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Arms and the Boy: On the New Festival Calendar from Arkadia

Jan‑Mathieu Carbon and James P.T. Clackson
p. 119-158


In 2015, a tablet containing an archaic inscription of considerable length from Arkadia, which had appeared on the antiquities market, was “pre-published”. The present article offers: (1) a new edition of the text from autopsy and two photographs, along with (2) an English translation. Since the inscription contains many unusual linguistic and ritual details, an extensive line-by-line commentary on the text (3), as well as a study of the script and dialect (4), are also proposed. Developing this commentary, a further section (5) offers an analysis of the typology of the text, identifying it as a calendar for a three-day (τριανβρίς) festival, which recurred in different cycles (annual, biennial/trieteric, and enneateric). This festival was concerned with multiple communities, sanctuaries, and deities, perhaps especially with Zeus. By way of conclusion (Envoi), an attempt at a general appraisal of the tablet is presented: issuing perhaps from the sanctuary of Mount Lykaion or from Methydrion, the regulation was closely linked to the Arkadian myths of the birth of Zeus. Every eight years in particular, the armed defense of his mother Rhea was celebrated (the Hoplodmia), announcing the rise of the new king of the gods.

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Full text document will be published online on October 2018.


Revision of the Text (JMC and JPTC)
Translation (JMC and JPTC)
Line-by-line Commentary (JMC and JPTC)
Script and Dialect (JPTC)
Typology of the Text and Chronology of the Rituals (JMC)
Envoi (JMC)
Table 1: Chronological Outline of the Three-Day Festival and its Cycles

First lines

The recent “pre-publication” of a fascinating bronze tablet from Arkadia — exact provenance uncertain, dated to ca. 500 BC or perhaps in the first half of the 5th century BC — is bound to stimulate a wide discussion. Since the text is now published and essentially made available, it seems possible to offer some improvements and new considerations. The primary concern of this article is to propose a clearer and more intelligible text of the inscription than that proposed in the version currently published (see Sections 1–2 below). The article is the product of both independent and collaborative work on the text by Carbon and Clackson (hereafter occasionally abbreviated JMC and JPTC respectively; in the small number of cases where our interpretations may differ or where further alternatives are proposed, we have also signalled them thus). Clackson’s readings are notably based on autopsy, and have been confirmed by both authors on the two available photographs of the tablet, which we r...

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Bibliographical reference

Jan‑Mathieu Carbon and James P.T. Clackson, « Arms and the Boy: On the New Festival Calendar from Arkadia », Kernos, 29 | 2016, 119-158.

Electronic reference

Jan‑Mathieu Carbon and James P.T. Clackson, « Arms and the Boy: On the New Festival Calendar from Arkadia », Kernos [Online], 29 | 2016, Online since 01 October 2018, connection on 16 December 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/kernos.2393

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About the authors

Jan‑Mathieu Carbon

Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen/University of Liège

By this author

James P.T. Clackson

Jesus College, University of Cambridge

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