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Studies and Essays in Honour of Valery P. Nikonorov
on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday
presented by His Friends and Colleagues

Compiled and edited

by Alexander A. Sinitsyn and Maxim M. Kholod

St. Petersburg State University

Faculty of Philology
St. Petersburg


. . . .


59 : 60-
/ . . . . . . . .
. : , 2013. 552 ., .
ISBN 978-5-8465-1362-4
(. ) -
. . (20 2013 .).
, -

: Studies and Essays in Honour of Valery P. Nikonorov on the Occasion of

His Sixtieth Birthday presented by His Friends and Colleagues / Compiled and ed. by Alexander
A. Sinitsyn and Maxim M. Kholod. St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg State University Faculty of
Philology, 2013. 552 p., ill
ISBN 978-5-8465-1362-4
The collected articles are a common gift ( in ancient Greek) prepared by friends and colleagues to solemnize
the 60th anniversary of Valery P. Nikonorov, the St. Petersburg historian of Antiquity and archaeologist (October 20,
2013). Contributed by Russian and foreign scholars, the articles deal with a broad range of problems of history and culture
from the Antique epoch to Late Modern times, including those related to ancient warfare the main field of scientific
interests of the person whose jubilee is celebrated.

, 2013
. . , , 2013
. . , , 2013
, 2013
ISBN 978-5-8465-1362-4 . . , , 2013
Jeffrey D. Lerner
(Winston-Salem, NC, USA)


In 1958 a fully preserved bilingual Graeco-Aramaic inscription was found engraved on a rock near
the city of Shar-i Kuhana, the Old City of Kandahar (perhaps Alexandria of the Arachosians), along the
main road linking this city to Herat1. The inscription consists of fourteen lines in Greek and beneath
them eight in Aramaic. Both are independent parallel versions of concise abstracts based on central
passages found in rock edicts issued by the Mauryan king Aoka (c. 272232 BCE), belonging to the
class of texts referred to in Rock Edict 14 as samkhitena lekhpit, caused to be written concisely2.
In the inscriptions Aoka is referred to by his personal name, the one looking with kindness (upon
everything), which is transcribed in Greek as derived from the Eastern Prakrit form of
Piyadassi, while the Aramaic (prydr) comes from the North-Western Prakrit form Priyadrai. Both texts
are universal proclamations emphasizing the importance of non-killing and obeying ones parents and
elders. They may also refer to the concept of dhamma (Sanskrit dharma), which connotes both a religious
and secular meaning of innate natural law, and is a code of behavior for all society3. The Greek in-
scription reads:

When ten years had been completed,

King Piodasses taught piety
to men, and from this time
he made men more pious and all things
flourish throughout the entire land, and
the king refrains from animal flesh and
other men; and as many hunters and fishermen as there are
of the king have ceased hunting, and
if some were intemperate, they have ceased their bad mixture
of character according to their own ability, and they respect
their father and mother and their elders contrary to their former practice, and
in the future they will spend their lives
making them better and hence
more desirable in all they do.

Schlumberger D., Robert L., Dupont-Sommer A., Benveniste E. Une bilingue grco-aramenne dAsoka // JA. 1958.
Vol. 246. P. 148; Filliozat J. Graeco-Aramaic inscription of Asoka near Kandahar // Epigraphia Indica. 19611962. Vol. 34.
P. 1.
Lamotte E. Histoire du bouddhisme indien. Louvain, 1958. P. 794; Barua B. M. Inscriptions of Asoka, Part 2. Calcutta, 1943.
P. 222223; Eggermont P. H. L., Hoftijzer J. The moral edicts of king Aoka. Leiden, 1962. P. 42.
Kosambi D. D. Notes on the Kandahar edict of Asoka // Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. 1959.
Vol. 2. P. 204.

Jeffrey D. Lerner. The Greek Inscriptions of Aoka

A second Greek inscription on a limestone block was discovered in 1963, lying in the ruins of Old
Kandahar near a Moslem shrine4. The text composed of twenty-two long lines is fragmentary. The inscrip-
tion contains the last section of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth major rock edict issued by
Aoka. As all fourteen edicts regularly appear as a corpus, the building probably contained a Greek trans-
lation of all the edicts. The text5 reads as:

