Vol. 53 No. 2 (2015)

Notes on the inscriptions of Delos: The Greek transliteration of Latin names

Francesco Rovai
Università di Pisa

Published 2016-05-06


  • Latin onomastics,
  • Greek-Latin transliterations,
  • spoken Latin,
  • bilingual community


Between the 2nd and 1st century BC the island of Delos was the destination of a massive immigration of freemen, freedmen, and slaves coming from Italy for economic purposes. As a consequence, a large amount of Latin onomastic material is preserved in the Greek-written inscriptions. This paper analyses the accommodation of the Latin names into the Greek orthography, trying to illustrate the complex overlap of four different criteria of transliteration: the standardised graphemic correspondences, and the phonetically-based transcriptions entailing – respectively – Latin speech, Greek speech, and Greek-Latin bilingual speech. The investigation will focus in particular on the phonetic value of Latin short i and u. Finally, some alleged Sabellic features will be discussed, calling their relevance into question.