Practitioners of the Divine: Greek Priests and Religious Officials from Homer to Heliodorus

  Dignas, Beate, and Kai Trampedach, eds. 2008. Practitioners of the Divine: Greek Priests and Religious Figures from Homer to Heliodorus. Hellenic Studies Series 30. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

4. Greek Priests of Sarapis?

Beate Dignas

Studying Hellenistic priests is piecework. Given that the main body of evidence comes from inscriptions, the questions, where is the best place to start? and how can this study be structured successfully? seem almost unanswerable. The task is extremely ambitious, but general statements on the character and significance of priesthoods are such a desideratum that even idiosyncratic examples must be evaluated, and comparison on various levels must be allowed. But again, it seems almost impossible to establish the criteria for evaluation. As several articles in this volume illustrate, [1] local idiosyncrasies form part of even the most general conclusions. Starting in one place where the evidence allows us to make statements, and then moving on to another, and so forth, is thus a good idea—if successful, we can answer the question, what was it like to be priest in X (be it Rhodes, Cos, Stratonicea, Delos, or somewhere else)? The criteria place, local political history, and religious tradition receive most attention when this approach is taken. Another approach, which has to complement the one just described, is to examine certain aspects of priesthood across the board; to give a few examples: the revenues of priests, the duties of priests, the mode of appointment, the social background, and so on. [2] In the most general terms, we can thereby answer questions such as these: was it attractive to be a priest serving a Greek cult in the Hellenistic period? and what was the character of the office with regard to element X?”

It might not suggest itself so readily, but it is also possible to look at priests of the same deity in various places, in order to be able to say whether a priesthood of Athena, for example, showed characteristics shared by her priests everywhere. We tend not to undertake studies of this kind because our knowledge of a Greek pantheon within an individual polis suggests that Athena was a different Athena of different status in each community. A particular mythological tradition reflected in aspects of ritual may have a bearing on the topic, but supposedly not enough to justify an extended study devoted to priesthoods of Athena.

In search of evidence that gives a full and lively account of Hellenistic priesthoods, I have come across a small number of epigraphical documents repeatedly. One of these is the so-called Delian aretalogy of Sarapis (IG XI 4, 1299), [7] a prose account of a priest of Sarapis, Apollonius (lines 1–28), and a hymn to Sarapis by the poet Maiistas (lines 29–94), both of which set out the history of the cult on Delos, starting with the foundation of the cult by Apollonius’ grandfather of the same name, who had brought with him a small statue of the god from Memphis, and ending with the building of the first temple for the god (ca. 280–200 BC). As vivid and revealing as the inscription is with regard to the lives and doings of priests, I nevertheless set it aside several times on the grounds that it describes something that does not pertain to Greek priests. [8] Rightly so, it would seem, because here are a cult and priestly family that clash in all respects with what we expect from Greek priests. We are explicitly told that Apollonius’ grandfather was an Egyptian, whose priesthood of Sarapis ran in the family.

This man carefully taught his son Demetrius how to carry out his priestly duties (lines 12ff.), and his grandson finally wrote down the history of the cult “according to the command of the god.” When the god appeared to the author in a dream and ordered him to buy a piece of land on which to build a proper sanctuary, the priest encountered hostility and was involved in a public law suit, which—with the help of the god’s miraculous powers—he won. [
10] Hence the inscribed column, a grateful testimony to his victory, accompanied by a votive tablet dedicated to Nike by the priest and a group of worshippers that call themselves hoi sumbalomenoi tōn therapeutōn (CE 3 = IG XI 4, 1290 = RICIS 202/0121).

Apparently, Apollonius’ cult remained a small, private cult up to this point, but we do not know how the cult’s popularity developed from then onwards. [11] Inscriptions from Sarapeum A, where the aretalogy was found, show that dedications were made not only by the therapeuontes (CE 2 = RICIS 202/0114–0120), who may have been a group of foreign worshippers, but also by a Delian citizen who was treasurer in 180 BC (CE 4 = RICIS 202/0122) and that the temple possessed a thesaurus (CE 6 = RICIS 202/0124). The epigraphic record furthermore reveals that shortly after the Athenians regained control over Delos in 166 BC the priest of Sarapis clashed with the authorities again. In a letter from the Athenian stratēgoi, the governor of the island was instructed to comply with a senatus consultum from Rome that allowed the priest of Sarapis, Demetrius from Rheneia, to reopen the sanctuary and be its servant just like before (CE 14 = RICIS 202/0195). The priest was now a Delian, who, as we learn from a dedication made shortly after this, was assisted by a man called Horus, son of Horus from Kasion, who “took care of the sanctuary and dealt with devotees’ cures” (CE 15bis = RICIS 202/0198). [12] Over more than a hundred years, important features of the priesthood remained the same. Presumably, the priest continued to serve for life and the priesthood stayed in the same family. Twice, its holder was powerful and ambitious enough to defend his office against the authorities, even involving the Roman powers. Although no longer a foreigner himself, the priest was still assisted by an Egyptian so that specific tasks would be carried out in the traditional way. The priest must have relied on a loyal group of worshippers who supported his claims when they were questioned and supported the cult and its priest financially.

