Stable URL: as PDF
Last Updated on 10 Sep 2015

Author: Nikolaos Giannakopoulos

CAPInv. 535: hoi peri Leoniden Hermesilaou hierea mystai kai dekatistai


i. Geographical area Western Asia Minor
ii. Region Bithynia
iii. Site Prusa ad Olympum


i. Full name (original language) οἱ περὶ Λεωνίδην Ἑρμησιλάου ἱερέα μύσται καὶ δεκατισταὶ (I.Prusa 48 b, l. 5)
ii. Full name (transliterated) hoi peri Leoniden Hermesilaou hierea mystai kai dekatistai


i. Date(s) m. ii - s. ii AD


i. Name in other forms In the first part of the inscription (see below under field V.i.b: Document(s) typology) the group setting up the inscription is defined as simply οἱ μύσται (hoi mystai). According to Vidman (1970: 127) this was an abbreviated form of the group’s full name (hoi peri Leoniden Hermisilaou hierea mystai kai dekatistai), which appears in the second part of the inscription.
ii. Name elements
Personal:hoi peri Leoniden Hermisilaou
Other:dekatistai. See below in the field XII.i: Comments.


i. Source(s) I.Prusa 48 (m. ii AD)
Note See also:
Fernoux 2004: 452
RICIS 308/0401
AGRW 100
The inscription consists of two fragments originally published separately by Mendel (1900: 366-9 nos. 2-3) and brought together in Laurent 1932: 427-9 no. 5).
Online Resources I.Prusa 48
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script The inscription, which is in Greek, contains the following parts: A dedication to Hermes by the mystai, a dedication to Lucius Iulius Frugi by the mystai, offered as a thanksgiving for his benefactions towards Potamon son of Sostratos, a dedication to Sarapis and Isis by the mystai kai dekatistai around the priest Leonides, also offered as a thanksgiving, and after a list of six names, the inscription closes with a thanksgiving offered by Potamon son of Sostratos to Lucius Iulius Frugi.
i.c. Physical format(s) Marble pedimental stele in two parts with reliefs: On the upper part, inside a naiskos, busts of Isis and Sarapis. In the middle of the tympanon at the top of the stele a coroneted head (Hermes or Helios according to Dunant 1973: 106 note 2). The first part of the inscription is inscribed between the two busts and the second on the lower part of the stele, under the busts.
ii. Source(s) provenance The inscription was found in Bursa.


ii. Leadership The structure of what may have been the group's full name (hoi peri Leoniden Hermisilaou hierea mystai kai dekatistai) indicates that a ἱερεύς, hiereus (l. 4) was at the head of the association. Cf. Fernoux 2004: 312. On groups and association formed around and/or named after a single individual see Gabrielsen 2001: 168-70 and Maillot 2013:204-7 with further bibliography.
iii. Members The members are referred to as μύσται, mystai (l. 1) and as μύσται καὶ δεκατισταί, mystai kai dekatistai (l. 5). Cf. also below in the field XII.i: Comments.


i. Number The phrase hoi peri Leoniden Hermisilaou hierea mystai kai dekatistai (ll. 4-11) is followed by a list of six persons, members of this group.
ii. Gender Men
Note All known members are men.
iv. Status All members have Greek names followed by patronymics except Ti. Flavios Perseus (l. 8).
v. Relations Among the members Hagias son of Hermisilaos and Diodoros son of Hermisilaos were plausibly brothers of the priest Leonides son of Hermisilaos. See Vidman 1970: 127; Corsten in I.Prusa 48, p. 72.


