Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

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

[7] Regulations of the Iobacchoi (164/165 CE) Athens - Attica


Athens (Attica, Greece and Macedonia — Pleiades map), 164/165 CE
AGRW 7 = GRA 51 = IG II² 1368 = LSCG 51 = PHI 3584  = ID# 496


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Column found in the apse of a Roman building (see B2 in AGRW) between the Pynx and the Areopagus in Athens, on the western slopes of the Acropolis, now in the Epigraphical Museum, Athens. The top of the column depicts the head of a bull above two panthers on either side of a large drinking vessel. The members of this group are called Iobacchoi, a variant on bakchoi or bacchants (devotees of Bacchos). The priest that is mentioned in the opening, Claudius Herodes, is most likely to be identified with Claudius Herodes Atticus, the well-known sophist of the Roman senatorial order (and consul at Rome in 143 CE).

To good fortune! In the year that Arrius (or: Aurelius) Epaphroditos was civic leader (archōn), on the eighth of Elaphebolion, an assembly (agora) was first convened by the priest who was nominated by Aurelius Nikomachos, who had served as vice-priest for seventeen years and as priest for twenty-three years and had, for the order and glory of the Baccheion, resigned while still living in favor of his excellency Claudius Herodes, by whom he was nominated as vice-priest.

He (the vice priest) read the statutes drawn up by the former priests, Chrysippos and Dionysios, and after the priest and head of the bacchic-devotees (archibakchos) and the president had approved, they all shouted: “We will use these forever!” “Bravo for the priest!” “Revive the statutes!” “It is fitting for you to do so!” “Health and good order to the Baccheion!” “Inscribe the statutes on the monument (stele)!” “Put the question!”

The priest said: “Since it is pleasing to me and to my fellow priests and to all of you, as you ask, we shall put the question.” And the president (proedros), Rufus son of Aphrodisios, put the question: “To whomever it seems good that the statutes that have been read out should be ratified and inscribed on a monument (stele), raise your hand.” Everyone raised his hand. They shouted: “Long life to his excellency, the priest Herodes!” “Now you have good fortune!” “Now we are the best of all Bacchic societies!” “Bravo to the vice-priest!” “Let the monument be made!” The vice-priest said: “The monument will be set on the column and inscribed. For the presiding officers shall be empowered to prevent any of those decrees from being violated.”

It is not allowed for anyone to become an Iobacchos (i.e. a member of the Bacchic association) unless he has first registered with the priest the customary notice and is approved by a vote of the Iobacchoi, if he appears to be worthy and suitable for the Baccheion. The entrance fee shall be 50 denarii and a libation for one whose father was not a member. Similarly, those whose fathers were members should be enlisted, giving an additional 25 denarii – that is, half the usual rate – until puberty.

The Iobacchoi shall meet together on the ninth of each month, on the annual festival, and on the Bacchic days (Bakcheia), and if there is any occasional feast of the god. Each member shall speak and act and be zealous for the association, contributing to the fixed monthly dues for wine. If he does not fulfill these obligations, he shall be shut out of the gathering (stibas). Those named in the decree shall be empowered to enforce this, except in the cases of persons who are out of town, in mourning, ill, or if someone to be admitted to the gathering is completely indispensable. The priests shall judge these cases.

If a brother of an Iobacchos should enter, having been approved by a vote, he shall pay 50 denarii. If an uninitiated boy active in sacred services has paid the fee to the gods and the Baccheion, he shall be an Iobacchos with his father, on the basis of one libation by his father. The priest shall give a letter to everyone who has been submitted a notice and has been approved by vote indicating that he is an Iobacchos – after the member pays the entrance fee to the priest. The priest shall indicate the payments made, and for which purpose, in the letter.