Sarapeum A was not the only or even the main sanctuary of Sarapis on Delos. Two more cult centers have been discovered. [13] Sarapeum B appears to have been mainly a meeting place for associations of worshippers—the dedications that have been found were made by eranistai, (CE 20 = RICIS 202/0134), a thiasos (CE 21 = RICIS 202/0135), a koinon tōn dekadistriōn (CE 25 = RICIS 202/0139), and a koinon enatistōn (CE 26f = RICIS 202/0140–0141) [14] —but was also served by a priest. There is no evidence as to the character of the priesthood and the social or ethnic origin of its holders. [15] Sarapeum C, a monumental complex above the reservoir of the Inopus, was by far the largest of the three temples and prospered in particular during the second half of the second century BC. [16] The Delian inventories of the Athenian period include the objects from this temple just like those of any other public cult. Sarapis’ treasure is the most extensive treasure aside from Apollo’s. [17] The cult’s origins, however, are not known to us. It seems plausible that it was also founded on private initiative, like Apollonius’ cult and many other cults of Sarapis in the Greek world. [18] Inscriptions dating from before 166 BC do not characterize the clientele of this sanctuary any differently from that of Sarapeum A: dedications were made by therapeutai (CE 41f = RICIS 202/0161–0162) as well as the so-called sumbalomenoi (CE 45f = RICIS 202/0165–0167), [19] and references to ritual and personnel remind the reader strongly of Egyptian cults. One of the worshippers describes himself as “wearing linen” (CE 49 = RICIS 202/0170), [20] and a cult regulation prescribes abstinence from wine when entering the sanctuary (CE 50 = RICIS 202/0173–0174). Moreover, there are dedications by an aretalogos (CE 60 = RICIS 202/0186) and a melanēphoros (CE 58/58bis = RICIS 202/0183–0184). Unfortunately, there is hardly any evidence regarding the priests who served this cult before the Athenian control of the island but an entry in an inventory from 182 BC lists a dedication made by the Sarapiastai, “whose leader was the priest Menneas” (IG XI 4, 1307, lines 7ff. = RICIS 202/0191).

Most of what we know about the structure and character of the cult dates from after 166 BC. This is problematic because the Athenian control changed Delian religion significantly and had a profound effect on Delian priesthoods. [23] With regard to my initial proposal, it is crucial that these changes do not quite capture the moment that saw the shift from private to public but took place about two decades later. However, our expectations regarding the character of a public cult and its priesthood are even more rigid when it comes to the Athenian period, and the changes at the beginning of this period certainly express the impact of state supervision: a list of Athenians serving on Delos as priests of Delian cults from 158/7 BC illustrates the immediate Athenian attempts to schematize and structure Delian religion and to integrate foreign cults such as that of Sarapis (ID 2605 = RICIS 202/0219). [24] In this somewhat hierarchical list of ten priesthoods, Sarapis features as number nine, followed only by the Delian hero Anius. Another priestly list, this time a diachronic one of successive priests of Sarapis, preserves the names and tribes of the Athenians who served between 137/6 and 110/9 BC (CE 73 = RICIS 202/0203). [25] The list reveals that the priesthood of Sarapis was an annual one; that many, if not all priests were chosen according to their tribes; and that prominent men, known also from other contexts in Athens and Delos, served as priests of Sarapis. These men were not attached to one cult exclusively, but sometimes held the priesthoods of two cults, even in successive years. [26]

