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Last Updated on 12 Jun 2019

Author: Stella Skaltsa

CAPInv. 127: hoi aleiphomenoi


i. Geographical area Aegean Islands
ii. Region Thera
iii. Site Ancient Thera


i. Full name (original language) οἱ ἀλειφόμενοι (IG XII.3 331, ll. 1, 6, 19, 46)
ii. Full name (transliterated) hoi aleiphomenoi


i. Date(s) 153 / 152 BC


i. Name in other forms τὸ κοινόν, to koinon (l. 7, 27)
πάντες οἱ ἀλειφόμενοι, pantes hoi aleiphomenoi (ll. 45-6)
ii. Name elements
Other:aleiphomenoi: those who anoint themselves with oil and subsequently those who partake in physical exercise and in gymnasion's life.
iii. Descriptive terms κοινόν, koinon
Note ll. 7, 27


i. Source(s) IG XII.3 331 + IG XII.3 Suppl. p. 285 (153/152 BC)
Note Date: Baton was gymnasiarch in the 26th, 27th and 28th year of an unnamed king (ll. 15-6).
The unnamed king has been identified with Ptolemy VI Philometor and the decree dates to 153/152 BC (Bagnall 1976: 129).

Other editions:
Coll. Froehner, no. 95
Kotsidu 2000: 237-9, no. 157 [E 1]

See also Chankowski 2010: 169-72; 448 no. 22.
Online Resources IG XII.3 331 + IG XII.3 Suppl. p. 285
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Honorific decree in Greek for the gymnasiarch Baton, son of Philon, by the aleiphomenoi.
i.c. Physical format(s) The present stele of porphyrite is a copy made in the late 16th c. / early 17th c. (Cuvigny & Vagenheim 2005). The original text, carved on stone ('marble') is now lost.
Dimensions of copy: H. 29.4 x W. 43.5 (incomplete) x Th. 3 cm.
Dimensions of lost original: H. 35.32 x Th. 49.31 x Th. 3.68 cm.
ii. Source(s) provenance The inscription has been attributed to ancient Thera. It was seen in the island by Cyriac d'Ancona in 1445-1446. Now in Cabinet des Médailles in Paris (on the adventures and whereabouts of the inscription see Cuvigny & Vagenheim 2005).


ii. References to buildings/objects γυμνάσιον, gymnasion (ll. 7, 12)
θαλλὸς στέφανος, thallos stephanos (ll. 9-10)
ἆθλα, athla (l. 25)
χρυσοὶ στέφανοι, chrysoi stephanoi (38-40)
γραπτὴ εἰκών, grapte eikon (ll. 30-1)
λεύκωμα, leukoma (l. 40)
στήλη λίθινη, stele lithine (ll. 41-2)
ἐπιφανέστατος τόπος τοῦ γυμνασίου, epiphanestatos topos tou gymnasiou (ll. 42-3)


ii. Leadership γυμνασίαρχος, gymnasiarchos (ll. 3-4)
Baton has been appointed gymnasiarch for five consecutive years and he has been asked to remain in office for one more year.
Known practice of appointment προχειρισθείς, procheiristheis (l. 3)
Baton was appointed gymnasiarch, presumably by the aleiphomenoi.
iii. Members ἀλειφόμενοι, aleiphomenoi (ll. 1, 6, 46)


ii. Gender Men
Note The term aleiphomenoi refers to men, frequenting the gymnasion.
iii. Age Adults
Note Although there is no explicit reference to the age of the members, the aleiphomenoi should denote the adult males frequenting the gymnasion, and not the paides or ephebes.
v. Relations The name Baton is also attested twice in the stele containing the letter of Philometor to Apollonios, the commander of Thera that dates a decade earlier (IG XII.3 327, ll. 50, 178). Given the close chronological proximity of the decree (153/152 BC) and the letter of Ptolemy (164/163-160/159 BC), it is quite possible that Baton is one and the same individual, a member of the Ptolemaic garrison.


ii. Meetings and events The aleiphomenoi partake in the athletic contests in honor of Hermes and Herakles, organized by Baton on behalf of the Ptolemaic king (Ptolemy VI Philometor). The athla (prizes) for the athletic contests were set by Baton.
iii. Worship From the athletic contests organized in honour of Hermes and Herakles, the gods par excellence of the gymnasion, we can assume that these two deities were worshipped by the aleiphomenoi.
Deities worshipped Hermes and Herakles
iv. Honours/Other activities The decree enumerates the honours bestowed upon Baton, son of Philon, by the aleiphomenoi over a number of years.
- Honours bestowed upon Baton for the first and second term in office (ll. 1-15): The aleiphomenoi crowned Baton with a folliage crown for holding the office of the gymnasiarchy for 2 consecutive years (ll. 7-10). On the account of Baton's love for honours (philotimia) and the care he showed towards the aleiphomenoi the honours conferred on him were recorded as a reminder (ll. 10-5).