piety and self-control in all ways of life; and he who has self-control of his speech is especially self-dis-
ciplined. And neither should they praise themselves, nor should they find fault with their neighbors about anything;
for this is especially vain; rather it is better to try to praise ones neighbors and not to find fault with their entire
manner of living. And those who do these things strengthen themselves and gain their neighbors friendship;
while those who transgress these things are both self-centered and are hated by their neighbors. If they should
praise themselves, they will find fault with their neighbors doing so viciously; those who wish to shine forth
beyond their neighbors, deceive themselves much more. Rather it is more fitting to admire one another and to
give teachings to one another. Those who do these things will be much wiser, handing over to one another as
much as each of them knows. And it is befitting for those who practice these things not to hesitate to speak so
that they will continue living piously forever.
In the eighth year of King Piodasses reign, he captured Kalinga. There 150000 people were captured and
led away and 100000 others died and almost as many others perished. From that time piety and compassion
seized him; and he bore them heavily; just as he ordered them to refrain from animal flesh, he has made zeal and
organization concerning piety. And the king assumed this with still greater difficulty; and as many Brahmans
and Sramans and all others as there are who live there engaging themselves in piety, those who live there must
mind the interests of the king, and to respect and esteem their master and father and mother, and to treat with
affection their friends and comrades, and to treat as gently as possible their slaves and hirelings, if, of those who
practice such things thoroughly there, someone died or was banished, and the rest who remained carried this out
without taking proper care, then the king used to be displeased excessively with them. And as in other tribes,
there are.

Here, as in the 1958 bilingual, the inscription is based on a Prakrit original and is an idiomatic rather
than a literal translation of Aokas message. The portion of the inscription corresponding to Edict
12 preaches equality and harmony between the , while that corresponding to Edict 13 enumer-
ates the nations within which the teaching of dharma (dhramanuasti) prevails, including Yonakam-
boja: the country of the Yonas (Greeks, literally, Ionians) and Kambojas (Iranians).
Both inscriptions have been dated to the mid-third century BCE on the basis of orthography, Aokas
coronation, and his conversion to Buddhism6. The implication is that from 303 BCE onward, if not
previously, the Greeks of Arachosia had politically been under Mauryan domination and quite possibly
never that of Seleucid. Using 250 BCE as an approximate date for the publication of the Greek edicts,
we may suppose that Arachosia had been part of the Mauryan kingdom for some 50 years. Perhaps due
to its location in the northwestern fringes of the kingdom, the Greeks under Aoka may not have been
subjected to the same degree of Magadhian authority as other regions closer to the capital; for example,
in the Shhbazgarhi Rock Edict (12. 8-9)7 we find the statement bahuka ca etaye a[ha]. vap[a]a
dh[ra]mama[ha]matra i[stridhi]yachama[ha]matra [vra]cabhumika ae ca nikaye

Schlumberger D. Une nouvelle inscription grecque dAoka // Comptes-rendus des sances de lAcadmie des Inscriptions
et Belles-Lettres. 1964. T. 108. 1. P. 126140; Benveniste E. dits dAsoka en traduction grecque // JA. 1964. T. 252. P. 137
157; Schlumberger D., Benveniste E. A new Greek inscription of Asoka at Kandahar // Epigraphia Indica. 1968. Vol. 37.
P. 193200.
Paragraph 1 corresponds to Rock Edict 12, paragraph 2 to Rock Edict 13.
Harmatta J. Zu den griechischen Inschriften des Aoka // AAASH. 1966. Vol. 14. P. 79, 83-85; Christol A. Les edits grecs
dAoka: tude linguistique // JA. 1983. T. 271. P. 25 ff.
Schneider U. Aoka: Die Groen Felsen-Edikte Aokas: Kritische Ausgabe, bersetzung und Analyse der Texte. Wiesbaden,
1978. S. 6970.


(And there are many state officials engaged in this undertaking: the Mahmtras of dharma, the Mahmtras
who oversee women, officers of the settlements of herdsmen, and other ranks [of officials]).

We should expect our Greek version of this same edict to contain a similar statement, but it does not.
This omission suggest that the Greeks retained a considerable degree of political autonomy under the
Mauryas. Tantalizingly, the Greek version of Rock Edict 13 breaks off at precisely the point where Aoka
would have presumably proclaimed his success in instituting dhamma as official state policy: so ca puna
ladho devanapriyasa iha ca saveu ca ateu[e]vameva [hi]da rajaviavaspi yonaka[]boyeusa-
vatra devanapriyasa dhramanuasti anuvaati8.

(And that [conquest of Dharma] has been achieved by Devanampriya both here and in all the neighboring
regionseven in the kings own provinces, among the Yonas and the Kamboyaseverywhere [people] are fol-
lowing Devanampriyas instruction of Dharma).