The existence of kleidoukhoi, zakoroi, kanēphoroi, oneirokritai, aretalogoi, and further cult titles in the public cult of Sarapis bears on the character of its priesthood and singles out the clergy as a whole. A hierarchy must have existed to some extent: the priests, as we have seen, were all prominent Athenian citizens, likewise the kleidoukhoi. In contrast, the zakoroi were often foreigners of a social status inferior to that of the priests. Their term of office was annual in most cases, and dedications and cult regulations were dated not only by the priesthood but also the zakorate. [36] The short term of office in these two cases may speak against a lifelong attachment to Sarapis, but this would have been made up for by intense involvement during the year of service. [37] It is probably not by chance that very prominent Athenian figures and governors of the island gave substantial financial support for cults but are hardly ever attested to have held priesthoods. Residence on the island if not in the sanctuary would have been important. [38] The role of the zakoros as temple guard, just like a neokoros, would certainly have required residence in the sanctuary, and a pastophorion, which provided lodgings for the servants of the cult, existed on Delos by 112/1 BC (CE 130 = RICIS 202/0296). The epigraphic record does not reveal much about the activities of the personnel, but their regular appearance and the emphasis on titles speak for themselves. The roles of oneirokritēs and aretalogos were part of the everyday life of the cult of Sarapis [39] —as is reflected not only in Maiistas’ aretalogy following Apollonius’ account: several dedications found in Sarapeum C were made “according to the command of the oneirokritēs.” [40]

On the whole, it looks as if the multiple functions within the cult did not take away from the strong role of the actual hiereus but involved more worshippers in the administration of the cult and thereby created solidarity among those attached to the cult in various ways. [41] Whether one attributes the differentiated personnel attached to Sarapeum C directly to the Egyptian origin of the cult or not, it was accompanied by special cult regulations and customs that strike the observer as foreign. We do not know if the Delian priests of Sarapis shaved their heads as their Egyptian colleagues did, [42] but we do know that it was prohibited to wear wool in Sarapeum A (CE 16 / 16bis = RICIS 202/0199–0200) and that linen played a special role in Sarapeum C (CE 49 = RICIS 202/0170 and above). Here, it was also prohibited (for the priests or everybody?) to enter the sanctuary after having drunk wine (CE 50b = RICIS 202/0175). [43] Apollonius, the author of the Delian aretalogy and priest in Sarapeum A, justified many of his actions by claiming that he was acting according to the god’s command (kata to prostagma) and that Sarapis had appeared to him in a dream telling him what to do. Expressions referring to the god’s command or epiphany are frequent in the Delian dedications to Sarapis in all three sanctuaries. [44] At first sight, they appear to be a feature atypical of Greek cults, known only in the worship of Asclepius (that is, incubation), but a closer examination reveals that they were common also in many other sanctuaries during the Hellenistic period. On Delos they can be found with regard to Zeus, Ares, Helios, Apollo, and Artemis. In every location, they were used predominantly by priests or other cult personnel, and often they were associated with the foundation of cults, private or public. [45] In all cases they were an important means of strengthening the authority of those claiming to act in accordance with divine wishes.

In many cases it is difficult to say whether a cult existed as a private cult before it was made public or why it was made public, let alone to establish why it was founded in the first place—this is one of the reasons why the Delian aretalogy is such a crucial document. Even documents that appear to have orchestrated the shift from private to public leave many questions open, as is the case with an inscription from Magnesia on the Maeander (second century BC), which sets out the terms of the priesthood of Sarapis. An appended section reveals that the priesthood is sold and adds details that relate to the rights and duties of the buyer (SIRIS 294 = RICIS 304/0701 = LSAM 34). The opening lines of the text are lost, but there is a reference to a certain Pharsalius. He (?) is instructed to install a priest (?) “in the temenos dedicated to the god” (lines 10ff.). We learn that Sarapis is not to be worshipped/offered sacrifice in any other place (lines 12ff.). If this does happen, the place will become the property of the polis (lines 13ff.). It is generally assumed that a certain Pharsalius dedicated a privately owned piece of land so that the worship of Sarapis could be transformed from a private into an officially recognized cult. [52] If this is correct, the decree represents the result of the negotiations between the private founder (patron? priest?) and the civic authorities. [53] Unfortunately, the fragmentary state of the text leaves us to speculate as to the subjects of some of the sentences, so that Pharsalius’ role and the identity of the priest of Sarapis are somewhat blurred. What we do see is that the civic oikonomoi guarantee the remuneration of the priest as well as his limits, whereas Pharsalius may even be the senior priest or at least responsible for the appointment of the priest; [54] the dēmos, however, has the right to change the details of the contract (lines 19ff.). [55] The terms of the priesthood of Sarapis in Magnesia resemble those of any other priesthood in many respects—the fact that its holder purchases his office is certainly representative for the area—but in particular the strong emphasis on the city’s rights and the expressed fear of the cult’s branching out suggest official anxiety over the control of the priest of Sarapis.

