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Chapter 4 - The Place of Purity

Groups and Associations, Authority and Sanctuaries*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 May 2023

Vincent Gabrielsen
University of Copenhagen
Mario C. D. Paganini
Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien


This chapter proposes to look in some detail at a few evocative cases, primarily from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, where associations or other groups, such as bands of worshippers, were especially concerned with purity or where they published inscribed rules of purity.1 Limited in number partly due to the vicissitudes of epigraphic preservation, partly due to the geographic and chronological specificities of this material – post-Classical Asia Minor and the Aegean – other factors may also explain their scarcity and warrant further investigation.

Private Associations in the Ancient Greek World
Regulations and the Creation of Group Identity
, pp. 86 - 116
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

This chapter proposes to look in some detail at a few evocative cases, primarily from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, where associations or other groups, such as bands of worshippers, were especially concerned with purity or where they published inscribed rules of purity.Footnote 1 Limited in number partly due to the vicissitudes of epigraphic preservation, partly due to the geographic and chronological specificities of this material – post-Classical Asia Minor and the Aegean – other factors may also explain their scarcity and warrant further investigation.

Leading such an investigation entails probing the often-murky background and motivations for the publication of inscriptions regulating cult practice. These have traditionally been called ‘sacred laws’ – a questionable designation, since the documents are not always laws, nor ‘sacred’ in and of themselves. A newer proposal is to view such inscriptions as representative of ‘ritual norms’. These are a heterogeneous group of inscribed documents that defined, prescribed and/or codified norms for Greek ritual practices, such as purification.Footnote 2 The context for the passing of such rules is not often explicitly defined and, indeed, this is usually the case with rules of purity.

In confronting the difficult question of context, the relevant cases adduced here are particularly instructive for apprehending the identity and the authority of the groups in question. One can outline a relatively broad spectrum of groups and associations: those that were identified with a specific sanctuary but do not seem to have been fully in control of it (Section 1); others that expounded purity regulations for sanctuaries that they evidently controlled but where entry was open to other worshippers (Section 2); and finally, cults that were founded by private individuals, whether for their families or for a wider audience, which also enacted rules concerning purity (Section 3).

These case studies thus frame a wider investigation, aimed at addressing the question of why associations and other groups would promulgate rules of purity in the first place. Purity was a fundamental type of order, an indispensable aspect of the definition of any sacred space or cultic community. Proper religious conduct or piety included abstaining (cf. ἁγνεία, ‘purity’, and related concepts) from sources of pollution, a sine qua non for maintaining a successful relationship with the gods (being ἁγνός, ‘pure’, καθαρός, ‘clean’, ὅσιος, ‘pious, holy’ and the like).Footnote 3 As this applied in society at large, so it did too in a smaller religious group or within an associational cult site. Many chapters in the present volume ably and amply underscore the importance of maintaining good order in assembled masses of people, such as associations. Concerns of this sort were administrative, logistical, even hygienic, but could also include ethical factors or those of religious decorum.

On fundamental level, then, it can be assumed that associations with direct ties to a cult or to a sanctuary would naturally wish to maintain it in a ‘well-ordered’ fashion, notably with regard to purity. Where sanctuaries are concerned, it is immediately apparent that associations sought in any eventuality to safeguard the sacrality of this space. For instance, associations in Attica regularly stipulated in lease agreements that a person renting their property treat it not just as normal land, but ‘as sacred’ (ὡς ἱερός).Footnote 4 Implicit in this requirement was also the essential preservation of the purity of the space.

But why did purity in particular matter to some groups? In what cases did this subject become an overt preoccupation? Beyond a general concern for maintaining pious conduct and the integrity of sacred space, such questions are normally difficult to answer fully in the absence of other evidence, though the rationale of the rules can occasionally become clear. Some progress can be made by looking at the circumstances of the development of such rules, where these can be identified, and at exactly how they were articulated. Did they precisely correspond with norms of purity at large or with ones in the local area of the community in question? Or were they different – for instance, more flexible or more stringent? In this regard, comparing purity rules in their local and wider context can be particularly illuminating (see Sections 2 and 3). Some rules articulated by groups can be recognised as inclusive or pragmatic, while others were apparently more strict or moralistic. Qualifying the rules of purity in this way can to some degree help evaluate their motivations. These can further be tied with the overall characteristics of the group, be it one generally welcoming outsiders in its sanctuary or one possessing more selective criteria of admission.

Making a sacred space accessible to worshippers, whether a select or a wider group, created a risk of impurity that needed to be carefully managed. In many if not most cases, associations and groups must have relied on existing, traditional rules of purity, whether recorded by the city and community or not. In other, more distinctive cases, regulations of purity became an intrinsic part of the definition of the cultic community and the organisation of its sacred space. The subject of purity rules therefore forms an interesting focus for apprehending how associations considered and managed sacred space as well as for illuminating the profile of the associations in their local and wider context.

The Bacchoi at Cnidus

Ensuring the purity of a sanctuary, if this was not a private cult site in any sense of the term, may be presumed to have been the remit either of the polis or of the sanctuary itself and its officials. In late Classical or early Hellenistic Cnidus, a group of Bacchoi made a petition to the city council and its prostatai, ‘leaders’. These worshippers of Dionysus formed a cultic group that was sufficiently well organised to make a collective action in front of the civic authorities, though whether they were formally an association – with a charter, rules, fixed membership or the like – remains unclear. The concern of the Bacchoi was apparently that many other worshippers were camping in the sanctuary, thus rendering it not only insalubrious but, worse, impure. Indeed, it must be stressed that the concern of the Bacchoi was not merely a logistical or hygienic one, but rather, as the resulting decree of the city makes explicitly clear, ‘that the sanctuary remain pure’ (ὅπω̣[ς] | ἁγνεύηται τὸ̣ [ἱαρὸ]|ν, ll. 4–6). The petition of the Bacchoi, though now lost to us, will almost certainly have framed their complaint in religious terms, specifically pointing to the necessary purity (ἁγνεία) of the sanctuary of Dionysus.

The city acted on the recommendation of the Bacchoi and passed a decree forbidding camping altogether and very probably imposing penalties to that effect, which are now missing in the fragmentary lines concluding the stele (cf. ll. 12–13). The fragmentary inscription recording this decree is normally presented and restored as follows:Footnote 5

ἔ̣δοξε Κνιδίοι[ς, γν]|ώμα προστατᾶ̣[ν]· | περὶ ὧν τοὶ Βάκ[χοι] | ἐπῆλθον· ὅπω̣[ς] | ἁγνεύηται τὸ̣ [ἱαρὸ]|ν τοῦ Διονύσ[ου το]|ῦ̣ Βάκχου, μὴ ἐ[ξῆ|μ]εν καταλύε[ν ἐν | τῶ]ι ἱαρῶι τῶν̣ [Βάκ|χων μ]ηδένα, μή[τε | ἄρσ]ενα μή[τε θή|λεια]ν̣· εἰ δέ κ̣[ά τις]| καταλ]ύηι̣ – – – – – –

It was decided by the Cnidians, on the proposal of the prostatai, regarding the matters for which the Bacchoi approached (the civic authorities): so that the sanctuary of Dionysus Bacchus remain pure, no one is to be allowed to camp in the sanctuary [of the Bacchoi], neither male nor [female]. If [anyone] should make camp [… (then) …]

A crux of the text occurs in lines 8–10: [ἐν | τῶ]ι ἱαρῶι τῶν̣ [Βάκ|χων μ]ηδένα. This widely accepted restoration would either – highly paradoxically – restrict the prohibition of camping only to the Bacchoi themselves (‘none of the Bacchoi is to camp …’) or would – much more naturally, and as translated here – suggest ownership of the sanctuary by the Bacchoi. Yet the latter reading also begs the question: why, if they owned or controlled the sanctuary, did the Bacchoi either bother or need to ask the city to intervene in the matter of the purity of their sacred space? We could perhaps imagine that they attempted to pass rules regarding purity in the sanctuary and that these proved to be ineffective, possibly for want of tangible sanctions. The Bacchoi would then, in a surprising display of their lack of competence, have approached the city to lend its authority to the regulation of their sanctuary.Footnote 6

While that reconstruction remains possible, there is an alternative: this is to view the completely uncertain restoration τῶν̣ [Βάκ|χων] as inherently problematic. A fairly simple solution, for example, might be to restore the passage in question as τῶν̣ [θυόν|των μ]ηδένα. This reading would entail that ‘none of those offering a sacrifice’ – essentially any worshipper – ‘is to camp in the sanctuary’. While some inscribed rules granted those who offered sacrifices the right to feast and linger overnight, others restricted camping altogether.Footnote 7 This seems to me to be the case here at Cnidus, where ‘neither a male nor a [female]’ worshipper, not just the Bacchoi, is to be allowed to remain overnight in the sanctuary and potentially pollute it.

What might have been the source of impurity that so worried the Bacchoi? Urination and defecation were possible forms of pollution in the ancient Greek world, though they rarely if at all warrant any mention in the available evidence.Footnote 8 It was perhaps simply expected that one did one’s business outside the sanctuary.Footnote 9 Since the purpose of the Cnidian decree is framed in terms of necessary abstention (ἁγνεία) and explicitly excludes both genders, the background of the petition of the Bacchoi suggests that campers were not just dirtying the sanctuary, but succumbing to that most natural of night-time proclivities: sex. Together with birth and death, as well as the shedding of blood and, much more rarely, the consumption of certain foods, intercourse was envisaged as one of the principal vectors of pollution in the ancient Greek world.

This new reading would also have the advantage of clearing up the question of the authority over the sanctuary at Cnidus: it belonged to the city and was controlled by it. Archaeological and epigraphical evidence for the sanctuary of Dionysus at Cnidus remains rather slim, but it is apparent that the city – as is also expected from other Greek cities – controlled the local festival of Dionysus, the Dionysia, from at least the early Hellenistic through the Roman periods.Footnote 10 Nevertheless, the Bacchoi formed an important group: their name echoed the epithet of the god and they probably had a substantial degree of involvement in the sanctuary, taking it upon themselves, we might envision, to perform and maintain the cult in collaboration with the – probably civic – priest.Footnote 11 What is more, it should be noted that their petition to the polis worked: the city listened to their concerns and deemed them valid; the stele publicising the decree is the material manifestation of this. The sanctuary continued, as usual, to be allowed to receive visitors for sacrifices, but none of these – Bacchoi included – was allowed to stay overnight.

In other words, we seem to have here the case of a group that was closely connected with a sanctuary and had a role to play within it, but which did not properly control it. The Bacchoi were most probably not a fully formalised association.Footnote 12 As a recognised interest-group, they were generally concerned with maintaining the sanctuary as a ‘well-ordered’ space, but not fully empowered to do so. As a group with a manifestly religious vocation and cultic function, they notably focussed on preserving the indispensable purity (ἁγνεία) of the sanctuary, an emphasis which facilitated a successful appeal to the civic authorities.

