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Last Updated on 09 Jul 2018

Author: Paschalis Paschidis

CAPInv. 740: Prinophoros


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


i. Full name (original language) Πρινοφόρος (IG X.2.1 260, ll. B2-3)
ii. Full name (transliterated) Prinophoros


i. Date(s) iii AD


ii. Name elements
Cultic:Prinophoros cult epithet of Dionysos
iii. Descriptive terms θίασος, thiasos
Note thiasos: Inferred from IG X.2.1 260, l. C16.


i. Source(s) IG X.2.1 260 (iii AD)
Note See also: GRA I 81; Jaccottet II no. 22
Online Resources IG X.2.1 260 and AGRW ID 2501
i.a. Source type(s) Epigraphic source(s)
i.b. Document(s) typology & language/script Greek funerary inscription
i.c. Physical format(s) Altar, with a relief of a standing, draped woman on the front side. The inscription is engraved on the moulding of the front side and on the right and left sides of the altar.
ii. Source(s) provenance Found reused at the Church of the Acheiropoietos in Thessaloniki. Edson (1948: 178-80) assumed that the sanctuary of Dionysos must have been located at the Acheiropoietos; see, however, Vitti 1996: 90-1.


ii. References to buildings/objects στέφανος ῥόδινος, stephanos rhodinos: a rose crown is to be worn by the initiates during the commemoration of the priestess Euphrosyne (ll. C1-5).


ii. Leadership The priestess (ἱέρεια εὐεία, hiereia eueia) apparently led the association of the Prinophoroi (ll. B1-2).
iii. Members Members of the association are simply called μύστε, myste (i.e. μύσται, mystai), “initiates” (l. C1).
viii. Obligations According to the terms of the endowment of Euphrosyne (IG X.2.1 260), all initiates are obliged to participate in the commemoration of the founder of the endowment, wearing a rose crown, and offering burnt sacrifices costing at least five denarii (the sacrifices presumably consisting of the same rose crowns that they were wearing during the ceremony).


i. Treasury/Funds On Euphrosyne's endowment, see below, VIII.iv: Endowments.
ii. Realty The ownership of the vineyard donated by Euphrosyne (see under VIII.iv: Endowments, below) belonged to the association.
iii. Income See under VIII.iv: Endowments, below.
iv. Endowments The endowment of Euphrosyne involved the donation to the association of a vineyard of two plethra (ll. B6-8), the revenue from which would be used for a ceremony in her memory. The value of the sacrifices is stipulated to be no less than five denarii (ll. B11-13). In case the thiasos fails to observe these requirements, the endowment is to be transferred, under the same conditions, to the association of the Dryophoroi, and if the members of the latter also fail to observe Euphrosyne's wish, the ownership of the estate will pass to the city of Thessalonike (ll. C8-19).


iii. Age Children
Note It has been assumed that the stipulation of Euphrosyne's endowment that each and every one of the initiates, μικρὸς μέγας ἕκαστος (mikros megas hekastos, ll. C3-4) refers to the fact that children could be members as well (Perdrizet 1910: 88 n. 1; Nigdelis 2010: 15 n. 7; cf. GRA I 81); Edson 1948: 169-70 more plausibly assumes that the phrase in question simply means “all” and thus the membership of children cannot be ascertained.


iv. Honours/Other activities For the commemorative ceremony for the priestess Euphrosyne, which is part of the terms of her endowment, see above, VIII.iv: Endowments.


i. Local interaction The stipulation of Euphrosyne's endowment that if the Prinophoroi fail to observe the ritual of her commemoration at any point in the future, the ownership of the vineyard and the use of its revenue will be transferred to another association, the Dryophoroi, and if the members of the latter also fail to observe Euphrosyne's wish, they will belong to the city of Thessalonike (ll. C8-19) has led to different interpretations. Edson 1948: 177 claims that the involvement of the polis means that both thiasoi were public and not private bodies. Nigdelis 2010: 15 n. 7 claims that the presence of children and the competitive relationship between the two associations qualifies them as private associations. The second part of Nigdelis' argument is valid. The competitive relationship of two very similar associations, both honouring the same god, both named after a similar ritual, both vying for donations, points to private and not public bodies. Moreover, nothing in the text points to an official status of either association. The fact that the polis is the arbiter -in effect- for the proper execution of the will is irrelevant to the status of the associations. Had the Prinophoroi been a public religious body, one would expect the ownership of Euphrosyne's estate to revert to the official cult of Dionysos, and not to the city of Thessalonike.


i. Comments The name of the association is given in the inscription as Πρινοφόρος, Prinophoros (ll. B1-3: ἱέρεια οὖσα Εὐεία Πρινοφόρου hiereia ousa Eueia Prinophorou), in the singular, obviously a cult epithet of Dionysos; given, however, that the other Dionysiac association mentioned in the same inscription (ll. C11-12) is called Δροιοφόροι, Droiophoroi, in the plural, one may assume that the actual name of the first association was Πρινοφόροι, Prinophoroi, in the plural as well (cf. Nigdelis 2010: 15 n. 7, with all earlier literature on both views; Nigdelis remains sceptical). Whether in the singular or in the plural, it is clear that the name of the association is taken from a cult epithet of Dionysos (Prinophoros, “he who carries the kermes-oak branch”) and the relevant ritual of dendrophoria (Edson 1948: 176-7; Jaccottet II no. 56; Nigdelis 2010: 15 n. 7). Perdrizet's assumption (1910: 88) that the names of the Prinophoroi and the Dryophoroi may also hint to their professional identity (merchants of wood and coal) is unwarranted.
ii. Poland concordance Poland B 58
iii. Bibliography Edson, C. (1948), ‘Cults of Thessalonica (Macedonica III)’, HThR 41: 153-204, esp. 165-77.
Nigdelis, P.M. (2010), ‘Voluntary Associations in Roman Thessalonike: in Search of Identity and Support in a Cosmpolitan Society’, in L. Nasrallah, Ch. Bakirtzis and S. Friesen (eds.), From Roman to Early Christian Thessalonike: Studies in Religion and Archaeology, Cambridge Mass., London: 13-47, esp. 15, n. 7.
Perdrizet, P. (1910), Cultes et mythes du Pangée, Paris: 88
Vitti, M. (1996), Η πολεοδομική εξέλιξη της Θεσσαλονίκης, από την ίδρυσή της έως τον Γαλέριο, Thessaloniki.


i. Private association Certain
Note The terminology employed and the activities of the group (see also XI.i Local interaction) point to a private association.