It is curious that Rock Edict 12 of the 1963 inscription omits any reference to Aokas dhamma
enforcers, unlike his other inscriptions9.
Although the inscriptions exhibit a vocabulary based on the literary tradition of Greek morality
and philosophy10, they also invite comparison with their Prakrit equivalents in terms of what has been
included, changed, or omitted11. Rather than representing the characteristics of an isolated commu-
nity outside the mainstream of the Hellenistic world, the translator(s) succeeded in adapting an In-
dian model to the Greek spirit by creating a set of documents whose style, expression, and content
were made to conform to a naturalistic Hellenistic tone12. The paradox is that Aoka is presented in
these inscriptions as an ideal Greek philosopher-king, and the illusion created served as the first step
in the process by which the Greeks of the region would ultimately merge with Indian culture and so-
ciety. This fusion led to a new form of paideia. What makes this so unique is that we are dealing with
a Hellenistic community engaged in a process of fusing its ethnic identity with that of the indige-
nous one.
The political symbiosis of a relatively autonomous Greek community ruled by a non-Greek, non-Hel-
lenized Indian king allowed for a close cultural exchange, and it is this exchange which we see reflected
in the language of the inscriptions. Although still Greek13, the language embodies enough non-Greek ele-
ments so to indicate a change in this brand of koine. Although successive phases in the change of the Greek
language have yet to be fully documented, it appears the process was uneven. The Greek community in
Kandahar, for example, was ruled by the Mauryas for some 125 years until in c. 175 BCE the Greeks of
Bactria crossed the Hindu Kush and expanded their kingdom into northwest India. By the middle of the
first century BCE they were conquered by steppe peoples who invaded from Central Asia and Eastern
Iran. Some of the coins of Greek rulers contain bilingual legends in Greek and Prakrit, the latter employ-
ing Brahmi or Kharoshthi scripts14. Afterwards, Greek ceased to be a spoken language and the Greeks

Schneider U. Aoka. S. 7677.
Fussman G. Pouvoir central et rgions dans lInde ancienne. Le problme de lempire maurya // Annales. conomies,
Socits, Civilizations. 1982. Vol. 37. 4. P. 624, 633634, 641. If there were agents of royal power in the area, their activities
were more discrete than in the rest of the empire (Fussman G. Quelques problmes Aokens // JA. 1974. T. 262. P. 371).
Schlumberger D., Robert L., Dupont-Sommer A., Benveniste E. Une bilingue. P. 1213.
Norman K. R. Notes on the Greek version of Aokas twelfth and thirteenth rock edicts // JRAS. 1972. Vol. 104. Pt. 2.
P. 111118.
Schlumberger D. Une nouvelle. P. 134.
On Yavanalipi (Greek writing), Raj K. Early History of Jammu Region: Pre-historic to 6th century A. D. Delhi, 2010.
P. 306307.
For a list of these bilingual legends, Bopearachchi O. Monnaies grco-bactriennes et indo-grecques. Catalogue raisonn.
Paris, 1991. P. 388389.

Jeffrey D. Lerner. The Greek Inscriptions of Aoka

seem to have spoken Prakrit, as their inscriptions written in Kharoshthi or Brahmi indicate, many of which
concern acts of piety connected with Buddhism15.
One of the most important factors is how the Greek communicates Aokas proclamations. It is super-
ficial and misleading to assume that both inscriptions contain the same information as their Prakrit coun-
terparts. One should be wary of imposing meanings which do not appear in the Greek versions. For ex-
ample, both Greek inscriptions contain the noun , piety, while in the bilingual the form
, more pious, occurs, and in the monolingual the form , living piously
appears. Yet, ever since the discovery of these texts, and its various cognate forms have been
understood as embodying the Aokan use of the concept of dhamma (Sanskrit dharma)16. The problem
with imposing a forced interpretation of this type onto the Greek is that it alters the meaning and historical
context of the inscriptions. The Greek texts do not contain a transliteration of the Prakrit dhamma. Appar-
ently, this term was unknown to the Greeks and the translator(s) was faced with the problem of conveying
its meaning. As a result, the term was rendered differently depending upon context: the general intent of
the inscription, the use of and its derivatives either alone or in conjunction with other substan-
tives (as in Rock Edict 12 l. 1: ). What can be said
is that these documents did not attempt to give a slavish translation, but a free and sometimes shortened
adaptation from one of the Indian texts, faithful to the spirit and general meaning of Aokas proclamation
rather than to its wording17. The irony is that the inscriptions convey the idea of dhamma without having
the actual term itself appear.
It is interesting to see that in the bilingual inscription the term (l. 2) occupies a prominent
position, but if it is an attempt to render dhamma into Greek, then it fails to do so, as it here implies
a double application of the term: it invokes a reverence toward the gods and a social obligation of re-
specting ones parents and fellow citizens. The moral and ethical connotation thus expressed is one
which can be construed as religious, or secular, or both. The text, however, does not define the type of
piety meant, only that it was taught to men. The same is true of the comparative
(l. 3); again there is no need to read into this word anything which would associate it with a direct
translation of dhamma. King Piodasses has taught men piety and one of the natural consequences of
that teaching was his ability to make men more pious. The peculiar nature of the texts is to provide the
definition of the concept of dhamma in familiar Greek terms without resorting to the necessity of trans-
literating the unfamiliar Prakrit and then defining it. The same is true of the longer monolingual text,
but in this case is often coupled with other expressions in order to lend the notion of dhamma
a definitive meaning within the context in which it is presented. For example, in l. 1 of the text we read:
, piety and self-control in all ways of life. Although
(and of l. 218) is in opposition to (l. 9) of the 1958 inscription
and appears to be a translation of vacaguti19, in this context piety and self-control are two nominative
singular nouns linked together to form a hendiadys. To define dhamma solely as , even though
it is here coupled with , is to miss the point, for the context here dictates that and
taken together embody the meaning of dhamma. , then, connotes as much
virtue in the Greek sense as it does in the Prakrit. There is evidently no fixed resolution as to how dham-
ma should be translated by any single Greek word in a given context. It is the meaning embodied in

