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Author: Vincent Gabrielsen

CAPInv. 2004: to koinon to Dionysiastan


i. Geographical area Aegean Islands
ii. Region Rhodes
iii. Site Rhodos


i. Full name (original language) τὸ κοινὸν τὸ Διονυσιαστᾶν (IG XII.1 155, a II, line 43)
ii. Full name (transliterated) to koinon to Dionysiastan


i. Date(s) ii BC


ii. Name elements
Theophoric:The association took its name from the god Dionysus, whose cults are well attested in Rhodes: Morelli 1959: 37-42. More generally, Jaccottet 2003, II: 260-66, nos. 156-159.
iii. Descriptive terms τὸ κοινὸν, to koinon (IG XII.1 155, a II, line 43)

ἔρανος, eranos
Note eranos is indicated by the term συνερανισταί, syneranistai, used of the membership (ibid. 46-7).


i. Source(s) IG XII.1 155
Maiuri, NSER 46 A-B
Online Resources NSER 46
AGRW no. 1726
IG XII.1 155
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script IG XII.1 155 is a compendious inscription--the characterisation 'funerary altar' (Jaccottet 2003, II: 260, no. 156 ['autel funeraire']) is incorrect. It consists: (I) partly of summaries of the honours awarded to Dionysodoros Alexandreus by (a) the Dionysiastai koinon (ibid. a II, ll. 40-51), (b) the Paniastai koinon (ibid. b III, ll. 74-84), (c) the Haliadai kai Haliastai koinon (ibid. c IV, ll. 105-115) and (d) an unnamed koinon (ibid. e IV, ll. 116-22); and (II) partly of the fully preserved decree of the Haliadai kai Haliastai koinon (ibid. d I, ll. 1-39, d II, ll. 52-73 and d III, ll. 85-104), which honours Dionysodoros Alexandreus. Since (c) mentions the award of honours (e.g. ateleia panton) that are absent from the decree, it must summarize the contents of a different (earlier?) honorific decree issued by the Haliadai kai Haliastai koinon.

Maiuri, NSER 46 A-B is an altar whose face A announces that it belongs to Dionysodoros from Alexandria, but whose face B attributes the ownership jointly to Dionysodoros and Iakchos (probably Dionysodoros' brother), both from Alexandria. The two individuals mentioned at the end of the inscription are probably members of the same family. See Guarducci 1942: 23; Gabrielsen 1994: 148.
i.c. Physical format(s) IG XII.1 155 is a sizeable, rectangular stele of greyish marble, now in the Museo del Seminario Patriarchale in Venice: description with photos in Guarducci 1942: 16-29, no. III. All four faces of the stele are inscribed. In their upper part, three of the faces are decorated with wreaths.

Maiuri, NSER 46 is a rectangular altar of Lartian marble with a cornice on its top. Face A carries a shorter inscription at its bottom part and is decorated with four wreaths, placed side-by-side and separated from each other by vertical bands. Its face B contains the longer inscription, while its top part is decorated with four smaller wreaths, which too are separated by vertical bands, photos in Maiuri, NSER pp. 55-56.
ii. Source(s) provenance IG XII.1 155 is reported to be from the city of Rhodos; now it is in the Museo del Seminario Patriarchale in Velice.

Maiuri NSER 46 is reported to be from the necropolis of the city of Rhodos.


viii. Obligations From the fact that the Dionysiastai grant tax exemption to a co-member (IG XII.1 155 a II, ll. 45-6, ἀτελείαι πάντων, ateleiai panton, and Maiuri, NSER 46, l.10, ἀτελείαι πάντων διὰ βίου, ateleiai panton dia biou) it can be inferred that the association regularly imposed on the membership certain obligations that came under the broader category of tele (taxes, dues).
ix. Privileges The Dionysiastai granted to those members who had distinguished themselves the privilege of exemption from all taxes/dues (see above); in one instance the grant is specified as being valid 'for lifetime' (διὰ βίου, dia biou).


ii. Gender Men
Note In addition to the three males mentioned in the relevant inscriptions (Dionysodoros, Iakchos and Dionysios), a woman, Ithake from Soli, is mentioned in Maiuri, NSER 46 B. Probably, she, too, was a member of the association.
iii. Age Adults
iv. Status The three males mentioned in the two inscriptions were all foreigners from Alexandria in Egypt. The woman named Ithake was also a foreigner from Soli.
v. Relations Dionysodoros and Iakchos, certainly both of them members of the Dionysiastai, were probably related as brothers.

