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Last Updated on 22 May 2019

Author: Nikolaos Giannakopoulos

CAPInv. 1884: xystos


i. Geographical area Eastern Asia Minor
ii. Region Paphlagonia
iii. Site Pompeiopolis


i. Full name (original language) ξυστός (Marek 1993: 147, no. 37, l. 8)
ii. Full name (transliterated) xystos


i. Date(s) Imp.


ii. Name elements
Professional:The term xystos denotes a group of athletes (see below XII.i).


i. Source(s) Marek 1993: 147, no. 37 (Imp.)
Note See also:
CIG III 4155
Doublet 1889: 307-8, no. 15
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Funerary inscription in Greek for Agatheinos son of Athenaios, secretary of the xystos.
ii. Source(s) provenance The inscription was found at Taşköprü (Pompeiopolis).


iv. Officials The administrative apparatus of the group included the post of γραμματεύς (grammateus, ll. 7-8), held by the deceased.


ii. Gender Men
Note Since xystos refers to an association of athletes, membership was restricted to men.
iv. Status The members of the xystos were athletes.


i. Comments It can be no doubt that the xystos mentioned in Agatheinos' funerary inscription refers to a private association of athletes. However, its exact nature cannot be safely determined. As a term denoting an organized body with internal administration the word xystos appears in inscriptions recording secretaries of this group. M. Aurelios Serenos ho kai Heliodoros was a grammateus xystou who enjoyed citizenship in Alexandria, Elis, Delphi and Sparta and was buried at Taras (SEG 34: 1022). For an archigrammateus xystou born in Philadelphia and buried at Rome see IGUR II 404; another archigramateus xystou is attested at Erythrai (I.Erythrai 416). In these cases the xystos may be associated with the sympas xystos attested in numerous inscriptions from Rome and various cities of the Greek East. The latter term has been viewed as denoting either an ad hoc aggregation of participants in a specific athletic event (Forbes 1955: 243), or a body somehow connected with the "international" association of athletes, being its "active right arm" (Forbes 1955: 246-7) or an administrative board perhaps formed after the establishment of a combined association comprising both sacred victors and athletes (Pleket 1973: 216-7, n. 64; cf. Newby 2005: 35). Indeed, Forbes (1955: 249) seems to consider that it was to this sympas xystos that Agatheinos and the other secretaries belonged. What compounds the problem is that local xystoi and athletic associations seem also to have existed in the Imperial Period (Forbes 1955: 244; Harries 1964: 45; Aneziri 2012: 432, n. 49). However, the fact that Agatheinos – whose career resembles that of Serenos – was a citizen of Athens, Antiocheia on the Meander and Prusa ad Olympum (presumably a famous athlete having achieved victories in Greece, Asia and Bithynia) may be considered as adding weight to the possibility that the xystos in question here should be identified with the sympas xystos affiliated to the “international" association of athletes and not with a local group. In this respect, there is no compelling reason to think that the absence of the epithet sympas signified a local xystos and it may be additionally noted that an inscription from Rome, where the headquarters of the international athletic association were located, mention the Μεγάλη Τύχη τοῦ ξυστοῦ, Megale Tyche tou xystou, without the epithet sympas (IGUR I 247). As far as the erection of Agatheinos' funerary inscription in Pompeiopolis is concerned, this may be explained by the fact that Pompeiopolis was his city of origin, or, simply - but perhaps less likely - the place of his death. Admittedly, the arguments presented above are not entirely decisive: the possibility that Agatheinos was a widely recognized athlete who served a local xystos cannot be ruled out. Cf. CAPInv. 1485.
ii. Poland concordance Poland Η*39
iii. Bibliography Aneziri, S. (2012), ‘Greek Strategies of Adaptation to the Roman World: The Case of the Contests’, Mnemosyne 67: 423-42.
Doublet, G. (1883), ‘Inscriptions de Paphlagonie’, BCH 13: 293-319.
Forbes, C. A. (1955), ‘Ancient Athletic Guilds’, CPh 50: 238-52.
Harris, H.A. (1964), Greek Athletes and Athletics. London.
Marek, C. (1993), Stadt, Ära und Territorium in Pontus-Bithynia und Nord-Galatia. Tübingen.
Newby, Z. (2005), Greek Athletics in the Roman World. Victory and Virtue. Oxford.
Pleket, H. (1973), ‘Some Aspects of the History of the Athletic Guilds’, ZPE 10: 197-227.


i. Private association Certain
Note The existence of a grammateus xystou indicates an organized and durable private association of athletes.