Old Georgian phrases and sentences 21: A twelfth-century tomb inscription and its biblical source   Leave a comment

Among the most famous figures in Georgian history is David the Builder (დავით აღმაშენებელი, r. 1089-1125). The epitaph traditionally known as his, however, is almost certainly not, but rather, as shown in a short note by Jost Gippert and Manana Tandashvili, that of his son, Demetre I, who reigned 1125-1154. I cannot add anything to the historical discussion of the epitaph, but it is worth taking the opportunity to look closer at the inscription itself, a photo of the epitaph with a reading of the inscription being easily available here and, in several close photos here, with a reading also given in the short note just mentioned. The inscription provides practice for reading asomt’avruli and learners of the language may appreciate a convenient setting forth of the vocabulary of its simple contents.

As in Georgian manuscripts, the writing in the inscription can be very economic thanks to much abbreviation. I have filled out the abbreviations in the asomt’avruli in parentheses, marked words spreading across lines with a – at line end, and I have not marked less legible letters as such; to judge the latter see the photos pointed out above.

1 Ⴕ(ႰႨႱႲႤ) ႤႱႤ ႠႰႱ ႢႠႬ-
2 ႱႠႱႭ(Ⴣ)ႤႬႤ-
3 ႡႤႪႨ Ⴙ(Ⴄ)ႫႨ
4 Ⴍ(Ⴣ)Ⴉ(ႭჃႬႨႧ)Ⴈ Ⴍ(Ⴣ)Ⴉ(ႭჃႬႨႱႠႫႣ)Ⴄ
5 ႤႱႤ ႫႧႬႠ-
6 ႥႱ ႠႵႠ ႣႠ-
7 ႥႤႫႩჃႣႰႭ
8 ႫႤ

Rendered into mxedruli, with the abbreviations still marked, this is:

ქ(რისტე) ესე არს განსასო(ჳ)ენებელი ჩ(ე)მი ო(ჳ)კ(ოჳნით)ი ო(ჳ)კ(ოჳნისამდ)ე ესე მთნავს აქა დავემკჳდრო მე

Vocabulary:

  • განსასუენებელი resting place (cf. განსუენება to give rest to, as in Mt 11:28 (all versions) მე განგისუენო თქუენ κἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς)
  • უკუნი eternity (უკუნითი უკუნისა-მდე = εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων)
  • თნა to please (as in Mt 14:6 Xanm. and PA ხთნდა ჰეროდეს როკვაჲ იგი მისი ἤρεσεν τῷ Ἡηρῷδῃ [“her dance” in Georgian, but not Greek]); the form here is მ-თნა-ვ-ს
  • დამკჳდრება to stay, reside, dwell (as in Jn 1:14 Ad დაემკჳდრა ჩუენ თანა ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, and Jos. Ant. Iud. 1.6.1 [126] და ესოდენნი ვიდრემე ნათესავნი იაფეთოის ყრმათაგან დაემკჳრებიან καὶ τοσαῦτα μὲν ἔθνη ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰαφέθου παίδων κατοικεῖται); the form here is და-ვ-ე-მკჳდრ-ო

As also noted by Gippert and Tandashvili, the words of the inscription clearly come from Ps 132:14. The A recension of the Psalter in Old Georgian was edited by M. Šaniże (Tbilisi, 1960), online here, and an edition of the Psalter from a Graz manuscript was edited by V. Imnaišvili (Tbilisi, 2004), online here. For this verse (as in Greek, Psalm 131, not 132, in Georgian), they both read:

ესე არს განსასუენებელი ჩემი უკუნისამდე;
ამას დავემკჳდრო, რამეთუ მთნავს ესე. (Graz ms, f. 234r, lines 5-7, available here)

But the text of this verse in the Mc’xet’a Bible (see here), compiled later, matches the tomb inscription even more closely:

ესე არს განსასუენებელი ჩემი უკუნითი უკუნისამდე,
ამას დავემკჳდრო, რამეთუ მთნავს ესე.

The text of the inscription matches that of the biblical text so closely that no additional vocabulary notes are necessary.

With that, until next time, happy reading and memento mori.

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