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Last Updated on 21 May 2019

Author: Nikolaos Giannakopoulos

CAPInv. 140: hoi tou presbyterou Ophelionos hetairoi kai synetheis philoi


i. Geographical area Western Asia Minor
ii. Region Bithynia
iii. Site Prusa ad Olympum


i. Full name (original language) Οἱ τοῦ πρεσβυτέρου Ὠφελίωνος ἑταῖροι καὶ συνήθεις φίλοι (I.Prusa 24, ll. 1-3)
ii. Full name (transliterated) hoi tou presbyterou Ophelionos hetairoi kai synetheis philoi


i. Date(s) i AD


ii. Name elements
Personal:Ophelionos hetairoi kai synetheis philoi (ll. 1-3).
Despite the bipartite structure of the name of the honouring body, the absence of the definite article before συνήθεις φίλοι (synetheis philoi) and the use of the term κοινόν (koinon, l. 8) to describe the group on behalf of which Themistokles son of Lysikles promised to erect the stele indicate that the honours were not awarded by two associations in collaboration but by a single one, consisting of Ophelion’s companions and friends (see also below under field IX.iv: Status).
While the use of the term synetheis or the equivalent synetheia is quite frequent in associations formed around an individual (see for example IG X.2.1 219, 679, 933 and Nigdelis 2006: 147-151 no. 4, 178-193 no. 9, 191-196 no. 12, 206-211 no. 15 (Thessaloniki); EKM I 371 (Beroia)), the combined use of the terms synetheis philoi is significantly more rare, but attested in an inscription from Ankyra Sidera in Mysia (MAMA X 458, dated to 57/58 AD).
iii. Descriptive terms κοινόν, koinon
Note koinon: I.Prusa 24, l. 8


i. Source(s) I.Prusa 24 (i AD?)
Note See also:
Online Resources I.Prusa 24
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Honorific inscription in Greek erected by the association.
i.c. Physical format(s) Stele with a relief depicting a priest offering sacrifice.
ii. Source(s) provenance The inscription was found in Bursa.


i. Founder(s) The name of the association indicates that Ophelion himself may have been the founder (οἱ τοῦ πρεσβυτέρου Ὠφελίωνος, hoi tou presbyterou Ophelionos, ll. 1-2).
ii. Leadership The name of the association suggests that Ophelion was its leader (οἱ τοῦ πρεσβυτέρου Ὠφελίωνος, hoi tou presbyterou Ophelionos, ll. 1-2).


ii. Gender Men
Note The only known member (Themistokles son of Lysikles) was a man.


iv. Honours/Other activities The association erected a stele in honour of the high-priest and gymnasiarchos Sakerdos son of Menandros, described as benefactor of the association for life (διὰ βίου εὐεργέτης, dia biou euergetes, I.Prusa 24, ll. 5-6). On the honorand, cf. Fernoux 2004: 320-321, 340 and 355-356, who thinks that the title archiereus refers to a Bithynian and not a local priesthood of the imperial cult.


i. Local interaction The honours awarded to the high-priest and gymnasiarchos Sakerdos son of Menandros and especially the fact that he was considered as a benefactor of the association for life indicate ongoing contacts and solid bonds between the two parties. The exact context of the benefactions offered to the association is not known. The members of the association may have been invited to sacrifices, meals and/or distributions performed by Sakerdos as part of his official duties as high-priest and gymnasiarchos (cf. the iconography of the stele). On the other hand, Sakerdos may have offered similar benefactions exclusively to the association in a purely private context. In any case, Sakerdos was undoubtedly an important local figure, although he was not a Roman citizen (see Fernoux 2004: 320 and Bekker-Nielsen 2008: 104). Moreover, as the title dia biou euergetes suggests, he may have functioned as a sort of patron for the association. The institution of the gymnasium, in which both Sakerdos and Ophelion as a presbyteros were involved (see above under IX.iv: Status) perhaps provided the background for creating, encouraging and consolidating the contacts and the relations established between the honouring association, its leading figure (Ophelion) and the honorand.