Like so many other cult regulations, the inscription illustrates the details and significance of the sacred finances, and this touches on the most crucial difference between a private and a public priest of Sarapis: instead of being dependent on personal fortune or the generosity of worshippers, the public priest received his remuneration from the city. [56] The largest part of his income, however, would still be dependent on the popularity of the cult or rather on the number of offerings and sacrifices carried out in his sanctuary. State control over sacred revenues was always an important issue, cutting across private and public settings. A striking example regarding the cult of Sarapis comes from Thessalonice. Here the cult was supported by Philip V (187 BC) when the funds of the Sarapeum were used for purposes other than those connected with the cult (SIRIS 108 = RICIS 113/0503 = Hatzopoulos 1996 II: no. 15). In a diagramma that was forwarded by a royal official, the king imposed harsh fines on those who touched Sarapis’ funds, and gave orders to immediately restore them to the sanctuary.

The inscription, above all its addressee, has been much discussed, and the discussion itself illustrates how difficult it is to label the cult as public or private and to identify those in charge of its administration. [
58] Whether public priests or priests of a private association, what was their role in the dispute? Had the priests complained that sacred funds were diverted by civic magistrates? Did the king have the priests in mind when he prohibited the opening of the thesauroi without the presence of an epistatēs and the dikastai (lines 21–24)? However we answer these questions, once more the private versus public scheme does not work.

Nothing in the text indicates that the inscription from Thessalonice was addressed to a private group of worshippers. But even if there was an explicit reference to such a group, its existence would not automatically refer us to a private or public setting. [59] Moreover, private associations, such as the Sarapiastai on Delos, functioned on the model of civic communities, which is nicely illustrated in a document from Thasus (second century BC) that records the sale of the epōnumia of a group of Sarapiastai.

In structure and content, the decree is strikingly reminiscent of documents concerning the sale of official priesthoods in Asia Minor (or even the priesthood of Sarapis in Magnesia), and it looks as if these groups used civic documents as templates for describing their own offices and titles (SIRIS 265 = RICIS 201/0101). [
61] The buyer receives gera from the association, he wears a headband at banquets, and he is crowned at every official gathering. During his lifetime, the buildings of the Sarapiastai will be named after him, and he gets to vote together with the priest and the secretary on certain occasions, as prescribed by the law. The installments paid by the buyer are used to pay for inscribing the decree, which is to be set up in the most conspicuous place. We can view the parallel as evidence either discrediting the position of office holders in private groups of worshippers or emphasizing the need for caution when it comes to the role of priests as defined in official decrees. Or, it may be the case that private associations took the imitation of the structure of the democratic city so far as to limit their priests’ authority along the lines of what they observed in the public sphere. In all these scenarios a dichotomy of private versus public would be unhelpful.

My final example comes from Syrian Laodicea by the Sea (174 BC). It throws light on the interaction between the civic authorities and three brothers who were the priests of Sarapis and Isis (SIRIS 356 = RICIS 402/0301). [62] In an appeal to the city the priests pointed out that the land on which the temenos was situated was their private property and that their rights as owners were violated. The scenario is the following:

As a decree had been passed for those who asked the city to be assigned a place for the dedication of a statue to give a determined sum, and as some were asking also for places within the sanctuary, they (the three priests) suspected that in this way their property would be diminished and thus made an appeal to consider that it be looked after, in order that their property, to which it applied, should not be diminished. (lines 10–21)

The civic authorities responded to the priests’ appeal by asking for payment for the statues themselves rather than for obtaining the space. Scholars have proposed various interpretations of the text, all of which focus on the status of the cult as private or public. Given the city’s say in matters regarding the sanctuary, Dunand labels the cult semiofficial but with good relations to the city. [
63] Fraser suggests there was “a stage in the transformation of a private into a state-cult, or it may be that a state-cult already existed.” [64] Sosin’s reconstruction of the scenario envisages an entirely private sanctuary, which was protected and managed by the polis. [65] The range of possibilities illustrates that the character of the priesthood—here clearly being a lifelong if not hereditary position, and including rights of ownership to the temenos and a very distinct role vis à vis the community—is not dependent on a private or public status (or vice versa).

