Glorifying One’s Country Through Sacrifice

IG I³ 1179, c. 432 BCE, Dedicatory Inscription in the Athenian Agora

These Athenians died at Poteidaia
Immortal me de[ath…
To indicate excellence…..
Along with the strength of their ancestor…..
When they died they earned as a monument victory in war.

The sky welcomed their souls, while their bodies took this land.
And they perished around the gates of Poteidaia.
Some of their enemies have a tomb as their share, but those who fled
Made their wall the most trusted hope for their lives.

The city and the people of Erekhtheus long for those
Who died among the front lines at Poteidaia,
These children of the Athenians–they set their lives on the balance,
Earned their excellence, and brought glory to their country.”

ἐμ Π̣οτ̣[ειδαίαι Ἀθεναίον ℎοίδε ἀπέθανον]·
ἀθάνατόν με θ̣α[νο— ⏕ –⏕ –⏑⏑ –⏓] /
σεμαίνεν ἀρετ[ὲν –⏑⏑ –⏑⏑ –] /
νίκεν εὐπόλεμον μνε͂μ’ ἔλαβο<μ> φθ̣[ίμενοι]. /

αἰθὲρ μὲν φσυχὰς ὑπεδέχσατο, σόμ̣[ατα δὲ χθὸν] /
το͂νδε· Ποτειδαίας δ’ ἀμφὶ πύλας ἐλ[ύθεν]· /
ἐχθρο͂ν δ’ οἱ μὲν ἔχοσι τάφο μέρος, ℎο̣[ι δὲ φυγόντες] /
τεῖχος πιστοτάτεν ℎελπίδ’ ἔθεντο [βίο]. /

ἄνδρας μὲν πόλις ℎέδε ποθεῖ καὶ δε͂[μος Ἐρεχθο͂ς], /
πρόσθε Ποτειδαίας ℎοὶ θάνον ἐν πρ[ο]μάχοις /
παῖδες Ἀθεναίον· φσυχὰς δ’ ἀντίρρο[π]α θέντες /
ἐ[λλ]άχσαντ’ ἀρετὲν καὶ πατρ̣[ίδ’] ε̣ὐκλ[έ]ϊσα̣ν̣.’

This is a cast of a 5th c. BCE inscription of an epigram on the base of a civic funeral monument dedicated to the Athenians killed in the Battle of Poteidaia (Potidaea) in 432 BCE. The inscription, IG I³ 1179 and Agora XVII.16, is housed at the British Museum. The base probably held a stele containing the names of the 150 men Thucydides (1.63) reports were killed in the battle.
Poteidaia Epigram

Milet VI,2 732 [= GVI I (1955) 33] Dedicatory Inscription in Miletus for those fallen in battle against Megara

This is a monument of those who died–it confers excellence upon them
Those who died brought glory to their country.
A monument is yoked with deeds throughout Greece
And an eternal memory lives on for those who have died.

μνῆμα τόδε̣ [φ]θιμ[έ]νων? ἀρετῆς ἕστ[ηκ’] ἐπὶ τῶ̣ν̣δε,
οἳ κ[τάμεν]οι σφετέ[ρ]ην εὐκ̣λέϊσαν π̣[α]τρίδα·
μν̣η̣[μ]ε̣ῖ̣[ο]ν̣ πᾶσαν δὲ καθ’ Ἑλλάδα σύζ̣[υγ]ον ἔργοις
ἀ̣θ̣ά̣νατος μνήμη ζῶσα θανοῦσ[ιν] ἔπι.

[additional stanzas left out]

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