This Ph.D. project focuses on dedicatory epigrams from the Hellenistic era. The work follows the most recent exegetic line in studies on epigrammatic poetry which acknowledges the important relationship between Hellenistic ‘literary’ epigrams and epigraphic poetry. For this reason, inscribed and ‘literary’ examples are considered together. In particular, the analysis focuses on the use of deictic expressions in dedicatory epigrams, i.e. on the use of all those linguistic elements whose meaning and interpretation depend on the spatial and temporal context where they are uttered.


This research project  is based on the creation of a new corpus of dedicatory epigrams that includes both inscribed and book epigrams, dating om the end of the 4th century BC to the beginning of the 2nd century BC. The corpus contains ‘literary’ epigrams selected from the editions by Gow and Page (1965) and Austin and Bastianini (2002).  For epigrams on stone, the selection includes texts collected from W. Peek’s unpublished collection of epigram, which is preserved in the archive of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. Although the focus of the analysis lies on Hellenistic epigrams, pre-Hellenistic dedicatory epigrams are also taken into account in the initial section of the work, in order to delineate briefly models and topoi that characterise the genre from the beginning.

The preliminary analysis of the texts selected was accompanied by the registration into a database of all the relevant data, with particular attention to the features related to deixis. With the help of the database it was possible to define all the frames of reference found in the analysed texts  and then to organise and gather all epigrams that share the same communicative frame. Moreover, the data of the analysis  clearly showed the most important trends of the genre and features of the epigrams, and their development.


Through the in-depth analysis of this new corpus, it was possible to detect different trends in the use of deictic expressions, in order to highlight similarities and divergences between inscribed and literary epigrams and to elucidate the different deictic strategies employed in different contexts. The results are presented in a commentary on the texts, which were arranged into coherent sections according to the frame of reference they adopt, i.e. considering who is the speaker and who is the addressee in each text. The commentary on each section is focused on two aspects mainly. The first part analyses the verb of dedication and its tense (temporal deixis), in order to define how the act of dedication is presented and which relation it has to the deictic centre. The second part focuses on the presentation of the dedicated object, i.e. the place on which the inscription traditionally lies (or is supposed to lie). In this section a particular attention is paid to the use of demonstratives (spatial deixis) used to present the object dedicated.

This research project is an important contribution to research on the history of epigrams in the Hellenistic era, since it helps delineate a global picture of the development and features of this peculiar genre in all its realisations, in different contexts and on different supports.

This Ph.D. thesis is being written within the program “Ancient Languages and Texts” (ALT) of the Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (BerGSAS).