i. Comments Associations formed around and/or named after a single individual (usually identified either as οἱ περὶ or οἱ σὺν + personal name or with an epithet deriving from a personal name + the suffix -eios) have generally been seen as reflecting and reinforcing that specific individual’s influence (see Gabrielsen 2001: 168-70 and Maillot 2013: 204-7 with further bibliography). Ophelion was undoubtedly the central figure in our association. However, it is worth pointing out that the title εὐεργέτης διὰ βίου (euergetes dia biou) attributed to Sakerdos indicates that the latter also enjoyed great prestige and influence among the members of the association and, being an active local statesman, this could contribute to the enhancement of his social and political capital in Prusa ad Olympum.
Unfortunately, the exact nature of the relationship between Ophelion and Sakerdos cannot be deduced from the inscription in the latter’s honour (but see above under field XI.i: Local Interaction).
The stele in honour of Sakerdos was paid by Themistokles son of Lysikles, after a promise that he had made. Themistokles seems to have been a member of the association with an interest in honouring Sakerdos, thus a person close to the honoured gymnasiarchos and high-priest.

The members of the association are defined according to their relation to the presbyteros, Ophelion, as the latter’s hetairoi and synetheis philoi. Ophelion’s hetairoi may have been also members of the presbyteroi in Prusa ad Olympum, an association which in all probability has to be identified with the gerousia, attested in at least two other inscriptions of Prusa ad Olympum (I.Prousa 20 and 229; cf. the remarks of Th. Corsten in I.Prusa 24, p. 46). The term presbyteroi is frequently used as a synonym for the gerousia in Asia Minor but it has been argued that in some cities the gerousia was a more restricted group that evolved from the presbyteroi. In any case, both the presbyteroi and the gerousia were age-groups based on the gymnasium (on this topic see now Zimmermann 2007, Giannakopoulos 2008: 13-27 and Fröhlich 2013 with further bibliography) and it is to this context that Ophelion’s hetairoi – or at least some of them – presumably belonged. The persons described as synetheis philoi may have been Ophelion’s friends outside the circle of the gymnasium. A funerary inscription from Amaseia recording separately the deceased’s ἑταίροι (hetairoi) and φίλοι (philoi) inside crowns (Marek 1985: 140-141 no. 21; cf. Marek 1993: 172-173 no. 57) supports the hypothesis that in our case too these two terms were describing two different groups of people belonging to the same association.
On the other hand, it is possible that that the terms hetairoi and synetheis philoi did not correspond to a clear-cut technical division as the one suggested above, but were loosely used as synonyms to describe the group of people organised in an association around (and by) Ophelion. But even if that was the case, it is highly probable that at least some of the members also shared with Ophelion participation to the local presbyteroi.
iii. Bibliography Bekker-Nielsen, T. (2008), Urban Life and Roman Politics in Roman Bithynia: The Small World of Dio Chrysostom. Aarhus.
Fernoux, H.-L. (2004), Notables et élites des cites de Bithynie aux époques hellénistique et romaine (IIIe siècle av. J.-C. – IIIe siècle ap. J.-C.). Essai d’histoire sociale. Lyon.
Fröhlich, P. (2013), ‘Les groupes du gymnase d’Iasos et les presbytéroi dans les cités à l’ époque hellénnistique’, in P. Fröhlich and P. Hamon (eds.), Groupes et associations dans les cités grecques (IIIe siècle av. J.-C. – IIe siècle apr. J.-C.), Genève: 59-111.
Gabrielsen, V. (2001), ‘The Rhodian Associations and Economic Activity’, in Z.H. Archibald et al. (eds.), Hellenistic Economies, London: 163-84.
Giannakopoulos, N. (2008), Ο Θεσμός της Γερουσίας των ελληνικών πόλεων κατά τους ρωμαϊκούς χρόνους. Thessaloniki.
Maillot, S. (2013), ‘Les associations à Cos’ in P. Fröhlich and P. Hamon (eds.), Groupes et associations dans les cités grecques (IIIe siècle av. J.-C. – IIe siècle apr. J.-C.), Genève: 199-26.
Marek, C. (1985), ‘Katalog der Inschriften im Museum von Amasra’, EA 6: 135-56.
Marek, C. (1993), Stadt, Ära und Territorium in Pontus-Bithynia und North-Galatia. Tübingen.
Zimmermann, K. (2007), ‘Les origines de la Gérousie de l’époque impériale’ in M. Mayer Olivé, G. Baratta, and A. Guzmán Alagro (eds.), Acta XII congressus internationalis epigraphiae graecae et latinae, Barcelona 2007: 1523-7.


i. Private association Certain
Note Both the personal character of the association's name and the use of the term κοινόν (koinon) indicate that it was a private association.