Dionysios Alexandreus and Ithake Solis, who are also mentioned on the altar Maiuri, NSER 46, may too have been members of the same family as the two brothers; perhaps they were Dionysodoros' son and wife: Guarducci 1942: 23.


ii. Meetings and events In IG XII.1 155 a II, ll. 46-51, the occasion on which the Dionysiastai honoured Dionysodoros with the award of two gold wreaths is said to be a biennial (i.e. trieteric) festival, which was called, or whose principal celebration was called, ἁ τῶν Βακχείων ὑποδοχά, ha ton Bakcheion hypodocha. In favour of the second possibility speaks the formulation ἐν τᾶι τῶν Βακχείων ὑποδοχᾶι κατὰ τριετηρίδα ('at the reception of the Baccheia that occurs every other year', where τριετηρίς, trieteris, seems to be the description used here of the larger event/the festival). Further support for this possibility comes from what Dionysodoros is said to have done right after he had received the two gold wreaths: ἀνέθηκε τριετηρίσι καὶ τῶι κοινῶι ('he dedicated (viz. the wreaths) to the trieteris (now apparently a kind of personification of the religious event/festival) and to the koinon.

Most scholars classify this koinon of Dionysiastai (as all others with the same name on Rhodes) among the associations of initiates, mystai (Mystenvereine), and hold that the religious event in question was a synodos celebrating Dionysos Bakcheios; ypodocha, is believed to mean the reception of the god, a theoxenia of a sort: van Gelder 1900: 325; Poland 1909: 260 with n. 3, cf. 268; Morelli 1959: 125; Jaccottet 2003, II: 263 (who speculates further that new members were admitted on that occasion). Moreover, whereas Foucart (1873: 111) interpreted the event celebrated as 'the reception of the remains of Bakchos', Pugliese Carratelli (1939-40: 196, n. 6) proposed an Orphic myth context. However, none of the above views can be confirmed. The only piece of evidence that might be adduced in support of the view that this and other Dionysiac associations on Rhodes consisted of mystai is I.Lindos II 449 (ca. 100 BC), ll,. 12-13: ἰερατεύσαντα τῶν μυστηρίων τοῦ Βάκχου Διονύσου. That reference, however, is specifically to a public cult of Lindos.

Our Rhodian Dionysiastai constitute also part of the evidence, which according to some scholars indicates the central role played by associations in state cult. Thus, on this view, ἁ τῶν Βακχείων ὑποδοχά of the trieteric celebration mentioned in IG XII.1 155 would be the official and public celebration of the cult of Dionysos Bacheios: van Gelder 1900: 325; Jaccottet 2003, II: 266, and more generally I: 202-3.

While that possibility cannot be excluded, it does not receive support from the available evidence. In Rhodes, Dionysos had, indeed, his own official, public cults (each with its own priesthood), both in the individual cities (so far, only those in Kamiros and Lindos are indisputably attested: e.g. TitCam 26 (ca. 254 BC), l. 5, and I.Lindos II 134 (ca. 215 BC) and in the capital city of Rhodos (BSAAlex 34 (1940): 29, no. VII, from shortly after 221 BC; IG XII.1 68, 3rd cent. BC): the testimonia for the worship of Dionysos on Rhodes and his sanctuary are assembled in Morelli 1959: 39-40, for the sanctuary: Konstantinopoulos 1994-1995: 78-9. However, the only secure attestation of specifically the cult of Dionysos Bakcheios as a public cult in Hellenistic times comes only from Lindos (I.Lindos II 449, ca. 100 BC, ll. 12-13), while with regard to the federal state of Rhodes the earliest attestation of the (public) priesthood and the festival dates from the beginning of the 3rd. cent. AD: REG 7 (1904): 204, l. 2: τὸν ἱερέα τοῦ Βακχ[ίου?] or Βακχ[είου?], and ll.21.-22: ἁ (...) βακχεῖα (in the singular, since it shares the definite article with πατρὶς, contra Jaccottet 2003, II: 266); probably, ἁ βακχεῖα here it refers to the festival.

