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Last Updated on 23 Mar 2017

Author: François Chevrollier

CAPInv. 1137: to politeuma ton en Berenike Ioudaion


i. Geographical area Libya with Cyrenaica
ii. Region Cyrenaica
iii. Site Berenike


i. Full name (original language) τὸ πολίτευμα τῶν ἐν Βερενίκη Ἰουδαίων (CIG 5361, ll. 21-22; SEG 16: 931, ll. 12-13)
ii. Full name (transliterated) to politeuma ton en Berenike Ioudaion


i. Date(s) l. i BC - 56 AD


i. Name in other forms ἡ συναγωγὴ τῶν ἐν Βερνεικίδι Ἰουδαίων he synagogue ton en Berneikidi Ioudaion (SEG 17: 823, ll. 3-4). Sometimes simply refered to as τὸ πολίτευμα to politeuma (CIG 5361, ll. 18; SEG 16: 931, l. 26)
ii. Name elements
Geographical:en Berenike
iii. Descriptive terms πολίτευμα, politeuma
συναγωγή, synagoge
Note πολίτευμα, politeuma: CIG 5361, ll. 18, 21-22; SEG 16: 931, l. 12-13, 26
συναγωγή, synagoge: SEG 17: 823, l. 3


i. Source(s) SEG 16: 931 (l. i BC-e. i AD)
SEG 17: 823 (AD 55/6)
CIG 5361 (AD 24/5)
Note Other publications:

SEG 16: 931: AGRW 305; IBerenike 18; CJZC 70; SEG 48: 2048
SEG 17: 823: AGRW 307; CJZC 72
CIG 5361: AGRW 306; IBerenike 17; CJZC 71

SEG 16: 931 is dated on the 5th of the month Phamenoth of an unknown year of the Actium era. The text should be augustean.
CIG 5361 is dated on the 25th of the month Phaophi of the year 55 of the Actium era, although several scholars (see Baldwin Bowsky 1987) thought is was dated by a local era beginning with the conquest of Cyrenaica by Rome in 68/7 BC.
SEG 17: 823 is dated to the month of Choiakh of the second year of Nero.
The references is the Source(s) boxes are the one commonly used by scholars, although it may be easier to read the inscription in Reynolds 1978.
Online Resources SEG 16: 931 and AGRW ID 3311
SEG 17: 823 and AGRW ID 2003
AGRW ID 3304 (CIG 5361)
Texts will soon be available at Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script SEG 16: 931 is an honorific decree mentioning the honours awarded by the politeuma to Decimus Valerius Dionysos for having the floor of the ampitheatre stuccoed and its walls painted (ll. 10-11 and 22-24).
CIG 5361 is an honorific decree mentioning the honors awarded by the politeuma to Marcus Tittius, son of Sextus, of the tribe Aemilia, for his benevolence toward the Jews of Berenike. Tittius is decribed as παραγενηθεὶς εἰς τὴν ἐπαρχείαν ἐπὶ δημοσίων πραγμάτων, paragenetheis eis ten eparcheian epi demosion pragmaton (ll. 11-12) and is supposed to be a Roman promagistrate, certainly a legatus propraetore (Baldwin Bowsky 1987).
SEG 17: 823 is a list of contributors giving money for the restoration of the local synagogue.
All three sources are in Greek.
i.c. Physical format(s) SEG 16: 931 is a marble stele with pediment and acroteria with moulded base. The sides were stuccoed and polished for reuse in a wall probably during Late Antiquity.
CIG 5361 is a small marble stele.
SEG 17: 823 is a marble panel broken below and moulded on both sides.
ii. Source(s) provenance SEG 16: 931: Berenike, findspot unknown, now in Carpentras (France).
CIG 5361: Berenike, findspot unknown, now in the musée Saint-Raymond, Toulouse (France).
SEG 17: 823: Berenike, modern Benghazi, Omar Mukhtar Street, lost during World War II.


ii. References to buildings/objects τὸ ἀμφιθέατρον, to amphitheatron (CIG 5361, l. 27; SEG 16: 931, ll. 10, 20).
ἡ συναγωγή, he synagoge (SEG 17: 823, l. 5).
στέφανος ἐλάϊνος, stephanos elainos (SEG 16: 931, l. 17 and CIG 5361, ll. 24-25).


