An epigram is a brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement. The word is derived from the Greek: ἐπίγραμμα, meaning 'inscription', from 'ἐπιγράφειν', 'to write on, to inscribe'. The Hellenic tradition of epigrams began as poems inscribed on votive offerings at sanctuaries, including statues of athletes, and on funerary monuments. Epigram became a literary genre in the Hellenistic period, probably developing out of scholarly collections of inscriptional epigrams.

A major source for Greek literary epigram is the Greek Anthology, a compilation from the 10th century AD based on older collections. It contains epigrams ranging from the Hellenistic period through the Imperial period and Late Antiquity into the compiler's own Byzantine era. Today I would like to show you some of these epigrams, dealing with religious topics, as these provide a wealth of inspiration and bits of knowledge about proper worship.

"O sailor, burn by the altars the glittering round of a mullet or a cuttle-fish, or a vocal scarus, to Priapus, ruler of ocean and giver of anchorage; and so go fearlessly on thy seafaring to the bounds of the Ionian Sea." - Theaetetus, Worship in Spring (1)

[Priapus is a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia.]

"Let one call from the stern on Zeus the Fair Wind for guide on his road, shaking out sail against the forestays; whether he runs to the Dark Eddies, where Poseidon rolls his curling wave along the sands, or whether he searches the backward passage down the Aegean sea-plain, let him lay honey-cakes by this image, and so go his way; here Philon, son of Antipater, set up the ever-gracious god for pledge of fair and fortunate voyaging." - Author Unknown, Zeus of the fair Wind
"Go and rest your limbs here for a little under the juniper, O wayfarers, by Hermes, Guardian of the Way, not in crowds, but those of you whose knees are tired with heavy toil and thirst after traversing a long road; for there a breeze and a shady seat and the fountain under the rock will lull your toil-wearied limbs; and having so escaped the midday breath of the autumnal dogstar, as is right, honour Hermes of the Ways." - Author Unknown, Hermes of the Ways
"I who inherit the tossing mountain-forests of steep Cyllene, stand here guarding the pleasant playing fields, Hermes, to whom boys often offer marjoram and hyacinth and fresh garlands of violets."
- Nicia, Below Cyllene
"Small to see, I, Priapus, inhabit this spit of shore, not much bigger than a sea-gull, sharp-headed, footless, such an one as upon lonely beaches might be carved by the sons of toiling fishermen. But if any basket-finder or angler call me to succour, I rush fleeter than the blast: likewise I see the creatures that run under water; and truly the form of godhead is known from deeds, not from shape." - Archias, The Spirit of the Sea
"Whether thou goest on the hill with lime smeared over thy fowler's reed, or whether thou killest hares, call on Pan; Pan shows the dog the prints of the furry foot, Pan raises the stiff-jointed lime-twigs." - Satyrus, The Guardian of the Chase
"Fair fall thy chase, O hunter of hares, and thou fowler who comest pursuing the winged people beneath this double hill; and cry thou to me, Pan, the guardian of the wood from my cliff; I join the chase with both dogs and reeds." - Leonidas of Tarentum, The Hunter God
"They call me the little one, and say I cannot go straight and fearless on a prosperous voyage like ships that sail out to sea; and I deny it not; I am a little boat, but to the sea all is equal; fortune, not size, makes the difference. Let another have the advantage in rudders; for some put their confidence in this and some in that, but may my salvation be of God." Leonidas of Tarentum, Saved by Faith
"Me Chelidon, priestess of Zeus, who knew well in old age how to make offering on the altars of the immortals, happy in my children, free from grief, the tomb holds; for with no shadow in their eyes the gods saw my piety." -  Author unknown, The Service of God
"He who enters the incense-filled temple must be holy; and holiness is to have a pure mind." - Author unknown, Beati Mundo Corde
"Hallowed in soul, O stranger, come even into the precinct of a pure god, touching thyself with the virgin water; for the good a few drops are set; but a wicked man the whole ocean cannot wash in its waters." - Author unknown, The Water of Purity