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Last Updated on 22 Feb 2017

Author: Ilias Arnaoutoglou

CAPInv. 339: Bakcheion


i. Geographical area Attica with Salamis
ii. Region Attica
iii. Site Athens


i. Full name (original language) Βακχεῖον (IG II2 1368, ll. 8, 16, 37, 56, 148-9)
ii. Full name (transliterated) Bakcheion


i. Date(s) 164 / 165 AD


ii. Name elements
Theophoric:Bakcheion: he name recalls an epithet of Dionysus.
iii. Descriptive terms βακχεῖον, bakcheion.
Note bakcheion: IG II2 1368, ll. 8, 16, 37, 56, 148-9
Note that the term bakcheion in l. 101 means the building, see Baslez 2004: 113 for a range of meanings and any possible Roman influences.


i. Source(s) IG II2 1368 (AD 164/5)
Note Ed. pr. MDAI(A) 19 (1894) 248.
Other editions: Prott - Ziehen II i 46; Syll3 1109; Michel no. 1564; LSCG 51; Pfohl, GrInschr. 100; Jaccottet II no. 4. (SEG 53: 2225); GRA I 51; AGRW 7.

Cf. SEG 17: 38; SEG 32: 1570; SEG 33: 254; SEG 34: 113, 269; SEG 35: 111; SEG 38: 2011; SEG 41: 104, 1752; SEG 42: 124; SEG 43: 1215; SEG 44: 175; SEG 55: 259, 1975; SEG 58: 150, 1915. BE 1987, nos 584, 587-8; 1988, no. 555; 1994, no. 308; 1997, no. 234; 2000, no. 351; 2011, no. 244.
Online Resources IG II2 1368 and AGRW ID 496
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Greek decree of the association commonly known as Iobakchoi in which the decisions of two priests are recorded. They concern several fundamental affairs, such as conditions of admission, orderly behaviour, regular meetings, duties and privileges of membership, and duties of magistrates.
i.c. Physical format(s) The decree is inscribed on a marble column, 0,995m. On top of it there is a pediment in relief. In the centre of the pediment there is a large drinking vessel and the head of a bull, panthers on either side, and rams.
ii. Source(s) provenance Found in the area between the Areopagos, Akropolis and Pnyx, now in the Epigraphical Museum, EM 8187.


i. Archaeological remains The inscription was found in a structure identified by Doerpfeld 1894 as the Bakcheion. It is a rectangular basilica with three naves, and two rooms to the north east. The inscription was found in the central hall; see Travlos 1980: 274 (Bakcheion was built on top of an earlier temple of Herakles Alexikakos) but also Greco 2010: 257-61 with reservations about the identification. See also Skaltsa 2016.
ii. References to buildings/objects There is a reference to a column (κείων, keion, l. 29) on which the decisions inscribed on a stele (στήλη, stele, l. 16, 26) are to stand, to a restaurant (ἑστιατόρειον, hestiatoreion, l. 141), to a gate-house (πυλών, pylon, ll. 142-3). Also there is a mention of an oil-lamp (θερμόλυχνον, thermolychnon, l. 151), a wand (θύρσος, thyrsos, ll. 138-9), and a letter (ἐπιστολή, epistole, l. 59-60).