Though the sanctions of the decree from Cnidus are not preserved after lines 12–13 and therefore remain unclear to us, the text nonetheless demonstrates that the city took matters in hand. These sanctions may have included concrete penalties or fines for those contravening the rule and illegally camping in the sanctuary of Dionysus. Reference may also have been made to general norms of purity, whether codified or not, which were espoused by the city. Transgressing such rules would have carried either a concrete penalty – for instance, requiring a ritual process purifying the sanctuary as a whole – or a seemingly less tangible, but nonetheless more oppressive one – for instance, being considered impious (ἀσεβής) and incurring the anger of the gods.Footnote 13

A subcategory of the ‘sacred laws’ alluded to previously – texts that prescribe ritual norms or regulate religious behaviour in some way – consists of what might be called casuistic purity regulations. From the Archaic to the early Hellenistic periods especially, these regulations take the form of extensively detailed laws, enacted by the polis, which seek to define different cases of impurity and their recommended solutions.Footnote 14 The formulary of these laws is organised on a case-by-case basis – ‘if such-and-such happens, then do the following’, hence the designation ‘casuistic’. For example, in the laws of the city of Cos concerning purity, codified in ca. 240 BC, but at least in part probably belonging to an earlier tradition or model, priestly personnel were explicitly prevented from entering a house in which a person had died. The period of abstention (ἁγνεία) in this regard was to last five days after the body was carried out for burial; if any priestesses or priests contravened the rules, then a purification with water poured from a golden vessel and a sprinkling of grain was required.Footnote 15

The importance of civic authority in these kinds of regulations becomes less perceptible – if at all – in the epigraphic evidence from the late Hellenistic and Roman periods. This should not be taken to mean that the laws of the city that were already enacted did not remain in effect – they demonstrably did, in the case of Cos, for instanceFootnote 16 – only that the regulations published in later periods are generally of a different sort. The style of these later texts is also more practical and to the point. It now involves inscribing a series of rules, for instance on a legible stele or a pillar, which should be observed by worshippers wishing to enter a sanctuary.Footnote 17 As a representative example of this later form of casuistic purity regulation, we might take the following regulation inscribed on the entrance to the temple of Artemis Chitone near the agora at Miletus:Footnote 18

[καθαροὺς εἰσι|ένα]ι̣ εἰ̣ς̣ τὸν νε̣|[ὼ] τ̣ῆ̣ς Ἀρτέμ̣ι|δ̣ος τῆς Κιθών̣η[ς], | [ἀ]πὸ μὲν κήδε̣[ο]ς | [καὶ] γυ̣ν̣αικὸ̣ς̣ [τ]ε|[κούση]ςFootnote 19 κα̣ὶ κυν̣ὸ̣ς̣ | [τε]το[κυ]ίας τ[ρ]ι|[τα]ίο̣υ̣[ς] λουσα|[μ]έ̣νους, ἀπὸ̣ [δὲ | τῶ]ν λοιπῶν̣ [αὐ|θημ]ε̣ρὸν̣ λο̣υσα|μ̣έν[ους.]

[Enter as pure individuals] into the temple of Artemis Chitone: from a funerary ritual [and] from a woman [having given birth] and from a bitch [having given birth], on the third day, having washed; and from the rest (that is to say other causes of impurity), on the same day, having washed.

Though the beginning is partly missing, the text is essentially preserved.Footnote 20 It is relatively clear that the regulation was simply addressed to worshippers and probably did not include any preamble concerning its source. In other words, the authority behind the regulation was left implicit. Moreover, no form of sanction for any contravention of the rules is stipulated at Miletus. In other rules, some form of sanction could occasionally be mentioned, but this usually took the form of a curse (or a blessing, which also implies its reverse: again, a curse).Footnote 21 We never find fines or other tangible penalties associated with this later form of casuistic purity regulation.

Typically, these rules apply to any and all who wish to enter the sanctuary (εἰσιέναι, εἰσπορεύεσθαι, vel sim.). The form that they take is again set of cases, defining purity – the words καθαρός or ἁγνεία are often invoked, though they may also be left implicit – from (ἀπό) a specific source of impurity, followed by a delay during which one must abstain from entry into the sanctuary and/or by a set of purificatory requirements, normally washing from the head down or other forms of ablution. Each scenario is either listed on a case-by-case basis or a group of cases may be treated under the same rubric in the regulation.

From the Hellenistic period onward, then, the inscribing of rules of purity, rather than emanating directly from the city or another form of political authority, was often left to the discretion and the initiative of sanctuaries and their officials, of private individuals or of other groups, notably associations. A related observation must be made. This type of evidence is more or less confined to the eastern Aegean and Asia Minor, with only a few cases from mainland Greece,Footnote 22 and one example coming from Ptolemais in Egypt.Footnote 23 Prima facie, this geographical distribution need not be surprising or significant in and of itself, since a large proportion of the Hellenistic and Roman epigraphical sources comes from these areas of the ancient Greek world. A recent discussion, however, has sought to argue that these purity regulations all or nearly all pertain to foreign cults, more specifically Egyptian or Near Eastern forms of worship, whence they must have developed in Greek communities.Footnote 24 Without denying that several of these regulations do indeed relate to such cults, it should be said that the question of the ‘origins’ of specific purity rules remains difficult to answer. Particularly cautioning any hasty judgement is the fact that the norms underpinning these casuistic regulations match the aforementioned purity laws of the city and thus seem to derive from much the same traditional sources.Footnote 25 Moreover, as we shall see immediately below for the Attalid Kingdom, many of the cults that are concerned by such rules are far from straightforwardly explained as ‘Near Eastern’ or as having any connection to Egyptian practices.Footnote 26 For all of their diversity in terms of provenance, content and context, the regulations present a coherent picture of the need to avoid the spread of impurity in a community, by restricting the entry of impure individuals into sacred space.

Pergamum and the Attalid Kingdom

A particularly intriguing case study for examining the purity rules of associations in their local context is Pergamum and the wider area of the Attalid kingdom. Here, we find a series of conspicuous examples where the different sources of authority behind the promulgation of purity rules are particularly clear. One inscription, from the sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros on the Acropolis of the city of Pergamum, forms an apt starting point.Footnote 27 It has been thought to date to the period after 133 BC, but on the basis of its letterforms, could alternatively be dated to the late Attalid period:Footnote 28

Διονύσιος Μηνοφίλ̣[ου] | ἱερονομήσα⟦ντε⟧ς τῶι δήμ[ωι]. | ἁγνευέτωσαν δὲ κα̣ὶ εἰσίτωσαν εἰς τὸν τῆς θεο[ῦ ἱερὸν] | οἵ τε πολῖται καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι πάντες ἀπὸ μὲν τῆς ἰδίας γ[υναι]|κὸς καὶ τοῦ ἰδίου ἀνδρὸς αὐθήμερον, ἀπὸ δὲ ἀλλοτρίας κ[αὶ] | ἀλλοτρίου δευτεραῖοι λουσάμενοι, ὡσαύτως δὲ καὶ ἀπὸ | κήδους κα̣ὶ τεκούσης γυναικὸς δευτεραῖο⟨ι⟩· ἀπὸ δὲ τάφου | καὶ ἐκφορᾶ̣[ς] περιρα⟨ν⟩άμενοι καὶ διελθόντες τὴν πύλην, κα|θ’ ἣν τὰ ἁγιστήρια τίθεται, καθαροὶ ἔστωσαν αὐθήμερον. κτλ.

Dionysios son of Menophilos, having served as hieronomos for the people. Let both citizens and all others abstain and enter into the [sanctuary] of the goddess, from (sex with) one’s own wife and one’s own husband, on the same day, from (sex with) another woman and another man, on the next day, having washed; and in the same way (that is to say having washed) from a death and from a woman having given birth, on the second day; from a tomb and from a funeral, having washed themselves all around and gone through the gate, where the vessels for lustration are placed, let them be pure on the same day.

(Two decrees of Pergamum are also quoted)

The inscription is tripartite, forming a dossier of regulations on the sanctuary and the cult of Athena Nikephoros. A heading in larger letters (ll. 1–2) states that the stele was inscribed at the initiative of Dionysios, son of Menophilos, who served as an annual hieronomos or ‘sanctuary-warden’ for the city of Pergamum.Footnote 29 The first document inscribed on the stele (ll. 3–9) and quoted above, a list of purity regulations and entry requirements for the sanctuary, contrasts with the other two included below it, which are official documents, namely, decrees of the city of Pergamum. As presented on the stele, the rules of purity may represent an excerpt from a written document that was available to Dionysios: in this regard, note the beginning of the text in line 3, ἁγνευέτωσαν δὲ …, where the conjunction δὲ, presupposing an earlier clause, may thus imply a quotation. But, as far as we can tell, these rules derive from no other source of authority than that of recorded tradition, expounded by Dionysios in his role and his office as hieronomos.Footnote 30 It is without doubt in this capacity also that Dionysios undertook to reinscribe the two excerpts from decrees of the city of Pergamum below the purity rules. Both decrees seek to regulate the fees for those sacrificing in the sanctuary of Athena.

Dionysios’ stele provides eloquent confirmation of the idea that, in the Hellenistic period, cities did not habitually inscribe casuistic purity regulations relating to specific sanctuaries: this was left to the occasional initiative of cult officials or other agents. General rules of the city remained in effect and would be consulted, but as in the case of the Bacchoi in Cnidus, groups or individuals needed to act in order to publicise or expand purity rules and encourage good behaviour. The need for such individual initiative remained current in Pergamum. One of the other major cults of the city, that of Asclepius, was also the recipient of two sets of cultic rules, which doubtless again derived from relatively long-standing tradition, but were only inscribed, as far as we know, in the second century AD. As the dedicatory formula concluding one of the texts makes clear, the rules were again inscribed at the behest of a hieronomos, one (…) Claudius Glykon.Footnote 31

How do these rules erected by civic and religious officials compare with those set up by private groups? Two inscriptions from the Attalid kingdom, in the period ca. 250–150 BC, may be adduced. One particularly intriguing albeit only potential case comes from Maionia in Lydia. The text is officially dated to the reign of Attalus II (147/6 BC):Footnote 32

βασιλεύοντος Ἀ̣ττά̣[λου] | ἔτους τρεισκαιδεκάτου. | ἀγαθῆι τύχῃ ἔστησαν | τὴν στήλην Λ̣[ – – ca.8 – – | – – ca.9 – – ] οἱ ΕΜΦ̣ΥΣ̣Η|[․․]Χ̣Η̣[․․․․], ἁγνεύειν δὲ | ἀπὸ μὲν κ[ή]δους ὁμαίμ|ου πεμπταῖον, τοῦ δὲ ἄλ|λου τριταῖον, ἀπὸ δὲ γυναι|κὸς εἰς τὸν περιωρισμέ{νο}|νον τόπον τοῦ Μητρω̣ίου | τῆι αὐτῆι λουσάμ̣ενον εἰσ|πορεύεσθαι· ἑταίρα τριτ|αία, περιαγνισαμένη καθὼ̣|ς εἴθισται.

In the thirteenth year of King Attalus. With good fortune, they set up the stele […] the men […] and to keep pure from the death of a blood relative, (until) the fifth day, from that of another (that is to say a non-relative), the third day, from (sex with) a woman, into the place of the Metroion which is demarcated by boundaries, on the same day, having washed, one is to enter. A hetaira (can enter) on the third day, having purified herself all around as is customary.

Conforming to the expected pattern, the polis seems to be absent here. The first editors of the inscription, Keil and von Premerstein, already noted that while identifying the group responsible for erecting the stele containing these rules of purity represents a substantial problem, the traces following the lacuna in lines 4–5 are suggestive of a possible subject for the third-person plural verb ἔστησαν, ‘they set up’, in line 3. This intervening lacuna is rather large, however, and may perhaps have contained other names or nouns. Following it, we find what seems to be a definitive article, οἱ, and some other traces. Keil and von Premerstein tentatively suggested the restoration οἱ ἐμ Φ̣υση [ὀρ]χ̣η̣[σταί], thinking of an association of dancers at an unknown place called Physa or Physe.Footnote 33 While this bold proposal has not been retained in most of the succeeding editions, we might suppose that Keil and von Premerstein were on the right track. An alternative restoration, for instance, could be οἱ ἐμφ̣υσ̣η|[ταί], involving a group of pipe-blowers.Footnote 34 The role of flute or brass musicians as performers in the cult of the Mother goddess, alongside players of percussion instruments such as tambourines and cymbals, is well known.Footnote 35 If this reasoning is correct, some or all of the musicians involved in the cult of Meter regulated by this stele may have temporarily joined forces or (less likely) formed a more permanent association, seeking to regulate the cult. If such a group could claim authority over the sanctuary, at least in matters of purity, it might suggest that this cult-site was not owned or controlled by the political community at Maionia. But we could just as easily be dealing with the private initiative of a group of individuals involved in a civic cult, not a fixed group of authoritative officials.