ii. Leadership Ἄρχοντες, archontes
The archontes appear either as the executive board of the politeuma (CIG 5361, ll. 2, 21, 25; SEG 16: 931, ll. 1, 12, 18) or as contributors for the restoration of the synagogue (SEG 17: 823, ll. 7-16).
The archontes were elected or choosen for a one-year term among the members of the politeuma. They are eponymous, act as the executive board of the politeuma and are in charge of having the decrees inscribed and displayed. In SEG 16: 931 (ll. 1-5), seven archontes are recorded. They are nine in CIG 5361 (ll. 2-8) and ten in SEG 17: 823 (ll. 7-16).
π̣ρ̣ηπότης [τῆς συναγ]ω̣γ̣ῆ̣ς̣, prepotes [tes synag]oges. May be the head of the college of the archontes (SEG 16: 931, ll. 6-7: reading Dobias-Lalou 1998, not fully accepted).
Eponymous office CIG 5361, l. 2; SEG 16: 931, l. 1
iii. Members The politeuma had members among whom the archontes were elected or choosen, but we do not know their number or name. They are indirectly refered to in the expression ἔδοξε τοῖς ἄρχουσι καὶ τῷ πολιτεύματι τῶν ἐν Βερενίκη Ἰουδαίων (edoxe tois archousi kai toi politeumati ton en Berenike Ioudaion, SEG 16: 931, ll. 12-13). The archontes and the ordinary members of the politeuma formed a sort of council which was able to vote on decrees. Together, they may have formed the συναγωγή, synagoge (SEG 17: 823, ll. 3-4: ἐφάνη τῇ συναγωγῇ τῶν ἐν Βερνεικίδι Ἰουδαίων, ephane tei synagogei ton en Berneikidi Ioudaion). All the Jews of Berenike were not part of the politeuma.
iv. Officials Officials are collectivly called ἄρχοντες, archontes (CIG 5361, ll. 2, 21, 25; SEG 16: 931, ll. 1, 12, 18; SEG 17: 823, ll. 7-16).
Individual official, additional to the archontes: ἱερεύς, hiereus (priest, SEG 17: 823, l. 17).
viii. Obligations From the award of ἀλειτουργία, aleitourgia, exemption of the politeuma's liturgies, as honour (SEG 16: 931, ll. 13-14), we learn that the members of the politeuma were normally subject to liturgies of an unspecified nature.


i. Treasury/Funds A treasury existed since it is used to award honours to benefactors.
ii. Realty τὸ ἀμφιθέατρον, to amphitheatron (CIG 5361, l. 27; SEG 16: 931, l. 10 and 20).
ἡ συναγωγή, he synagoge (SEG 17: 823, l. 5).
iii. Income Inscriptions confirm that the association was at least partly funded through benefactors' (CIG 5361; SEG 16: 931) and contributors' (SEG 17: 823) generosity.


ii. Gender Men
Note Note that two women contribute 5 drachmae to the restoration of the synagogue but nothing shows that they were actually members of the politeuma.
iii. Age Adults
Note All members so far attested are adults.
iv. Status Association restricted to Jews of Berenike.
The amounts the contributors given for the restoration of the synagogue are low, but some of the community members must have reached a higher social status, such as Decimus Valerius Dionysios.


i. Assemblies Assemblies may have been held on each new moon, ἡ νουμηνία, he noumenia, i.e. every month (CIG 5361, l. 24; SEG 16: 931, ll. 16-17).
Known voting practice CIG 5361, l. 28; SEG 16: 931, l. 21: λευκαὶ πᾶσαι leukai pasai.
ii. Meetings and events σύλλογος τῆς σκηνοπηγίας, syllogos tes skenopegias (CIG 5361, ll. 1-2).
Important meetings were also held during Jewish festivites: the decree for M. Tittius has been taken on the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).
iv. Honours/Other activities The politeuma could award honours to:
- Jews (Decimus Valerius Dionysios is exempted from the politeuma's liturgies, he must therefore have been himself a Jew and a member of the politeuma);
- Non-Jews: M. Tittius is probably a legatus propraetore.