On Greek inscriptions in Kharoshthi, Kharoshthi inscriptions with the exception of those of Aoka. Corpus inscriptionum
Indicarum 2, part 1 / Ed. by S. Konow. Repr. Varanasi, 1969. P. XVXVI, 19. For inscriptions in Brahmi, Lerner J. D. The Greek-
Indians of Western India: A Study of the Yavana and Yonaka Buddhist Cave Temple Inscriptions // Indian International Journal
of Buddhist Studies. N. S. 19992000. Vol. 1. P. 83109.
Christol A. Les edits grecs dAoka. P. 34.
Schlumberger D., Benveniste E. A new Greek. P. 195.
On the reduction of , Schlumberger D. Une nouvelle inscription. P. 136137.
Schneider U. Aoka. S. 65.


the Prakrit which dictates how the Greek translator(s) has chosen to render the idea of dhamma into
A concept that is repeated throughout the twelfth and thirteenth Greek Rock Edict of 1963 is the idea
of praaa21, sect, which later becomes the Buddhist notion of psamda (or prasamda; pshada in
Sanskrit), heresy, or heretical sect22. Schlumberger has shown that this concept is conveyed as
in the singular, in the plural, or as a series of singular or plural synonyms, all of which are here
understood in the sense of a school of philosophy(s), or sect(s). The Greek and Prakrit meaning of
these terms embody the idea of a diversity of philosophical schools of thought and thus represents a ten-
sion between oneself and others. The idea is expressed differently in the text:
(l. 1), all the sects; (ll. 2, 3, 5, 6), (ll. 21, 22), and (l. 8, which invokes
the idea of reciprocal respect which all sects are expected to share), other(s); (l. 7),
the other sects; (ll. 2, 4, 6, 8), ones own sect23. Rather than compelling his subjects to
abandon their traditional practices, religious or philosophical, Aoka promotes the idea of tolerance and
respect through dialogue. The translator(s) has succeeded in removing what might be construed by a Greek
audience as exotic by drawing upon concepts expressed by philosophers and sophists in mid-third cen-
tury Hellenistic literary texts. The translator(s) has skillfully embodied Aokas message within a Hellenized
literary style, and succeeds in conveying a sense of morality, which is not only familiar to, but cherished
by, Aokas Greek subjects.
An equally revealing aspect of these texts is the transliteration of three specific Prakrit words into
Greek. One is a name of Aoka, which appears in both Greek inscriptions as , Piodasses,
derived from the Prakrit form Priyadrai (Sanskrit priyadarin), looking with kindness (upon every-
thing) as in both the Shhbzgarh and Mnsehr edicts24. A few points are worth noting. First, the
name of the king is always preceded by the regal title , or by the near equivalent use of the
participle . If, on the other hand, Piodasses is one of the kings titles, the author(s) of
the inscriptions has evidently understood it to be his personal name. The result is that the king, either
by convention or through misunderstanding, was known to his Greek subjects in Kandahar as Piodas-
ses. This usage is significant, because it deviates from the formulaic structures evident in the Prakrit
texts: the royal epithet, Devanampriya25 (dear to the gods), followed by a personal name, Priyadrai,
and concluding with the regal title, rj (king); or, a personal name, Priyadrai, followed by a title, rj.
We never find, however, two connected titles (e. g., Devanampriya rj). Indeed, the terms devanam-
priya and priyadrai are found more than a hundred times in the texts, whereas the name Aoka,
or Dharmoka, appears only twice, as it dates back to his conversion to Buddhism, and probably
never was substituted for his personal name26. Both formulas seem to be derived from the Achaemenidan
model employed in inscriptions: tiy Drayavanush (Xshayrsh, Artaxshar) xshyaiya, says
Darius (Xerxes, Artaxerxes) the king27. In this respect, Devanampriya Priyadrai rj does not mean
The king who is beloved of the gods, looking with kindness upon everything, but The Beloved of
the Gods, King Priyadrai. We may suppose that the translator(s) failed to render devanampriya into
Greek, because of the misunderstandings the term would invoke. We must remember that the purpose