Priests of Sarapis emerge in many places and contexts in the Greek world. Where they do not fit our conventional picture of priests, this is often explained by either the foreign character or the private status of the cult they served. Both aspects apply to the Delian aretalogy. Priestly status, knowledge, and family tradition matter enormously in the Egyptian priest’s history of his private cult. However, the cult continued to exist and the priestly family continued to perpetuate their traditions, although at some point they became citizens of Delos. What would have happened if Sarapeum A had become the cult center of the state cult of Sarapis on Delos? Would the respective Apollonius or Demetrius immediately have become an entirely Greek priest? The epigraphic record from Delos and elsewhere shows that a priestly profile was very much shaped by local habit, by ways of administering and structuring the religious life of a particular city. [66] Obviously, public documents describe the activities of priests of Sarapis in the same way as activities of priests in traditional shrines, and there is no doubt that a community exercised considerable control over aspects of the priesthoods. However, I hope to have shown that the distinction between private and public priests of Sarapis is unhelpful with regard to a characterization of priesthoods. In particular, the widespread existence of organized groups of devotees of Sarapis, who were active in both private and public settings, renders the polarization impossible. Instead, one should pay attention to the origins and history of a cult, and should examine its personnel and internal structures carefully. [67] On Delos, and elsewhere, even Hellenized and public priests of Sarapis can then emerge as much more than annual magistrates who did not feel any personal attachment to the deity they served.


[ back ] 1. See Bremmer and Gotter in this volume.

[ back ] 2. This is the approach taken by Chaniotis, who explores the priests as “ritual experts.”

[ back ] 3. And this includes deities whose worship and realm of authority involved women in an exceptional way. See the essay by Cole in this volume, which focuses on the priestesses of Demeter.

[ back ] 4. See Bremmer in this volume: his study of the priestly personnel at Ephesus reveals the complexity of labels such as Greek or Anatolian.

[ back ] 5. Cf. e.g. Fraser 1960:22; Fraser’s aim, however, is to show that the success of the Egyptian cults was not due to Ptolemaic influence, which would be reflected in the establishment of public rather than private cults. Roussel 1987 structures his description of the cults on Delos by contrasting the private and the public cults. See Brady 1978:18 (Delos) and 21–22 (Halicarnassus and Thera) and passim. Baslez 1977 emphasizes (in chapter 3) that the fact that the official acknowledgement of the cults was not decisive for the situation of the oriental religions on Delos, is an exception.

[ back ] 6. The material relating to the Egyptian gods is now even more accessible through the corpus of inscriptions edited by L. Bricault (Recueil des inscriptions concernant les cultes isiaques, 2005 [= RICIS]), which updates L. Vidman’s Sylloge Inscriptionum Religionis Isiacae et Sarapiacae [SIRIS]; equally helpful is the inventory of the archaeological material in the Atlas de la diffusion des cultes isiaques (2001), by the same scholar. In what follows, references are given to the numbers in SIRIS and RICIS; with regard to the Delian inscriptions references are also given to the respective numbers in P. Roussel’s Les cultes égyptiens à Délos du IIIe au Ier s. av. J.-C. [CE].

[ back ] 7. Engelmann 1964 and 1975; CE 1 (French trans.); Totti 1985 no. 1 (German trans.); now also RICIS 202/0101 (with a French trans.).

[ back ] 8. Above all, the aretalogy as such would be considered as a non-Greek feature by some scholars. I do not want to enter the discussion regarding the Greek or Egyptian origin of aretalogies. For a summary and bibliography see the introduction to Versnel 1990. Texts such as the Lindian anagraphē illustrate that the concept was certainly familiar in traditional Greek cults by the Hellenistic period.

[ back ] 9. ὁ ἱερεὺς Ἀπολλώνιος ἀνέγραψεν κατὰ πρόσταγμα τοῦ θεοῦ· ὁ γὰρ πάππος ἡμῶν Ἀπολλώνιος, ὢν Αἰγύπτιος ἐκ τῶν ἱερέων, τὸν θεὸν ἔπαρεγένετο ἐξ Αἰγύπτου, θεραπεύων τε διετέλει καθῶς πάτριον ἦν, ζῶσαί τε δοκεῖ ἔτη ἐνενήκοντα καὶ ἑπτά.

[ back ] 10. Cf. lines 23–28; we do not know on which grounds Apollonius was accused. Cf. Engelmann 1975:2: “A. II had omitted to obtain official permission for the building of the temple.” With the same explanation, Brady 1978:18 and Vidman 1970:36. Baslez 1977:215 argues that the Egyptian elements of the cult were responsible. Roussel, CE, pp. 246ff. points to the competition between private and public cults. Most recently, Siard 1998 argued that the conflict arose because the priest claimed access to a public water supply.

