Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

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

Graffito for Apollo by the Boreikian Society (ca. 300 BCE) Olbia - Scythia and Moesia

Olbia (Scythia and Moesia, Danube and Black Sea areas — Pleiades map), ca. 300 BCE
GRA 92 = IOlbiaD 95 = SEG 42 (1992), no. 709; SEG 53 (2003), no.788; SEG 58 (2008), no. 772 = PHI 184171 = AGRW ID# 11613
Copenhagen Inventory info: 1258


Circular inscription on the outer part and lower support of a fifth century Attic vase with black lacquer. The self-designation boreikoi (Βορεικοὶ) for members of this society may relate to the personified North Wind (Βορεάς), but there is also evidence (five graffiti and the present inscription) for a cult of "Apollo Boreas" among Ionian settlers in the northern Black Sea area dating back to the archaic period (VI BCE). See Florina Panait Birzescu, "Apollon Bores/Boreas in den griechischen Koloniestädten des Schwarzmeergebietes," Dacia 54 (2010) 97-105. It may be that the different titles or names mentioned here (Bios, Kosmos, and Phos) were considered attributes or epithets of Apollo Boreas. A connection with Orphic ideas is also possible. Three tiny bone tablets dedicated to Dionysos were discovered in the sanctuary at Olbia, and one of them refers either to Orphic matters or to "Orphics." The themes that appear on these tablets are comparable to the present inscription: one of the tablets includes the words "Life, Death, Life, | Truth," another "Peace, War, | Truth, Falsehood," and the third "Truth, | Body, Soul" (IOlbiaD 94). See M.L. West, "The Orphics of Olbia," ZPE 45 (1982) 17-29. In the so called Orphic hymns from a later era (2nd century CE), Apollo is designated the "light-bringing spirit" (φωσφόρε δαῖμον) who "sees all and brings light to mortals," and he is said to "hold the bounds of the entire cosmos" (ἔχεις δέ τε πείρατα κόσμου παντός; cf. Birzescu 2010, 103-104).

(inner circle 1)

Bios Bios (“Life”), Apollo Apollo, Helios Helios (“Sun”), Kosmos Kosmos (“Universe”), Phos Phos (“Light”).

(outer circle 1)

Kallinikos son of Philonikos, Poseidonios (?) son of Sokrates, Heroson son of Philoxenos, Demetrios son of Sokrates, and Philon son of Sokrates, the Boreikian (Boreikoi) society-members (thiasitai).

Translation by: Harland

{inner circle 1}

Βίος Βίος, Ἀπόλλων Ἀπόλλων, Ἥλιο̣[ς] Ἥλιος, Κόσμος Κ[όσ]μος, Φῶς Φῶς.

{outer circle 1}

Καλλίνικος Φ̣ιλ[ονί]κ̣ου, [Ποσει]δώνιος Σωκράτ<ο>υ, Ἡροσῶν Φιλοξένου, Δημήτριο̣[ς] Σωκράτου, Φίλων Σωκράτου, Βορεικοὶ θιασῖται.

Item added: March 11, 2013
Item modified: October 1, 2020
ID number: 11613
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