Likewise l. 14: v , piety and compassion. Although dhamma is not translated by a fixed expression,
the phrase explains the circumstance that caused the king to change.
E. g. Shhbazgarhi 13. 6 in Schneider U. Aoka. S. 71.
Benveniste E. dits dAsoka. P. 152153.
Schlumberger D. Une nouvelle. P. 134.
Alsdorf L. Zu den Aoka-Inschriften // Indologen-Tagung 1959. Verhandlungen der Indologischen Arbeitstagung in Essen-
Bredeney, Villa Hgel 13.15. Juli 1959 / Hrsg. von E. Waldschmidt. Gttingen, 1960. S. 63.
On Devanampriya, Barua B. M. Inscriptions. P. 219220.
Benveniste E. dits dAsoka. P. 142146.
Cf.: Kent R. G. Old Persian Grammar, Texts, Lexicon. 2nd ed. New Haven, 1953. P. 55, 9799, 181.

Jeffrey D. Lerner. The Greek Inscriptions of Aoka

of the inscriptions is to promote morality, piety, and self-control, whereas the use of such an epithet
would no doubt smack of hybris to the Greeks. While it was a customary practice for Macedonian sov-
ereigns to associate themselves with the gods, the Greek spirit of the inscriptions would have been lost
had devanampriya been translated into Greek, because the king would have run the risk of arousing
negative connotations associated with despotism. By dropping the epithet, however, this Indian ruler
appeared in a more positive light and the spirit of his decrees was retained. Thus all references to the
kings divine association are omitted and are replaced with his personal name and regal title,
. Similarly, the purpose of his proclamations remains steadfast, as does the pattern of en-
dowing him with royal attributes associated with an ideal Greek monarch. There is nothing oriental
about this Indian king, for he is Greek.
The two other Prakrit words transliterated into Greek occur in Rock Edict 13 (ll. 1617):
, and
as many Brahmans and Sramans and all others as there were who live there [i. e. in Kalinga] engaging
themselves in piety. The line corresponds to Shhbzgarh (13. 4) wherein is mentioned bramana va
ramana corresponding to the (Brahmans) and (Buddhist monks) of the Greek
text28. As Benveniste has indicated, this transliteration (plural of what must have been in the nominative
singular and ) is new, as it differs from the known form of 29. Unlike
dhamma, and were known to the Greeks of Kandahar just as Aoka himself indi-
cated elsewhere30. It is likewise important to note that the and are not referred to
as adherents of religious groups, but are presented as philosophers, especially the former who were re-
garded as such in Greek tradition. If, on the other hand, both terms were unfamiliar to the Greeks, the mere
fact that they are transcribed would no doubt have caused some interest on the part of those who read
the inscription to inquire about them31.
All three words used indicate that they were part of the Prakritization of the Greek language of Kan-
dahar. Their appearance further reveals that just as Aoka was made to conform to Hellenic standards of
morality and kingship (even if portrayed ideally), the Greeks of Kandahar were themselves undergoing
a transformation, albeit subtly. We have in these texts loan-words which have familiar and common in
everyday language. The Greeks of Kandahar lived under an Indian king, whose name was Piodasses, and
daily encountered Brahmans and ramans with whom they no doubt discussed philosophy and religion.
It was in this environment that the Greeks of Kandahar were introduced to Indian civilization and began
the process by which they would eventually become assimilated.
A further indication of the impact Aokas rule had on the Greeks of Kandahar is the units for reck-
oning time. In l. 1 of the 1958 bilingual, the genitive absolute, [], When
ten years had been completed [of kingship?] modifies the subject . Although
the Greek seems to suggest completed regal years, the event itself to which those completed years refer
is not expressed, and while the event upon which this chronological reckoning is based was presumably
understood by those who read the inscription, we do not. The implication is that the calendar system
used by Aoka would have been known to the Greeks of Kandahar. For example, the event implicit in
this phrase might refer to his abhisheka, anointment, inauguration, or consecration, which is in itself
difficult to determine, as it occurred some four years after his accession to the throne and involved