We are on much more secure ground with another set of ritual norms, which were manifestly enacted by a small cultic association. These are the rules of the Asklepiastai at Yaylakale in Pergamene territory (the Yüntdağ, ca. 30 km southeast of Pergamum).Footnote 36 One stele found there testifies to the fact that a certain Demetrios, phrourarchos or commander of the Attalid garrison in this area, founded a sanctuary of Asclepius and gathered the first Asklepiastai at this relatively remote site in the first half of the second century BC.Footnote 37 Another stele discovered near the same site, though its beginning is missing, contains rules of purity for entering the sanctuary and, much more fragmentarily, the dormitory for incubation which was situated beside it:Footnote 38

[ – – ἁγ]ν̣[εύεσ]|θ̣αι τ̣ὸ̣[ν εἰ]σ̣π̣ορευ̣|ό̣μενον ὑγίας ἕν̣|ε̣[κ]ε̣ν̣ εἰς τὸ ἱερόν̣· | ἀπὸ μὲν τῶν ἀφρο̣|δισιακῶν̣, κατ̣ὰ κ̣ε|φ̣αλῆ̣ςλ̣ου̣σ̣άμε̣|νον, ἀ̣πὸ ν̣εκρ̣οῦ δὲ̣ | κ̣αὶ ἀ̣πὸ̣ ἐκ̣φ̣ο̣ρ̣ᾶ̣ς̣ (?) | δευτ̣ερ̣αῖον̣ κ̣αὶ | ἀπὸ διαφθορᾶς τ̣ὸ̣ | αὐτό̣· ἐὰν δέ τις | ἐπέλθῃ ἐπὶ τὸ πα|ρ̣ὰ̣ τὸ ἱερ̣ὸν ἐν̣κ̣οιμη|τήριον, […]Α[.]Ο̣Υ – – – – – –

… The one going into the sanctuary is to keep pure for the sake of good health: from sexual matters, washing from the head down (that is to say on the same day); from a corpse and from a funeral (?), (enter) on the second day and from an abortion/miscarriage, the same. If anyone visits the place of incubation beside the sanctuary, …

Though this inscription is much more difficult to decipher than the other stele, its editor, Müller, expressed no doubt that it constitutes a part of the same dossier for the cult that was created by the phrourarchos Demetrios and the ‘first Asklepiastai’.Footnote 39 This association will therefore have issued rules concerning the purity expected of worshippers visiting the new sanctuary of Asclepius or seeking incubation there.

In terms of content and normative characteristics, the purity rules closely parallel those found in the city and the area of Pergamum that we looked at earlier. After sex, entry into the sanctuary is allowed on the same day, having washed from the head down: this is essentially the same prescription as one finds in the inscription from Maionia quoted above and in the sanctuary of Asclepius at Pergamum (I.Pergamon 264, Footnote n. 31 above), but also very widely elsewhere.Footnote 40 Sex between man and wife was similarly allowed on the same day as entry into the sanctuary of Athena Nikephoros in Pergamum (quoted above). Yet the cults in the city seem on occasion somewhat more restrictive: in the sanctuary of Athena, waiting until the next day (δευτεραῖοι, counting inclusively it would seem) was necessary after sex with someone who was not one’s spouse; until the third day (τριταῖος) after any form of sexual intercourse before visiting the incubation chambers of the Pergamene Asklepieion (AvP III 161, Footnote n. 31 above). Still, the match with the rules from Pergamum is particularly apparent when it comes to the other categories of impurity mentioned by the Asklepiastai at Yaylakale. From contact with a deceased individual, as well as with a woman who had aborted or miscarried, the delay was only until the next day (δευτ̣ερ̣αῖον̣, still counting inclusively). These delays are nearly identical with those recorded for the cult of Athena Nikephoros. At the Nikephorion, entry was permitted on the next day following the death of an individual, whether a relative or not (ἀπὸ κήδους… δευτεραῖο⟨ι⟩), and even on the same day from attendance at a funeral or at a tomb. At the Nikephorion again, abstaining the same amount of time was required after exposure to a woman who had given birth (ἀπὸ… τεκούσης γυναικός), while at Yaylakale, this delay applied to contact with an abortion or miscarriage.

In general, then, the regulations expounded by the association of the Asklepiastai at Yaylakale closely match those found in their immediate regional context. On the other stele, no ethnics are recorded for the names of the members of the ‘first Asklepiastai’. Though it is probable that some of the members were foreign soldiers, it is not impossible that at least a few of them were Pergamene or Mysian.Footnote 41 At any rate, it is likely that these men will have had some occasion to visit the Attalid capital and its famous sanctuaries, such as the Nikephorion and the Asklepieion. In other words, the rules most probably derive from those that Demetrios the phrourachos or other members of the group had commonly observed in practice at Pergamum. Though parallels with the Asklepieion of Pergamum might be thought the most suggestive,Footnote 42 it is perhaps especially the sanctuary of Athena on the Acropolis, close to where the garrison was located in the upper city and its arsenal, which seems to have influenced the purity rules of the ‘first Asklepiastai’.Footnote 43 The phrourachos and his garrison at Yaylakale wished to found a cult-group and new sanctuary and thus closely modelled it on these Pergamene structures and their cultic framework.

The periods of abstention known from Pergamum were considerably generous. Other cults, as we have already glimpsed and shall see further below, would often require an abstention of several days, usually around ten after the death of a relative, somewhat less, such as five, for that of another individual,Footnote 44 and typically of ten days in the case of contact with an abortion or miscarriage (forty days for the woman concerned). The rules articulated by the association at Yaylakale were of a similarly mild character, attributable to their Pergamene models but also with a view towards inclusivity. Indeed, the rules at Yaylakale expressly emphasised their function: not only was purity required ([ἁγ]ν̣[εύεσ]θ̣αι, ll. 1–2, if we accept this probable restoration), but the avowed purpose of the regulation was to foster good health (ὑγίας ἕνεκεν, ll. 3–4). This was a particularly apt goal for an Asklepieion, of course, a cult site whose purpose was to serve as a place for the worship of the god of healing (and perhaps of Ὑγία/Hygieia herself, the personification of Good Health and one of the daughters of Asclepius, often found associated with the god). In the view of the ‘first Asklepiastai’, purity (ἁγνεία) was thus a precondition for good health (ὑγία). This helped to rationalise the need for rules of purity and served to advertise their beneficial function by publishing the stele containing them.Footnote 45

In their remote Attalid garrison, the ‘first Asklepiastai’ thus recreated elements of the Pergamene community, by founding a small local Asklepieion to honour the god, but also to consolidate their own identity, to invite worshippers from nearby villages and to host incubation rituals. The ‘well-ordered society’ developed in this case replicated on a smaller scale the civic and religious structures of Pergamum, being stimulated by an Attalid official and his soldiers for the inclusive benefit of a local community.Footnote 46 In particular, the rules of purity published by the group underscored all of these features: they were modelled on the rules of the major sanctuaries, maintained their short or ‘generous’ delays of ἁγνεία and at the same time advertised good health (ὑγία) to promote access to the sanctuary.

From Families to ‘Associations in the Making’

From the beginning of the Hellenistic period, familial associations become more conspicuous in the epigraphical evidence. By this designation, one may refer to cults that were privately established for the benefit of a restricted kinship group, normally the immediate family of the founder.Footnote 47 The membership of such groups was by definition exclusive: male relatives by marriage were sometimes accepted; bastards might be included with some provisos; occasionally a wider familial circle might be defined.Footnote 48 Most of these groups constituted a completely different type of association from the Asklepiastai at Yaylakale, in that they sought less publicity or visibility, a fact reflected for instance in not having a well-defined name.Footnote 49

An interesting though unique case of a familial association which published rules of purity comes from the deme of Isthmus on Cos:Footnote 50

[ἱερὸν ἔστω τόδε] τὸ τέ[μενος καὶ τὸ] | ἱερὸν Ἀρτέμιτο[ς ․․․․․․․․]ας καὶ Διὸς Ἱκ[ε]|σίου καὶ Θεῶν Πατρώιων· ἀνέθηκε δὲ | Πυθίων Στασίλα καὶ ἁ ἱέρεια ⟦[․․․․]⟧ παιδ|ίον ὧι ὄνομα Μακαρῖνος ἐλεύθερον ἱε|ρὸν τᾶς θεοῦ, ὅπως ἐπιμέληται τοῦ ἱερο[ῦ] | καὶ τῶν συνθυόντων πάντων, διακονῶν | καὶ ὑπηρετῶν ὅσσωγ κα δῇ ἐν τῶι ἱερῶι· | ἐπιμελέσθω καὶ Μακαρῖνος καὶ τῶν ἄλλων | ἱερῶν καὶ βεβάλων καθάπερ καὶ ἐν τᾶι ἱερᾶι δέλ|τωι γέγραπται, καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν ὧγ καταλεί|πει Πυθίων καὶ ἁ ἱέρεια· τοῖς δὲ ἐπιμελομέ|νοις καὶ συναύξουσι τὸ ἱερόν, εὖ αὐτοῖς | ἔη καὶ αὐτοῖς καὶ τέκνοις εἰς τὸν ἀεὶ χρόνον· | ἁγνὸν εἰσπορεύεσθαι – τὸ δὲ ἱερὸν ἔστω | τῶν υἱῶν πάντων κοινόν – ἀπὸ λεχοῦς καὶ | ἐγ δια⟨φθ⟩ορᾶς ἁμέρας δέκα, ἀπὸ γυναικὸς τρεῖ[ς].

[… this] precinct [and sanctuary] is to be sacred to Artemis […] and Zeus Hikesios and the Ancestral Gods. Pythion son of Stasilas and the priestess […] dedicated a slave, whose name is Makarinos, to be free (and) sacred to the goddess, so that he takes care of the sanctuary and of all those who make sacrifices together and provides services and also performs any other tasks that are necessary in the sanctuary. Makarinos is also to take care of other matters, whether sacred or secular, as is written on the sacred tablet, and of the other things that Pythion and the priestess bequeath. May good things happen to those who take good care of the sanctuary and augment it, both to themselves and to their children for all time. Enter pure – the temple is to be common to all the sons – from childbirth and after an abortion/miscarriage, ten days; from (sex with) a woman (or wife?), three.

This consecration of a cult by Pythion and a nameless priestess (perhaps his wife), albeit much briefer, shares many resemblances with the much more detailed cultic dossier of Diomedon on the same island of Cos.Footnote 51 In both cases, a sanctuary is consecrated to a group of deities – at least in part ancestral, though the epithet of Artemis in the case of Pythion remains mysteriousFootnote 52 – and a slave is associated with this consecration to take care of the sanctuary. Doubtless we would have further details about the cult if the ‘sacred tablet’ mentioned in lines 10–11 or details concerning the bequests, probably testamentary, of Pythion and the priestess (τῶν λοιπῶν ὧγ καταλείπει, ll. 11–12), were preserved.

The conclusion of the stele is particularly interesting for our purposes: it clearly begins to mention rules for entrance into the sanctuary in line 15 (ἁγνὸν εἰσπορεύεσθαι…), but these are interrupted by the interjected phrase τὸ δὲ ἱερὸν ἔστω | τῶν υἱῶν πάντων κοινόν. This is to be taken to mean that the sanctuary (to hieron) is held in collective ownership by the sons of Pythion. A cultic community of synthyontes pantes is also vaguely alluded to in line 7 (τῶν συνθυόντων πάντων): this is most naturally interpreted as constituting the immediate family or the descendants of Pythion (and perhaps the priestess).Footnote 53 The question that can be raised, however, is whether the interjected clause in line 15 has a purpose: does it seek to define those who may enter (εἰσπορεύεσθαι) the sanctuary, is it simply misplaced or is there another reason for its placement? In the first view, the clause concerning the ownership of the sanctuary clarified that only the sons of Pythion had privileged access to it. But in fact, it cannot be just the sons of Pythion who were granted access to the sanctuary: the priestess and the slave Makarinos needed to enter it and we might presume that female family members, at least, could also do so.

A further alternative might be that access to the sanctuary was not strictly limited to the familial group of Pythion. As they are often expressed in inscriptions affixed to sanctuaries open to visitors, the purity rules published on Pythion’s stele could be taken to imply that the hieron inaugurated by him was in fact open to members of the general public: by agreeing to respect their prescriptions, access to the sanctuary would be permitted. Anyone could then become part of the synthyontes pantes during one of the celebrations envisaged. But the clause appended, presumably out of fear of the property becoming alienated, quickly clarified that ownership and control of the sanctuary remained in the hands of Pythion’s sons (in perpetuity, one assumes). Such an idea would also go some way towards explaining why this is the only case of a ‘familial cult’ which does not appear to have had strict rules of membership and also why, again uniquely among similar groups, it enacted purity regulations for entry into its sanctuary.

