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Last Updated on 22 May 2019

Author: Nikolaos Giannakopoulos

CAPInv. 1990: nemesiastai


i. Geographical area Western Asia Minor
ii. Region Bithynia
iii. Site Nikaia (Iznik)


i. Full name (original language) νεμεσιασταί (Adak 2016: 16 l.9)
ii. Full name (transliterated) nemesiastai


i. Date(s) 138 / 139 AD


ii. Name elements
Theophoric:nemesiastai for Nemesis (Adak 2016: 16 l.9)


i. Source(s) Adak 2016: 16 (138/39 AD)
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Honorary inscription in Greek set up by the nemesiastai for L. Venuleius Montanus Apronianus Octavius Priscus.
i.c. Physical format(s) Basis of grey marble probably supporting the statue of the honorand.
ii. Source(s) provenance The inscription was unearthed in the stage house of Nikaia's theater.


i. Archaeological remains The honorary inscription for L. Venuleius Montanus Apronianus Octavius Priscus was found in the stage house of Nikaia's theater, 20 meters northwest of two wall niches with statuettes of Nemesis dedicated by Ailianos Asklepiodotos (Adak 2016: 15). The latter indicate that the roofed part of the theater's east parodos, where the wall with the niches was located, functioned as a Nemeseion (Adak 2016: 3-4). See below under the Field XII.i: Comments.


i. Treasury/Funds See below under the Field VIII.iii: Income.
ii. Realty For the relation between the nemesiastai and the Nemeseion located in Nikaia's theater see below under the Field XII.i: Comments.
iii. Income The final lines of the honorific inscription for L. Venuleius Montanus Apronianus Octavius Priscus record that the Νεμεσιασταὶ ἐκ τῶν δ[ώρων]| ἀνέστησαν (Nemesiastai ek ton d[oron]|anestesan). This indicates that the Nemesiastai had resources producing income, which was probably deposited in a common fund. If the restoration ἐκ τῶν δ[ώρων] (ek ton d[oron]) is accepted, this would mean that the Nemesiastai erected the statue in question using money coming from a donation made by the honorand (Adak 2016: 16-18).


iv. Status The fact that the nemesiastai defined L. Venuleius Montanus Apronianus Octavius Priscus as φιλόπατρις (philopatris) and [ὁ]μόπολις ([ho]mopolis) indicates that the members of the association, or at least most of them, were citizens of Nikaia (Adak 2016: 16-17).


Deities worshipped Nemesis (see below under the Field XII.i: Comments).
iv. Honours/Other activities As the final line of the inscription shows (l. 11: ἀνέστησαν, anestesan), the nemesiastai honoured L. Venuleius Montanus Apronianus Octavius Priscus with a statue, probably erected in the Nemeseion. The honorand was a Roman senator with an impressive cursus honorum which included the posts of consul and proconsul of Asia (for Venuleius Montanus’ career see Adak 2016: 19-22). No justification for the honours is recorded but, if the restoration ἐκ τῶν δ[ώρων] (ek ton d[oron]) in l. 10 is accepted, it could be argued that a donation made by the honorand to the nemesiastai generated the award of honours. As Adak (2016: 18-19) has pointed out, in lines 9-10 the honorand is also praised as εὐεργέτης (euergetes), φιλόπατρις (philopatris) and ὁμόπολις (homopolis). This suggests that the honours were justified not only by reference to a special relation between the honouring association and the honorand, but also by a rather explicit reference to the latter's relation with the entire polis as well (on honours awarded by private associations for services towards the entire polis see Van Nijf 1997: 111-121). In this respect, the absence of any possessive pronoun after the adjective euergetes, as opposed to the honorific inscription set up by the chalkeis of the same city for their own benefactor T. Flavius (I. Iznik 73 ll.6-7: ἑαυτῶν εὐεργέτης, heauton euergetes; see CAPInv 164), is highly indicative. See also below under the Field XI.ii: Interaction abroad.


ii. Interaction abroad The honorific inscription for L. Venuleius Montanus shows that the nemesiastai of Nikaia had strong bonds and probably entered into formal contacts with a distinguished Roman senator who originated from Pisa but had held no official post in Bithynia. Lines 10-11 of the inscription (ἐκ τῶν δ[ώρων]|ἀνέστησαν, ek ton d[oron]| anestesan), if this restoration is accepted, indicate that these formal contacts may have taken the form of a donation on the part of the senator towards the body, within the framework of a more general relation between the honorand and Nikaia, probably inherited form the honorand’s grandfather who had been governor of Bithynia under Nero. Another common point of reference for the two parties were animal fights and gladiatorial games, in which both the nemesiastai (see below under the Field XII. I: comments) and L. Venuleius Montanus as proconsul of Asia (I.Eph. 21 II) were interested. See on all this Adak 2016: 18-19.


i. Comments The suggested date is based on L. Venuleius Apronianus’ proconsulship in Asia (Adak 2016: 2).
The theophoric name of the association indicates that it worshipped Nemesis. The nemesiastai surely had access to the Nemeseion located in the theater and could erect their honorific monuments and perform their cultic activities there. But whether they alone controlled and managed the Nemeseion or they somehow collaborated with the civic authorities for this purpose cannot be shown.
The fact that the honorific inscription set up by the nemesiastai was found near a private dedication of two Nemeseis indicate that the association in question may have worshipped Nemesis as a double goddess (Adak 2016: 3-6; on the double Nemesis see Hornum 1993: 10-13).
Since Nemesis was depicted on coins minted by Nikaia under Antoninus Pius (Adak 2016: 6-7), it was a deity incorporated in the civic cultic landscape, a fact further confirmed by the location of the Nemeseion within the premises of a public building, i.e. the theater. The well-known association of Nemesis with the very popular in the Roman East venationes and gladiatorial games held at theaters within the framework of the imperial cult (Hornum 1993: 50-6; Nigdelis 2006: 181; Tataki 2009: 646-47), spectacles attested in Nikaia as well (Adak 2016: 7-14), provides the background for this development. In this respect, the nemesiastai of Nikaia emerge as a private association which was composed of local citizens strongly interested in the aforementioned spectacles as well as in the cult of Nemesis (for a parallel case see CAPInv 794 from Thessaloniki). Moreover, they perhaps enjoyed a considerable degree of public prestige and influence (Adak 2016: 15-19). The particular way in which they emphasized and prioritized the honorand’s relation with the city illustrates their attempt to be integrated in the civic sphere.
iii. Bibliography Adak, M. (2016), 'Nemesis in der bithynischen Metropole Nikaia und ein Proconsul der Provinz Asia' in B. Takmer, E. Akdoğu Arca and N. Gökalp (eds.), Vir Doctus Anatolicus. Studies in Memory of Sencer Şahin, Istanbul: 1-33.
Hornum M. B. (1993), Nemesis, the Roman State and the Games. Leiden - New York-Köln.
Nigdelis, P. (2006), Epigraphika Thessalonikeia. Thessaloniki.
Tataki, A. (2009), ‘Nemesis and the Gladiatorial Games at Smyrna’, Mnemosyne 62: 639-48
Van Nijf, O. (1997), The Civic World of Professional Associations in the Roman East. Amsterdam.


i. Private association Certain
Note The use of the theophoric name nemesiastai and the fact that this group had income (as indicated by l. 10 of the inscription) confirm that it was a private association organized on a durable and permanent basis.