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Last Updated on 11 Jun 2019

Author: Stella Skaltsa

CAPInv. 85: to koinon aenauton


i. Geographical area Aegean Islands
ii. Region Euboea
iii. Site Chalkis


i. Full name (original language) τὸ κοινὸν ἀεναυτῶν (IG XII.9 909, ll. 2-3)
ii. Full name (transliterated) to koinon aenauton


i. Date(s) iii BC


ii. Name elements
Professional:ἀεναῦται: LSJ9 Suppl. s.v.ἀειναῦται: association of sailors at Eretria, SEG 34, 898 (see however XII.i where this term may possibly stand for one of the Eretrian tribes).
Status-related:ἀεναῦται: LSJ9 s.v. ἀειναῦται: board of magistrates
Hesychios, s.v. ἀειναῦται: ἀρχῆς ὄνομα παρὰ Μιλησίοις (name of magistrates in Miletos).
According to Plutarch (Quaestiones Graecae 32.298c-d) there was a political faction in sixth century Miletos which was called aeinautai on account of having their meetings held in ships and taking decisions on board.
iii. Descriptive terms κοινόν, koinon
Note IG XII.9 909, l. 2


i. Source(s) IG XII.9 909 (iii BC)
Note Edd. pr.
Kourouniotis 1899: 139 no. 2

SEG 27: 559
Online Resources IG XII.9 909
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Honorific decree in Greek of the koinon ton aenauton for the son of Dionysophanes.
i.c. Physical format(s) Marble stele partly preserved, left part missing (Pres. H. 31 x W. 20 x Th. 9 cm).
ii. Source(s) provenance Found in 1897 in Chalkis in an area abound with ancient stones close to the Roman aqueduct (Kourouniotis 1899: 133-4, 139). Now in Eretria museum.
Petrakos (1963: 545; BE 1964: no. 406) wrongly reports that it was found in Eretria.
Kontoleon (1963; BE 1965: 324) thinks that this stone was perhaps transported from Eretria.


ii. References to buildings/objects εἰστήλην λιθίνην, eistelen lithinen (l. 6)
τοῦ ἱεροῦ ἐν καλλί[στωι tou hierou en kallistoi (ll. 7-8)

The decree (ψήφισμα) was to be written on a stone stele (l. 6: εἰστήλην λιθίνην) and be set up in the most beautiful place in the sanctuary (ll. 7-8: τοῦ ἱεροῦ ἐν καλλί[στωι).


iv. Officials In line 9 the term γραμματεύς, grammateus (secretary) has been fully restored.


i. Treasury/Funds The secretary (?) should render account (ἐναπολογίσασθαι, enapologisasthai) for the expenditure entailed in having the decree inscribed on a stele (ll. 5-9). This suggests that money for setting up the stele would come from the treasury of the koinon. Note, however, that the text is largely restored.


ii. Gender Men
Note The honorand and the grammateus are men.


iv. Honours/Other activities The koinon aenauton honoured the son of Dionysophanes with a laurel wreath on account of his righteousness towards the common affairs (ll. 4-5: δικαιοσύ[νης ἕνεκα τῆς περὶ τὰ] κοινὰ) and his eagerness (φιλοτιμία). The phrase δικαιοσύ[νης ἕνεκα τῆς περὶ τὰ] κοινὰ indicates that the honorand was in all likelihood an official of the koinon.


i. Comments The term aeinautai is attested in two other inscriptions from Euboea, one found in Chalkis but probably coming from Histiaia (BE 1965: 324) and dating to the 5th c. BC IG XII.9 923 and another one from Eretria, dating to the late 5th c. BC SEG 34: 898.

Although the groups in all three Euboean inscriptions bear the same name, it needs not stand for one and the same group. The chronological gap of two centuries between IG XII.9 909 and the aforementioned inscriptions (IG XII.9 923 and SEG 34: 898) is noteworthy. Furthermore, these three inscriptions cannot all be safely attributed to the city of Eretria (BE 1965: no. 264), as their findspot suggests otherwise. Whereas in the two fifth century inscriptions the aeinautai are defined by their collective name, in the third century decree they are called koinon aenauton; they issue a decree and bestow honours on their benefactor/official (?).

Several interpretations have been put forward with regard to the meaning of the term aeinautai and koinon aenauton.
According to the editors of IG XII.9 909 the koinon aenauton was a 'collegii' consisted of trierarchs and presumably sailors too.
Papadakis (1915: 161 n.1) and Bakhuizen also considered it as an association of sailors.
Kontoleon (1963) considered the aeinautai in SEG 34: 898 as one of the three tribes of Eretria, a view also endorsed by Velissaropoulos (1980: 23).
Bravo (1977) put forward that the aenautai were originally wealthy aristocrats who commanded warships. In later times they became magistrates (in Chalkis). Bravo (1977: 29) thus thinks that the koinon aenauton was probably a board of magistrates, namely a civic institution in Chalkis.
iii. Bibliography Bravo, B. (1977), 'Remarques sur les assises sociales, les formes d'organisation et la terminologie du commerce maritime à l'époque archaïque'. DHA 3: 1-59.
Gorman, V. (2001), Miletos, the Ornament of Ionia: A history of the city to 400 B.C.E. Ann Arbor.
Kourouniotis, K. (1899), 'Επιγραφαί Χαλκίδος και Ερέτριας', ΑEph: 133-48.

Kontoleon, N. (1963), 'Οι Αειναύται της Ερέτριας', AEph: 1-45.
Petrakos, V. (1964), 'Dédicace des AEINAYTAI d'Érétrie', BCH 87: 545-7.
Vélissaropoulos, J. (1980), Nauclères grecs: Recherches sur les institutions maritimes en Grèce et dans l'Orient hellénisé. Paris.


i. Private association Possible
Note The evidence for fifth century aenautai (Eretria and Istiaia?) points to a close connection with civic institutions.
By the third century BC their name could still bear political resonances and could even stand for one of the boards of civic magistrates.
However, the term koinon followed by a specific name makes us think of a formally organized group acting beyond the political sphere. An internal hierarchy becomes apparent by the existence of a grammateus (though restored). At the same time, the koinon seems to have its own treasury (money allocated for the erection of the stele) as well as direct access to a sanctuary where the stele of the decree was to be set up. Whether the sanctuary was among the koinon's possession is a matter of speculation; yet, any reference to a public body asking permission to set up the stele in the sanctuary is missing.
All these features (internal hierarchy, issuing of decrees, sanctuary as a place for publishing decrees) can pertain to both private and public bodies. It is thus hard to provide a conclusive answer as to whether the koinon ton aenauton in Chalkis was a private association or a board of civic magistrates; yet, its name may add a hint of positive evidence in favour of a private association.