As we have seen, however, the evidence provided by this relatively brief stele is hardly complete. It seems to have served as a sign for worshippers and as a reminder of some essential aspects. Other documents, a ‘sacred tablet’ and likely a testament, would have provided a much fuller view of this familial group and the sanctuary that it consecrated. Any definitive conclusions should therefore be resisted, though it remains highly probable that the rules of purity were aimed at other worshippers coming to visit the sanctuary consecrated by Pythion.

Indeed, what we can affirm is that the purity rules defined by Pythion and his family readily match others known elsewhere in the epigraphic evidence from across the eastern Aegean and Asia Minor. A delay of ten days is specified before entry after childbed or an abortion/miscarriage. This matches some of the delays stipulated in the regulation of an unknown cult at Eresos and also seems to agree with a regulation for the cult of Despoina at Lycosura, though that text is quite lacunose.Footnote 54 At Eresos, the delay of ten days was aimed at a man who entered into contact with a woman who had miscarried; but ten days was also the required hagneia for a woman who had given birth (only three days for a man). As a result, it remains somewhat unclear if women were also concerned by the purity rules enacted by Pythion. Apparently more demanding was the requirement to abstain three days from the sanctuary after sex with one’s wife (ἀπὸ γυναικός; or does this mean ‘any woman’ here?). As we saw earlier, ablutions might be required after sex, but entry into the sanctuary would usually be permitted on the same day, after no delay. Yet the delay of three days in fact closely corresponds to other, stricter norms found elsewhere: in the enkoimeterion, ‘dormitory’, of the Asklepieion at Pergamum, as we have already seen, but also in the sanctuary of Syrian gods on Delos and in the sanctuary of Meter Gallesia at Metropolis.Footnote 55

To broaden this understanding of Pythion’s cult on Cos, instructive comparisons and contrasts may briefly be drawn with two famous epigraphic dossiers. The first is the cult of Men Tyrannos privately founded by Xanthos, probably a slave or a freedman, at Laurion, at a date that remains debated, but probably lies somewhere in the first century BC or AD.Footnote 56 The details of the cult, originating from Anatolia – Xanthos is notably called Λύκιος, ‘Lycian’ – are known from a pair of stelae. These are nearly identical in their formulary, though not entirely so. The narrower of the two (text B), functioning more as a sign, includes only a brief summary of the rules that were discussed more extensively in the lengthier document (text A). The cult elaborated by Xanthos following a command of the god (αἱρετίσαντος τοῦ θεοῦ) does not explicitly aim at creating an association; rather, it confers pride of place on the founder as the principal participant or agent in the cult. Xanthos, while living, is to be present at all sacrifices (μηθένα θυσιάζειν ἄνε[υ] τοῦ καθειδρυσαμένου τὸ ἱερόν, A, ll. 7–8; cf. B, ll. 11–13) and any violence, perhaps especially against him, is proscribed.Footnote 57 Upon anything undermining Xanthos’ role as founder of the cult, such as his death, illness or emigration, no one is to have any right to the sanctuary, unless Xanthos himself confers it.Footnote 58 Therefore, by contrast with Pythion, the cult was not familial and Xanthos had apparently not yet thought of a precise successor.

Xanthos also enacted elaborate rules concerning sacrifices and purity. The cult was open to any participant who chose to follow these guidelines. In the context of the sacrifices, Xanthos in fact grants the opportunity for anyone to gather a temporary or ad hoc cult group (A, l. 21: τοὺς… βουλομένους ἔρανον συνάγειν) for the purposes of celebrating the god and holding a sacrificial feast; these groups might even wish to camp at the cult-site to continue their night-time feast (cf. also ll. 24–5: ἐὰν κατακλιθῶσιν οἱ ἐρανισταὶ…). There is little evidence that such groups would go on to form durative cult associations, though this of course remains possible.Footnote 59 In terms of rules concerning purity, we find some general precepts. On a basic level, Xanthos was concerned that nothing impure be brought forward to the cult-site and its altar: καὶ [μηθένα] ἀκάθαρτον προσάγειν (A, ll. 2–3; cf. B, 8–9). Such a rule was presumably designed to prevent the sacrificial offering of animals or foodstuffs viewed as impure in the cult (pork and garlic are specifically mentioned in the text; perhaps porcine products, such as leather, which might be brought into the sanctuary, would also be concerned by this interdiction). Another rule was presented as a blessing: that the god would be merciful to those who worshipped him with a simple soul. This is tantamount to the fundamental requirement that the worshipper’s mind be pure, which is explicitly found in entry regulations for sanctuaries from the Hellenistic period onward.Footnote 60 The moral sense of these rules is further underlined in other clauses containing stringent sanctions, notably against any interference in the cult.Footnote 61 All of this is coupled with practical cases of impurity such as we have looked at here. On both stelae, specific causes of impurity such as garlic, pork and sex are said to be remediable simply by washing from the head down. Impurity resulting from the eating of pork is found in one other purity regulation, appropriately from a sanctuary focussed on Near Eastern rituals.Footnote 62 Other standard causes of impurity, but apparently only for women, are treated with severe but normative periods of abstention: menstruation (seven days and washing), contact with a corpse (ten days) and abortion or miscarriage (forty days).Footnote 63

The second interesting case for comparison is the much-discussed stele from Philadelphia in Lydia, which can only very briefly be treated here.Footnote 64 Debate continues to be sparked regarding the precise characteristics and background of the cult, as well as the interpretation of the text (about a third of the lines is missing to the right). The rules outlined in the text are presented as a written account of the divine commands ([παραγγέλμα]τα, ll. 3–4; παραγγέλ[ματα], l. 12) that were given to a certain Dionysios by Zeus, in a dream. On one view, the outcome of this divine inspiration was that Dionysios opened his own house (π[ρόσοδον διδόν]τ’ εἰς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ οἶκον, l. 5), in which altars of large variety of gods have been constructed (ll. 6–12), to any worshipper, be they male or female, free or slave (ll. 5–6). Periodic sacrifices are also mentioned (l. 55), which would no doubt have served to gather together a community of worshippers. However, it has been questioned whether the stele actually reflects an attempt at inviting participants beyond the οἶκος, ‘house’, of Dionysios or whether it primarily concerns an existing cultic community (such as his kinship group and the slaves of his household).Footnote 65

At any rate, the injunctions that Zeus made to Dionysios involve the performance of ‘abstentions, purifications and (probably) mysteries, according to the ancestral customs as well as to what is now written on the stele’ (τούς τε ἀ]|γνισμοὺς καὶ τοὺς καθαρμοὺς κ[αὶ τὰ μυστήρια ἐπι]|τελεῖν κατά τε τὰ πάτρια καὶ ὡς νῦν [γέγραπται], ll. 12–14).Footnote 66 Indeed, the bulk of the inscribed text (ὡς νῦν [γέγραπται]) contains precepts of purity that have a strong ethical dimension: for instance, worshippers entering the house are to swear an oath not to avail themselves of any magic or poison (ll. 14–19); instead of rules concerning the temporary impurity caused by an abortion or miscarriage, taking the oath required forsaking the use of any form of contraceptive (ll. 20–1); instead of lax rules concerning sexual intercourse, Dionysios promotes the virtue of marriage, strictly forbidding the ‘corruption’ of married women and of those who are not yet married by men (ll. 25–31) – while tacitly allowing for other, non-married partners or ἑταίραι – and by recommending the exclusive company of one’s spouse for women (ll. 35–44).Footnote 67 Both men and women who fail in this regard are to be barred from entering (ll. 31–2). The guidelines and the outcomes of transgression are more severe for women, who are to be deemed impure and to spread this impurity to their kin (ll. 37–8: [μεμιασμέ]|νην καὶ μύσο[υ]ς ἐμφυλίου πλή[ρ]η), in addition to being barred from the cult.Footnote 68 Peer denunciation is to be the mechanism of enforcement (ll. 28–31), as well as the use of the stele itself as a touchstone (during prayers and the required oath-rituals, ll. 56–60), but in general the sanctions consists of threats of divine punishment (ll. 43–6, 48–50) while, conversely, blessings are formulated for those who respect and obey the commands (ll. 46–8, compare 50–4).

In other words, instead of a series of cases of impurity that could be readily resolved, whether through washing or delays in participation, the precepts outlined by Dionysios in this stele are detailed moral principles that hold dire consequences when contravened. This is not to say that some standard cases of abstention (ἁγνεία) and their correspondingly necessary purifications (καθαρμοί) would not have been covered implicitly by Dionysios’ rules. This in fact seems to be what is alluded to by traditional practice in lines 12–14: ἁγνισμοί and καθαρμοί… κατά τε τὰ πάτρια.Footnote 69 To take the case of sexual relations, in addition to the ἁγνεία expected of men after sex with one’s wife (ἀπὸ γυναικός) or after visiting a courtesan (ἑταίρα), Dionysios’ stele makes explicit the parameters of these sexual relations: they are absolutely not to concern married women or those not yet married (children, maidens). It is probable that adultery was always implicitly proscribed, even by other purity regulations that seem to take a broader view of sexual relations, as ἀφροδίσια ‘sexual dealings’, for instance.Footnote 70 But in the case of women, the stele is still more strict: some form of ἁγνεία would still be expected after relations with one’s husband,Footnote 71 but this was the only partner allowed for married women. This forms a marked contrast with some of the rules broaching the possibility of ἀφροδίσια even for women,Footnote 72 but it matches some other purity rules, for example, a text from Lindos that emphasises the licit character of sexual relations when discussing the necessary ἁγνεία in such a case; illicit sex is not mentioned at all, presumably because it was excluded and resulted in a more serious form of impurity.Footnote 73 In other words, Dionysios’ rules supplement standard ritual practice and reshape existing ethical standards, by adding rigid and much weightier moral requirements for participants in the cult housed in his οἶκος.Footnote 74

In all of these cases, from Pythion to Xanthos and Dionysios, it is unclear if the intention of the founder of the cult was to create a group such as a durable association. None of the texts envisages the formal structure of an association, with a name and a well-defined membership, for instance. While these dossiers may potentially present primordial snapshots of associations in the making, what can clearly be discerned is that they represent private, individual efforts to inaugurate cults with doors at least partly open to the outside world. Pythion has founded a sanctuary that will belong to his sons, but which may well have accepted outsiders, who must respect some basic guidelines of purity. Xanthos instigates a cult where he is the founder but where anyone may freely gather, following some detailed guidelines for sacrifice and purification. Dionysios invites both genders, free individuals and slaves, but is more demanding, explicitly requiring that men, and women especially, abstain completely from deviant behaviour that is deemed impure. In these individual acts, then, the rules concerning purity play a fundamental role in regulating access to the sanctuary and the cult: the delays of ἁγνεία proposed by Pythion are relatively standard and strict, but are few in number and quite briefly presented at the conclusion of the stele, which seems to have functioned as a sign demarcating the sanctuary for worshippers; those expounded by Xanthos are of similar character, but are presented in a more detailed fashion and also include moral precepts, whether on the lengthier stele (text A) or on the sign for worshippers (text B). Finally, the case of Dionysios is different, since the strict rules he presented seem to have been aimed not just at safeguarding the purity of the sanctuary, but at shaping the moral character of worshippers in his οἶκος. All of these acts may represent attempts at a transition from private or familial worship to a cult that aimed to become more open to the public. The intended process is relatively clear given the publication of the inscribed documents for each cult, though it is not sure if this transformation became fully realised in each case.


Groups that were particularly concerned with purity form a disparate array. We have looked at one, the Bacchoi at Cnidus, which was concerned to maintain standards of purity in a sanctuary but which did not have the authority or power to do so (Section 1). It is likely that many other cult groups and even associations, which partook in civic sanctuaries rather than possessing their own cult sites, were faced with similar problems. More clearly an association, the Asklepiastai at Yaylakale recreated the rules of the major sanctuaries of Pergamum for the use and benefit of worshippers in the countryside (Section 2). Finally, we analysed a series of private cults that expounded rules of purity, probably as part of a process of opening their doors to a wider community (Section 3). In the case of the Asklepiastai and the private cults of Pythion and Xanthos, it is no coincidence that we are dealing with the act of inaugurating a cult. One of the main strategies employed for addressing new and potential worshippers and for defining the sacred space used by the cult was the publication of casuistic rules of purity. Enacting rules of purity of this sort can thus be seen as a mechanism for fostering participation beyond the core group of the association or the family, while at the same time maintaining religious (and moral) standards expected of a sanctuary.

