This is the first post of a series of translations of Linear B tablets. I’m asked every so often where to find good translations of Linear B tablets online, and the answer is, there isn’t such a place. I complain every so often (and on this very blog) about the lack of outreach on the part of the subdiscipline of Linear B studies, so maybe I should do something about it… so I’m going to try to regularly post transcriptions and translations of Linear B tablets here. Because it’s the start of the semester and I don’t have loads of time, I’ll start with one I’ve already translated:
Cn 608 (Hand 1)
.1 jo-a-se-so-si , si-a2-ro
.3 pi-*82 SUS+SI 3
.4 me-ta-pa SUS+SI 3
.5 pe-to-no SUS+SI 6
.6 pa-ki-ja-si SUS+SI 2
.7 a-pu2-we SUS+SI 2
.8 a-ke-re-wa SUS+SI 2
.9 e-ra-te-i SUS+SI 3
.10 ka-ra-do-ro SUS+SI 2
.11 ri-jo SUS+SI 2
.1 thus will they fatten fatted pigs
.2 the community officials:
.3 Piswā PIGS 3
.4 Metapā PIGS 3
.5 Pethnos PIGS 6
.6 Sphagiānes PIGS 2
.7 Aphus PIGS 2
.8 Agrēwā PIGS 2
.9 Elatos PIGS 3
.10 Kharadroi PIGS 2
.11 Rhion PIGS 2
- The “header” of the text announces the purpose of the document: the community officials will fatten fatted pigs, presumably in order for them to be delivered to a location (or locations) for their sacrifice and consumption in a state-sponsored feast (on the Linear B evidence for these feasts, see this article by Tom Palaima).
- jo-a-se-so-si = /hō asēsonsi/, “thus will they fatten” (cf. ἆσαι)
- si-a2-ro = accusative plural of /sihalos/, “fatted pig” cf. σία^λος
- o-pi-da-mi-jo = nominative plural of /opidāmios/, a compound of opi (cf. Greek επί) and dāmos (cf. Greek δῆμος , Doric δᾶμος)
- The ideogram SUS+SI is a ligature of the standard ideogram for pig (normally transliterated with the Latin SUS in small caps) and the syllabogram for si, presumably used here as an abbrevation for si-a2-ro, “fatted pig.”
- Because the verb is in the future, and the palace was destroyed probably not long after this text was written (the tablet was found in Room 7; on the findspots in Rooms 7 and 8 of the Palace, see this article by Kevin Pluta), it’s probable that these pigs were never fattened.
- The “community officials” are referred to as o-pi-da-mi-jo, presumably /opidāmioi/, so those people “in charge of the dāmos“. This term has been interpreted in different ways, but this seems to me the most probable.
- Piswā, Metapā, Pethnos, Sphagiānes, Aphus, Agrēwā, Elatos, Kharadroi, and Rhion are all place-names in the “Hither Province” of the Pylian kingdom, located west of the mountain range that separates western Messenia from the Pamisos valley. On the two provinces of Pylos, see these articles online by John Chadwick, John Killen, and the directors of the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project (PRAP)
- This presumably means that each of these places had, or constituted, a dāmos. This is interesting because the later Greek word δῆμος , Doric δᾶμος means “district, country, land” as well as the “people, inhabitants” of such a district (I’m quoting the lexicon of Liddell and Scott here). The Mycenaean dāmos seems to have been an important, semi-independent institution that appears in the Linear B texts as an organization that deals with agricultural activities, like fattening pigs, or allocating plots of land.