SARAH E. BOND
LATE ANTIQUITY, DIGITAL HUMANITIES, AND MUSINGS ON THE CLASSICAL WORLD
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A famous funerary epigram now at the British Museum (IG XIV, 2131) and dating to the second century CE has a skeleton lying in repose. It reads:
“Who can say, passerby, looking on a fleshless corpse, whether it was Hylas (i.e., a beautiful youth) or Thersites (i.e., a bow-legged, ugly man)?”
I first learned about this inscription in a Greek epigraphy class at Duke University taught by Kent Rigsby. We were told to make a lemma of publications for each inscription, and I vividly remember tracking down the 1917 guide to inscriptions at the British Museum. Prof. Rigsby is emeritus from Duke now, but he still edits the open access journal Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies. In the spirit of open access, his epigraphy class had no central textbook and cost us almost nothing in terms of materials. It was largely based on reprints, open access materials, and good old fashioned leg work in the library. For new epigraphers today, there are still some splendid textbooks one can buy–for a price–but also a wealth of old epigraphy manuals, guides, and anthologies that still have value. They are largely available via the open access HathiTrust digital library.