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The Language of Ruins – Greek and Latin Inscriptions on the Memnon Colossus - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Language of Ruins: Greek and Latin Inscriptions on the Memnon Colossus

Patricia A. Rosenmeyer


A colossal statue, originally built to honor an ancient pharaoh, still stands in Egyptian Thebes. Damaged by an earthquake, and re-identified as the Homeric hero Memnon, it was believed to “speak” regularly at daybreak. By the middle of the first century CE, the colossus had become a popular site for sacred tourism; visitors flocked to hear the miraculous sound, leaving behind over one hundred Greek and Latin inscriptions. These inscriptions are varied and diverse: brief acknowledgments of having heard Memnon’s voice; longer lists by Roman administrators including details of personal accomplis ... More

Keywords: Memnon, colossus, Egypt, sacred tourism, Homer, inscriptions, Greco-Roman

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780190626310
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190626310.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, author
George L. Paddison Professor of Classics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill