Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

An expanding collection of inscriptions, papyri, and other sources in translation (run by Philip A. Harland)

Oracle of Apollo and Foundation of a Familial Society by Poseidonios (300-250 BCE) Halikarnassos - Caria


Halikarnassos (Caria, Asia Minor — Pleiades map), ca. 300-250 BCE
LSAM 72, lines 1-10 = W. R. Paton and J. L. Myres, "Karian Sites and Inscriptions," JHS 16 (1896) 188–271, at 234-236 (no. 36) = GIBM IV 896 = CCCA I 715 = SEG 15, 637 = PHI 258180  = ID# 10993


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Slab of blue marble consisting of over twenty pieces. Regarding Apollo, Lord of Telmessos, there were towns named Telmessos (or: Telmissos) in both Lycia and Caria, but the Carian town was considerably closer to Halikarnassos, being about 60 stades (8-9 km) to the west (at the site of modern Gürice). Ancient sources place experts in divination at Carian Telmessos, but this evidence is for the consultation of seers or interpreters of divine signs, not for an oracular temple (cf. Cicero, De div. 1.41.91 and 1.42.94; Herodotus, 1.78.2-3; David Harvey, "Herodotus, I, 78 and 84: Which Telmessos?,"Kernos 4 [1991] 245-258). Our inscription is not clear on where this oracle of Apollo came from, but Didyma (about 80 km by land or only 40 km by sea) may be the best option. So both Apollo of Didyma (for the oracle) and Apollo of Carian Telmessos (for the sacrifices) may be involved. The so called 'monthly officials' in the inscription do not in fact serve on a monthly basis, so the term is used more generally for sacrificial officials here and in the similar Epikteta and Diomedon bequests

With the exception of the opening oracle section which is translated by Harland, translation (with some terminological modifications by Harland) by Carbon used under a Creative Commons licence from J.-M. Carbon, S. Peels and V. Pirenne-Delforge, "A Collection of Greek Ritual Norms (CGRN)", Liège 2016- (http://cgrn.ulg.ac.be/file/104/?enfr=Poseidonios, consulted in 2018).

(I: Oracle)

When Poseidonios sent to inquire of Apollo for himself and for members of his family, past and present, both the men and the women, regarding what to do and what to accomplish, the god answered: “It is more desirable and better for them to do as their ancestors did and to appease and honor Zeus Patroos (“Ancestral Zeus”), Apollo Lord of Telmessos, the Fates (Moirai), and the Mother of the Gods, and also to honor and appease the Good Spirit (Agathos Daimon) of Poseidonios (10) and of Gorgis (i.e. Poseidonios’ wife). There will be a more desirable outcome if they carefully continue to observe and do these things.”

(II: Pledge by Poseidonios)

Poseidonios the son of Iatrokles gave as a pledge to his own descendants, to their descendants both from male and female offspring, and to those who take wives (?) from them (i.e. in-laws), (15) for the sacrifice to those gods whom the god prescribed: the field in Astypalaia, which borders with the land of Anthes and Damagetos, and the courtyard, and the garden, and the land surrounding the tomb, as well as a half of the rights of tillage at Taramptos.  (20) Let the one who is the oldest among the descendants of Poseidonios, according to the line of male descent, always exploit these bequests and serve as priest, handing over four gold pieces net each year.

(III: Decree)

It was decided by Poseidonios, the descendants of Poseidonios and those who have taken wives (?) from them to appoint from their ranks each year three ‘monthly officials’ (epimēnioi), (25) who, when they have received from the priest during the month of Eleutherios the four gold pieces each year from the pledge, will put on the sacrifices. But if he (i.e. the priest) fails to pay or refuses to exploit the endowments, then the pledged properties are to be held in common and leased out by the ‘monthly officials.’  The precinct is also to become common property and (30) to be leased out by the ‘monthly officials’.   And providing the rent money and the money from the right of tillage: let them supervise the rites for two days during the month of Hermaion, providing all the customary necessities for the sacrifices to the priest: on the first day, sacrifice a ram to the Good Fortune of the father and mother of Poseidonios, (35) as well as a ram to the Good Spirit (Agathos Daimon) of Poseidonios and Gorgis; on the second day, a ram is to be sacrificed to Zeus Patroos, a ram to Apollo who rules over Telemessos, a ram to the Fates and a goat to the Mother of the Gods.  Let the priest obtain from each animal a thigh and a quarter-portion of the entrails, (40) and he is to have an equal share of the other parts.  Let the ‘monthly officials,’ having extracted sufficient quantities of the remaining meat for the banqueters and the wives, make equal portions and give such a portion to each of those present and absent.  But let them reserve the heads and feet for themselves.  And (45) they must sell the fleeces in the thiasos and give an account on the second day before the dinner, writing up for what each sum was spent, and the remainder (i.e. the profit) is to be spent on dedicatory offerings.  The oracle, the pledge (50) and the decree are to be written up on a marble stele and set up in the precinct.  May it be better under the control of god and man for those who maintain and enact these commands.

Translation by: Jan-Mathieu Carbon (modified)



ἀπο[στ]είλαντος Πο[σ]ειδ[ωνίου καὶ χρ]ησά[σθα]ι̣ ǀ τῷ Ἀπόλλωνι, τί ἂν αὐτῷ τε καὶ τοῖς ἐξ αὐτοῦ ǀ γινομένοις καὶ οὖσιν, ἔκ τε τῶν ἀρσένων καὶ τῶν θǀηλειῶν, εἴη λώϊον καὶ ἄμεινον ποιοῦσιν καὶ πράσǀǀσουσιν, ἔχρησεν ὁ θεός, ἔσεσθαι λώϊον καὶ ἄμειǀνον αὐτοῖς ἱλασκομένοις καὶ τιμῶσιν, καθάπερ ǀ καὶ οἱ πρόγονοι, Δία Πατρώϊον καὶ Ἀπόλλωνα Τελεǀμεσσοῦ μεδέοντα καὶ Μοίρας καὶ Θεῶν Μητέρα· ǀ τιμᾶν δὲ καὶ ἱλάσκεσθαι καὶ Ἀγαθὸν Δαίμονα Ποσειǀǀδωνίου καὶ Γοργίδος, τοῖς δὲ ταῦτα διαφυλάσσουσιν ǀ καὶ ποιοῦσιν ἄμεινον ἔσεσθαι.

GIBM IV 896.
Used under a Creative Commons Licence. © Trustees of the British Museum, inv.
no. 1876,0701.1

Item added: February 25, 2013
Item modified: December 7, 2018
ID number: 10993
Short link address:
http://www.philipharland.com/greco-roman-associations/?p=10993

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