This book is intended to make accessible to the non-specialised reader some idea of what epigraphers do, and why and how they do it. It is not a systematic textbook of Greek epigraphy, although it may be useful in various ways to beginners in the subject. In order to make any progress, serious students will need at least a working knowledge of Greek and also of Latin, which is still used for commentaries in more learned publications. Here translations have been provided, and the inscriptions have been arranged not according to traditional classifications nor in regional or chronological sequences. Instead they have been divided into two main groups - first inscriptions cut in stone, then those written on other materials - and within each group they have been arranged roughly in order of increasing difficulty, with examples consisting wholly or largely of names at the beginning and those with problems of script or dialect at the end.
The author's thanks are due to Professor Stephen G. Miller, Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, for permission to reproduce fig. 2; and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for figs 1, 4, 10, 29, 30, 48 and 54 (Rogers
Fund), 45, 47, 51 (Fletcher Fund), 40 (Museum Purchase), 53 (Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest) and 9 (Hewitt Fund, Munsey Fund and Anonymous Gift).
The book has benefited from the general advice of David Lewis and Ronald Stroud, and in particular from being read by Alan Johnston and Judith Swaddling, all of whom the author thanks warmly; any remaining faults are his responsibility. Thanks are also due to Joan Mertens for facilitating study of the inscriptions in New York; to Sue Bird for facsimiles of inscriptions and the artwork for the special Greek font; to Marian Vian for typing the manuscript; and to the author's wife for much patience and support during evenings and weekends.
The author would never have been in a position to write this book had he not received, more than thirty years previously, much kind guidance and help from the then Hulme Professor of Greek in the University of Manchester. The book is therefore dedicated, with affection and gratitude.