Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

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

[202] Oracle from Delphi on Dionysiac Societies (ca. 278-250 BCE / 150 CE) Magnesia on the Maeander - Caria

Magnesia on the Maeander (Caria, Asia Minor — Pleiades map), ca. 278-250 BCE / 150 CE
AGRW 202 = GRA 143 = IMagnMai 215 = Jaccottet 2003, vol. 2, no. 146 = SEG 17 (1960), no. 495 = PHI 260765 + 260613 = AGRW ID# 1463
Copenhagen Inventory info: 1401


Slab of marble. In the mid-second century CE, an initiate has a supposedly ancient oracular response (which likely places itself in the fourth or first half of the third century BCE) re-engraved. This consultation of Apollo at the oracle at Delphi results in the establishment of associations at Magnesia headed by maenads (literally “mad women” or “raving women”, attendants of Dionysos). In some versions of mythology, the archetypal maenad Ino (a daughter of Kadmos, founder of Thebes) was considered the foster mother of Dionysos.


To good fortune!  When Akrodemos son of Dioteimos was civic president (prytanis), the Magnesian People (dēmos) consulted the god concerning the sign which occurred: An image of Dionysos was discovered in a plane tree, located opposite the city, which made a loud piercing sound caused by the wind.  What does this mean?  Why does it continue?  For this reason, the oracular messengers Hermonax son of Epikratos and Aristarchos son of Diodoros were (10) sent to the Delphians.

The god answered: Magnesians, who obtained the holy city on the Maiandros river, defenders of our possessions: You came to hear from my mouth what the appearance of Bacchos in the bush means for you.  He appeared as a youth, when the clear–aired city was founded but (20) well–cut temples were not yet built for Dionysos.  Do the following, oh exceedingly strong people: Dedicate temples which delight in the wand (thyrsos) and appoint a perfect and sacred priest.  And come onto Thebes’ holy ground, so that you may receive maenads from the race of Ino daughter of Kadmos. They will also give to you good rites (orgia) and customs (nomima) and will consecrate Bacchic societies (thiasoi) (30) in the city.

According to the oracle, by way of the oracular messengers, the three maenads, Kosko, Baubo, and Thettale, were brought from Thebes: Kosko gathered together the society (thiasos) of the plane tree, (40) Baubo the society before the city, and Thettale the society of Kataibatai.  They died and were buried by the Magnesians: Kosko lies at Kosko hill, Baubo in Tabarnis, and Thettale near the theatre.



This is dedicated to the god Dionysos.  Apollonios Mokolles, ancient initiate, had this ancient oracle inscribed upon a slab together with the altar.

Translation by: Harland


Ἀγαθῇ τύχῃ. | ἐπὶ πρυτάνεως Ἀκροδήμου τοῦ Δι–|οτείμου ὁ δῆμος ὁ Μαγνήτων ἐπερω–|τᾷ τὸν θεὸν περὶ τοῦ σημείου τοῦ || γεγονότος ὅτι πλατάνου κατὰ τὴν | πόλιν κλασθείσης ὑπὸ ἀνέμου εὑ–|ρέθη ἐν αὐτῇ ἀφείδρυμα Διονύσου, | τί αὐτῷ σημαίνει ἢ τί ἂν ποιήσας | ἀδεῶς διατελοίη· δι’ ὃν θεοπρόποι || ἐπέμφθησαν ἰς Δελφοὺς Ἑρμῶναξ | Ἐπικράτους Ἀρίσταρχος Διοδώρου. | Θεὸς ἔχρησεν· | Μαιάνδροιο λαχόντες ἐφ᾿ ὕδασιν | ἱερὸν ἄστυ Μάγνητες κτεάνοις || ἐπαμύντορες ἡμετέροισιν, | ἤλθετε πευσόμενοι στομάτων ἀπ’ ἐ–|μεῖο, τίς ὑμεῖν μῦθος, ἐπεὶ Βάκ–|χος θάμνῳ ἔνι καίμενος ὤφθη. | ἐξεφάνη δὲ ἔτι κοῦρος, ἐπεὶ πτολί–||αιθρα τιθέντες νηοὺς οὐκ ᾠκίσ–|σατ’ ἐϋτμήτους Διονύσῳ. ἀλλὰ | καὶ ὥς, ὦ δῆμε μεγάσθενες, ἵδρυε | νηοὺς θυρσοχαροῦς· ἱερῆα τίθει | δὲ εὐάρτιον ἁγνόν· ἐλθέτε δὲ || ἐς Θήβης ἱερὸν πέδον, ὄφρα λάβητε | Μαινάδας, αἳ γενεῆς Εἰνοῦς ἄπο Κα–|δμηείης· αἳ δ’ ὑμεῖν δώσουσι καὶ | ὄργια καὶ νόμιμα ἐσθλὰ καὶ θιά–|σους Βάκχοιο καθειδρύσουσιν || ἐν ἄστει. κατὰ τὸν χρησμὸν διὰ | τῶν θεοπρόπων ἐδόθησαν ἐκ Θηβῶν | Μαινάδες τρεῖς Κοσκὼ Βαυβὼ | Θετταλή, καὶ ἡ μὲν Κοσκὼ συνήγαγεν | θίασον τὸν Πλατανιστηνῶν, || ἡ δὲ Βαυβὼ τὸν πρὸ πόλεως, ἡ δὲ | Θετταλὴ τὸν τῶν Καταιβατῶν· | θανοῦσαι δὲ αὗται ἐτάφησαν | ὑπὸ Μαγνήτων, καὶ ἡ μὲν Κοσκὼ | κεῖται ἐν Κοσκωβούνῳ, ἡ δὲ Βαυ–||βὼ ἐν Ταβάρνει, ἡ δὲ Θετταλὴ | πρὸς τῷ θεάτρῳ.


Θεῷ Διονύσῳ | Ἀπολλώνιος Μοκόλλης | ἀρχαῖος μύστης ἀρχαῖον || χρησμὸν ἐ[πὶ] στήλης ἀνα–|γράψας σὺν τῷ βωμῷ [ἀν]έθ[η]–|κεν.

IMagnMai 215: Photo from Helen McClees, A Study of Women in Attic Inscriptions (New York: Columbia University Press, 1920), following p. 51. Public domain.

IMagnMai 215: Squeeze from Salomon Reinach, “Oracle de la Pythie de Delphes adressé à la ville de Magnésie du Méandre,” REG 3 (1890) 354-355.


Item added: January 2, 2012
Item modified: November 6, 2020
ID number: 1463
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