iii. Members Members are designated as ἰόβακχοι, iobakchoi (ll. 32, 35, 42, 54-55, 57, 60, 68, 77, 83, 87, 96, 127-9, 135, 160).
iv. Officials The 'executive board' of the group is called οἱ προεστῶτες, hoi proestotes, ll. 30-1.
Priest (ἱερεύς, hiereus, ll. 5, 12, 14, 17, 25, 33, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 85, 88, 92, 104, 107-9, 111).
Vice-priest (ἀνθιερεύς, anthiereus, ll. 9, 27-28, 85, 104, 122).
Chief-bakchos (ἀρχίβακχος, archibakchos, ll. 12-3, 67, 93, 117-8, 123, 140).
προστάτης, prostates (l. 13).
Treasurer (ταμίας, tamias, ll. 100, 123, 146, 150).
Secretary (γραμματεύς, grammateus, ll. 155-6).
Warden (εὔκοσμος, eukosmos, ll. 94-5, 136).
"Bouncers" (ἵπποι, hippoi, l. 144).
Note that the priest Aur. Nikomachos has served for 17 years as priest and 23 years as vice-priest.
Known practice of appointment The magistrates are elected by lot from among all the members, ll. 125-7: τὰ δὲ ὀνό|ματα αὐτῶν συνκληρούσθω | πᾶσι, ta de onomata auton synkleroustho pasi.
The office of warden (εὔκοσμος, eukosmos) was filled either by allotment or by appointment by the priest, ll. 136-7: εὔκοσμος δὲ κληρούσθω ἢ καθισ|τάσθω ὑπὸ τοῦ ἱερέως. eukosmos de kleroustho e kathistastho hypo tou hiereos.
Hippoi were appointed by the priest, ll. 143-4.
The treasurer is elected by vote for a two-year long term, ll. 146-7: ταμίαν δὲ αἱρείσθωσαν οἱ ἰόβακ|χοι ψήφῳ εἰς διετίαν, tamian de haireisthosan hoi iobakchoi psephoi eis dietian.
The secretary was elected for a two-year period, ll. 155-6: αἱρείσθω δὲ γραμμα|τέα, ἐὰν βούληται, τῷ ἰδίῳ κινδύνῳ ... καὶ ἔστω άνείσφορος τὴν διετίαν, haireistho de grammatea, ean bouletai, toi idioi kindynoi ... kai esto aneisphoros ten dietian.
v. Other staff βουκολικός, boukolikos, l. 123.
Διόνυσος, Dionysos, l. 124.
Κόρη, Kore, l. 124.
Παλαίμων, Palaimon, l. 124.
Ἀφροδείτη, Aphrodeite, l. 124-5.
Πρωτεύρυθμος, Proteurythmos, l. 125.
For the religious functions of the group reflected in these titles, Baslez 2004: 45-6.
Known practice of appointment These cultic roles are performed by individuals allotted from among the membership, ll. 125-7.
vi. Laws and rules The decree preserves the following rules pertaining to the organization of the group,
a) terms and conditions of admission into the association: admission to the group follows an application (ἀπογραφή, apographe, l. 34) and a scrutiny (δοκιμασθῆ, dokimasthe, l. 35) by the members of the group. The entrance fee (ἰσηλύσιον, iselysion, l. 37) is set to 50 denars and a libation (σπονδή, sponde, l. 38). There is a 50% reduction for the applicants whose father is (or was) a member of the group (ll. 32-41). Introduction of the brother of an existing member means the payment of the full entrance fee (ll. 53-55). In case the application is successful the priest shall provide a letter-testimony (ἐπιστολή, epistole, ll. 59-60) that the applicant is a member of the group, on condition that he will pay the entrance fee (ll. 58-62).