The upshot of all this is that the religious event celebrated by our Dionysiastai--despite its synonymity with an official cult/festival at the local level in Hellenistic Lindos and with another such cult/festival at the federal level in late imperial times--may well have been a private event established independently in the religious calendar of this peculiar association. At least, this seems to be the case with the σύνοδοι, synodoi, which according to the same inscription (IG XII.1 155, d I.i, ll. 23, 58, 62) were held by the association of Haliadai kai Haliastai.
iii. Worship The association worshipped Dionysos Bakcheios (see above)
Deities worshipped Dionysos Bakcheios
iv. Honours/Other activities IG XII.1 155 a II, ll. 42-51, lists the following honours as awarded to Dionysodoros by the Dionysiastai, who are collectively also called 'the recipients of Dionysodoros' benefactions' (οἱ εὐεργετηθέντες ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ, hoi euergetethentes hyp' autou):

(i) ἔπαινος (epainos), praise
(ii) εὐεργεσία (euergesia), meaning the award of the title of euergetas (Benefactor)
(iii) ἀτέλεια πάντων (ateleia panton), exemption from all taxes/dues imposed by the association
(iv) χρυσέοις στεφάνοις δυσὶ (chryseois stephanois dysi), two gold wreaths, which Dionysodoros subsequently dedicated to the 'trieteris' (see X.ii above).

The honours mentioned in Maiuri, NSER 46 B are:

(i) εὐεργεσία (
euergesia), i.e. the title of Benefactor
(ii) ἀτέλεια πάντων διὰ βίου (
ateleia panton dia biou), tax exemption, which now is specified to be valid for lifetime
(iii) ἔπαινος (
epainos), praise
(iv) χρυσέωι στεφάνωι (
chryseoi stephanoi), one gold wreath

Both inscriptions specify that the awards were given to Dionysodoros on account of his
arete (ἐπ’ ἀρετᾶι).


i. Local interaction It is assumed that the biennial (i.e. trieteric) religious event called ἁ τῶν Βακχείων ὑποδοχά (ha ton Bakcheion hypodocha) celebrated by the association was an official event, presumably held at the federal polis of Rhodes. However, this is far from certain. For details, see X.ii above.


ii. Poland concordance 267a-c
iii. Bibliography Gabrielsen 1994: V. Gabrielsen, 'The Rhodian Associations honouring Dionysodoros from Alexandria', C&M 45 (1994): 137-160.

Foucart 1873: P. Foucart, Des associations religieuses ches les grecs: thiases, éranes, orgéons, Paris 1873.

Guarducci 1942: M. Guarducci, 'Le iscrizioni di Venecia', Rivista dell'Istituto nazionale di archeologia e storia dell'Arte 9 (1942): 7-53.

Jaccotet 2003: A.-F. Jaccottet, Choisir Dionysos: Les associations dionysiaques, ou la face cachée du dionysisme. Akanthus crescens 6. 2 vols., Zürich 2003.

Κωνσταντινόπουλος 1994-95: Γρ. Κωνσταντινόπουλος, 'Eργα Πλαστικής και Επιγραφές από το «Διονύσιον» Τέμενος της Αρχαίας Ρόδου', AD, Meletes 49-50 (1994-95): 75-82.

Morelli 1959: D. Morelli, I culti in Rodi, SCO 8, Pisa 1959.

Van Gelder 1900: H. van Gelder, Geschichte der alten Rhodier, Der Haag, 1900.


i. Private association Certain
Note The descriptive terms koinon and eranos, combined with the cultic name of the association, make it certain that it is a private association.