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Last Updated on 14 May 2019

Author: Benedikt Eckhardt

CAPInv. 491: phyles Dios mystai


i. Geographical area Western Asia Minor
ii. Region Phrygia
iii. Site Amorion


i. Full name (original language) φυλῆς Διός μύσται (REG 2 (1889): no. 19, ll. A1, B2-3)
ii. Full name (transliterated) phyles Dios mystai


i. Date(s) i - ii AD


ii. Name elements
Theophoric:Dios referring to Zeus
iii. Descriptive terms φυλή, phyle
Note phyle: REG 2 (1889): no. 19, ll. A1, B2-3


i. Source(s) REG 2 (1889): no. 19 (i - ii AD)
Online Resources REG 2 (1889): no. 19
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Rules for endowments, greek
i.c. Physical format(s) Large slab of limestone
ii. Source(s) provenance Amorion


vi. Laws and rules Sides A and B both originally contained rules in case of non-fulfillment of obligations (or rather of the sole obligation: being present on the appointed days), but on both sides, the part containing the information on consequences is lost.
viii. Obligations The association has apparently come into existence together with the endowment. The members have to come together to celebrate the Mithrakana, and they have to take care of the vineyard in their possession. Members are also expected (but perhaps not obligated) to introduce their heirs into the association, so that they perform the rites as well.


ii. Realty Two vineyards, see VIII.iv.
iv. Endowments The association buys a vineyard of 1.5 plethra in order to honor the deceased Kyrilla and to use the income for the Mithrakana-festival; it is unclear where the money came from (side A). In addition, an endowment is made by Kyrilla's father: the association receives another vineyard three times as large as the first one, at the same place (Kraonistra in Lalandos). Again, the mystai shall use the income from this endowment for the commemoration of Kyrilla at the heroon and for the Mithrakana-festival.


ii. Meetings and events The mystai seem to have come together once a year for performing rites at Kyrilla's heroon and celebrating the Mithrakana.
iii. Worship Apart from the rites carried out for the deceased Kyrilla, the main occasion for worship is the Mithrakana-festival (ll. A10-12: ταῖς κατὰ ἔτος [ἐ]θίμοις ἡμέραις το[ῖς] Μιθρακά[ν]οις, tais kata etos [e]thimois hemerais to[is] Mithraka[n]ois. The Mithrakana are mentioned by Strab. 11.14.9 as a Persian festival.
Deities worshipped Mithras
Zeus (?, see below on the meaning of φυλῆς Διός, phyles Dios)
iv. Honours/Other activities The buying of the first vineyard is described as an honorific act for Kyrilla (l. A1: ἐτίμησαν, etimesan).


i. Comments The ambiguous term phyle makes the nature of this group uncertain. Poland 1909: 154, assuming that phyle means a subdivision of a larger entity, envisaged the possibility that the mystai "zu einer größeren Gruppe von Mystenvereinen gehörten, die eine Art Verband bildeten". This is rather unlikely. There seem to be two other possibilities:

1.) Phyle could be used as a term for "association", as is the case in Lydia (esp. Philadelphia, but for professional associations); cf. the frequent use of φράτρα, phratra in Phrygia (on phyle used for associations, see Kunnert 2012: 23-35). The meaning would then be equivalent to "the mystai of the thiasos" from Akmoneia. This would mean that the name of the association was φυλὴ Διός, phyle - but no cult of Zeus is provided for in the inscription. Since the association apparently comes into being solely for the purpose of buying the first vineyard (and consequently receiving the second), as seems to emerge from ll. A13-14 (τ[οῖ]ς συνεστῶ[σιν] ἀπὸ ἄρτι [μ]ύσταις, t[oi]s synesto[sin] apo arti [m]ystais), it is difficult to see why this name would have been chosen. But contrast Kunnert 2012: 28, who argues that the association was already in existence earlier.

2.) The phyle in question is actually a civic subdivision, i.e. a phyle of Amorion named after Zeus. No phylai of Amorion are otherwise attested, but this does not mean that there were none. If the mystai were united not only by their relationship with Kyrilla and their shared interest in the Mithrakana-festival, but also by their shared membership in a civic phyle, it may have been more of a neighbourhood-association. Kunnert 2012: 28 discards this option, because the term "initiates" designates a select group of people, unlike civic phylai. But in the imperial era, mystai and mysteria can be found in many places where actual initiation is unlikely.

Due to the lack of comparable data, the issue cannot be decided.
ii. Poland concordance Poland B 436a
Poland B 436b
Poland B 436c
iii. Bibliography Kunnert, U. (2012), Bürger unter sich. Phylen in den Städten des kaiserzeitlichen Ostens. Basel.
Laum, B. (1914), Stiftungen in der griechischen und römischen Antike. Ein Beitrag zur antiken Kulturgeschichte, Band 2: Urkunden. Leipzig: no. 175-6.
Poland, F. (1909), Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesens. Leipzig.


i. Private association Probable
Note Even if the mystai were all members of a civic phyle, there is no compelling reason to doubt the essentially private character of their association.
ii. Historical authenticity Certain