of Origin


Find place


Find context

Phouna fortress, the keep, entrance, earth fill at the foundation, depth ca. 1.2m. 

Find circumstances

1982, excavations of V.L. Myts. 

Modern location

Simferopol, Crimea. 

Institution and inventory

Central Museum of Tavrida, no inventory number. 


September 1999, September 2006. 

Epigraphic field


Within the inset field. 


Lapidary; elongated ornate relief letters. Alpha and lambda with capping horizontal bar pointing left, beta with rectangular vertically spaced loops, mu with V-shaped middle. 

Letterheights (cm)




Building inscription. 


1459 C.E. 

Dating criteria

Explicit date. 


L1. Bayer 2002, 182–183; 2. Vinogradov, Myts 2005, 273–281; 2.1. Myts 2009, 394–401; 2.2. Rhoby 2014, 753-756. 


+ [Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ] ζ(ῇ) δ̣[οῦ]λ̣ο̣[ς] κ̣(αὶ) τ̣ρ̣ι̣άδος κ(αὶ) Φ̣[ο]ύ̣ναη̣ο̣ [αὐ]θ̣έν[τ]ης, π̣ή̣ρ̣γος μέγιστος, ἐξ ὀσφύος γενναῖος ἅμα κ(αὶ) χρηστό(ς), ἐκ προγόνων λαμπρῶν ὡς λαμπρός της.
Δ̣ο̣λ̣[ι]χά̣η̣ον̣α̣ (?) σ̣[α]λ̣π̣ίζ(ει), πολύφηλον δ[ή]μ̣οις, π[ά]ντας ἀγαλήαξεν καὶ φήλον τῇ ἠδέᾳ κοσμήσας αὐτὸν καλ[λ]ισμῶν, πᾶν, ὅ τη οἴσον̣ π̣ροθυμίᾳ καλ̣έο.
[...]ά̣ντο̣ς, [ψ]υχῇ ὀνεθὲν ποικίλον κατὰ κάλυας ἐς αὐτοῦ παρουσίαν, λαμπρὸν ἐκ λαμπροῦ τερατούργημα θεῖον, οὗ καὶ φώτησας τοὺς αἴτους, Χριστὲ Λόγε.

Ἰουλλ(ίου) ιθ´, ͵ςϠξζ´




EpiDoc (XML)

<div type="edition" xml:lang="grc">
      <lb n="1"/>
      <l n="1"><g ref="#stauros"/> <supplied reason="lost"><expan><abbr>Ἰ</abbr><ex>ησο</ex><abbr>ῦ</abbr></expan> <expan><abbr>Χ</abbr><ex>ριστο</ex><abbr>ῦ</abbr></expan></supplied> <expan><abbr>ζ</abbr><ex>ῇ</ex></expan> <unclear>δ</unclear><supplied reason="lost">οῦ</supplied><unclear>λο</unclear><supplied reason="lost">ς</supplied> <expan><abbr><unclear>κ</unclear></abbr><ex>αὶ</ex></expan> <unclear>τρι</unclear>άδος</l>  
      <l n="2"><expan><abbr>κ</abbr><ex>αὶ</ex></expan> <unclear>Φ</unclear><supplied reason="lost">ο</supplied><unclear>ύ</unclear>να<unclear>ηο</unclear> <supplied reason="lost">αὐ</supplied><unclear>θ</unclear>έν<supplied reason="lost">τ</supplied>ης, <unclear>πήρ</unclear>γος μέγιστος,</l>
      <l n="3">ἐξ ὀσφύος γενναῖος ἅμα <expan><abbr>κ</abbr><ex>αὶ</ex></expan> <expan><abbr>χρηστό</abbr><ex>ς</ex></expan>,</l> 
      <l n="4">ἐκ προγόνων λαμπρῶν ὡς λαμπρός της.</l>
      <lb n="2"/>
      <l n="5"><unclear>Δολ</unclear><supplied reason="lost">ι</supplied>χ<unclear>άη</unclear>ο<unclear>να</unclear> <certainty locus="value" match=".." cert="low"/> <expan><abbr><unclear>σ</unclear><supplied reason="lost">α</supplied><unclear>λπ</unclear>ίζ</abbr><ex>ει</ex></expan>, πολύφηλον</l>  
      <l n="6">δ<supplied reason="lost">ή</supplied><unclear>μ</unclear>οις, π<supplied reason="lost">ά</supplied>ντας ἀγαλήαξεν καὶ φήλον</l> 
      <l n="7">τῇ ἠδέᾳ κοσμήσας αὐτὸν καλ<supplied reason="lost">λ</supplied>ισμῶν, </l>
      <l n="8">πᾶν, ὅ τη οἴσο<unclear>ν</unclear> <unclear>π</unclear>ροθυμίᾳ κα<unclear>λ</unclear>έο.</l> 
      <lb n="3"/>
      <l n="9"><gap reason="lost" quantity="3" unit="character"/><seg part="F"><unclear>ά</unclear>ντ<unclear>ο</unclear>ς</seg>, <supplied reason="lost">ψ</supplied>υχῇ ὀνεθὲν ποικίλον</l> 
      <l n="10">κατὰ κάλυας ἐς αὐτοῦ παρουσίαν,</l>
      <l n="11">λαμπρὸν ἐκ λαμπροῦ τερατούργημα θεῖον,</l>
      <l n="12">οὗ καὶ φώτησας τοὺς αἴτους, Χριστὲ Λόγε.</l>
     <lb n="4"/><date><rs type="month" ref="iul"><expan><abbr>Ἰουλλ</abbr><ex>ίου</ex></expan></rs> <num value="19">ιθ</num>, <num value="6967">ςϠξζ</num></date>