b) obligation to remain silent during the ceremonies, ll. 63-67: οὐδενὶ δὲ ἐξέσται ἐν τῇ στιβάδι οὔτε ᾆσαι | οὔτε θορυβῆσαι οὔτε κροτῆσαι, μετὰ δὲ | πάσης εὐκοσμίας καὶ ἡσυχίας τοὺς μερισ|μοὺς λέγειν καὶ ποιεῖν, προστάσσοντος | τοῦ ἱερέως ἢ τοῦ ἀρχιβάκχου, oudeni de exestai en tei stibadi oute asai oute thorybesai oute krotesai, meta de pases eukosmias kai hesychias tous merismous legein kai poiein, prostassontos tou hiereos e tou archibakchou.
c) a ban on certain members who have not complied to participate in the celebrations, ll. 67-72.
d) prohibition to argue, to behave inappropriately(εὑρεθῇ τις ἀκοσμῶν, heurethe tis akosmon, l. 73), to verbally abuse (ὑβρί|ζων ἢ λοιδορῶν τινα, hybrizon e loidoron tina, ll. 74-75), to start a fight (μάχης ... ἄρξηται, maches arxetai, ll. 72-73) or to deliver a blow (ἐὰν δέ τις ἄχρι πληγῶν ἔλθῃ, ean de tis achri plegon elthe, ll. 84) to a co-member and the penalties provided for each infraction, ll. 72-90.
e) penalty for those who do not pay the entrance fee, ll. 102-7.
f) duties of the priest and of chief-bakchos, ll. 111-21.
g) duty of members in case they are elected in a polis office, election and duties of remaining officials of the Bakcheion, ll. 121-163.
vii. Judicial system A fine of 25 dr. and exclusion from the group is imposed upon the member who displays an hubristic behaviour or initiates a fight. The denouncer has to provide two witnesses, ll. 72-83.
In case of injury, a fine of 25 dr. is also imposed but there should be a denunciation by the victim to the priest (ἀπογραφέστω ὁ πληγεὶς πρὸς τὸν ἱερέα ἢ τὸν ἀνθιερέα, apographesto ho plegeis pros ton hierea e ton anthierea, ll. 84-85), who is obliged to convene an assembly (ὁ δὲ ἐπάνανκες ἀγορὰν ἀγέτω, ho de epanankes agoran ageto, l. 86) to decide (following his suggestion, προηγουμένου τοῦ ἱερέως, proegoumenou tou hiereos, ll. 87-88) the imposition of a fine and for how long the culprit must remain excluded (προστειμάσθω πρὸς χρόνον μὴ εἰσελθεῖν ὅσον ἂν δόξη καὶ ἀργυρίου μέχρι (δην.) κε', prosteimastho pros chronon me eiselthein hoson an doxe kai argyriou mechri (denaria) 25, ll. 88-90). The same penalty applies if the victim of the attack proceeds to a prosecution according to the polis' laws, ll. 90-94: ἔστω δὲ | τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπιτείμια καὶ τῷ δαρέντι καὶ | μὴ ἐπεξελθόντι παρὰ τῷ ἱερεῖ ἢ τῷ | ἀρχιβάκχῳ, ἀλλὰ δημοσίᾳ ἐνκαλέσαν|τι, esto de ta auta epiteimia kai toi darenti kai me epexelthonti para toi hierei e toi archibakchoi, alla demosiai enkalesanti.
The same penalty is to apply to the warden if he refrains from expelling the fighting parties, ll. 94-5: ἐπιτείμια δὲ ἔστω τὰ αὐτὰ τῷ εὐκόσ|μῳ μὴ ἐκβαλόντι τοὺς μαχομένους, epiteimia de esto ta auta toi eukosmoi me ekbalonti tous machomenous.