More distinctive is the case of Dionysios at Philadelphia, which in fact required that worshippers abstain permanently from certain acts, such as adultery, and, in the case of women, from sex outside of marriage. This was not just the casuistic type of ἁγνεία necessitating a temporary absence from the sanctuary, therefore, but a sort of ‘categorical imperative’ that was imposed on potential worshippers. Yet even such ideas were far from new. We might, for instance, recall a similar view aired as part of the accusations made against Androtion, in the speech written by Demosthenes in 356/5 BC.

ἐγὼ μὲν γὰρ οἴομαι δεῖν τὸν εἰς ἱέρ’ εἰσιόντα καὶ χερνίβων καὶ κανῶν ἁψόμενον, καὶ τῆς πρὸς τοὺς θεοὺς ἐπιμελείας προστάτην ἐσόμενον οὐχὶ προειρημένον ἡμερῶν ἀριθμὸν ἁγνεύειν, ἀλλὰ τὸν βίον ἡγνευκέναι τοιούτων ἐπιτηδευμάτων οἷα τούτῳ βεβίωται.

In my opinion, the man who enters temples, touches lustral water and sacred baskets and intends to take responsibility for looking after the gods, should not only keep himself pure for a prescribed number of days, but keep his entire life pure from the kind of activities that this man has practiced during his life.Footnote 75

Some impure deeds were severe enough that they could be viewed as beyond the remedy of time or mere purification by washing. In fact, casuistic purity rules could also include clauses that issued similar moral pronouncements. A prime example is a much later text from Lindos, recently reedited, which concluded a list of ἁγνείαι with the statement: ‘from illicit acts one is never pure’ (ἀπὸ τῶν παρανόμων οὐδέποτε καθαρός).Footnote 76 Xanthos in his rules also emphasised the moral dimension of purity, advising worshippers to approach or perform the cult ‘with a simple soul’.Footnote 77

While moral commands could thus be part of the entry rules for all worshippers, some of the difference between the casuistic rules of the Asklepiastai, Pythion and Xanthos, on the one hand, and the strict purity rules of Dionysios, on the other, can be explained in terms of whom these rules addressed.Footnote 78 The casuistic rules applied to any and all worshippers in sanctuaries that were open to a wide participation. In such cases, there could be a core group or association, but the cultic community was potentially much wider. The rules of Dionysios, by contrast, were more demanding and find closer analogies in rules for membership in an association. One celebrated Athenian inscription, containing the foundational rules (literally, ‘a law of friendship’, θεσμὸν φιλίης, l. 28) for a community calling itself an eranos, provides an evocative parallel.Footnote 79 The rules begin immediately with a stipulation of what an ideal member would be: no one is to be admitted to the group without a formal examination or dokimasia performed by the officials of the group.Footnote 80 This, of course, imitates some structures of the Athenian state, where the dokimasia was held to scrutinise the legitimacy of officials, whether they possessed citizenship and met all the requirements to hold a specific office.Footnote 81 But there is a fundamental difference in the case of this eranos: the dokimasia is not one of the legitimacy, but instead concerns the character of the prospective new member into an assembly that presents itself as ‘most revered’ or ‘holy’ (ἰ̣ς̣ τὴν σεμνοτάτ̣ην | σύνοδον τῶν ἐρανιστῶν) and that was probably focussed on the cult of a hero.Footnote 82 The prospective member must first and foremost be ἁ[γν]ός, that is to say, chaste and abstemious with regard to known sources of impurity; the other criteria listed are piety (εὐσεβής) and general goodness of character (ἀγ̣α[θ]ός̣; this adjective might also refer to ‘good birth’).Footnote 83 The rules then went on to discuss further, but related, practicalities: if anyone caused fights or disturbances, they would be expelled from the eranos and subject to a fine.Footnote 84 Only one who was not hagnos, eusebes and agathos would be at the source of such chaos in the sanctuary or risk shedding blood in the ‘most holy assembly’.

Purity, piety and good morality were the requirements for membership in this Athenian association, as they were for participation in the cult of Dionysios at Philadelphia. A process of dokimasia was undertaken to test for these characteristics in the Athenian eranos, just as, in the oikos of Dionysios, oaths would be required of participants in good, ethical standing. The purity rules of Dionysios, though they do not explicitly claim this purpose, should therefore be thought of as analogous to membership rules for admission into an association. A recent study by Kloppenborg concluded that the moral principles that constituted criteria of admission in associations ‘not only served as a public advertisement of the propriety of the members, but functioned internally to create an ethos of trust and solidarity that no doubt served as an instrument of recruitment’.Footnote 85 What we have witnessed here, however, are quite varying strategies of advertising and potential recruitment: for instance, the Asklepiastai at Yaylakale promoted good health and simply recommended washing after any sexual activity; the precepts of Dionysios at Philadelphia on the same subject were, to say the least, much more strict and elaborately codified.

Rules of purity, though only occasionally apparent in the available evidence, constitute an interesting case study for evaluating how a cultic community chose to present and define itself. Such rules could be modelled on local practice or developed according to more widespread ethical and religious principles in the Greek world. The norms of purity functioned not only as a necessary precondition for the maintenance of good order, but could shape participation in the cultic community, whether this was formalised as an association or not. Purity regulations could be published to open and regulate access to a sanctuary for a wider group of worshippers, as well as to define admission and participation in a limited cultic group, like an association. Much like for sanctuaries generally, the rules of purity enabled groups to establish a difficult equilibrium between expanding their networks of worshippers and maintaining appropriate control over the cults themselves.


* The writing of this chapter formed a part of my work as a member of the Copenhagen Associations Project (CAP) during 2015–16, an opportunity for which I continue to be deeply thankful. I am also grateful to the anonymous peer reviewers for their constructive remarks as well as to the editors for their diligence and extensive patience. Edward Harris kindly provided useful guidance and feedback. As always, Stella Skaltsa provided acute comments on my work, from which I greatly benefitted. The chapter was revised and partly updated in 2018 and 2019.

1 A subject not discussed in the excellent recent survey and legal classification of ‘sacred laws’ in Harris Reference Harris2015, but see esp. 70–1 on rules of associations (and cf. now the online appendices to this article by Harris with Carbon at

2 On the question of the terminology and criteria for identifying cultic regulations, see recently Carbon and Pirenne-Delforge Reference Carbon and Pirenne-Delforge2012; Zimmermann Reference Zimmermann, Bonanno, Funke and Haake2016; Petrovic Reference Petrovic, Kindt, Eidinow and Osborne2017. Cf. also Harris Reference Harris2015: esp. 58–60, who attractively distinguishes between laws or decrees regarding sacred matters and other more informal rules or summaries of formal rules, preferring to call the latter ‘signs’. After the volumes of Sokolowski (LSAM; LSCG Suppl.; LSCG) and Lupu (NGSL), for a new online collection of ‘sacred laws’, see now CGRN.

3 On ἁγνεία and the concepts of purity/impurity in the ancient Greek world, see Parker Reference Parker1996b and cf. also now Parker Reference Parker2018b, revisiting both old and new evidence. On the term ὅσιος and the framing of an adequate relationship with the gods, see Peels Reference Peels2016: esp. 168–206 (ch. 6) with regard to ritual norms and purity.

4 Cf. LSCG 47 (CAPInv. 242; 306/5 BC), ll. 5–7, χρῆσθαι… ὡς ἱερῶι; IG II2 2501 (CAPInv. 243; late fourth cent. BC), ll. 4 (restored) and 15–16, ὡς ἱερ⟨ῶ⟩ι. On this, see Parker Reference Parker1996b: 162, also adducing a later ‘law concerning precincts’ from Athens, which notably forbade birth and death, both dangerous sources of pollution.

5 I.Knidos 160 (CAPInv. 838). Note that, from autopsy as well as the recently published photograph (I.Knidos II, p. 118), the stone clearly reads τῶν̣ and not τῶμ̣ in l. 9 (the latter being a possibility considered by its editor W. Blümel in I.Knidos, notably on the basis of a squeeze in the IG archives consulted by K. Hallof). The left hasta of the letter is straight and vertical; part of the right vertical hasta seems to be visible at the break; by contrast, mu has angular hastae in this inscription. Reading τῶν̣ rather than τῶμ̣ may lend further support to my suggestion below, because the dental nu, rather than an assimilated labial mu, would tend to anticipate a different word than [Βάκχων]. For a balanced discussion of the arguments for and against the associational character of the group in question, see Jaccottet Reference Jaccottet2003: II 257–8 no 154. Some other groups of Bacchoi included in the Inventory of Ancient Associations are similarly problematic: cf. e.g. MDAI(A) 27 (1902): 94 no 86, l. 3 (CAPInv. 913; 158 BC); but contrast the much more fully developed Iobacchoi of Athens (AD 164/5), who owned a Bakcheion and participated in both private and – apparently – civic rituals: IG II2 1368 / Jaccottet Reference Jaccottet2003: II 27–35 no 4 / AGRW 7 (CAPInv. 339).

6 An analogy might be sought in the case of the priests of Sarapis and Isis who obtained a decree from the council of elders in Seleucid Laodicea-by-the-Sea regarding the application of a civic law to their private sanctuary (IGLS IV 1261, 174 BC). That the concern of the priests was framed in terms of private property, is repeatedly made clear in the text (ἰδιόκτητον, line 10; ἡ κτήσις αὐτῶν, ll. 16–17). On this document, see the detailed discussion of Sosin Reference Sosin2005. Yet this is essentially a different situation from the one at Cnidus: the private petition at Laodicea sought to make a pre-existing law concerning the dedication of statues apply to a privately owned sanctuary; any regulation made by the priests themselves in this regard would potentially have conflicted with the laws of the city. For a different emphasis on why the priests would not turn away dedicants, namely, because of their piety, see Sosin Reference Sosin2005: 139. In the case of the Bacchoi, piety certainly fuelled their anxiety about unclean campers, but would not explain why they would have permitted such visitors to set up camp in their own private sanctuary in the first place. On the possible legal precedents for the petition of the Bacchoi, see further below.

7 Most clearly, cf. the interdictions of camping in all sacred areas stipulated by Antiochus III and Zeuxis to Seleucid troops (I.Labraunda 46, 203 BC, ll. 8–9: μήτε ἐν τοῖ̣[ς ἱεροῖς | τόπ]οις καταλύετε; cf. also I.Amyzon 10; for these texts, see also Ma Reference Ma1999: 304–5 no 15 and 294–5 no 6, respectively). A similar rule may have been enacted at Olympia already ca. 500 BC concerning Epidamnian, Lybian and Cretan pilgrims to the sanctuary (IED 8, l. 6: αἰ δέ τις σταθμείοι ἐν τἰαροῖ, ΕΝ[ – ] κτλ.). The immediately following lines, if directly connected with this lacunose passage, evoke fines not only for the pasturing of animals (ὀ νομε⟨ύ⟩ς) but also, it would seem, for lodging outside of the expected or prescribed guesthouse (τὸν] ξενεõνα, δαρχμάν κ’ ἀποτίνοι). For analogous rules concerning access to and purity in the sanctuary at Olympia (ca. 520–500 BC), see also IED 3 / CGRN 4 (case of a foreigner, ξένος), IED 4 / CGRN 5 (a θεαρός, ‘visitor’, having sex in the sanctuary). Conversely, other ritual norms grant the right to camp, but only to those who have performed a sacrifice: SEG 36:1221 (Xanthos), ll. 11–14: μηδ᾽ ἐν ταῖς | στοιαῖς καταλύειν | μηθένα ἀλλ᾽ ἢ τοὺς | θύοντας; or SEG 57:1674 / CGRN 129 (Patara, ca. 300–200 BC), ll. 7–8: μηδὲ καταλύειν | ἐν τῶι τεμένει πλὴν τῶν θυόντων. Camping in these cases was thus restricted to the specific category of worshippers who had sacrificed; these were allowed to stay and feast, others were not. To be distinguished from the above-mentioned cases are others that required camping and thus enforced consumption of meat on the spot (cf. e.g. LSCG 82 / CGRN 33, Elateia, fifth cent. BC, ll. 3–4: θύοντα | σκανƐ̃ν; IG XII.4 1 293 / LSCG 168, Cos, late second cent. BC, with its repeated injunction θυόντωι δὲ καὶ σκανοπαγείσθων).