Edition in Verse

+ [Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ] ζ(ῇ) δ̣[οῦ]λ̣ο̣[ς] κ̣(αὶ) τ̣ρ̣ι̣άδος
κ(αὶ) Φ̣[ο]ύ̣ναη̣ο̣ [αὐ]θ̣έν[τ]ης, π̣ή̣ρ̣γος μέγιστος,
ἐξ ὀσφύος γενναῖος ἅμα κ(αὶ) χρηστό(ς),
ἐκ προγόνων λαμπρῶν ὡς λαμπρός της. |
5Δ̣ο̣λ̣[ι]χά̣η̣ον̣α̣ (?) σ̣[α]λ̣π̣ίζ(ει), πολύφηλον
δ[ή]μ̣οις, π[ά]ντας ἀγαλήαξεν καὶ φήλον
τῇ ἠδέᾳ κοσμήσας αὐτὸν καλ[λ]ισμῶν,
πᾶν, ὅ τη οἴσον̣ π̣ροθυμίᾳ καλ̣έο. |
[ ˘  ˉ  ˘ ]ά̣ντο̣ς, [ψ]υχῇ ὀνεθὲν ποικίλον
10κατὰ κάλυας ἐς αὐτοῦ παρουσίαν,
λαμπρὸν ἐκ λαμπροῦ τερατούργημα θεῖον,
οὗ καὶ φώτησας τοὺς αἴτους, Χριστὲ Λόγε.

Ἰουλλ(ίου) ιθ´, ͵ςϠξζ´
Apparatus criticus

1: ... ἐξ ... ἐκ ... πογήφι ... Bayer; Ἰ(ησο)ῦ Χ(ριστο)ῦ] ζ(ῇ) δ[οῦ]λο[ς] κ(αὶ): om. Vinogradov, Myts, Rhoby; καὶ τρηα[σ]θενὴς Vinogradov, Myts; [… σ]θενὴς Rhoby; προγόνων […] προστῇς Rhoby
2: ... Αλμισήφι ... Bayer; τὸν πύργον οἰκοδομήσας e.g.] Vinogradov, Myts; om. Rhoby; καὶ φαῖδρον Vinogradov, Myts; καλ[λωπ]ισμῶν Rhoby; ὃ τὼ ἴσον Vinogradov
3: ... Αλμησος ... φωτίσας τοὺς Ἰούτους, Χριστὲ Λόγε Bayer; ]άντος: om. Vinogradov, Myts; οὐθὲν ποικίλ(ον) Rhoby; ποικίλον κατὰ κάλυκας Vinogradov, Myts; [νῦν] καὶ Rhoby
4: Ι. ις´ (resp. ιζ´) ςϠξζ´ Bayer


May he live, a servant of Jesus Christ and of Trinity, ruler of Phouna, tower of majesty, from loins noble and goodly, from illustrious ancestors, himself illustrious. About the longevity (?) (of this tower), which is pleasing to the people, he trumpets; he delighted everyone when he embellished it pleasantly with an image of beauties - everything, which I would call being equal to his zeal... varied and beneficial to his soul for his presence - built by an illustrious man, an illustrious and divine miracle, whose citizens (?) you enlightened, Christ, the Logos. 19th of July 6967.



