Saint NameMary, Mother of Christ : S00033
Type of EvidenceInscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)
Literary - Poems
Evidence not before300
Evidence not after600
Activity not before300
Activity not after600
Place of Evidence - RegionAsia Minor
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcKorykos
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Korykos
Cult activities - PlacesCult building - independent (church)
Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and CustomsPrayer/supplication/invocation
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesOther lay individuals/ people
SourceEngraved on the lintel, above the entrance to a one-aisled church with a rectangular apse, flanked by two chambers, at the site of the so-called Caves of Korykos (Korykion Antron). The Caves of Korykos, located in valleys near modern Narlıkuyu, to the east of Silifke, were a natural phenomenon, renowned already in antiquity and praised by Strabo (XIV 5,670) and Pomponius Mela (I 71-76). The church is located at the entrance to a subterranean passage which led down to the sea. Josef Keil and Adolf Wilhem hypothesised that the sanctuary was meant to repel subterranean demons. For a description and plan of the church, see Bell 1906, 30-31; MAMA III, 217-219. The inscription was first copied by James Bent and edited by Edward Hicks in 1891. Revisited by Gertrude Bell in 1905, and Josef Keil and Adolf Wilhem in 1931.
DiscussionThe inscription commemorates the foundation of a church, dedicated to Mary by a certain Paulos. Josef Stauber and Reinhold Merkelbach follow the opinion of R. Kassel that it is a poem consisting of four verses, meant to be dodecasyllables. However, verses 1 and 3 contain 14 instead of 12 syllables. This is apparently because in verse 1 the word θεόν or Λόγον and in verse 3 the name Παῦλος were inserted into the correct text. On the other hand, Denis Feissel suggested to us a different interpretation of the meter. He notes that “late antique as well as classical iambic trimeters allow for some substitutions; in verse 1 I read a tribrach in the second position and an anapest in the fourth position: ὥσπερ / θεὸν ἐ/δέξω / τὸν ἀχώ/ρητον / Λόγον.” (from a letter dated 17.09.2016).
As for the contents and themes of the poem, one can notice that the author encourages the Virgin to settle in the church, despite its small size, just as the 'uncontainable' Word of God settled in her womb. The request, expressed in verse 3: μεικροῖς ἐνκατῴκησον δόμοις ('settle in this little house'), is apparently based on a passage from Euripides: κενοῖσιν ἐγκατοικήσεις δόμοις ('settle in this empty house') (E. fr. 188, ed. Nauck).
Dating: 4th c. Hicks (no arguments); 6th c. (Bell, based on the period of prosperity of the city of Korykos). A dedication to Mary is very unlikely to predate the later 5th c.
Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten IV, no. 19/08/02.
Hagel, St., Tomaschitz, K., (eds.), Repertorium der westkilikischen Inschriften (Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Denkschriften der philosophisch-historischen Klasse 265, Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris 22, Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1998), no. KrA 5.
Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua III, p. 219 (from a squeeze made by Keil and Wilhem, deposited in the archive of the Tituli Asiae Minoris Project).
Hicks, E.L., "Inscriptions from western Cilicia", The Journal of Hellenic Studies 12 (1891), no. 25 (from Bent's copy).
Bell, G., "Notes on a journey through Cilicia and Lycaonia. III", Revue archéologique, 8 (1906), 31.
Mietke, G., "Monumentalisierung christilcher Heiliger in Kilikien in frühbyzantinischer Zeit", Olba 17 (2009), 121.