8 For guidelines concerning urination and defecation, see already Hes. Op. 727–32. But these say nothing about religion or sanctuaries in particular, recommending instead the discretion of night-time and of a well-enclosed courtyard (ἐυερκέος αὐλῆς). On this subject, see especially the comments of Parker Reference Parker1996b: 293 and Parker Reference Parker2018b: 26 (‘excrement is almost never mentioned in Greek religious laws, it is of no interest or concern’).

9 One of the only relevant inscribed rules is SEG 56:890 (Nymphaeum, fifth cent. BC), which advises: μὴ χέσες· ἱερόν, ‘do not defecate: sacred’. The irregular shape of the reused block in this case may suggest that it was affixed as a reminder (a sign) for a small or private sanctuary that was not otherwise immediately obvious (hence the need to include the word ἱερόν in fine). Note also that no notion of purity is invoked nor are any sanctions mentioned. The interdiction against urination in the peristyle of the sanctuary of the new inscription from Marmarini, Decourt and Tziafalias Reference Decourt and Tziafalias2015 / Bouchon and Decourt Reference Bouchon and Decourt2017 (ca. 250–150 BC), face B (I), ll. 80–81, is remarkable but no doubt to be attributed in large part to the uniqueness of the document itself and the foreign cult it defines.

10 For the usual identification of the temple with the late Byzantine church ‘C’, see Blümel at I.Knidos 160, with refs. For the Dionysia, cf. I.Knidos 231, ll. 20–5 (decree of Smyrna from late third or second cent. BC, in which, pending authorisation – παρακ[α]λεῖν Κνιδίου[ς] – crowns are to be proclaimed in the theatre during the Dionysia at Cnidus, [πα]ρ’ αὐτοῖς ἐν τῶι θεάτρωι Διονυσίων τῶι ἀγῶνι…; for direct parallels, cf. I.Kaunos 17, second cent. BC, ll. 38–40), I.Knidos 606 (first cent. BC), ll. 12–13 (proclamation by the herald of the council during the Dionysia), I.Knidos 74 (first–second cent. AD) and IG XII.3 322 + Suppl. p. 282 (Thera, second cent. BC), ll. 1–18.

11 For a probable priest of Dionysus, see I.Knidos 113 (ca. 200–150 BC). Since this is a familial monument, it remains unclear whether he was a civic official or not, though given the civic importance of the cult (see Footnote n. 10, above), that he was a public priest is highly likely.

12 A similar uncertainty hovers over other groups of Dionysiac worshippers, such as mystai. In the present study, a particularly intriguing case is the metrical and casuistic purity regulation consecrated by (…)tes the son of Menander who calls himself ὁ θεοφάντης: I.Smyrna 728 / LSAM 84 / GRA II 140 (CAPInv. 1337; second or third cent. AD). In this text, Dionysus is called Βρόμιος (l. 2) and we also find the mention of Bacchic festivals (ἐν Βακχείοις, l. 12). Though the initiative of the official in promulgating the rules is noteworthy, likely indicating an independent or private sanctuary where multiple gods might have been worshipped (τέμενος and ναοί, l. 2; cf. also plural altars in l. 10), we cannot ascertain any further information about the contextual framework of this cult. The provenance of the inscription is regrettably uncertain and, though a group of mystai are mentioned in l. 18, the formal character of the group as an association is far from evident. The purity rules present several standard and stringent delays of abstention regarding impurity: forty days in the case of exposition of a child or an abortion/miscarriage, ca. ten days (a ‘third of the month’) from the death of a relative, etc. On these delays of ἁγνεία, see further below.

13 For an example of both, see the law (νόμος, e.g. l. 19) concerning the purity of the sanctuary of Electryone, enacted by a decree of Ialysos, IG XII.1 677 / CGRN 90 (ca. 350-300 BC), ll. 27–30: ὅ,τι δέ κά τις παρὰ τὸν νόμον | ποιήσηι, τό τε ἱερὸν καὶ τὸ τέμενος | καθαιρέτω καὶ ἐπιρεζέτω, ἢ ἔνο|χος ἔστω τᾶι ἀσεβείαι. On impiety, see notably Delli Pizzi Reference Delli Pizzi2011.

14 For epigraphic purity regulations, see the still unsurpassed discussion of Parker Reference Parker1996b: i.a. 144–6, 176–8, 332–56. For early, but regrettably more fragmentary cases, see e.g. IG IV 1607 / LSCG 56 / CGRN 3 (Cleonae, ca. 525 BC; a civic context is nearly certain, see ll. 15–16). Two notable early Hellenistic examples include the famous ‘Cathartic Law’ of Cyrene, Dobias-Lalou Reference Dobias-Lalou2000: 297–309 / CGRN 99 (ca. 325–300 BC), and the inscription from Cos, IG XII.4 1 332 / CGRN 148 (ca. 240 BC; see Footnote n. 15 below). Both sets of laws are notably interesting in their claims to a deeper form of religious authority or tradition: in the case of Cyrene, they are presented as an oracle of Apollo (cf. l. 1); in that of Cos, they are explicitly said to be sacred (ἱεροὶ νόμοι – here indeed ‘sacred laws’ properly speaking) and expounded by the official interpreters of religious matters (ἐξαγηταί).

15 IG XII.4 1 332 / CGRN 148 (Cos, ca. 250 BC), ll. 23–4 and 29–30: μηδὲ ἐς οἰκίαν [ἐσέρπεν ἐν ὁποίαι κα ἄνθρωπος ἀποθά]ν̣ηι ἁμερᾶν πέντε ἀφ᾿ ἇς κα ἁμέ|[ρας ὁ νεκρὸς ἐξενιχθῆι … αἰ δέ τί κα τῶν] | ἄλλων συμβᾶι, ἀπὸ χρυσίου καὶ π[ροσπερμείας.

16 On Cos, reference to the purity laws for priests and priestesses (IG XII.4 1 332 / CGRN 148, cf. Footnote n. 15 above) is clearly made some centuries later in a contract for the sale of the priesthood of Nike (IG XII.4 1 330 / CGRN 163, first cent. BC, ll. 12–14): καὶ ἁγνευέσθω | [ὅσ]ω̣ν καὶ τοῖς λοιποῖς ἱερεῦσι ποτιτέτακται ἁ|[γν]εύεσθαι.

17 See now Petrovic and Petrovic Reference Petrovic and Petrovic2018 for a helpful review of these inscriptions. For such texts as ‘signs’, cf. again Harris Reference Harris2015: esp. 58–60.

18 Milet I.7 202 / LSAM 51 / CGRN 214, ca. 75 BC to 1 BC.

19 The long-standing restoration may be maintained, though [τ]ε|[τοκυία]ς might alternatively be envisaged. To my knowledge, in the case of purity rules, the aorist participle is only used in I.Pergamon 255 / LSAM 12 / CGRN 212, l. 7: καὶ τεκούσης γυναικὸς δευτεραῖο⟨ι⟩ (see below, Section 2, on this text from Pergamum). The perfect τετοκυῖα is somewhat more widely found: I.Pergamon 264 / LSAM 14, IG XII Suppl. 126 / LSCG 124 / CGRN 181, LSCG Suppl. 54 / CGRN 217, LSCG Suppl. 119 / CGRN 144.

20 As the edition in I.Milet I.7 202 informs us, the inscription was incised on a narrow anta-block, probably originally belonging to the temple itself. From the photograph, some erosion is perceptible above the extant text on the block, suggesting that only one or at most a few lines are now missing above. Unless we were to assume that further text was inscribed on another anta-block originally situated above this block, the inscription should be treated as essentially complete.

21 For an early example, see the conclusion of the rules concerning the sanctuary of Meter Gallesia at Metropolis (I.Ephesos 3401 / LSAM 29 / CGRN 71, fourth cent. BC): ὃς δ’ [ἂν] ἀδική|[σηι,] μὴ εἵλως αὐ|[τῶι ἡ] Μήτηρ [ἡ] Γαλ|[λησί]α.

22 Apart from the inscription for a West-Semitic cult found at Marmarini near Larissa in Thessaly (Decourt and Tziaphalias Reference Decourt and Tziafalias2015 / Bouchon and Decourt Reference Bouchon and Decourt2017 / CGRN 225, ca. 250–150 BC), two other cases are regulations for the sanctuary (of Despoina?) at Lycosura (NGSL 8 / CGRN 189, second cent. BC) and for the sanctuary of the Egyptian gods at Megalopolis (NGSL 7 / CGRN 155, ca. 200 BC).

23 For the case from Ptolemais, written on a conical cone of basalt, see LSCG Suppl. 119 / CGRN 144 (first cent. BC); the context or authority of this regulation has not been clearly identified.

24 Petrovic and Petrovic Reference Petrovic and Petrovic2018.

25 Note, for instance, the abstention (ἁγνεύεσθαι) from sex for the night preceding the sacrifice to Zeus Polieus on Cos, which the ἱαροποιός chosen as a sacrificer (σφαγεύς) must respect (IG XII.4 1 278, ca. 350 BC, ll. 41–43). This sort of abstention is typical of casuistic purity regulations and does not have any perceptibly ‘foreign’ aspect here. In fact, regulations concerning purity can usually be seen as striking some form of compromise between traditional norms and local trends, an assessment that is partially discussed below, but still warrants further study than is possible here.

26 It could instead be argued that, where Egyptian or Near Eastern cults implanted in Greek communities were concerned, rules of purity needed spelling out in Greek terms due to the novelty of the cults in question. Codification could be undertaken for a variety of reasons, the inauguration of the cult being one of them (see Footnote n. 25 above on the sacrifice to Zeus Polieus and below for other ‘foundations’).

27 I.Pergamon 255 / LSAM 12 / CGRN 212. Given its findspot, the stele must originally have been erected close to the Nikephorion, which Kohl Reference Kohl2002 identifies with the known temple of Athena on the Acropolis of Pergamum, and near the gate leading to the upper city/citadel. At the end of l. 3, the common restoration is [ναόν], which certainly remains possible, as in the case of Artemis Chitone at Miletus, discussed above; [ἱερόν] is the suggestion of CGRN, noting that a reference to the sanctuary in general also occurs in l. 21 of the text.

28 For the earlier date, specifically in the reign of Eumenes II (197– 159 BC) or shortly after, see Kohl Reference Kohl2002; Müller Reference Müller2003.

29 The hieronomoi at Pergamum were apparently a board of civic officials responsible for administering sanctuaries and cult in the city. On these officials, see I.Pergamon 246 (ca. 138–133 BC), ll. 20–1: hieronomoi responsible for a sacrifice for Attalus III and the resulting feast. For the role of hieronomoi in Attalid territory, see CIG 3562 / LSAM 16 / CGRN 108 (Gambreion, third cent. BC; a law for the Gambreiotai passed under a probably identical hieronomos and stephanephoros) and TAM V.2 1253 (155/4 BC, attributed to Hierocaesarea in Lydia; a dedication to Artemis by οἱ ἐγ Δοα̣ρρήνης ἱερόδουλο[ι] in honour of a beneficent hieronomos). For hieronomoi specifically attached to the cult of Athena in Pergamum, though only occurring in a later period, cf. I.Pergamon 161 (post-Attalid, probably first cent. BC on the basis of its letterforms), ll. B11–14 (τοὺς ἱε[ρο]|νόμους τῆς Ἀθηνᾶς, paying for the setting up of a stele ‘from the funds’ of the goddess) and the restorations proposed at I.Pergamon 474 (ca. 88–86 BC). In the case of Dionysios son of Menophilos, it is interesting that the stone-cutter made a mistake in his title: ἱερονομήσα⟦ντε⟧ς, erasing three letters (still visible), to correct this to the singular participle ἱερονομήσας rather than the probably expected plural denoting a board of civic or sanctuary officials. At any rate, τῶι δήμ[ωι] makes it clear that Dionysios, acting alone in this case and apart from any other members of his board, did so in an official capacity for the city.

30 Cf. also now Parker Reference Parker2018a: 182, ‘we see here the distinction between (recorded) tradition and ψηφίσματα’.