iii. Worship The dedications made to Hermes, the thanksgiving offered to Sarapis and Isis, the presence of a priest at the head of the group, the iconography of the stele and the terms mystai and dekatistai which constituted part of the group’s name indicate that the group in question was involved in cultic activities in honour of Sarapis, Isis and perhaps also Hermes. These cultic activities surely included the celebration of mysteries. The Egyptian origin of Sarapis and Isis makes it possible that Hermes was also worshiped in the Greco-Egyptian form of Hermanubis (see on this point Vidman 1970: 127; Dunand 1973: 106; Corsten in I.Prusa 48, p. 71). The term dekatistai also alludes to the performance of cultic activities on the tenth day of each month (cf. above under field X.ii: Meetings & events).
Deities worshipped Sarapis, Isis, Hermes (Hermanubis)
iv. Honours/Other activities In I.Prusa 48 b, ll. 1-2 the group of mystai offers a thanks-giving to L. Iulius Frugi for the latter’s benefactions towards a certain Potamon son of Sostratos. The recipient of this offering is generally believed to have been a relative of T. Iulis Frugi, legatus pro praetore in Bithynia under Marcus Aurelius (on this identification, see Mendel 1900: 367; Robert 1955: 60 note 1 with further bibliography; Vidman 1969 no. 326; Vidman 1970: 127; Corsten in I.Prusa 48, p. 71 with further bibliography; Fernoux 2004: 452-3; Bricault 2005: 471).
Contrary to what Mendel (1900: 367) has stated Potamon son of Sostratos was not a member of the mystai kai dekatistai, since his name does not appear in the appended list. The fourth part of the inscription, i.e. the thanksgiving offered by Potamon son of Sostratos himself to L. Iulius Frugi, defines the latter as tropheus. It is thus possible that L. Iulius Frugi had assumed the responsibility for the upbringing (and the education) of Potamon son of Sostratos.


i. Local interaction Contrary to what Dunant (1973: 107) has stated, the vocabulary used in the inscription seems to mean that L. Iulius Frugi was not treated as a benefactor of the group itself but of a specific individual, Potamon son of Sostratos, who was not included in the list of members following the thanks-offering to Sarapis and Isis. Robert (1955: 59; cf. Corsten in I.Prusa 48, pp. 70 and 72; Bricault 2005: 470) has noted that the phrase ὑπὲρ Ποτάμωνος Σωστράτου τῆς εἰς ἑαυτὸν εὐεργεσίας (hyper Potamonos Sostratou tes eis heauton euergesias, l.2 ) was written in denser letters and added later in a rasura, after the words οἱ μύσται, hoi mystai. Moreover, the phrase Ποτάμων Σω̣σ̣τ̣ρ̣ά̣τ̣ο̣υ̣ ἐ̣χ̣α̣ρ̣ι̣σ̣τ̣ῶ̣ Λ̣(ουκίῳ) Ἰου̣λίῳ Φρούγει εὐεργέτῃ καὶ τροφεῖ̣ (Potamon Sostratou eucharisto Loukioi Ioulioi Phrougei euergetei kai trophei, l. 12) also written in denser letters, was also added later. Robert concluded that there was a modification of the original text so as to introduce in two points the name of Potamon son of Sostratos, while Corsten remarked that originally in l. 2 the full name of the group may had been written.

We may thus put forward the following hypothesis: An original inscription (b ll. 1-11) set up as a thanks-offering both to L. Iulius Frugi (mentioned in b l.1) and Isis and Sarapis (mentioned in b l. 3) was subsequently modified so as to include the benefactions offered to Potamon son of Sostratos among the reasons for the group’s expression of gratitude. Furthermore, the group allowed Potamon son of Sostratos to add his own private thanksgiving (b l. 12) to the one offered by the group itself. In its final form the thanksgiving offered by the mystai appears to have been justified only on the grounds of L. Iulius Frugi’s services to Potamon son of Sostratos (see b ll. 1-2: Λουκίῳ Ἰουλίῳ Φρούγει οἱ μύσται ⟦ὑπὲρ Ποτάμωνος τῆς εἰς ἑαυτὸν εὐεργεσίας⟧, Loukioi Ioulioi Phrougei hoi mystai hyper Potamonos tes eis heauton euergesias), but this was surely not the group’s initial intention. Hence, a direct relation between the group and L. Iulius Frugi (perhaps in the form of unknown services provided by the latter to the former) seems highly probable (cf. in this respect Fernoux 2004: 452). As far as Potamon’s exact relationship to the group no safe conclusion can be reached, but the modifications in the original inscription described above and especially the space given to him in the group’s inscription to publicize his own private relationship to the honorand suggest solid bonds between the two parties (perhaps via the mediation of L. Iulius Frugi himself). In this respect it could be plausibly argued that Potamon son of Sostratos was an aspiring member of the group. Alternatively, Potamon may have been simply a mystes but not a mystes kai dekatistes, if these two terms denoted different but somehow interrelated groups (see below under field XII.i: Comments).