Harmatta J. Zu den griechischen Inschriften des Aoka. P. 83.
Colpe C. Heidnischer und christlicher Hellenismus in ihren Beziehungen zum Buddhismus // Vivarium. Festschrift
Th. Klauser zum 90. Geburtstag (Jahrbuch fr Antike und Christentum 11). Mnster Westfalen, 1984. S. 6064 on the spellings
of /- and /- by classical authors.
However, in 13. 38 the conquest could refer to inside or outside his country, as in 13. 58.
It would be interesting to know whether the Greek version of Rock Edict 13 dealt with Aokas claim that the Greeks
(Yonas) in his kingdom were incompliance with his instruction of dhamma (dhramanuasti); cf.: Schneider U. Aoka. S. 70:
Shhbazgarhi 13. 910.


a complicated rite of anointment which conferred on the physical person of the king the quality of
a holy Being32. Other events that have been proposed as starting points for this expression include his
coronation, his conversion to Buddhism, his pilgrimage to pay homage to the Buddha at Bodh Gaya, or
the publication of his edicts on dhamma33. Moreover, the participle [] has also aroused
some philological interest:, for the common , derives from the adjective .
As Benveniste observed, we see in this text evidence of a living language34.
We have in this expression an Indian measurement of time expressed in years completed, which ap-
parently is not connected with any known Graeco-Macedonian era. We also find the introduction of the
new verb form of used as the circumstantial participle, , lacking the expected
agreement with a genitive noun or pronoun (other than ) neither of which is in the main construction
of the sentence, but which we may infer was understood by those who read it. It is interesting to compare
this phrase with the one that begins Rock Edict 13: , in the
eighth year of King Piodasses reign, which is not only expressed grammatically different, but clearly
refers to the years completed of Piodasses sovereignty. We may only conclude that the event that occurred
ten years previously was so well known by those who read the bilingual inscription that the translator
deemed it unnecessary to restate the obvious.
In ls.1011 of the 1958 bilingual inscription, we are also confronted with a unique expression:
, they respect their father and mother and their
elders. There are a number of striking features contained in these lines. First there is the hitherto
unknown adjective, (perhaps derived from + : having the faculty of hearing), which
is here used as a predicate in the nominative plural. It is at variance with the known form of ,
and, though grammatically correct, it nonetheless seems to bear the imprint of an innovative and local
creation35. As there is no verb accompanying , we must understand it as they respect, or they
became obedient36. While the use of by itself does not pose any immediate problems, the
fact that it governs two dative singulars without definite articles and a genitive plural with a definite
article, does. Although words meaning obey do fluctuate between taking genitives and datives (,
for example, usually takes a dative, but it can take a genitive), Gallavotti has made a strong argument
that the author of the text imposed a direct translation from an Indian original; indeed such a construc-
tion with a genitive and a dative governed by the same substantive is frequent in the Indian inscriptions37.
While the passage is evidently lifted from some Prakrit original, it is still intelligible to a Greek reader.
It is for this reason that the construction in ls. 1819 of Rock Edict 13 offers a nice comparison. In this
case, a similar expression appears:
, and to respect and to esteem their master and father and mother. Here the verbs take as
their direct objects three accusative singular nouns without a definite article. Stylistically, the inscriptions
are different, yet each conveys nearly the same idea. At the same time, there is no evidence that they
represent a literal translation: all of the extant Prakrit inscriptions, as well as the accompanying Ara-
maic text, for example, list the mother before the father. The Greek inscriptions, however, are the only
examples where the hierarchy of father and mother occurs38.

Gallavotti C. The Greek version of the Kandahar bilingual inscription of Aoka // EW. 1959. N. S. Vol. 10. 3. P. 186,
who adds that this is perhaps expressed in the Aramaic version by the obscure phrase ptytw (byd zy), and which the Greek inter-
preter had attempted to represent.
E. g. Schlumberger D., Robert L., Dupont-Sommer A., Benveniste E. Une bilingue. P. 56, 2224; Alsdorf L. Zu den Aoka-
Inschriften. P. 64.
Schlumberger D., Robert L., Dupont-Sommer A., Benveniste E. Une bilingue. P. 45.
Perhaps, the form was created on the analogy: is to as is to .
Schlumberger D., Robert L., Dupont-Sommer A., Benveniste E. Une bilingue. P. 16.
Gallavotti C. The Greek version. P. 190. Note 14.
Guarducci M. Epigrafia Greca. Vol. 2. Epigrafi di carattere pubblico. Roma, 1969. P. 94.