In the gathering no one is allowed to sing, cause a disturbance, or applaud. Rather, with all order and decorum members shall speak and do their parts, as the priest or the head of the bacchic-devotees directs. None of the Iobacchoi who has not paid the contributions for either the meetings on the ninth of the month or the annual festival is permitted to enter into the gathering, until it has been decided by the priests whether he should pay the fee or be allowed to enter anyway. Now if anyone begins a fight or is disorderly or sits in someone else’s seat or insults or abuses someone else, the person abused or insulted shall produce two of the Iobacchoi as sworn witnesses, testifying that they heard the insult or abuse. The one who committed the insult or the abuse shall pay to the common treasury (koinon) 25 light drachmas, or the one who was the cause of the fight shall either pay the same 25 drachmas or not come to any more meetings of the Iobacchoi until he pays. If someone comes to blows, the one who was struck shall file a report with the priest or the vice priest, who shall without fail convene a meeting and the Iobacchoi shall judge by a vote with the priest presiding. The offender shall be penalized by not being permitted to enter for a time – as long as it seems appropriate – and by paying a fine up to 25 silver  denarii. The same penalty shall also be applied to the one who is beaten and does not go to the priest or the head of the bacchic-devotees but instead brings a charge with the public courts. The penalty shall be the same for the officer in charge of order (eukosmos) if he does not expel those who fight.

If one of the Iobacchoi, knowing that a meeting ought to be convened for this purpose, does not attend, he shall pay a fine of 50 light drachmas to the common treasury (koinon). If he fails to pay, the treasurer shall be permitted to prevent him from entering the meetings of the Baccheion until he pays. If one of those who enters does not pay the entrance fee to the priest or the vice-priest, he shall be expelled from the banquet until he pays and he shall pay in whatever way the priest orders.

No one is permitted to recite a speech (or: perform a hymn [?]) unless the priest or the vice priest gives permission. Otherwise he is liable to pay a fine of 30 light drachmas to the treasury. The priest shall perform the customary services (litourgia) of the gathering and of the yearly festival in a fitting manner: He shall set before the gathering one libation of the Festival of Return (Katagogia), and shall give the discourse about the god (theologia), which the former priest Nikomachos inaugurated out of his zeal. The head of the bacchic-devotees shall sacrifice to the god and make a libation on the tenth day of the month of Elaphebolion. When the parts of the sacrificial victims are distributed, let them go to the priest, the vice-priest, the head of the bacchic-devotees, the treasurer, the cowherd (boukolos), “Dionysos,” “Kore,” “Palaimon,” “Aphrodite,” “Proteurythmos.” Let these roles be apportioned among all by lot.

If any of the Iobacchoi receives a legacy, honor, or appointment, he shall make a libation for the Iobacchoi commensurate with the occasion – a marriage, birth, pitcher-festival, coming of age, grant of citizenship; being honored as a rod-bearer, Council member, president of the games, Panhellene, member of the elders’ council (gerousia), member of the lawgivers (thesmothesia), or any magistracy whatsoever; an appointment as a fellow sacrificer, police chief, or sacred-victor, and if any who is an Iobacchos should obtain any promotion.

The officer in charge of order shall be chosen by lot or be appointed by the priest, bearing the wand (thyrsos) of the god for anyone who is disorderly or creates a disturbance. Now if the wand is laid on anyone – and the priest or the head of the bacchic-devotees approves – the one who made the distrubance shall leave the banquet hall. If he refuses, those who have been appointed by the priests as “horses” (i.e. bouncers) shall take him outside of the door. And he shall be liable to the punishment that applies to those who fight.

The Iobacchoi shall choose a treasurer by vote every two years. He shall receive for registration all of the property of the Baccheion. He shall likewise hand over everything to his successor. He shall provide at his own expense the lamp-oil for the meetings on the ninth of the month, the annual festival, and the gathering, as well as all the usual days of the god and the days on which legacies, honors, and appointments are celebrated. If he so wishes, he shall choose a secretary at his own risk, and the treasurer’s libation shall be given to him and he shall be exempt from membership fees for two years.