[ back ] 11. Cf. Fraser 1960:22: “at this time the cult … became public.” Mikalson 1991:212 about Sarapeum C: “the only one to become a state cult,” but 214; “Sarapis had by now at least one state cult on Delos.” Siard 1998:482–483 clearly assumes that the sanctuary remained private when she points out the unique situation of an “édifice privé racordé au réseau public de distribution d’eau” (483). Baslez 1977:224–225 emphasizes the private setting. Brady 1978:18 assumes that the cult became public when a Delian became priest. Roussel, CE, 258 calls Sarapeum C the only public cult center. Jost 1998:303 emphasizes the contrast between the public interest/threat and the private cult setting.

[ back ] 12. Dedication by a Delian couple on behalf of their son made during the priesthood of Demetrius, a Delian.

[ back ] 13. While all scholars distinguish between the three different temples of Sarapis on Delos, some go as far as to talk about three different cults, whereas others do not. Hamilton 2000:196 refers to the “unusually well-documented shift from private to public cult,” and sees temples A and B as temples “built … when the cult was still private,” and temple C as “the large official temple of Sarapis.”

[ back ] 14. The reference to a κοινὸν τῶν θιαστῶν, an ἀρχιθιασίτης, and to a leader suggests that the associations had their own hierarchy.

[ back ] 15. Cf. CE 21 (= RICIS 202/0135), various associations honoring the priest Kineas; and CE 22 (= RICIS 202/0136), a dedication dated by his priesthood.

[ back ] 16. Cf. Bruneau and Ducat 1983:227–229.

[ back ] 17. Cf. Hamilton 2000:196–197, 223–239.

[ back ] 18. See Fraser 1960; Rigsby 2001; Voutiras 2005; and below.

[ back ] 19. These dedicate, just as in Sarapeum A κατά πρόσταγμα.

[ back ] 20. Or “carrying ritual objects wrapped in linen”?

[ back ] 21. An inventory of 183 BC (IG XI 4, 1307 = RICIS 202/0191) found in Sarapeum C lists many objects that reappear later in the Athenian inventories.

[ back ] 22. Roussel 1916:256.

[ back ] 23. For a detailed analysis of these changes, see Mikalson 1998 chapter 7.

[ back ] 24. Cf. also ID 1499 (= RICIS 202/0228), 153/2 BC, in which nine out of the ten priests are honoured as a group.

[ back ] 25. Many of the dedications found in the sanctuary can be dated on the basis of this list because the majority is dated by the priesthood.

[ back ] 26. For references see Dunand 1973, 3:185. However, unlike the situation on Rhodes, there was no cursus honorum of priests; and the apparent hierarchy of ID 2605 (= RICIS 202/0219) is not reflected in any other evidence.

[ back ] 27. Cf. Mikalson 1998:229.

[ back ] 28. The studies by Baslez 1977 and Dunand 1973 (vol. 3) focus on a question different from that of this essay, i.e. on how the Egyptian cults retained or changed their character when they spread to the Greek world (or Delos in particular), but their observations support my argument: see e.g. Dunand 1973, 3:186: “partout où des prêtres d’origine égyptienne étaient en fonctions dans des sanctuaires grecs, ils devaient également y introduire leur mode de vie et il n’est pas impossible qu’ils aient été imités par les prêtres grecs eux-mêmes, dans la mesure où ceux-ci exerçaient leur fonction en permanence et étaient entièrement attachés à un sanctuaire.

[ back ] 29. Cf. Mikalson 1998:229 who observes that the cult of Sarapis was “the Delian cult into which the Athenian priests threw themselves most wholeheartedly and which enjoyed, under the Athenians, the most prosperity.”

[ back ] 30. Cf. CE 90 (dedication of a megaron—a crypt?); CE 91; 97; 102–104 (the dedicants emphasize ἱερεὺς γενόμενος); 107; 108 (dedication of an exedra); 112/112bis; 113 (a fountain); 117; 121; 124; 133 (the priest heads a list of donors who each contribute considerable sums between 50 and 300 drachmas); 138–140; 142; 144; 160; 171; 179–180. For the corresponding numbers in RICIS see the concordance at the end of the second volume.

[ back ] 31. Cf. CE 95 (by the σύνοδος τῶν μελανηφόρων); 105 (by the μελανηφόροι and θεραπευταί) 114 (by his father for having become priest); 115 (by the μελανηφόροι).

[ back ] 32. Cf. CE 98 (the μελανηφόροι honor the priest of 130/29 BC in 123/2 BC); 144 (the priest of an earlier year makes a dedication during the term of office of another priest); 159 (a daughter honors her father who was priest seven years before).

[ back ] 33. Cf. CE 112; 135; 141; 156; 171; 173a and b.