The following honours are attested:
(1) στεφάνωσις, stephanosis (crowning) with an olive wreath with ribbon at each assembly and new moon, awarded to both Decimus Valerius Dionysios (SEG 16: 931, l. 17) and M. Tittius (CIG 5361, ll. 24-25)
(2) ψήφισμα, psephisma (decree) for both Decimus Valerius Dionysios (SEG 16: 931, l. 18-20) and M. Tittius (CIG 5361, ll. 25-26) to be displayed in the epiphanestatos topos of the politeuma, i.e. the amphitheatron.
(3) καταγραφή, katagraphe (inscription) of the honorand on an register of an unknown nature (SEG 16: 931, ll. 13-14).
(4) ἀλειτουργία, aleitourgia (exemption) of the politeuma's liturgies (SEG 16: 931, ll. 13-14).

The honours are justified with reference to:
(1) the honorand's being continuously ἀνὴρ καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθὸς (aner kalos kai agathos) (CIG 5361, l. 10; SEG 16: 931, l. 7).
(2) M. Tittius' managing with humanity and very well the administration of the province (προστασία, prostasia CIG 5361, l. 12).
- M. Tittius' having a fine nature (ἡσύχιον ἦθος, hesychion ethos, CIG 5361, ll. 13-14) both in private and public matters.
- M. Tittius' having helped the Jewish community probably in a period of conflict with the civic authorities (CIG 5361, ll. 17-21).
- Dionysios' being good both in public and private matters (SEG 16: 931, ll. 7-10).
- Dionysios' ἐπίδομα (epidoma, contribution) to the embellishment of the amphitheatron (SEG 16: 931, ll. 10-11 and 25).

The politeuma is also in charge of maintaining its own buildings (SEG 17: 831).


ii. Interaction abroad Interaction with Roman officials is proven by the honours awarded by the politeuma to Marcus Tittius, certainly a legatus propraetore in Cyrenaica in 24-25 AD.


i. Comments σύνοδος, synodos (CIG 5361, l. 24; SEG 16: 931, l. 16) must refer to all the Jews of Berenike, and not only to the members of the politeuma.
Inscriptions CIG 5361 and SEG 16: 931 are also often commented on for the history of Cyrenaican epigraphy and their arrival in French collections, see Roux 1949.
iii. Bibliography Baldwin Bowky, M.W. (1987), 'M. Tittius Sex. f. Aem. and the Jews of Berenice', AJPh 108: 495-510.
Caputo, G. (1957), 'La sinagoga di Berenice in Cirenaica in una iscrizione greca inedita', PP 12: 132-4.
Dobias-Lalou, C. (1998), ‘Sur quelques noms latins en Cyrénaïque’, in B. Bureau and C. Nicolas (eds.), Moussyllanea. Mélanges de linguistique et de littérature anciennes offerts à Claude Moussy, Louvain, Paris: 206-12.
Kayser, F. (2013), 'Les communautés ethniques du type politeuma dans l'Egypte hellénistique', in F. Delrieux and O. Mariaud (eds.), Communautés nouvelles dans l'Antiquité grecque. Mouvements, intégrations et représentations, Chambéry: 121-53.
Lüderitz, G. (1983), Corpus jüdischer Zeugnisse aus der Cyrenaika, Wiesbaden: 148-58.
Lüderitz, G. (1994), 'What is the politeuma?', in J.W. van Henten and P.W. van der Horst (eds.), Studies in Early Jewish Epigraphy, Leiden: 210-21.
Reynolds, J. (1978), 'Inscriptions', in J. A. Lloyd (ed.), Excavations at Sidi Khrebish, Benghazi (Berenice) I. Buildings, Coins, Inscriptions, Architectural Decorations, Tripoli: 242-7.
Roux, J. and Roux, G. (1949), 'Un décret du politeuma des Juifs de Bérénikè en Cyrenaïque au musée lapidaire de Carpentras', REG 42: 281-96.
Zuckermann, C. (1985-1988), 'Hellenistic Politeumata and the Jews : A Reconsideration. Review of The Jews in Hellenistic and Roman Egypt : The Struggle for Equal Rights, by Aryeh Kasher'. Scripta classica Israelica 8-9: 171-85.


i. Private association Possible
Note The nature of a politeuma has been largely discussed. Zuckermann 1985-1988 considers it as a private, voluntary association, whereas Lüderitz 1994 thinks it is a civic body. We prefer the concept presented by Kayser 2013, who speaks of a 'pseudo-civic association'.