If an Iobacchos dies,  a wreath worth up to five denarii and a single jar of wine shall be provided for those who attend the funeral. But no one who is absent from the funeral itself shall have any wine.

Translation by: Harland and Kloppenborg



ἀγαθῇ τύχῃ. | ἐπὶ ἄρχοντος Ἀρ(ρίου) Ἐπαφροδείτου, μηνὸς | Ἐλαφηβολιῶνος η' ἑσταμένου, ἀγορὰν | συνήγαγεν πρώτως ὁ ἀποδειχθεὶς || ἱερεὺς ὑπὸ Αὐρ(ηλίου) Νεικομάχου τοῦ ἀνθι|ερασαμένου ἔτη ιζ' καὶ ἱερασαμένου | ἔτη κγ' καὶ παραχωρήσαντος ζῶντος | εἰς κόσμον καὶ δόξαν τοῦ Βακχείου | τῷ κρατίστῳ Κλα(υδίῳ) Ἡρώδῃ, ὑφ’ οὗ ἀνθιερεὺς || ἀποδειχθεὶς [ἀν]έγνω δόγματα τῶν | ἱερασαμένων Χρυσίππου καὶ Διονυσίου, | καὶ ἐπαινέσαντος τοῦ ἱερέως καὶ τοῦ ἀρ|χιβάχχου καὶ τοῦ προστάτου ἐξ(εβόησαν)· "τούτοις | ἀεὶ χρώμεθα", "καλῶς ὁ ἱερεύς", "ἀνάκτησαι || [τ]ὰ δόγματα· σοὶ πρέπει", "εὐστάθειαν τῷ | Βακχείῳ καὶ εὐκοσμίαν", "ἐν στήλῃ τὰ δό|γματα" "ἐπερώτα". ὁ ἱερεὺς εἶπεν· ἐπεὶ καὶ | ἐμοὶ καὶ τοῖς συνιερεῦσί μο[υ] καὶ ὑ|μεῖν πᾶσιν ἀρέσκει, ὡς ἀξιοῦτ̣ε ἐπε||ρωτήσομεν. καὶ ἐπερώτησεν ὁ πρό|εδρος Ῥοῦφος Ἀφροδεισίου· ὅτῳ δοκεῖ | κύρια εἶναι τὰ ἀνεγνωσμένα δόγμα|τα καὶ ἐν στήλῃ ἀναγραφῆναι, ἀράτω | τὴν χεῖρα. πάντες ἐπῆραν. ἐξ(εβόησαν)· "πολλοῖς || ἔτεσι τὸν κράτιστον ἱερέα Ἡρώδην" | "νῦν εὐτυχεῖς, νῦν πάντων πρῶτοι | τῶν Βακχείων", "καλῶς ὁ ἀνθιερεύς", "ἡ στή|λη γενέστω". ὁ ἀνθιερεὺς εἶπε· ἔσται ἡ |στήλη ἐπὶ τοῦ κείονος, καὶ ἀναγραφή || σονται· εὐτονήσουσι γὰρ οἱ προεστῶ|τες τοῦ μηδὲν αὐτῶν λυθῆναι. vacat | μηδενὶ ἐξέστω ἰόβακχον εἶναι, ἐὰν μὴ | πρῶτον ἀπογράψηται παρὰ τῷ ἱερεῖ | τὴν νενομισμένην ἀπογραφὴν καὶ || δοκιμασθῇ ὑπὸ τῶν ἰοβάκχων ψή|φῳ, εἰ ἄξιος φαίνοιτο καὶ ἐπιτήδειος | τῷ Βακχείῳ. ἔστω δὲ τὸ ἰσηλύσιον | τῷ μὴ ἀπὸ πατρὸς (δην.) ν' καὶ σπονδή. | ὁμοίως καὶ οἱ ἀπὸ πατρὸς ἀπογραφέ||σθωσαν ἐπὶ (δην.) κε' διδόντες