[ back ] 34. This certainly applies to the associations of worshippers. We do not know whether Sarapeum A or B knew a zakoros or a kleidoukhos but we would expect a hierarchical structure in a private setting rather than in the official cult.

[ back ] 35. Cf. esp. the inventories of the Athenian period where the koina, Sarapiastai, sumbalomenoi therapeutai feature predominantly. See also CE 133, a list of donors.

[ back ] 36. There are exceptions: CE 182 has a zakoros who held office for eighteen years; at Athens, however, in the first century BC the zakoros had to be appointed for life or two times (cf. SIRIS 33a).

[ back ] 37. Annual priesthood was not necessarily the rule, not even in official cults, but during the Hellenistic period the Athenian and Delian evidence overshadows other cases. The sale of a priesthood of Sarapis in Magnesia on the Maeander (SIRIS 294) suggests service for life. See below; Dunand 1973, 3:148, emphasizes that in this respect the divide was not between private and public, but her examples of priests for life come from the imperial period. In 86/5 BC Sulla confirmed asulia to the sanctuary of Isis and Sarapis in Mopsuestia. From a letter of Lucullus to the magistrates, council and people we learn that the priest Diodotus had met Lucullus in person and in his role as priest had acted so prominently to evoke this decision that the city had granted tax exemption to him and his family. The editors of the text suggest that Diodotus may have been appointed for life (cf. BE 1995 no. 601; Sayar and Siewert and Taeuber 1994:113–130).

[ back ] 38. Cf. Mikalson 1998:240.

[ back ] 39. At one point, these two titles were held by the same person (cf. CE 119 = RICIS 202/0283, 115/14 BC).

[ back ] 40. Cf. CE 169; 123 (= RICIS 202/0340 and 202/0289).

[ back ] 41. Cf. Baslez 1977:309–310; it is remarkable that the structure of the cult personnel had an appeal also in the worship of Greek deities. Zeus Cynthios and Athena Cynthia were served by a priest, zakoros, and kleidoukhos: see Mikalson 1998:223, for further examples of this orientalization. For a table and prosopography of the personnel see Roussel 1916 appendix; Dunand 1973, 3:287–319.

[ back ] 42. As Dunand suspects (1973, 3:187, and n1 with references).

[ back ] 43. This may have applied to priests only. Cf. Plutarch De Iside 6. But cf. SIRIS 291 (= RICIS 304/0802, Priene), where the priest has the right of the ἐπίσπονδον οἴνου.

[ back ] 44. Cf. e.g. CE 45; 66; 121; 169 (= RICIS 202/0165; 0223; 0287;0340). There are many more instances.

[ back ] 45. For an almost complete table see van Straten 1976:21–27. A nice example is an epigram from Cnidus dated to the end of the fourth century BC in which a priestess of Demeter and Kore claims that Hermes appeared to her in a dream and commanded her to become the goddess’ servant (IKnidos 131); famous are the origins of the games for Artemis Leucophryene at Magnesia (IMagnesia 16).

[ back ] 46. Cf. Mikalson 1998:232, “Initially they [the Athenians] probably mistook the importance of the cult of Isis and Sarapis, of negligible importance back in Athens, and gave it only the ninth rank, but they quickly moved to promote this cult when they saw the support it had in the local community.”

[ back ] 47. Cf. Baslez 1977:309–310.

[ back ] 48. παρε[χ]έ[τω δὲ ὁ ἱερεὺς καὶ] τὸν Αἰγύπτιον τὸν συντελέσοντα τὴ[ν θυσίαν ἐμπείρως·] μὴ ἐξέστω δὲ μηθενὶ ἄλλωι ἀπείρως τὴ[ν θυσίαν ποιεῖν τῆι] θεᾶι ἢ ὑπὸ τοῦ ἱερέως·.

[ back ] 49. Cf. Dunand 1973, 3:141.

[ back ] 50. On the katokhē in Egyptian sanctuaries, see Dunand 1973, 1:282–283.

[ back ] 51. It is remarkable that the archaeological evidence has been interpreted very controversially. Whereas some scholars describe the archaeological remains of the sanctuary as being very little adapted to the necessities of the traditional Egyptian cult but rather as being Greek, others underline the foreign character of the temple. For references, see Dunand 1973, 3:54–56.

[ back ] 52. Cf. LSAM, p. 99; Vidman 1969:152: Sunt duo decreta populi Magnetum, quibus cultus Aegyptius, primum privatus, Magnesiae permittitur rogante Pharsalio quodam, qui fundum suum huius rei causa dedicavit.