i. Comments The relatively small number of mystai kai dekatistai mentioned by name in ll. 6-11 has been interpreted either as a result of high property qualifications and/or financial obligations for initiates or as an indication that Isis's devotees in Prusa were few in number (see Vidman 1970: 127; Bricault 2005: 471).
Corsten (I.Prusa 48, p. 72) has put forward the hypothesis that the association was divided in several sub-groups, each one of them headed by its own priest. He also suggested that the term dekatistai may not have referred to all the persons included in the list of names in b ll. 6-11, but only to a fraction of them; however, this does not seem likely.
Fernoux (2004: 517) sees in the terms mystai and dekatistai different hierarchical levels within the same association.

The term dekatistai has been interpreted by Mendel (1900: 367-8) as referring to functionaries of the association, charged with receiving the dime, i.e. the sums of money demanded from the members for the expenses of the cult ceremonies and the overall financing of the association. This interpretation has been rejected by Vidman (1969: 167 no. 326 and 1970: 127), Corsten (in I.Prusa 48, p. 72) and Bricault (2005: 471) who see in the same term an allusion to collective events organized on the tenth day of each month (Vidman 1969: 167 no. 326; Vidman 1970: 127; Dunant 1973: 106; Corsten in I.Prusa 48, p. 72; Bricault 2005: 471). Dunant (1973: 106-7) puts forward a somewhat middle hypothesis, considering that the term dekatistai denoted both the members’ participation to events organized each month and their obligation to provide a dime (perhaps of their income, but this seems too high) for the financial needs of the group.
ii. Poland concordance Poland B* 413 (I.Prusa 48 b)
Poland B* 413a (I.Prusa 48 a)
iii. Bibliography Bricault, L. (2005), Recueil des inscriptions concernant les cultes isiaques (RICIS) vol. 2 – Corpus. Paris.
Dunant, F. (1973), Le culte d’Isis dans le bassin oriental de la Méditerranée III. Le culte d’Isis en Asie Mineure. Clergé et ritual des sanctuaries isiaques. Leiden.
Fernoux, H.-L. (2004), Notables et élites des cites de Bithynie aux époques hellénistique et romaine (IIIe siècle av. J.-C. – IIIe siècle ap. J.-C.). Essai d’histoire sociale. Lyon.
Gabrielsen, V. (2001), ‘The Rhodian Associations and Economic Activity’, in Z.H. Archibald et al. (eds.), Hellenistic Economies, London: 163-84.
Laurent, V. (1932), ‘Melanges d’épigraphie grecque et de sigillogaphie byzantine’, Echos d’Orient 31: 419-45.
Magie, D. (1953), ‘Egyptian Deities in Asia Minor in inscriptions and on Coins’, AJA 57:163-87.
Maillot, S. (2013), ‘Les associations à Cos’ in P. Fröhlich and P. Hamon (eds.), Groupes et associations dans les cités grecques (IIIe siècle av. J.-C. – IIe siècle apr. J.-C.), Genève: 199-226.
Mendel, G. (1900), ‘Inscriptions de Bithynie’, BCH 24: 361-426.
Poland, F. (1909), Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesens. Leipzig.
Robert, L. (1955), Hellenica. Recueil d'épigraphie, de numismatique et d'antiquités grecques, vol. 10. Paris.
Vidman, L. (1969), Sylloge inscriptionum religionis Isiacae et Sarapiacae. Berlin.
Vidman, L. (1970), Isis und Sarapis bei den Griechen und Römern. Epigraphische Studien zur Verbreitung und zu den Trägern des ägyptischen Kultes. Berlin.


i. Private association Certain
Note The term dekatistai denotes recurrent and durable obligations imposed on the members of the group which set up the thanks-offering (either the attendance of collective events on the tenth of each month and/or financial contributions). This suggests that what we have here is an organized private association headed by a priest and not a group of initiates united ad hoc for the purpose of honouring L. Iulius Frugi.