31 AvP VIII.3 161 (mid-second cent. AD; see also Lupu, NGSL p. 61, von Ehrenheim Reference von Ehrenheim2015: 224–7 no 7, Renberg Reference Renberg2017: 194–5), with ll. 35–6 for the concluding formula: [․ca.2․ Κ]λώδιος Γλύκων | [ἱερ]ονομῶν ἀνέθηκεν. The abbreviated praenomen of the full name is missing. Among various sacrificial and other ritual prescriptions, cf. ll. 11–14 for the rules concerning purity: ἁγνευέτω δὲ ὁ | [εἰσπορευ]ό̣μενος εἰς τὸ ἐγκοιμητήριον ἀπό τε τῶν προειρημέ|[νων πάν]τ̣ων καὶ ἀφροδισίων καὶ αἰγείου κρέως καὶ τυροῦ κα[ὶ | ․․ca.7․․]ΙΑΜΙΔΟΣ τριταῖος; for the latter case, the photograph reveals that in Ι̣ΑΜΙΔΟΣ only the bottom of the first supposed iota is visible: this is thus very likely to be read as [κ]υ̣αμίδος, ‘from beans’ (cf. LSJ s.v. κυαμίδες and i.a. ἀ[πὸ] κ̣υάμων in a regulation perhaps belonging to an Asklepieion in Rhodes, LSCG Suppl. 108, first cent. AD). Other rules would therefore have been mentioned earlier (ἀπό τε τῶν προειρημέ|[νων πάν]τ̣ων). See further ll. 18–19, where it is stated that the same purity rules applied to the ‘small’ incubation chamber: εἰς δὲ τὸ μικρὸν ἐγκοιμητήριον | [ὁ εἰσιὼν ἁγ]νείαν ἁγνευέτω τὴν αὐτήν. Another, somewhat later and more fragmentary regulation concerning the Asklepieion and its ἐγκοιμητήρια is I.Pergamon 264 / LSAM 14 (late second cent. AD, with the discussion of Wörrle at AvP VIII.3 161, p. 180 n. 66), which specifies different rules for entry in an unclear context (perhaps for the sanctuary generally, ἱερόν, rather the ἐγκοιμητήριον and its incubation-rituals, which are then mentioned from ll. 4ff.): [εἰσπορευέσ]θ̣ω εἰς [τὸ ἱερὸν τοῦ Ἀσκληπιοῦ ἁγνεύων ἀπὸ … ἡμέ]ρας δέκα, ἀπὸ δὲ ⟨τ⟩ετοκ̣[υίας (καὶ τρεφούσης?) ἡμ|έρας …, ἀπὸ δ’ ἀφροδ]εισίων λουσάμενος. The first scenario envisaged, entailing a delay of ten days, is perhaps a funerary ritual or abortion/miscarriage; the second, probably involving successful childbirth, would entail the same or a shorter delay. For a commendable effort to eliminate the restorations in this text, without yielding much progress, however, see now Renberg Reference Renberg2017: 196–7. On the specific practices and rules of abstinence and purification surrounding the rites of incubation, see now von Ehrenheim Reference von Ehrenheim2015: esp. 23–43; Renberg Reference Renberg2017: 242–4.

32 TAM V.1 530 / LSAM 18 / CGRN 211. For the editio princeps, with full details concerning the provenance (reused in a house) and with a facsimile, cf. Keil and von Premerstein Reference Keil and von Premerstein1911: 82–3 no 167.

33 An alternative proposal by Keil and von Premerstein would make this clause anticipate the one directly following it. This would seek to bar entry to individuals who were sick with emphysema: [μὴ εἰσίτωσαν] οἱ ἐμφ̣ύσ̣η|[μα ἔ]χ̣[οντες], ἁγνεύειν δὲ…

34 Cf. LSJ s.v. ἐμφυσητής, φυσητήρ (II), φυσητήριον; note e.g. Ar. V. 1219: αὐλητρὶς ἐνεφύσησε.

35 See particularly, Roller Reference Roller1999: 110 (‘The tympanon, the most common instrument of the Graeco-Roman Kybele, does not appear in Phrygian representations of the goddess’ but rather the lyre and especially the flute; for the tympanon appearing only in later depictions, as a Greek addition, see pp. 136–7, 148). The Homeric Hymn to Meter also mentions flutes (αὐλοί) alongside κρόταλα, ‘castanets’, and tympana (see again Roller Reference Roller1999: 122–3; cp. 149–55, 232 n. 278).

36 Müller Reference Müller2010 (ca. 250–150 BC); see also von Ehrenheim Reference von Ehrenheim2015: 227–8 no 8, Renberg Reference Renberg2017: 242–3. For more details on the context of this find and the new sanctuary founded, see Skaltsa in Chapter 5.

37 Müller Reference Müller2010: 427–38 (SEG 60:1332), ll. 1–5: ἐπὶ Δημητρίου φρου|ράρχου, τοῦ κτίσαν|τος τὸ ἱερόν· ἀγαθῇ | τύχῃ· συνῆλθον οἱ πρ|ῶτοι Ἀσσκληπιασταί. A list of fifteen names follows. For a privately founded sanctuary of Asclepius at Thuburbo Maius in North Africa, which published purity rules in Latin, see Renberg Reference Renberg2017: 626–7.

38 Müller Reference Müller2010: 440–7 (SEG 60:1333). In fine, we might have expected the regulation to say that the same rules applied to the ἐνκοιμητήριον (cf. AvP VIII.3 161, ll. 18–19, cited above Footnote n. 31). But the apparent trace of a genitive at the end of l. 15 seems to introduce the consideration of other sources of impurity. Accordingly, then, a possible restoration at the end of l. 15 could be [ἀπὸ τ]ά[φ]ο̣υ | [καὶ ἐκφορᾶς…], as in I.Pergamon 255 cited above, though this variation from ν̣εκρ̣οῦ in l. 8 of the text from Yaylakale might also be viewed as surprising. On incubation in sanctuaries of Asclepius, see again Footnote n. 31 above.

39 Müller Reference Müller2010: 447: ‘(…) dass nicht nur der Stein, auf dem die Lex sacra aufgezeichnet ist, nach Material und ursprünglichen Dimensionen mit der Stele übereinstimmt, die die Liste der Gründungsmitglieder des Asklepiastensvereins trägt, sondern auch die Beschriftung beider Monumente in Größe und formaler Gestaltung identisch ist.’

40 For the widespread notion that one could enter on the same day after sexual intercourse, though often only after having washed from the head down: cf. Dobias-Lalou Reference Dobias-Lalou2000: 297–309 / CGRN 99 (Cyrene, ca. 325-300 BC); IG XII.1 789 / LSCG 139 (Lindos, ca. AD 117–38); I.Lindos II 487 / LSCG Suppl. 91 / Petrovic and Petrovic Reference Petrovic and Petrovic2018 (ca. AD 225); Decourt and Tziafalias Reference Decourt and Tziafalias2015 / Bouchon and Decourt Reference Bouchon and Decourt2017 / CGRN 225 (Marmarini near Larisa, ca. 250–150 BC), face B (I), line 27; NGSL 7 / CGRN 155 (Megalopolis, ca. 200 BC); as well as in the recently published second cent. BC text from Thyateira, Malay and Petzl Reference Malay and Petzl2017: 25–30 no 1, with further commentary in Parker Reference Parker2018a.

41 For a thorough and cautious discussion of the names of the leader and the members, see Müller Reference Müller2010: 429–35.

42 For conscious modelling of the structures of the Asklepiastai on the Asklepieion located near the city, cf. the conclusions of Müller Reference Müller2010 and also Renberg Reference Renberg2017: 243 (‘almost certainly was directly influenced by practices at the more prominent Asklepieion, instead of representing a separate tradition’). For this sanctuary, see also Radt Reference Radt1999: 220–42.

43 For the building of the arsenal, the upper city/citadel and its palaces, see Radt Reference Radt1999: 63–78. Note also that the offerings to Athena Nikephoros could (but apparently not always) involve sacrifices ‘on the akra’, where tariffs would need to be paid to the gatekeeper of the citadel (I.Pergamon 255 / LSAM 12 / CGRN 212, ll. 26–7: τῶν δ’ ἐν τῆι ἄκραι θυομένων καὶ πυλω|ρῶι τῆ̣ς ἄκρας βοὸς κτλ.).

44 For example, purity rules from neighbouring Lydia, to the south of Pergamum and Mysia, are different. The text from Maionia quoted above is relatively generous, but not as much: four full days of abstention are required for the death of a relative, two for that of another individual. The new text from Thyateira in Lydia (see Footnote n. 40 above) is even more strict: nine days were prescribed in the case of a relative, three or less in other cases.

45 It should therefore be clear that, without denying that economic factors had a role to play in the development of this sanctuary by the Asklepiastai, I cannot readily agree with the view of Eckhardt Reference Eckhardt2017b: 417, who claims that ‘the sanctuary was modeled closely on the famous Asklepieion of Pergamum – a smaller copy of a major sanctuary could thus serve as a source of income’, citing (but also simplifying) Müller Reference Müller2010: 446 in support of this view, ‘auf regelrechten Kurbetrieb ausgerichtet’. Yaylakale was primarily a sanctuary, providing a model for a cultic community, not merely a remote mountain spa.

46 For the importance of the cult of Asclepius to the Attalid rulers, which the phrourarchos Demetrios served as a minor official, see esp. IG IV².1 60 (191 BC, reign of Eumenes II) or I.Pergamon 246 (Attalus III).

47 See Carbon and Pirenne-Delforge Reference Carbon2013 and now Campanelli Reference Campanelli and Hilgert2016; on the misleading term ‘foundation’ often applied to these documents, see also Harris Reference Harris2015: 71–7. On the construction and use of space by familial associations, see Skaltsa in Chapter 5.

48 Male in-laws and bastards: cf. Carbon and Pirenne-Delforge Reference Carbon2013: 80–3. For the familial circle of Epikteta, see Footnote n. 49 below.

49 An exception is the dossier of Epikteta, where the association was named τὸ κοινὸν τοῦ ἀνδρείου τῶν συγγενῶν, ‘the community of the male group of relatives’: cf. IG XII.3 330 / LSCG 135 / CGRN 152 (ca. 210–195 BC; CAPInv. 1645); for the list of members of the familial group, which also includes women, see ll. 81–106. The designations occasionally given for the groups of Poseidonios at Halicarnassus (e.g. Ποσειδώνιος καὶ οἱ ἔκγονοι οἱ ἐκ Ποσειδωνίου καὶ οἱ εἰληφόντες ἐξ αὐτῶν: Carbon and Pirenne-Delforge Reference Carbon2013: Appendix; CAPInv. 830) and of Diomedon on Cos (τοὶ ἐγ Διομέδοντος καὶ ἀεῖ τοὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν γενόμενοι, see below with n. 51) are polymorphous and not formalised associational names.

50 IG XII.4 1 349 / LSCG 171 / CGRN 162 (ca. 200–150 BC).

51 Diomedon: IG XII.4 1 348 / LSCG 177 / CGRN 96 (CAPInv. 1919; ca. 325–275 BC). That dossier, however, does not include any rules concerning purity.

52 For a detailed discussion of the deities forming the focus of Pythion’s cult, see Campanelli Reference Campanelli and Hilgert2016: 143–4.

53 As stressed and further elucidated by Campanelli Reference Campanelli and Hilgert2016: 154–6; 170.

54 Eresos: IG XII Suppl. 126 / LSCG 124 / CGRN 181 (second cent. BC). There, ten days is the delay for a person entering into contact with a woman who has aborted/miscarried (forty days for the woman concerned); ten days for a woman having given birth (three days for another individual entering into contact with her). Despoina at Lycosura: NGSL 8 / CGRN 189 (second cent. BC). Cf. also the delay of ten days after an unknown cause of impurity mentioned in the regulation of the Asklepieion at Pergamum, I.Pergamon 264 / LSAM 14, cited above Footnote n. 31.

55 Intercourse with one’s own wife required a two-day ἁγνεία (or three days counting inclusively) at Pergamum: see above Footnote n. 31 on AvP VIII.3 161, ll. 11–14; Delos: I.Délos 2530 / LSCG Suppl. 54 / CGRN 217 (second cent. BC); and Metropolis: I.Ephesos 3401 / LSAM 29 / CGRN 71 (fourth cent. BC).