ἡμιφόριον | μέχρις ὅτου πρὸς γυναῖκας ὦσιν. | συνίτωσαν δὲ οἱ ἰόβακχοι τάς τε ἐνά|τας καὶ τὰς ἀμφιετηρίδας καὶ Βακχεῖ|α καὶ εἴ τις πρόσκαιρος ἑορτὴ τοῦ θεοῦ, || ἕκαστος ἢ λέγων ἢ ποιῶν ἢ φιλοτει|μούμενος, καταβάλλων μηνιαίαν | τὴν ὁρισθεῖσαν εἰς τὸν οἶνον φοράν· | ἐὰν δὲ μὴ πληροῖ, εἰργέσθω τῆς στιβά|δος, καὶ εὐτονείτωσαν οἱ τῷ ψηφίσμα||τι ἐνγεγραμμένοι, χωρὶς ἢ ἀποδημίας | ἢ πένθους ἢ νόσου ἢ <εἰ> σφόδρα ἀνανκαῖός | τις ἦν ὁ προσδεχθησόμενος ἰς τὴν στιβά|δα, κρεινάντων τῶν ἱερέων. ἐὰν δὲ ἰοβάκ|χου ἀδελφὸς ἰσέρχηται ψήφῳ δοκιμασθείς, || διδότω (δην.) ν'· ἐὰν δὲ ἱερὸς παῖς ἐξωτικὸς καθεσ|θεὶς ἀναλώσῃ τὰ πρὸς τοὺς θεοὺς καὶ τὸ Βακχεῖον, | ἔστω μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἰόβακχος ἐπὶ μιᾷ | σπονδῇ τοῦ πατρός. vv τῷ δὲ ἀπογραψαμένῳ | καὶ ψηφοφορηθέντι διδότω ὁ ἱερεὺς ἐπισ||τολὴν ὅτι ἐστὶν ἰόβακχος, ἐὰν πρῶτον | δοῖ τῷ ἱερεῖ τὸ ἰσηλύσιον, ἐνγραφομένου | τῇ ἐπιστολῇ τὰ χωρήσαντα εἰς τόδε τι. | οὐδενὶ δὲ ἐξέσται ἐν τῇ στιβάδι οὔτε ᾆσαι | οὔτε θορυβῆσαι οὔτε κροτῆσαι, μετὰ δὲ || πάσης εὐκοσμίας καὶ ἡσυχίας τοὺς μερισ|μοὺς λέγειν καὶ ποιεῖν, προστάσσοντος | τοῦ ἱερέως ἢ τοῦ ἀρχιβάκχου. vvvv μηδενὶ | ἐξέστω τῶν ἰοβάκχων τῶν μὴ συντελε|σάντων εἴς τε τὰς ἐνάτας καὶ ἀμφιετηρί||δας εἰσέρχεσθαι ἰς τὴν στιβάδα μέχρις ἂν | ἐπικριθῇ αὐτῷ ὑπὸ τῶν ἱερέων ἢ ἀπο|δοῦναι αὐτὸν ἢ ἰσέρχεσθαι. vvv μάχης δὲ | ἐάν τις ἄρξηται ἢ εὑρεθῇ τις ἀκοσμῶν ἢ | ἐπ’ ἀλλοτρίαν κλισίαν ἐρχόμενος ἢ ὑβρί||ζων ἢ λοιδορῶν τινα, ὁ μὲν λοιδορη|θεὶς ἢ ὑβρισθεὶς παραστανέτω δύο ἐκ|τῶν ἰοβάκχων ἐνόρκους, ὅτι ἤκου|σαν ὑβριζόμενον ἢ λοιδορούμενον, | καὶ ὁ ὑβρίσας ἢ λοιδορήσας ἀποτιν[νύ]||τω τῷ κοινῷ λεπτοῦ δρ(αχμὰς) κε', ἢ ὁ αἴτιος | γενόμενος τῆς μάχης ἀποτιννύτω | τὰς αὐτὰς δρ(αχμὰς) κε', ἢ μὴ συνίτωσαν ἰς τοὺς | ἰοβάκχους μέχρις ἂν ἀποδῶσιν. | ἐὰν