The relief letters in the left half of the monument are badly weathered, so that some of them I had to establish by touch. Some corrections to the text were made after the editio princeps due to the fact that in the meantime, the stone had been transported to and exhibited in the Central Museum of Tavrida. It is now displayed in a convenient position, whereas previously, at the time when the editio princeps was being prepared, it was laid on the floor of a narrow passage at the Crimean Branch, Institute of Archaeology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, making its study very difficult.

The inscription was fixed over the entrance to the keep. A tombstone of the late XIVth - early XVth century was reused for the purpose. The design of the inscription is typical of the Theodorite epigraphy of the XVth century (сf. V 13, V 179, V 180). On the interpretation of monograms, see Vinogradov, Myts 2005. See also commentary to V 13. A. Rhoby (2014) who edited the inscription without the benefit of autopsy is vary cautious with restorations of lacunae and conjectures. For instance, his conjectures at the end of line 2 (καί σοι) cannot be accepted since there is not an iota but a framing line, as well as in the middle of line 2 because there is no room for καλ[λωπ]ισμῶν. At the same time, his conjectures in the middle of line 2 (φήλον) and line 3 (ποικίλ(ον) κατακαλύνας) are insightful. See also his comments on the metrics and the gammar of the inscription.

The main text consists of twelve dodekasyllabic verses, arranged in groups of four over the three lines of the inscription. Such an arrangement of text is not accidental, but corresponds to the division of the epigram into three strophes according to meaning (see below). The poetic meter is a standard six-foot tonic iambos, which was used for the majority of Late Byzantine poetic compositions. An epigram of praise is one of its common applications.

The left half of the stone suffered the most damage: the beginnings of all three lines are illegible.

1. The first verse contains a wish for the builder's long life, and he is characterized as a good Christian. The second verse of the epigram compares the ruler of Phouna with the "greatest tower" (the word πύργος is masculine in Greek and is fitting as a desciption of a hero; this image gains special significance in the context of the second strophe), while verses 3-4 celebrate his noble origin. Thus, the first strophe is dedicated to the praise of a nobleman - ruler of the fortress.

2. In the fifth verse, the author turns to the praise of the construction: it is described in the masculine. The archaeological context of the find (destruction layer at the foot of the keep) suggests that we should expect here the word πύργος, "tower," which appears in verse 2 and which is also attested in the Theodorite building inscription of 1425 C.E. (V 179). Verses 6 and 7 glorify the construction, describing it as "pleasing to the people" and embellished it with an image of beauties. The connection of this fragment with the preceding text is enabled by the parallel ending of verses: πολύφιλον - φίλον. Verse 8 equates the beauty of the construction with the zeal of the ktitor.

3. Only one and a half feet of the poetic meter are lost at the start of the third strophe. Verses 9 and 10 indicate that owing to its beauties the tower should bring various benefits to its builder. Verse 11 contains another epithet of praise for the construction, in which someone (probably, the owner and his family) was supposed to dwell, as is made clear in verse 12, which is an invocation of Christ-Logos. Thus, the third strophe, with its traditional wish for the welfare of the addressee and its invocation of Christ concludes the laudatory epigram dedicated to a noble ktitor and his brilliant construction. The invocation of Christ as Λόγε, at the end of a dodekasyllabic verse, is known from another monument: a seal of Joseph Balsamon of the XIIth century (Shandrovskaya 2009).

Among the poetic features of this text, we should note the unaugmented verbal forms: ἀγαλήαξεν, φώτισας. The author does not stay true to the laws of the dodecasyllabic meter: in verses 2, 4 and 7, the stress does not fall on the penultimate syllable. Until now, we knew of only one example of Theororite poetic tradition - the poem of John Eugenikos on the death of a prince's heir. Since John was supposed to have been in Peloponnese at the time, he is not likely to have been the author of our epigrapm from Phouna.

4. In the centre of the inscription we find a very short dating formula - 19th of July 6967 (since Creation), that is, 1459 since the birth of Christ. To make line 4, which is cut into the frame, any longer would have upset the design of the monument, where the text is arranged in 3 long lines. The presence of the date qualifies our monument as a proper building inscription, rather than as a mere laudatory epigram, which would not have needed a date.

For the historical context, see Myts 2009, 394–401.



(cc) © 2015 Andrey Vinogradov (edition), Irene Polinskaya (translation)
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