6th June 2006: Best Tombstone Ever

After spending most of the morning reading pretty much all the extant Phoenician there is, both online and in Harden’s The Phoenicians which is the only thing I have in the house — must get something more recent — I was delighted to see that Sonya Taaffe¬†just posted this on my last entry, in response to being asked how you say hello in Phoenician:

“There is always this epigram attributed to Meleagros in the Anthologia Graeca:

Walk softly, stranger: among the righteous, the old man is resting, lulled to the sleep that he deserves,
Meleagros the son of Eukrates, who put together
sweet-crying Love and the Muses with the joyful Graces: whom god-gotten Tyre reared to manhood, and the holy land of Gadara: but lovely Kos of the Meropes tended him as an old man. So if you are Syrian, Salam, if you are Phoenician, Naidios, and if you are Greek, Chaire, — say the same.”

First century BCE.

That may be the only extant example of a Phoenician greeting. What a narrow fingernail-hold we have on time! And what a lovely man he was, Meleagros son of Eukrates, dead these two thousand years, but I wish I’d been lucky enough to know him.

So, if you are Greek these days, ya sou, if you are French, bonjour, if you are Welsh, boro da — say the same!

Posted in Human culture, Life as it blossoms out in a jar or a face