δέ τις ἄχρι πληγῶν ἔλθῃ, ἀπογραφέστω || ὁ πληγεὶς πρὸς τὸν ἱερέα ἢ τὸν ἀνθιερέα, | ὁ δὲ ἐπάνανκες ἀγορὰν ἀγέτω, καὶ ψή|φῳ οἱ ἰόβακχοι κρεινέτωσαν προηγου|μένου τοῦ ἱερέως, καὶ προστειμάσθω | πρὸς χρόνον μὴ εἰσελθεῖν ὅσον ἂν δό||ξῃ καὶ ἀργυρίου μέχρι (δην.) κε'. v ἔστω δὲ | τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπιτείμια καὶ τῷ δαρέντι καὶ | μὴ ἐπεξελθόντι παρὰ τῷ ἱερεῖ ἢ τῷ | ἀρχιβάκχῳ, ἀλλὰ δημοσίᾳ ἐνκαλέσαν|τι. v ἐπιτείμια δὲ ἔστω τὰ αὐτὰ τῷ εὐκόσ||μῳ μὴ ἐκβαλόντι τοὺς μαχομένους. | εἰ δέ τις τῶν ἰοβάκχων εἰδὼς ἐπὶ τοῦ|το ἀγορὰν ὀφείλουσαν ἀχθῆναι μὴ ἀ|παντήσῃ, ἀποτεισάτω τῷ κοινῷ λε|πτοῦ δρ(αχμὰς) ν'. ἐὰν δὲ ἀπειθῆι πρασσόμε||νος, ἐξέστω τῷ ταμίᾳ κωλῦσαι αὐτὸν | τῆς εἰσόδου τῆς εἰς τὸ Βακχεῖον μέ|χρις ἂν ἀποδοῖ. vvvv ἐὰν δέ τις τῶν | εἰσερχομένων τὸ ἰσηλύσιον μὴ | διδοῖ τῷ ἱερεῖ ἢ τῷ ἀνθιερεῖ, εἰργέσ||θω τῆς ἑστιάσεως μέχρις ἂν ἀπο|δοῖ, καὶ πρασσέσθω ὅτῳ ἂν τρόπῳ | ὁ ἱερεὺς κελεύσῃ. vv μηδεὶς δ’ ἔπος | φωνείτω μὴ ἐπιτρέψαντος τοῦ ἱε|ρέως ἢ τοῦ ἀνθιερέως ἢ ὑπεύθυνος || ἔστω τῷ κοινῶι λεπτοῦ δρ(αχμῶν) λ'. | ὁ ἱερεὺς δὲ ἐπιτελείτω τὰς ἐθίμους | λιτουργίας στιβάδος καὶ ἀμφιετη|ρίδος εὐπρεπῶς καὶ τιθέτω τὴν | τῶν καταγωγίων σπονδὴν στι||βάδι μίαν καὶ θεολογίαν, ἣν ἤρ|ξατο ἐκ φιλοτειμίας ποιεῖν ὁ ἱε|ρασάμενος Νεικόμαχος. vv ὁ δὲ ἀρχί|βακχος θυέτω τὴν θυσίαν τῷ | θεῷ καὶ τὴν σπονδὴν τιθέτω || κατὰ δεκάτην τοῦ Ἐλαφηβολι|ῶνος μηνός. vv μερῶν δὲ γεινομέ|νων αἰρέτω ἱερεύς, ἀνθιερεύς, | ἀρχίβακχος, ταμίας, βουκολικός, | Διόνυσος, Κόρη, Παλαίμων, Ἀφρο||δείτη, Πρωτεύρυθμος. τὰ δὲ ὀνό|ματα αὐτῶν συνκληρούσθω | πᾶσι. vv ὃς δ’ ἂν τῶν ἰοβάκχων λάχῃ κλῆ|ρον ἢ τειμὴν ἢ τάξιν, τιθέτω τοῖς ἰο|βάκχοις σπονδὴν ἀξίαν τῆς τάξεως, || γάμων, γεννήσεως, Χοῶν, ἐφηβείας, | πολειτείας, ῥαβδοφορίας, βουλείας, ἀ|θλοθεσίας, Πανέλληνος, γερουσίας, | θεσμοθεσίας, ἀρχῆς