Jeffrey D. Lerner. The Greek Inscriptions of Aoka

By expressing virtually the same concept differently, the passages reveal that this was a period of
experimentation necessitating a great deal of flexibility with the language so as to communicate these
ideas clearly and effectively. That this was successful is undeniable, but the degree of this success also
indicates that the Greek speaking population of Kandahar was undergoing a fundamental change in its
language. The passage in Rock Edict 13 presents us with a form of Greek that is more standard than the
passage in the bilingual inscription, which exhibits a greater tendency to fuse together new vocabulary
and grammatical constructions in order to create a wholly new set of expressions. Nonetheless, the pas-
sages in each inscription successfully retain a spirit true to Greek sensibilities, even as that spirit itself
shows signs of undergoing change.
The 1958 inscription also contains a number of other features in regard to the absence of certain ex-
pected articles before nouns. Benveniste, for example, has noted that in ls. 1, 6 and 8 there is no article
before the title , explaining it as standard Greek when referring to an eastern monarch, although
this practice seems not to have been followed since the Achaemenids. I have already indicated that the
translator(s) of these inscriptions was at pains to convey the Greek qualities of Aoka when referring to
him. Were it a consistent practice to orientalize Aoka, we should expect it to occur also in Rock Edict
13 (ll. 1222), but it does not. This portion of the inscription has been described as less Attic than
ls. 112 of the first portion, and therefore offers a good point of comparison. Each time is
mentioned in the latter portion of the inscription (ll. 16, 18, 2122), it is preceded by the article. Were
the only noun involved, we might be inclined to accept Gallovottis argument that the very
moderate use made of the article, answers to the wish of giving an epigraphic character to the inscrip-
tion39, but it is not. I have already noted the lack of articles in l. 10 before the dativus commodi40
(and before the accusatives in ls. 1819 of Rock Edict 13), to which we may add the phrase
in l. 5 , where we would expect . Furthermore, Harmatta has
remarked that in l. 4 would have sufficed in creating a more elegant style than ,
which seems redundant41.
These expressions are more indicative of a spoken language than they are of an epigraphic literary
style; they indicate that traditional Greek grammatical constructions are in the process of being lost and
that a new manner of expression is being developed. While undoubtedly in direct communication with
their kindred further to the west, the Greeks of Arachosia also found themselves in a wholly different
social milieu which demanded their greatest creativity in order adapt to their surroundings. These inscrip-
tions represent merely a hint as to how this process may have been developing.
As each inscription bears a standard Greek philosophical vocabulary, a number of authors have cited
numerous passages that are attested in the writings of the Pythagoreans, Plato, and others42. These paral-
lels, at first glance, seem incredible; after all, these inscriptions, edicts of an Indian king, are far removed
in time and place from these authors. For example, Robert argues that the phrase,
, in ls. 56 of the 1958 bilingual inscription, introduces the king as a vegetarian-philoso-
pher king, because this idea of vegetarianism closely resembles a variety of phrases expressed by Py-
thagoreans and successors of Plato and Aristotle, among others43. By drawing upon standard philosophi-
cal expressions, the translator(s) of these inscriptions was able to bridge the cultural gap between the
worlds of India and Greece. Aoka may not have been a vegetarian because he was a Buddhist; rather, he

Gallavotti C. The Greek version. P. 190: frequent use of comparatives has an elative or merely positive value.
Altheim F., Stiehl R. The Greek-Aramaic bilingual inscription of Kandahr and its philological importance // EW. N. S.
1959. Vol. 10. 4. P. 246.
Harmatta J. Zu den griechischen Inschriften des Aoka. P. 84.
E. g. Schlumberger D., Robert L., Dupont-Sommer A., Benveniste E. Une bilingue. P. 1218, 4546.
Schlumberger D., Robert L., Dupont-Sommer A., Benveniste E. Une bilingue. P. 1416. Note also his remark that the phrase,
, of Rock Edict 13 (l. 18) of the 1963 inscription is typical of the Hellenistic chancellery style
used in royal courts and in the dealings of Greek cities with kings.