[ back ] 53. Sokolowski (LSAM, p. 99) compares the case to that of the priest Apollonius on Delos. If they are parallel, the establishment of a proper temenos with a temple would need civic approval—on Delos the priestly family defended their rights much more successfully than in Magnesia, where the future appointment of a priest is handled in the official way.

[ back ] 54. Crucial is the restoration in line 9 ἱερέα; or, as Dittenberger, Syll.³ 578, followed by Robert, suggests, νεοκόρον.

[ back ] 55. ἐξουσία δ᾿ ἔστω τῶ[ι] δή[μωι ἀφελεῖ]ν ἢ [ὑπο]γράψαι ἕτερον ἕως τῆς ἀναφορᾶς. The sentence is very enigmatic and has been interpreted in various ways. Cf. Robert 1927. REG 40:222f, who suggests the submission to an oracle for anaphora. Sokolowksi, LSAM, p. 100, suggests payment. I understand the clause as meaning the following: “The dēmos has the right to amend this rider until it has been approved and become an official document.”

[ back ] 56. A decree from Samos (second century BC) grants permission to the priest of Isis to collect money for the goddess (SIRIS 250 = RICIS 204/1006).

[ back ] 57. Τῶν δὲ τοῦ Σαράπιδος χρημάτων μηθεὶς ἀπαλλοτριούτω μηθὲν κατὰ μηθένα τρόπον μηδὲ ὑποτιθέτω μηδὲ τῶν ἄλλων ἀναθημάτων μηδὲ γραφέτω περὶ τούτων ψήφισμα μηθείς.

[ back ] 58. Fraser 1960:38–39, n4, and n1 is convinced that the cult was a state cult and argues that the addressee has to be the dēmos. Hatzopoulos 1996:406–410 goes through various scenarios but apparently assumes that the sanctuary was administered by a religious association and that the text was addressed to the priests of the sanctuary. The text (lines 7–9) gives the reason for the public display of the king’s decision as “in order that those in charge know how he [the king] ordains matters should be handled”; see now also Voutiras 2005:281–282; Voutiras explains the king’s intervention as taking place at the moment when the city tried to impose itself on a private institution. He also takes note of a public character of the sanctuary, i.e. the fact that it was open to the public, integrated into the civic religious calendar, and of the (above all, financial) interest to the city; the author contrasts this with the closed community of its specialized clergy.

[ back ] 59. Cf. Fraser 1960:22. See e.g. decrees of Sarapiastai in Athens (SIRIS 2 = RICIS 101/0201) and Methymna (SIRIS 262 = RICIS 205/0401); on the public and private character of Dionysiac thiasoi see Villanueva-Puig 1998:365–374.

[ back ] 60. ἀγαθῆι τύχηι. ἔδοξεν τοῖς Σαραπιασταῖς τιμῆσαι τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν τῶν Σαραπιαστῶν· ὁ δὲ ἀγοράσας τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν ἕξει γέρα παρά τοῦ κοινοῦ τάδε·.

[ back ] 61. Cf. Seyrig 1927. BCH 51:219–229. Seyrig, 228–229 insists, “Aucun document, sans doute, ne permet de conjecturer un culte official des dieux égyptiens dans l’île.” Whereas Seyrig stresses the modest character of the association Dunand 1973, 3:62 argues that the cult was firmly implanted in Thasian society and that important people were members of the group.

[ back ] 62. The text was first published by Roussel in Syria 23 (1942/3), 21–32. See also Klaffenbach 1948:376–379; most recently Sosin 2005:133, who argues that the verb anaskeuazētai (line 16, cf. also anaskeuazōntai lines 20ff.) indicates a threat to the property itself, not to the property rights.

[ back ] 63. Cf. Dunand 1973, 3:134n2.

[ back ] 64. Fraser 1960:40.

[ back ] 65. Sosin 2005:135.

[ back ] 66. A good and well-documented example is Rhodes, where the priests are firmly integrated in the religious cursus honorum (cf. Dignas 2003). But see Dunand 1973, 3:142, who assumes that the rather low place in the priestly lists suggests inferiority to the Greek cults. The approach to studying priesthoods becomes, once more, crucial. Dunand seeks the oriental aspect of the Egyptian cults whereas a student of Rhodian religion would emphasize the full integration of the cults in the idiosyncratic and quite remarkable religious cursus honorum.

[ back ] 67. See the observations made by Bremmer in this volume on the religious officials in the Ephesian Artemisium.