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Last Updated on 03 Jul 2019

Author: Annelies Cazemier

CAPInv. 868: U-AEI-010


i. Geographical area Aegean Islands
ii. Region Tenos
iii. Site Tenos


i. Association with unknown name U-AEI-010


i. Date(s) Imp.


iii. Descriptive terms συμβίωσις, symbiosis ?
Note symbiosis ?: IG XII.5 912, ll. 11-12

After a list of names in the genitive, the inscription ends with two words in the nominative: symbiosis and philia. While the term symbiosis is most commonly understood to mean 'association', Samama (2003: 288-9, no. 167) translates it more generally as 'camaraderie', to parallel 'friendship' (philia).

While Buresch capitalized the term Philia and understood it as the name of the group (Buresch 1898: 56; Poland 1909: 51; but note Poland 1932: 1076), the word philia is most widely interpreted as an adjective qualifying symbiosis (but note Boeckh in CIG II Add. 2339b). Ascough et al. in AGRW 242 translate symbiosis philia as 'friendship association'.


i. Source(s) IG XII.5 912 (Imp.: see 'Comments')
Note Older edition:
CIG II Add. 2339b
See also:
Samama 2003: 288-9, no. 167 (incl. French translation)
RICIS 202/0604 (incl. French translation)
AGRW 242 (incl. English translation)
Online Resources IG XII.5 912
AGRW ID# 1669
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script List of names / dedication. Greek.
i.c. Physical format(s) Text inscribed on a marble herm of earlier date (head missing); the inscription starts on the torso and continues around and below the genitalia.


ii. Leadership ναύαρχος, nauarchos (IG XII.5 912, l. 2), named Apollonides. This is the first name in the list and the nauarchos is commonly thought to be the leader of the group (e.g., Poland 1932: 1080; Robert 1943: 184, n. 6; Vidman 1970: 79). While the term nauarchos in its original meaning refers to a naval officer, Ziebarth suggested a connection with the cult of Isis, in which so-called nauarchoi played a role (Ziebarth 1916: 388-9). Ziebarth's interpretation of the group as an Isiac association is followed widely in scholarship. See: 'Comments'. If, on the other hand, the nauarchos should be interpreted as naval officer, the question arises whether he was in fact an official of the group whose names are listed, considering that his office is mentioned eponymously, to 'date' the text (cf. Poland 1909: 361; but note Poland 1932: 1080).
Eponymous office IG XII.5 912, l. 2: ἐπὶ ναυάρχου, epi nauarchou. This is not necessarily an eponymous office strictly
speaking (one such office, regularly recurring), depending also on the meaning / role of the nauarchos in
this particular context. The preposition epi (+ gen.) concerns at least one further office, that of
grammateus. See 'Officials'.
iii. Members φίλοι, philoi (IG XII.5 912, l. 8), of which four, five, or six are named, depending on the reading of the text as distributed on the herm. (Six names in IG XII.5 912; cf. AGRW 242. Five names: Ziebarth 1896: 207; Poland 1932: 1076. Four names in SIRIS 154; cf. Samama 2003: 288-9, no. 167; RICIS 202/0604.) These philoi have been interpreted as common members, as opposed to the officials mentioned in the previous lines. Buresch 1898: 56; Vidman 1970: 80; Dunand 1973, vol. 2: 212; Samama 2003: 561, n. 13.

For the term ἱερός, hieros (IG XII.5 912, l. 6), possibly referring to an association member with higher status than regular philoi, see: 'Officials'.
iv. Officials ἄνγελος, angelos ? (IG XII.5 912, l. 4), commonly understood as a messenger, named Protion, mentioned between the nauarchos and the grammateus, which would mean that all three offices are mentioned eponymously. The presence of the article tou between Apollonidou and angelou, however, suggests that ll. 1-3 may belong together and concern just one person, the nauarchos. Cf. Samama 2003: 288, n. 60, who proposes alternatively to capitalize Angelos and read it as a personal name.

γραμματεύς, grammateus (IG XII.5 912, l. 5), named Damon

ἰατρός, iatros (IG XII.5 912, l. 7), probably named Hierax. While some scholars connect the term hieros (l. 6) to iatros, thus interpreting this as a sacred doctor (Hiller von Gaertringen in IG XII.5 912; followed by Ascough et al. in AGRW 242), the inscription is more commonly read so that hieros is a different term, concerning another individual (see discussion Vidman 1970: 80; cf. SIRIS 154; Samama 2003: 288-9, no. 167 (with n. 62); RICIS 202/0604). For a discussion on the possible role of this doctor, see Samama 2003: 561, n. 13. The presence of a doctor seems to require explanation in the context of an Isiac association (cf. Vidman 1970: 80, with n. 53), while it fits quite well in a naval context.

ἱερός, hieros ? (IG XII.5 912, l. 6), probably named Pythion. If indeed the term hieros is to be read separate from iatros, the question arises what function or status the term indicates. Scholarly interpretations range from priest (Dunand 1973, vol. 2: 212; Samama 2003: 288-9, no. 167) to 'devoted (slave)' (Bricault 2005 in RICIS 202/0604), or rather an association member with higher status than regular philoi (Vidman 1970: 80).
Eponymous officials All the offices / titles and personal names in IG XII.5 912 are written in the genitive and it is difficult to say how many of them follow on from the preposition epi (l. 2). On the basis of the spacing of the text and the use of the word kai (l. 4) it seems certain that the offices in ll. 1-4 are mentioned eponymously, which means that apart from the nauarchos, we should include the grammateus and the angelos as eponymous officials (if the latter is indeed to be understood as a separate office). With more than one official serving to date the text, the question arises whether they should in fact be considered eponymous officials. Rather, it seems that we are offered an insight into who performed which particular role at a certain point in time.


i. Number The inscription lists the names of at least nine individuals, possibly more. Since all personal names (13 in total; 14 if we should include Angelos) are written in the genitive, it is difficult to distinguish between individual names and patronymics.
ii. Gender Men
Note All the individuals mentioned in the list of names are men.
iv. Status One of the philoi has a Roman name: Flavius (IG XII.5 912; cf. Nigdelis 1990: 109).