may have been following a tradition, cited in Kauilyas Dharmastra, of the Ahimss ideals of resisting
cruel sacrifices and calling for absolute vegetarianism44. In any event, it is clear that we have here two
distinct traditions of vegetarianism: one Greek, the other Indian. In the inscription, however, the translator
has successfully fused the Indian practice of vegetarianism with that of the Greek. Rather than presenting
the two as incompatible, or somehow unique to each culture, both are presented as facets of one and the
same tradition. Readers of these inscriptions perceived Aoka as embodying a number of ideal Greek
qualities and these qualities allowed readers to make parallels in order to understand the kings proclama-
tions. In every real sense, Aoka is a Greek vegetarian-philosopher king. The translators have shown that
he thinks like a Greek, and expresses himself like a Greek. For these reasons, Aokas messages are suc-
cessfully conveyed in Greek.
Both inscriptions present us with a Hellenistic koine modelled on Attic prose unique to Arachosia.
Based on a stylistic analysis of the inscriptions, Robert has concluded that they indicate the work of
at least three different translators. He contends, for example, that the 1958 bilingual is written in the
-style, which is perfectly suited for this religious proclamation45. He argues that the longer
monolingual inscription, however, betrays the work of two translators. The portion corresponding to
Rock Edict 12 (ll. 111) exhibits, for Robert, a solid standard philosophical style, while that of Rock
Edict 13 (ll. 1222) represents the work of another author, in which everything is abrupt and asyn-
deton46. These considerations have led Harmatta to see in both portions of the inscription a conscious
attempt toward the development of koine-linguistic forms, with Rock Edict 12 displaying a greater
tendency toward Attic forms, while the second half exhibits a Hyperkoinismus47. Both regard these
inscriptions as exemplary specimens of high Hellenistic literary merit. Unfortunately, it is impossible
to determine solely on a stylistic criterion whether these inscriptions represent the work of one or more
translators, and by whom they were written (Greek, Indian, Iranian). We must bear in mind that the
inscriptions are an attempt to render into Greek a constellation of non-Greek ideas. Rather than viewing
Aokas Greek inscriptions as explicitly bound to a given literary style, they are more indicative of
changes in the Greek spoken at Kandahar when in contact with and under the influence of Prakrit and
Indian culture.
Certainly, the translator(s) of these inscriptions drew upon existing Greek traditions as his model for
attempting to render Aokas proclamations, and it comes as no surprise that stylistic differences do oc-
cur. Where the arguments based on stylistic features fail is by not taking into account that these are edicts
issued not by a Greek king, but an Indian king for his Greek subjects. In this regard, Aokas message
was translated from Prakrit into Greek, and these translations reveal the first stage when Greek and Prakrit
were beginning to merge. That the Greek appears uneven is more indicative of this change, than of
a stylistic quirk on the part of the translator(s). We see in these inscriptions an attempt to experiment
with the Greek so as to convey the meaning of the Prakrit, while also reflecting the Greek as it was at
that time spoken in Kandahar. For example, throughout these inscriptions there is an aberrant use of the
article. Indeed, in the phrase we see not only
an aberrant use of articles and cases, but also the hapax derived from . Futhermore, the trans-
literations of Aokas name as , as well as those of and indicate a
growing familiarity with the Prakrit as a manifestation of the absorption by the Greeks of Indian civiliza-
tion. The dilemma faced by the translator(s) of conveying the notion of dhamma without transliterating
and defining the noun into Greek by transmitting its meaning within the framework of the context in
which it is intended. The same holds true of the difficulties of rendering the Prakrit notion of prasada in

Alsdorf L. Zu den Aoka-Inschriften. P. 66.
Schlumberger D., Robert L., Dupont-Sommer A., Benveniste E. Une bilingue. P. 12.
Schlumberger D. Une nouvelle. P. 138.
Harmatta J. Zu den griechischen Inschriften des Aoka. P. 7980.

Jeffrey D. Lerner. The Greek Inscriptions of Aoka

Greek as . In the genitive absolute construction of l. 1 of the 1958 there is the reference to an
unknown unit of time used to measure an equally unknown event, expressed with the hapax of .
Finally, as the Greeks were experimenting with these new ideas and expressions48, while simultane-
ously becoming merged with the local Prakrit, Aoka himself became a vehicle that the Greeks of Kan-
dahar used to assimilate with Indian culture. As he acquired the trappings of an ideal Hellenistic monarch,
Indian society became less exotic and more accessible thereby allowing them an active participatory role
within Indian society.
The translator(s) was cultured, highly articulate, and well versed in Greek and Sanskrit texts, as well
as in the Prakrit of Magadha. His ability of to make Aoka appear Greek had the effect of allowing the
penetration of Indian ideals into this Greek community. The fact that Aokas promulgation of dhamma
is cloaked in Greek offers evidence that the circumstances in which Kandahars Greeks found themselves
involved paradoxes and contradictions; separation and distance melded with acculturation and identifica-
tion; the production of collective memory prefigured radical breaks with tradition. Theirs was a position
within, not outside of, Indian society. The cultural topography, which may have initially served to keep
both groups separate and distinct, was ultimately replaced by mutual understanding.

Cf.: Burstein S. M. New light on the fate of Greek in ancient Central and South Asia // AWE. 2010. Vol. 9. P. 181192.