Stable URL: as PDF
Last Updated on 01 Mar 2017

Author: Sophia Zoumbaki

CAPInv. 1478: hoi apo te[s oikoumenes] hieronika[i kai athletai]


i. Geographical area Peloponnese with Adjacent Islands
ii. Region Eleia
iii. Site Olympia


i. Full name (original language) οἱ ἀπ̣ὸ τῆ[ς οἰκουμένης] ἱερονῖκα[ι καὶ ἀθληταὶ] (IvO 469, ll. 1-2)
ii. Full name (transliterated) hoi apo te[s oikoumenes] hieronika[i kai athletai]


i. Date(s) i (?) AD


ii. Name elements
Geographical:hoi apo tes oikoumenes
Professional:hieronikai, athletes


i. Source(s) IvO 469 (i (?) AD)
Online Resources IvO 469
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script A fragmentary honorific inscription in Greek set up by the group for Kallias, apparently an Elean officeholder (for Kallias cf. Zoumbaki 2001: 290).
i.c. Physical format(s) Fragment of a statue base of yellowish limestone.
ii. Source(s) provenance Olympia, east of the temple of Zeus, in front of the Echo hall.


ii. Gender Men
Note The members should be athletes and male.


iv. Honours/Other activities They honour Kallias, apparently an Elean officeholder.


i. Local interaction The fact that the body honours an Elean of outstanding rank as its benefactor, shows its impact on an Elean level.
ii. Interaction abroad The fact that the title of the body includes the phrase hoi apo tes oikoumenes shows the group's international impact.


i. Comments It is not certain, whether hoi apo tes oikoumenes hieronikai kai athletai correspond tohoi apo tes oikoumenes athletai (CAPInv. 1477). hoi apo tes oikoumenes hieronikai kai athletai.

According to Pleket 1973: 202-3 in the second half of the 1st c. BC two associations, both probably based in Asia Minor, can be distinguished, one of oecumenical athletes and one of oecumenical victors. Pleket 1973: 210 believes that later there was one and only organization of athletes and victors and not two separate ones, but in several inscriptions we encounter certain short-hands of the complete title of the association. Pellet 1973: 207-8 further suggests that hoi apo tes oikoumenes athletai of IvO 436 "are subsequently divided into two categories", i.e, [ὅ τε] σύμπας ξυστός, [οἱ παραγ]ενόμενοι ἐπὶ τὸν [ἀγῶνα] τῶν Ὀλυμπίων, [ho te] sympas xystos, [hoi parag]enomenoi epi ton [agona] ton Olympion, and the ἱερὰ ξυστικῆ σύνοδος, hiera xystike synodos. That means that the groups mentioned in IvO 436 are to be regarded as subdivisions of a bigger formation under the name hoi apo tes oikoumenes (hieronikai kai) athletai. Pleket: "The categories are: (a) the entire xystos, h.e. the ad hoc groups of athletes who from all over the world came together for the celebration of the 216th Olympic games (85 A.D.) and (b) the permanent ecumenical guild of athletes. The full title of the latter is given in three imperial letters from the 1st century A.D., written by Claudius and Vespasian and preserved on a papyrus: ἡ ἱερὰ ξυστικὴ περιπολιστικὴ σύνοδος τῶν περὶ τὸν Ἡρακλέα, he hiera xystike peripolistike synodos ton peri ton Heraklea. In the course of time further imperial epithets... and patrons... are added to the guild's name. It is hard to tell whether the two ecumenical guilds of the athletes and guilds have continued to exist separately until the end of ancient athletics or have possibly achieved a merger".
On the basis of the epigraphic sources from Olympia it cannot be argued that there was a local Olympic branch of the international guild, although it cannot be excluded (cf. Pleket 1973: 204-5). Olympia, where the panhellenic Olympic games took place, was certainly a destination for athletes from all over the world, but there is no evidence, that a permanent branch of the world-wide athletic association had its headquarters in Olympia.
Oἱ ἀπὸ τῆς οἰκουμένης ἀθληταί, Hoi apo tes oikoumenes athletai, and οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς οίκουμένης ἱερονῖκαι, hoi apo tes oikoumenes hieronikai, are attested in an inscription from the 1st c. BC from Erythrai. They honour an individual, perhaps an athlete (Keil 1910: 70-9. Pleket 1973: 199-200 wonders, whether we have there athletes and victors who happened to be present on the spot or parts of wider permanent organizations: "(They) may possibly have been more or less ad hoc groups of athletes and victors who happened to be present in Erythrae on the occasion of a local festival; however, the terminology used (the athletes/victors from all over the world) suggests in my view that these casual groups presented themselves as parts of wider, permanent organizations, viz. that of the ecumenical athletes and that of the ecumenical victors. In fact most interpreters have assumed that the two wreaths have been awarded by two official, permanent organizations and not by those who happen to be present on the spot".
An oecumenical corporation of hieronikai and stephanitai is attested for the first time with certainty in a document preserved on the rear side of a medical papyrus. It is a prescript of Mark Antony who grants them several privileges (see Brandis 1897: 509-22). This text implies that the corporation already existed, as the confirmation of previously received privileges indicates, but it is unknown since when. It is further unclear, how it was organized, where it was based, whether it had one and only headquarters, whether it had local branches, whether it included both athletic and thymelic victors (since both could be hieronikai) or only athletes.

It is uncertain, whether a synodos of hieronikai is to be understood under the expression ἱερονείκης ἀπὸ συνόδου, hieroneikes apo synodou, of the inscription IvO 55 from Olympia (cf. CAPInv. 1520). Poland 150 wonders, whether this inscription (H 10) refers to the "Reichssynode der Athleten".
ii. Poland concordance Poland H*13
iii. Bibliography Brandis, C.G. (1897), ‘Ein Schreiben des Triumvirn Marcus Antonius an den Landtag Asiens’, Hermes 32: 509-22.
Keil, J. (1910), ‘Forschungen in Erythraia I’, JÖAI 13: 5-80, esp. 70-9.
Pleket, H.W. (1973), ‘Some aspects of the history of the ancient athletic guilds’, ZPE 10: 197-227, esp. 202-3.
Zoumbaki, S. (2001), Elis und Olympia in der Kaiserzeit. Das Leben einer Gesellschaft zwischen Stadt und Heiligtum auf prosopographischer Grundlage. Athens: 290.


i. Private association Probable
Note Since the organization of the group is not known with accuracy, we cannot define it with certainty as a private association.