ἧσδηποτεοῦν, | συνθυσίας, εἰρηναρχίας, ἱερονείκου, || καὶ εἴ τίς τι ἐπὶ τὸ κρεῖσσον ἰόβακχος ὢν | τύχοιτο. v εὔκοσμος δὲ κληρούσθω ἢ καθισ|τάσθω ὑπὸ τοῦ ἱερέως, ἐπιφέρων τῷ ἀκοσ|μοῦντι ἢ θορυβοῦντι τὸν θύρσον τοῦ θε|οῦ. vv ᾧ δὲ ἂν παρατεθῇ ὁ θύρσος, ἐπικρεί||ναντος τοῦ ἱερέως ἢ τοῦ ἀρχιβάκχου | ἐξερχέσθω τοῦ ἑστιατορείου. v ἐὰν δὲ ἀ|πειθῇ, αἰρέτωσαν αὐτὸν ἔξω τοῦ πυλῶ|νος οἱ κατασταθησόμενοι ὑπὸ τῶν | ἱερέων ἵπποι, καὶ ἔστω ὑπεύθυνος || τοῖς περὶ τῶν μαχομένων προστεί|μοις. vv ταμίαν δὲ αἱρείσθωσαν οἱ ἰόβακ|χοι ψήφῳ εἰς διετίαν, καὶ παραλαμβα|νέτω πρὸς ἀναγραφὴν τὰ τοῦ Βακχεί|ου πάντα, καὶ παραδώσει ὁμοίως τῷ || μετ’ αὐτὸν ἐσομένῳ ταμίᾳ. παρεχέτω | δὲ οἴκοθεν τὸ θερμόλυχνον τάς τε ἐ|νάτας καὶ ἀμφιετηρίδα καὶ στιβάδα, | καὶ ὅσαι ἔθιμοι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμέραι καὶ | τὰς ἀπὸ κλήρων ἢ τειμῶν ἢ τάξε||ων ἡμέρας. vv αἱρείσθω δὲ γραμμα|τέα, ἐὰν βούληται, τῷ ἰδίῳ κινδύνῳ, | συνκεχωρήσθω δὲ αὐτῷ ἡ ταμιευ|τικὴ σπονδὴ καὶ ἔστω ἀνείσφορος | τὴν διετίαν. vv ἐὰν δέ τις τελευτή||σῃ ἰόβακχος, γεινέσθω στέφανος αὐ|τῷ μέχ<ρ>ι (δην.) ε', καὶ τοῖς ἐπιταφήσασι τι|θέσθω οἴνου κεράμιον ἕν, ὁ δὲ μὴ | ἐπιταφήσας εἰργέσθω τοῦ οἴνου.

AGRW 7: Column with the Regulations of the Iobacchoi from Athens (from Jane Ellen Harrison, Primitive Athens as Described by Thucydides  [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1906], 90, fig. 25). Public domain.

AGRW 7: Column with the Regulations of the Iobacchoi from Athens (from Jane Ellen Harrison, Primitive Athens as Described by Thucydides [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1906], 90, fig. 25). Public domain.

Item added: January 1, 2011
Item modified: May 17, 2017
ID number: 496
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