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Last Updated on 28 Feb 2017

Author: Sophia Zoumbaki

CAPInv. 474: Sympotai


i. Geographical area Peloponnese with Adjacent Islands
ii. Region Corinthia
iii. Site modern Kamari


i. Full name (original language) Συμπόται (Hesperia 18.1 75)
ii. Full name (transliterated) Sympotai


i. Date(s) iii BC


ii. Name elements
Other:sympotai: The collective name defines merely "those who drink together".


i. Source(s) Hesperia 18.1, 75 pl. 2 (BE 1950: no. 104)
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script A fragmentary votive Greek inscription to Artemis Oraia by the Sympotai, possibly followed by a catalogue of names, from which only three initial letters of one name are preserved.
i.c. Physical format(s) The inscription is carved on the rock in a small open-air sanctuary.
ii. Source(s) provenance region of modern Kamari, on the west side and near the peak of mount Megalovouni, between Argos and Nemea.


i. Archaeological remains The inscription is carved on the rock in a small open-air sanctuary which was installed in a large cavity in the face of a high steep cliff of the mount Megalovouni. A precarious stairway cut in the rock leads to the sanctuary. It is noteworthy that the stairs are nowaday still in use, as they lead to the only spring in that area. The rural sanctuary consists of two niches cut in the rock. Votive statues and four female heads are also carved in the rock and are dated from the 6th to 3rd c. BC according to M. Mitsos. In the cavity several terracotta figurines have been found, representing women -among them one representing a pregnant woman- and animals -among them the figurine of an ape.


iii. Age Adults
Note If we have to do with an association of drinkers, they must be considered as adults.


iii. Worship The inscription is a dedication to Artemis Oraia and the small rural sanctuary was apparently devoted to her worship.
Artemis Oraia, known also from an inscribed altar from Peiraeus (IG II.2 4632), is the goddess who makes things ripen; therefore she causes the rippening of fruits and the growth of animals and of the embryos (cf. the terracotta figurines representing animals and the one representing a pregnant woman, that have been found in the sanctuary, see above VI.i).
M. Mitsos mentions that the group of Sympotai could have put themseves under the protection of Artemis who is connected in this instance with Dionysiac worship.
Deities worshipped Artemis Oraia (?)


i. Comments Since the group is called Sympotai, it is likely that they drank together on some occasion.
On composite words with syn-, a word designating ritual action, see Chariots 2006: esp. 228-229.
If there was a list of names in the lost part of the inscription, only the name of a certain Τιμ[- - -], Tim[- - -], is partially preserved: he could have been one of the Sympotai.
iii. Bibliography Bakalakis, G. (1938), ‘Ἀνασκαφή ἐν Καβάλα καί τοῖς πέριξ’, PAAH: 75-102, esp. 94-6.
Chaniotis, A. (2006), ‘Rituals between Norms and Emotions: Rituals as shared experience and memory’, in E. Stavrianopoulou (ed.), Ritual and Communication in the Graeco-Roman World. Liège: 211-38, esp. 228-9.
Mitsos, M. (1949), ‘Inscriptions of the Eastern Peloponnesus. D. Artemission’, Hesperia 18.1: 73-7, esp. 75.


i. Private association Possible
Note Mitsos 1949: 75 mentions that the word Sympotai could refer to the "members of a religious group (θίασος, thiasos) which was under the protection of Artemis who is connected in this instance with Dionysiac worship". It is unknown, whether the definition sympotai refers to an organized group of worshippers whose activity was subject to concrete common rules or merely to the participants of an occasional isolated symposion. However, the fact that there is a sanctuary which was regularly frequented, as the votive offerings show, does not exclude the possibility that the sympotai met there on a regular basis and perhaps formed an organized group. Physical cavities were often used for common meals by groups who worshiped deities related to nature and growth of the vegetation and animals, such as Dionysos, Nymphai and here Artemis. An example of a mention of συμπόται, sympotai, in a similar context, is found in a fragmentary inscription from a cave near Kavala, where remains of common meals (drinking vessels, amphoras, bones etc.) have been found, see Bakalakis 1938: 94-6.