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22/04/2014 (Leuven)

24/04/2014 (Gent)

Lezing Willy Clarysse: De steen van Rosetta en de andere priesterdecreten

De drietalige Rosettasteen, het vertrekpunt van Champollion’s ontcijfering van het hiërogliefenschrift, is een object waarvan iedereen wel eens heeft gehoord. Maar weinig mensen hebben ooit de lange tekst in drie talen helemaal gelezen, weinigen weten ook wat er nu precies in staat. De steen bevat een kopie van een eredecreet dat de Egyptische priesters in 196 v.C. hebben uitgevaardigd voor de jonge Griekse koning Ptolemaios V. Deze tekst was in principe op-gesteld in alle eersterangs tempels van Egypte en er zijn inderdaad nog minstens drie fragmentarische exemplaren van teruggevonden. Maar het decreet staat niet alleen: in de periode 243-161 v.C. zijn minstens 12 dergelijke decreten uitgevaardigd door de priesters en ook van die andere decreten zijn soms meerdere (tot zelfs zes) exemplaren bewaard.

In de lezing willen we nagaan wat voor teksten die decreten nu eigenlijk waren, wie ze heeft geschreven, en welke van de drie versies de oorspronkelijk is. Wij zijn ervan overtuigd dat dergelijke ere-decreten in essentie Griekse opschriften zijn (er zijn tientallen paral-lellen in andere Hellenistische koninkrijken), maar dat ze wel degelijk werden opgesteld door de Egyptische priesters. Deze priesters ken-den heel behoorlijk Grieks en hun organisatie speelde in Egypte tot op zekere hoogte dezelfde rol als de poleis in het Griekse moeder-land. De beroemdste Egyptische tekst is dus eigenlijk een vertaling uit het Grieks, maar die Griekse oertekst is wel geschreven door Egyptenaren!

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