- Honours bestowed upon Baton for the third, fourth and fifth term in office (ll. 15-36): Baton, deeming it worthy (the office of the gymnasiarchy), held the office for three more years (ll. 15-7). During this three-year period he maintained the appropriate good order, and showing more zeal and love for honour than those of the topos (i.e. the gymnasion) and the aleiphomenoi he presided over the the athletic contests in honour of Hermes and Herakles on behalf of the king. He beautified (the contests) according to this resources setting up prizes at his own expense appropriate to those competing (at the contests). Demonstrating all his eagerness and zeal the koinon bestowed gold crowns upon Baton and honoured him with a painted portrait for having held the office of the gymnasiarchy for a third, fourth and fifth time and for presiding over the neoi decently and adequately.

- Honours bestowed upon Baton upon issue of the decree (ll. 36-46):
Baton shall be praised and crowned again with a gold crown. The gold crowns shall be registered in a notice-board
(leukoma). The stele of the decree was to be set up in the most conspicuous place in the gymnasion.
He was asked to assume of the office of the gymnasiarchy for a sixth time, as by doing this he will be acceptable by all the aleiphomenoi.


i. Local interaction The aleiphomenoi were probably members of the Ptolemaic garrison (Chankowski 2010: 169). Baton, their gymnasiarch, was in all likelihood a soldier in the Ptolemaic garrison (see IX.v.).
ii. Interaction abroad The athletic contests were organized on behalf of the Ptolemaic king.


i. Comments Τhe neoi are mentioned in lines 34-5. Chankowski (2010: 448, no. 22) considers that the words neoi and aleiphomenoi are used interchangeably. However, upon closer examination of the context in which these two terms appear in the text, the following can be observed: in the decree it is explicitly stated that Baton was honoured for having been gymnasiarch for the third, fourth and fifth consecutive time and for having taken over the superintendence of the neoi in a graceful and suitable manner (ll. 34-6: τῶν νέων προστασίαν εὐσχήμονά τε καὶ πρέπουσαν ποιησάμενον·). Neoi upon completing their ephebate kept practicing in the gymnasion. It seems that Baton supervised the neoi in physical training. The neoi appear as a distinct group from the aleiphomenoi in terms of the physical activities they were involved in.
ii. Poland concordance Poland B 62
iii. Bibliography Bagnall, R. (1976), The administration of the Ptolemaic possessions outside Egypt. Leiden.
Chaniotis, A. (2002) 'Foreign soldiers - Native girls? Constructing and crossing boundaries in Hellenistic cities with foreign garrisons', in P. Ducrey & A. Chaniotis (eds.), Army and Power in the Ancient World. Stuttgart: 99-113.
Chankowski, A.S. (2010): L'éphébie hellénistique. Étude d'une institution civique dans les cités grecques des îles de la mer Égée et de l'Asie Mineure. Paris.
Cuvigny, H. and G. Vagenheim (2005), 'Un "Faux" sur porphyre: Avatars et aventures de la stèle de Théra honorant le gymnasiarque Batôn (IG XII 3, 331, 153 av. J.-C.)', ZPE 151: 105-26.
Kotsidu, H. (2000), Time kai doxa: Ehrungen für hellenistische Herrscher im griechishen Mutterland und in Kleinasien unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der archäologischen Denkmäler. Berlin.


i. Private association Certain
Note The group is called aleiphomenoi as well as koinon. It has its own official (gymnasiarch), appointed by the association and not by the city. The aleiphomenoi of the inscription were probably soldiers of the Ptolemaic garrison, organized in an association centered around the gymnasion (not the gymnasion of the city of Thera as assumed by Chaniotis 2002: 110; see IG XII.3, 327 for a list of soldiers of the Ptolemaic garrison contributing to the repair of the gymnasion).