A fine together with exclusion till he pays off is imposed on the members who do not attend the assembly convened for a disciplinary affair, ll. 96-102: εἰ δέ τις τῶν ἰοβάκχων εἰδὼς ἐπὶ τοῦ|το ἀγορὰν ὀφείλουσαν ἀχθῆναι μὴ ἀ|παντήσῃ, ἀποτεισάτω τῷ κοινῷ λε|πτοῦ δρ(αχμὰς) νʹ. ἐὰν δὲ ἀπειθῆι πρασσόμε|νος, ἐξέστω τῷ ταμίᾳ κωλῦσαι αὐτὸν | τῆς εἰσόδου τῆς εἰς τὸ Βακχεῖον μέ|χρις ἂν ἀποδοῖ, ei de tis ton iobakchon eidos epi touto agoran opheilousan achthenai me apantesei, apoteisato toi koinoi leptou dr. 50. ean de apeithei prassomenos, exesto toi tamiai kolysai auton tes eisodou tes eis to Bakcheion mechris an apodoi.
If a new member does not pay the entrance fee (ἰσηλύσιον, iselysion) he is going to be excluded from feasting (ἑστίασις, hestiasis), till he pays, ll. 102-7.
A fine is imposed on those interrupting during ceremonies, ll. 107-10: μηδεὶς δ’ ἔπος | φωνείτω μὴ ἐπιτρέψαντος τοῦ ἱε|ρέως ἢ τοῦ ἀνθιερέως ἢ ὑπεύθυνος | ἔστω τῷ κοινῶι λεπτοῦ δρ(αχμῶν) λʹ, medeis epos phoneito me epitrepsantos tou hiereos e tou anthiereos e hypeuthynos esto toi koinoi leptou dr. 30. The same penalty is provided in ll. 137-46: εὔκοσμος ... ἐπιφέρων τῷ ἀκοσ|μοῦντι ἢ θορυβοῦντι τὸν θύρσον τοῦ θε|οῦ. vv ᾧ δὲ ἂν παρατεθῇ ὁ θύρσος, ἐπικρεί|ναντος τοῦ ἱερέως ἢ τοῦ ἀρχιβάκχου | ἐξερχέσθω τοῦ ἑστιατορείου. v ἐὰν δὲ ἀ|πειθῇ, αἰρέτωσαν αὐτὸν ἔξω τοῦ πυλῶ|νος οἱ κατασταθησόμενοι ὑπὸ τῶν | ἱερέων ἵπποι, καὶ ἔστω ὑπεύθυνος | τοῖς περὶ τῶν μαχομένων προστεί|μοις, eukosmos ... epipheron toi akosmounti e thosybounti ton thyrson tou theou. vv hoi de an paratethei ho thyrsos, epikreinantos tou hiereos e tou archibakchou, exerchestho tou hestiatoreiou. v ean de apeithe, airetosan auton exo tou pylonos hoi katastahesomenoi hypo ton hiereon hippoi, kai esto hypeuthynos tois peri ton machomenon prosteimois.
In case a member does not participate in the honours attributed to a deceased member, he is going to be deprived of the wine offered, ll. 162-3: ὁ δὲ μὴ | ἐπιταφήσας εἰργέσθω τοῦ οἴνου, ho de me epitaphesas eirgestho tou oinou.
viii. Obligations New members are to pay an entrance fee (ἰσηλύσιον, iselysion), ll. 37-8, adjusted under certain conditions, ll. 40 and 55.
Key events in the life of members (γάμων, γεννήσεως, Χοῶν, ἐφηβείας, gamon, genneseos, Choon, ephebeias) as well as election in any civic office (πολειτείας, ῥαβδοφορίας, βουλείας, ἀ|θλοθεσίας, Πανέλληνος, γερουσίας, | θεσμοθεσίας, ἀρχῆς ἧσδηποτεοῦν, | συνθυσίας, εἰρηναρχίας, ἱερονείκου, politeias, rhabdophorias, bouleias, athlothesias, Panellenos, gerousias, thesmothesias, arches hesdepoteoun, synthysias, eirenarchias, hieroneikou), impose on members the obligation to offer an appropriate libation (τιθέτω τοῖς ἰο|βάκχοις σπονδὴν ἀξίαν τῆς τάξεως, titheto tois iobakchois sponden axian tes taxeos), ll. 127-36.


