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Last Updated on 09 Jul 2018

Author: Paschalis Paschidis

CAPInv. 721: hoi synklitai


i. Geographical area Macedonia
ii. Region Mygdonia
iii. Site Thessalonike


i. Full name (original language) οἱ συνκλῖται (IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054; IG X.2.1 68 and 69)
ii. Full name (transliterated) hoi synklitai


i. Date(s) 66 - f. ii AD


ii. Name elements
Other:synklites: Used for the members in all sources for the religious association of Theos Hypsistos in Thessalonike, the term may well have religious overtones, but it is not entirely necessary to go beyond what the term actually says: the members were table companions.


i. Source(s) IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054 (l. i - e. ii AD)
IG X.2.1 68 (l. i AD)
IG X.2.1 69 (l. i AD)
IG X.2.1 70 (66/7 AD)
Note IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054 = SEG 56: 751
Online Resources IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054
IG X.2.1 68 and AGRW ID 2404
IG X.2.1 69
IG X.2.1 70 and AGRW ID 2319
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054 is a dedication.
IG X.2.1 68 and 69 are dedications followed by a member list.
IG X.2.1 70 is a building dedication.
All texts are in Greek.
i.c. Physical format(s) IG X.2.1 68-70 are columns;
IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054 is a building block.
ii. Source(s) provenance IG X.2.1 68-70 were found near the Serapeum and IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054 at the agora of Thessalonike.


i. Archaeological remains Three of the inscriptions related to the association (IG X.2.1 68-70) were inscribed on columns, obviously of a sacred precinct of Theos Hypsistos, at or near the Serapeum of Thessaloniki. The columns, along with their epikrana and their speirai were paid for by Herennia Prokla in AD 66/7 (IG X.2.1 70).
ii. References to buildings/objects The building inscription IG X.2.1 70 records the building “for the synklitai” of a colonnade by Herennia Prokla (who thus fulfilled her dead father's promise); this is the colonnade on which this inscription and IG X.2.1 68-69 were inscribed.

Amyntas son of Zoilos dedicated to Theos Hypsistos and the synklitai an elaborate handle (χειρολαβή, cheirolabe) for a sacred vessel (κατάχυσις, katachysis) (IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054, ll. 3-4).


ii. Leadership A τρικλείναρχος, trikleinarchos (IG X.2.1 68, l. 7 and 69, l. 1-2) led the association of the synklitai.
iii. Members The members are called συνκλῖται, synklitai, “table companions”, in all relevant sources (IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054, IG X.2.1 68-70).
iv. Officials A γραμματεύς, grammateus (IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054, l. 3: γραμματεύσας, grammateusas) is the only certain official known to us apart from the trikleinarchos.

The ἱερεύς, hiereus used for dating purposes in IG X.2.1, 67 may have been a priest of the cult of Theos Hypsistos and not of the association (if the two were actually distinct stuctures), or even a priest of the Egyptian Gods, if the sacred precinct of Theos Hypsistos was located within the compounds of the Serapeum, in which case the priest of the Egyptian Gods would have to give permission for this dedication to have been set up (cf. SEG 30: 622).


ii. Realty The colonnade erected by Herennia Prokla (IG X.2.1 70) did not necessarily belong to the association.


i. Number IG X.2.1 68 records the names of 38 members, including the trikleinarchos.
IG X.2.1 69 (which is a slightly later catalogue) records the names of 43 members, including the trikleinarchos and his son. Thirteen members are attested in both catalogues.

From all the relevant sources, 63 distinct members of the association over time are known to us (Nigdelis 2006: 173).
ii. Gender Men
Note All 63 members of the association known to us were men; the exception of Herennia Prokla, donor of the colonnade of the god's sacred precinct (IG X.2.1 70), may be more apparent than real: Herennia Prokla explicitly states that she was fulfiling her father's promise, and thus need not be a member of the association herself.
iv. Status The names of the 63 members of the association known to us have been studied by Nigdelis 2010: 173-6. The majority of the 63 members (39) were Roman citizens. Several of the members appear to be the offspring (or the liberated slaves) of Italian merchants originally settled in Delos. Several others were Greeks who received the Roman citizenship by emperors or Roman dignitaries. There are several names pointing to origins or connections abroad. Many of those bearing Roman names were liberated slaves, judging by their cognomina. Finally, the rarity of traditional Macedonian names or cognomina is noteworthy.

It should also be noted that earlier views that the cult of Theos Hypsistos had Jewish origins should be firmly rejected, at least in the case of the Thessalonican cult, given the complete absence of Semitic names.

Direct evidence for a commercial background is offered by IG X.2.1 67 (the dedicant offered his dedication after having survived great danger at sea).

The fact that one of the members bears the ethnic of Thessalonike (IG X.2.1 68, l. 28) need not imply that all other members were foreigners, but only that this particular member had only recently received the Thessalonican citizenship (Nigdelis 2006: 175).

The general picture is one of a cosmopolitan club, with many foreigners, who may have only recently settled in the city, and many persons related to the world of commerce (despite the servile origin of some of them).
v. Relations The two leaders of the association known to us by the two catalogues (IG X.2.1 68 and 69) were father and son.


iii. Worship The only thing we know of the religious practices of the association was that some sort of libation was performed by a sacred vessel (IG X.2.1 Suppl. 1054). The very term used for the members, synklitai, “table companions” also points to communal drinking and eating. One should not, however, overemphasize the religious character of such communal banquets, the social nature of which may have been at least equally important.
Given the various dedications, the group worshiped Zeus Hypsistos (for the various views on the nature of this deity, see Nigdelis 2006: 171-77 and Belayche 2011 with earlier literature).
Deities worshipped Theos Hypsistos


i. Comments For three other dedications to Theos Hypsistos, not mentioning the synklitai, see IG X.2.1 67, 71, and 72.
iii. Bibliography Nigdelis, P. M. (2006), Επιγραφικά Θεσσαλονίκεια. Συμβολή στην πολιτική και κοινωνική ιστορία της αρχαίας Θεσσαλονίκης, Thessaloniki: 168-77, with all earlier literature.
Belayche, N. (2011), ‘Hypsistos. A Way of Exalting the Gods in Graeco-Roman Polytheism’ in J.A. North and S.R.F. Price (eds.), The Religious History of the Roman Empire. Pagans, Jews, and Christians, Oxford: 139-74.


i. Private association Certain
Note There are no doubts about the private nature of the association, despite the uncertainty of its relation to the cult of the Egyptian Gods.