Bricault (RICIS 202/0604) translates hieros Pythion as '(l'esclave) consacré Pythion', but there are also other interpretations of the term hieros. See: 'Officials'.

v. Relations The name Neiketes appears twice (Neiketes, son of Perigenes; and Tryphon, son of Neiketes), which may indicate family relations; perhaps these two philoi were father and son.


iii. Worship The identification of the group as worshippers of Isis rests on the interpretation of the term nauarchos and is not certain. See 'Leadership' and 'Comments'.
The inscription starts with a reference to agathe tyche in the dative, which may simply be to invoke 'good fortune' or could indicate a dedication to the goddess Agathe Tyche.
Deities worshipped Agathe Tyche ?
Isis ?


i. Comments The inscription dates to the Imperial period (e.g., Poland 1932: 1076; Vidman 1970: 79; Bruneau 1974: 353; Nigdelis 1990: 311, n. 149) and some scholars date it more precisely to the first century AD (Dunand 1973, vol. 2: 212), the late first century AD (Samama 2003: 288-9, no. 167) or beyond (Bricault in RICIS 202/0604). The text is of later date than the herm on which it is inscribed (Hiller von Gaertringen in IG XII.5 912; Vidman in SIRIS 154; Bricault in RICIS 202/0604). Étienne in a footnote (1990: 168, n. 59) refers to the inscription as dating to the second century BC, but this seems to be an error.

The terms philoi, philia / philios have led to the interpretation of the group as a friendship association (Poland 1909: 394; Ascough et al. in AGRW 242). The presence of a nauarchos may indicate a naval context (Hiller von Gaertringen in IG XII.5 912; cf. Samama 2003: 516, n. 13), but could be connected also to the cult of Isis (Ziebarth 1916: 388-9; cf. Poland 1932: 1080; Robert 1943: 184, n. 6), leading to the widespread interpretation of the group as an Isiac association (Vidman in SIRIS 154; Bruneau 1974: 353; Samama 2003: 515, n. 13; Bricault in RICIS 202/0604). It should be noted, however, that the text does not mention any deities, apart perhaps from Agathe Tyche. It is therefore by no means certain that the list of names concerns worshippers of Isis (cf. Dunand 1973, vol. 2: 212; Bricault in RICIS 202/0604).
ii. Poland concordance Poland B 208
iii. Bibliography Bruneau, P. (1974), ‘Existe-t-il des statues d'Isis Pélagia?’, BCH 98: 333-81.
Buresch, K. (1898), Aus Lydien: epigraphisch-geographische Reisefrüchte. Leipzig.
Dunand, F. (1973), Le culte d'Isis dans le bassin oriental de la Méditerranée. 3 vols. Leiden.
Étienne, R. (1990), Ténos. II: Ténos et les Cyclades du milieu du IVe siècle av. J.-C. au milieu du IIIe siècle ap. J.-C. Athens.
Nigdelis, P. (1990), Πολίτευμα και κοινωνία των πόλεων των Κυκλάδων κατά την Ελληνιστική και Αυτοκρατορική εποχή. Thessalonike.
Poland, F. (1909), Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesens. Leipzig.
Poland, F. (1932), ‘Symbiosis’, RE2 4.1: 1075-89.
Robert, L. (1943), ‘Notes et discussions’, RPh 17: 170-201.
Samama, E. (2003), Les médecins dans le monde grec: sources épigraphiques sur la naissance d'un corps médical. Geneva.
Vidman, L. (1970), Isis und Sarapis bei den Griechen und Römern: epigraphische Studien zur Verbreitung und zu den Trägern des ägyptischen Kultes. Berlin.
Ziebarth, E. (1896), Das griechische Vereinswesen. Leipzig.
Ziebarth, E. (1916), Berliner Philologische Wochenschrift 36: 388-9.


i. Private association Probable
Note The evaluation of this group as an organized private body rests on the interpretation of the term symbiosis as 'association' combined with the mention of a series of offices in the inscription (nauarchos; angelos?; grammateus; iatros; hieros?). While there is general scholarly agreement that IG XII.5 912 concerns an association, the nature of the group (commonly thought of as an Isiac association, based on the interpretation of the nauarchos as a religious official in the cult of Isis) is not exactly clear, and there are some puzzling aspects (incl. the inscription of the text around the genitalia of a herm of earlier date). While the interpretation of the group as an association seems likely, maybe we should not entirely exclude the possibility that it is a one-off inscription or dedication by a group of friends, potentially from among the crew of a ship. The offices mentioned could fit this naval setting rather than being the offices specifically of a private association (besides the nauarchos, there is the iatros or doctor; see 'Offices'), and the words philia and symbiosis may serve simply to commemorate the group's friendship and camaraderie or companionship (see 'Descriptive terms').