i. Treasury/Funds The treasury is called κοινόν, koinon, ll. 80, 98, 110.
ii. Realty The association probably owned the premises, Bakcheion, gate-house, restaurant mentioned in the inscription, see above.
iii. Income The income of the association was derived from the entrance fee and the fines imposed on members and magistrates (see above).


ii. Gender Men
Note Αὐρ. Νεικόμαχος, Athenian Onomasticon s.v. (26).
Κλ. Ἡρώδης, Athenian Onomasticon s.v. (16).
Χρύσιππος, Atehnian Onomasticon s.v. (5).
Διονύσιος, Athenian Onomasticon s.v. (147).
Ῥοῦφος Ἀφροδεισίου, Athenian Onomasticon s.v. (3).
iii. Age Children
Note For the possibility to admit children of existing members see ll. 41, 55.
iv. Status Although most probably all are citizens, there is definite evidence only for one, Baslez 2004: 107.
v. Relations For the possibility to admit children of existing members see ll. 41, 55.


i. Assemblies The association held assemblies, perhaps monthly, on Elaphebolion (mod. March/April) called ἀγορά, agora, ll. 1-3. Also an assembly described as agora is convened in order to decide the penalty to be imposed, l. 86 (see also above).
The assembly was presided by a president (πρόεδρος, proedros, ll. 20-1).
Known voting practice Voting by showing of hands, ll. 21-24: ὅτῳ δοκεῖ | κύρια εἶναι τὰ ἀνεγνωσμένα δόγμα|τα καὶ ἐν στήλῃ ἀναγραφῆναι, ἀράτω | τὴν χεῖρα, hotoi dokei kyria einai ta anegnosmena dogmata kai en stelei anagraphenai, arato ten cheira.
iii. Worship The priest is to perform the customary rites (ἐπιτελείτω τὰς ἐθίμους | λιτουργίας στιβάδος καὶ ἀμφιετη|ρίδος εὐπρεπῶς καὶ τιθέτω τὴν | τῶν καταγωγίων σπονδὴν στι|βάδι μίαν καὶ θεολογίαν, epiteleito tas ethimous litourgias stibados kai amphieteridos euprepos kai titheto ten ton katagogion sponden stibadi mian kai theologian), and the chief-Bakchos is to sacrifice and perform the libations (θυέτω τὴν θυσίαν τῷ | θεῷ καὶ τὴν σπονδὴν τιθέτω, thyeto ten thysian toi theoi kai ten sponden titheto), ll. 111-21.
For the meaning of stibas as the main festival of the group, see Jaccottet (2011).
Deities worshipped A god, θεός, theos is mentioned probably Dionysos.
iv. Honours/Other activities In case of a member passes away, the association shall provide a crown (στέφανος, stephanos) and a measure of wine by the members who attend the funeral, ll. 159-64: ἐὰν δέ τις τελευτή|σῃ ἰόβακχος, γεινέσθω στέφανος αὐ/τῷ μέχ<ρ>ι (δην.) εʹ, καὶ τοῖς ἐπιταφήσασι τι|θέσθω οἴνου κεράμιον ἕν, ὁ δὲ μὴ | ἐπιταφήσας εἰργέσθω τοῦ οἴνου, ean de tis teleutesei iobakchos, geinestho stephanos autoi mechri den. 5, kai tois epitaphesasi tithestho oinou keramion hen, ho de me epitaphesas eirgestho tou oinou.


i. Comments The decree was passed in the archonship of Ar. Epaphrodeitos.
ii. Poland concordance Poland A59
iii. Bibliography Ameling, W. (1983), Herodes Atticus. Hildesheim: no. 94.
Ameling, W. (1985), ‘Der Archon Epaphrodeitos’, ZPE 61: 133-47.
Baslez, M.-F. (2004), ‘Les notables entre eux. Recherches sur les associations d’Athènes à l’époque romaine’ in Follet, S. (ed.) L’Hellénisme d’époque romaine: Nouveaux documents, nouvelles approches (Ier s. a.C. – IIIe s. p.C.) (Actes du colloque international à la mémoire de Louis Robert, Paris, 7-8 juillet 2000). Paris: 105-20.
Byrne, S. (2003) Roman citizens of Athens. Leuven: 522.
Drerup, E. (1899), ‘Ein antikes Vereinstatut’, NJKA 2: 356-70.
Greco, E. (2010), Topografia di Atene. Sviluppo urbano e monumenti dalle origini al III secolo d.C. Tomo 1: Acropoli - Areopago - Tra Acropoli e Pnice. Atene.
Jaccottet, A.-Fr. (2011) "Integrierte Andersartigkeit. Die Rolle der dionysischen Vereinen" in Schlesier, R. (ed) A different God? Dionysos and ancient polytheism. Berlin: 413-31.
Kapetanopoulos, E. (1990-91), ‘The archons Flavius Harpalianos and Arrius Epaphrodeitos’, Ηόρος 8-9: 87-91.
Morretti, L. (1986), ‘Il regolamento degli Iobacchi ateniesi’ in L'association dionysiaque dans les societes anciennes. Rome: 261-73.
Oliver, J. (1941), Sacred Gerousia. Baltimore: 106-7 n. 22.
San Nicolo, S. (1927), ‘Zur Vereinsgerichtsbarkeit im hellenistischen Agypten’, in Swoboda, H. (ed.), Epitymbion. Reichenberg: 255-300.
Schaefer, A. (2002), ‘Raumnutzung und Raumwahr im Vereinslokal der Iobakchen von Athen’, in Egelhaaf-Gaiser, U. and A. Schaefer (eds.) Religiose Vereine in der roemischen Antike. Untersuchungen zu Organisation, Ritual und Raumordnung. Tuebingen: 173-220.
Skaltsa, S. (2016) ‘“Housing” private associations in Hellenistic Athens: three case-studies for a place to meet and worship the gods’, in O. Rodriguez Gutierrez, N. Tran & B. Soler Huertas (eds.), Los espacios de reunion de las asociaciones romanas. Dialogos desde la arqueologia y la historia en homenaje a Bertrand Goffeaux, Sevilla: 79-92.
Tod, M. (1929), ‘Nugae epigraphicae’, CQ 23: 1-4.
Travlos, J. (1980), A pictorial dictionary of ancient Athens. New York.


i. Private association Certain
Note The association displays all the hallmarks of a private association: distinct name, membership, organization, regulations, property and durability.