56 Text A: IG II2 1366 / LSCG 55; Text B: IG II² 1365. This is a case that has already stimulated a large bibliography and ample commentary, to which little justice can be done in this short overview. For useful references and a summary of the evidence, see GRA I 53. Strangely, it is also only on the briefer stele B that we find the exclusion of murderers from the cult, ll. 21–2: ἀνδροφόνον μηδὲ περὶ τὸν τόπον. On the continued concern for pollution from homicide, see Harris Reference Harris2018, with further refs.

57 This appears to be the aim of the clause in Text A, ll. 8–9: ἐὰν δέ τις βιάσηται, ἀπρόσδεκτος | ἡ θυσία παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ (cp. text B, ll. 13–15). When anyone acts violently – perhaps especially towards Xanthos/the founder as the implicit object of the verb – the sacrifice is de facto to be considered invalid.

58 Text A, ll. 12–14 (cf. B, ll. 27–9): ἐὰν δέ τινα | ἀνθρώπινα πάσχῃ ἢ ἀσθενήσῃ ἢ ἀποδημήσῃ που, μηθένα ἀνθρώ|πων ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν, ἐὰν μὴ ὧι ἂν αὐτὸς παραδῶι.

59 One intriguing possibility for such a group is the ἐρανισταί known from IG II2 2940 (second [rather than fourth] cent. BC) at Laurion, who apparently preceded Xanthos’ cult and may have made a dedication to Men Tyrannos; the reading of the name of the deity has been questioned, however (for a helpful summary of the debate, see CAPInv. 311).

60 Text A, ll. 11–12: καὶ εὐείλατος γένοιτ̣ο ὁ θεὸς τοῖς θεραπεύουσιν ἁπλῇ τῇ ψυχῇ (cf. B, ll. 25–6); repeated in fine, l. 26: καὶ εὐείλατος γένοιτο τοῖς ἁπλῶς προσπορευομένοι[ς]. On this widespread concept of purity of the mind in Greek religious thought, see now Petrovic and Petrovic Reference Petrovic and Petrovic2016.

61 Cf. the stipulation that those who enquired excessively into the affairs of the god or interfered with them would be guilty of an insurmountable offence to the god (Text A, ll. 14–16; cf. also B, 29–32): ὃς ἂν δὲ πολυ|πραγμονήσῃ τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ ἢ περιεργάσηται, ἁμαρτίαν ὀφειλέτω Μηνὶ | Τυράννωι, ἣν οὐ μὴ δύνηται ἐξειλάσασθαι.

62 The sanctuary of the Syrian gods on Delos: I.Délos 2530 / LSCG Suppl. 54 / CGRN 217 (second cent. BC). Similarly, after ingestion of pork (ἀπὸ ὑείου), only washing is required and entry is permitted on the same day. In the context of Near Eastern rituals and the interdiction to sacrifice swine, mention must be made of the new stele from Marmarini/Larisa (ca. 250–150 BC), which perhaps emanated from an association or a group of initiates: for the editio princeps, Decourt and Tziaphalias Reference Decourt and Tziafalias2015; see now Bouchon and Decourt Reference Bouchon and Decourt2017 / CGRN 225 for an improved text. For the hypothesis of an association, see Carbon Reference Carbon2016; against this view and with an extensive discussion of the purity rules, see Parker and Scullion Reference Parker and Scullion2016: 256–66.

63 See Text A, ll. 3–8; B, ll. 8–11 and 18–25. That women are primarily concerned by these three rules is made clear by the use of feminine ordinal adjectives on stele B: ἑβ⟨δ⟩ομαία⟨ν⟩, δεκατ⟨αί⟩αν, τετταρακοσταίαν. The delays are conventional and, though often found of ‘foreign’ cults, these are spread across the ancient Greek world: for instance, menstruation requires seven days also in the text from Marmarini (n. above), face B (I), ll. 27–8, also in the sanctuary of the Egyptian gods at Megalopolis (NGSL 7 / CGRN 155, ca. 200 BC) and in the unknown cult at Ptolemais (LSCG Suppl. 119 / CGRN 144, first cent. BC).

64 TAM V.3 1539 / LSAM 20 / CGRN 191 / GRA II 117 (ca. 125–75 BC; see also CAPInv. 348). For a recent and highly successful attempt at situating the cult in a local (Lydian) as well as a wider legal context, see now de Hoz Reference de Hoz2017.

65 Stowers Reference Stowers, Malherbe, Norris and Thompson1998 makes a case for seeing Dionysios’ rules as those of a household cult, though this still begs the question of why they were published in the first place (he himself comments 294: ‘What is most peculiar about this cult is that rules of the oikos which were normally unwritten and more implicit than explicit have been set up in writing’). This view has been recently followed by Hurtado Reference Hurtado2016: 174, who concludes that ‘there is no indication that Dionysios even sought to recruit followers from beyond his own household’. Both of these views, however, would require questioning the restoration π[ρόσοδον διδόν]|τ’ εἰς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ οἶκον in ll. 4–5 as well as the purpose of the datives that follow ἀνδρά[σι καὶ γυναιξὶν] | ἐλευθέροις καὶ οἰκέατις, since these imply that Dionysios granted access to his house as part of the cult that was being developed.

66 The commonly accepted restoration κ[αὶ τὰ μυστήρια] in l. 13 is somewhat gratuitous, since no other aspect of the text explicitly mentions initiations; cf. however l. 41, which perhaps suggests this sense, though it could also refer to the contemplation of other rituals, such as sacrifices or those concerning the statues involved in the cult.

67 Hurtado Reference Hurtado2016: 174, wondering ‘why there is no mention of prostitutes or courtesans’, follows Stowers in thinking that ‘the particular concern is actually about disruptive sexual activities among the members of the household, and so the inscription does not address what sexual activities a man may engage in with other kinds of individuals outside the household’. But the rules have a strictly moral purpose: sex is not being regulated per se, but ‘corruption’ by a man is defined in the cases where the woman, whether free or slave, is already married or if a child or unmarried girl is concerned, ll. 25–8: ἄνδρα παρὰ | τὴν] ἑαυτοῦ γυναῖκα ἀλλοτρίαν ἢ [ἐλευθέραν ἢ] | δούλην ἄνδρα ἔχουσαν μὴ φθερε[ῖν μηδὲ παῖδα μη|δὲ] παρθένον μηδὲ ἑτέρωι συμβου[λεύσειν]. In other words, male sex with (by definition unmarried) prostitutes and courtesans was not mentioned because it was tacitly accepted; see also below.

68 Stowers Reference Stowers, Malherbe, Norris and Thompson1998: 299 affirms that he ‘see[s] no reason why normal practices of purification would not have taken care of an adulterous woman’s impurity, even if the stele treats such pollution as especially severe’. It depends what one means by ‘normal practices of purification’. For example, it is difficult to imagine that merely washing from the head down could have cleansed the woman or her kin, which would be contaminated as a result of her actions, from the severe pollution outlined by Dionysios. As elsewhere in Lydia, confession and the expectation of divine intervention might have been necessary; the oath required of participants in the cult, using the stele as a touchstone, could have served in this capacity; see de Hoz Reference de Hoz2017: 101–2.

69 As perceptively remarked by Stowers Reference Stowers, Malherbe, Norris and Thompson1998: 297–8 (such rules of purity ‘are missing from the inscription’).

70 For ἀφροδίσια vel sim., see AvP VIII.3 161 (n. 31) and the text from Yaylakale quoted and discussed above (Section 2). See Parker Reference Parker1996b: 94–100 on the connection between sexual morality and purity.

71 Purification after sex in the case of a woman is specifically mentioned in the text from Ptolemais (LSCG Suppl. 119 / CGRN 144, first cent. BC, l. 14: [ἀπ’] ἀνδρὸς, βʹ, μυρσίνην δὲ [οἴσει (?)]).

72 Note especially the possibility of sex, both for men and women, with partners who were not one’s own spouse, in text from the Nikephorion at Pergamum (I.Pergamon 255 / LSAM 12 / CGRN 212), quoted above: ἀπὸ … τῆς ἰδίας γ[υναι]κὸς… vs. ἀπὸ… ἀλλοτρίας; ἀπὸ … τοῦ ἰδίου ἀνδρὸς vs. ἀπὸ… ἀλλοτρίου.

73 IG XII.1 789 / LSCG 139 (Lindos, ca. AD 117–138), l. 14: ἀπὸ συνουσίας νομ[ί]μου κτλ. For συνουσία vs. κοινή (any intercourse), see also the inscription from Lindos in Petrovic and Petrovic Reference Petrovic and Petrovic2018 (ca. AD 225).

74 Contra, see Stowers Reference Stowers, Malherbe, Norris and Thompson1998: 293 criticising the idea of ‘supposedly elevated moral rules’ and Harland in GRA II 117, pp. 190–2, who asserts that these rules are ‘not unusual’, except perhaps in their emphatic character.

75 Dem. 22 (Against Androtion) 78, as translated by Harris Reference Harris2008.

76 See now Petrovic and Petrovic Reference Petrovic and Petrovic2018 (ca. AD 225), l. 20. But these παράνομα ‘acts against the norms’ do not seem to have concerned the distinction between sexual relations with one’s spouse and those with another partner (see Footnote n. 73).

77 Cf. Footnote n. 60 above. See again Petrovic and Petrovic Reference Petrovic and Petrovic2016 on the long-standing moral aspects of purity, as well as several of the essays in Carbon and Peels Reference Carbon and Peels2018.

78 Cf. e.g. Eckhardt Reference Eckhardt2017b: 417: ‘While internal activities of associations were normally exclusive, their sanctuaries (qua being sanctuaries) were not’.

79 IG II² 1369 / GRA I 49 (CAPInv. 308; end of second cent. AD), from the Mesogeia, probably the deme of Paiania. On this text, see also Arnaoutoglou in Chapter 6. This group has been related to SEG 31:122, the σύνοδος τῶν Ἡρακλιαστῶν ἐν Λίμναις found in the same area one century earlier (ca. AD 90), though unconvincingly as Arnaoutoglou Reference Arnaoutoglou2003: 83–4 rightly argues.

80 Ll. 31–6: [μη]δενὶ ἐξέστω ἰσι̣[έν]αι ἰ̣ς̣ τὴν σεμνοτάτ̣ην | σύνοδον τῶν ἐρανιστῶν πρ̣ὶ̣ν ἂν δοκι|μασθῇ εἴ ἐστι ἁ[γν]ὸς καὶ εὐσεβὴς καὶ ἀγ̣|α[θ]ός̣· δοκιμα[ζέ]τω δὲ ὁ προστάτης [καὶ | ὁ] ἀρχιεραν̣ισ̣τὴς καὶ ὁ γ[ρ]αμματεὺς κα[ὶ | οἱ] ταμίαι καὶ σύνδικοι.

81 Other examples of a process of dokimasia for admission to associations are known, though the particulars of the examination remain murky: cf. already the orgeones of Bendis, IG II2 1361 / GRA I 4 (CAPInv. 230; ca. 350–300 BC), who allude to a dokimasia for new members, when they clearly sought to increase their membership (ll. 20–3); cf. also I.Smyrna 218 + vol. II2 p. 371 (CAPInv. 1138; first–second cent. AD), apparently requiring dokimasia to obtain a resting place in the burial plot; see also the commentary at GRA I 49. For a krisis of familial legitimacy, see the procedure by which bastards (nothoi) could become members of the cultic family of Diomedon, IG XII.4 1 348 / LSCG 177 / CGRN 96 (CAPInv. 1919), ll. 146–9; cf. also MDAI(A) 32 (1907): 293 no 18 for the dokimasia of fathers and their sons to enter into the membership of a systema at Pergamum, though the associational character of the group is unclear and it may be the gerousia (CAPInv. 1659; second cent. AD); similar rules concerning the replacement of members in IG VII 2808 (Hyettos, ca. AD 212–250), probably relating to the sacred and political gerousia of the community rather than a private association stricto sensu (pace Marchand in CAPInv. 984). On admission procedures codified by associations, see Giannakopoulos in Chapter 2.

82 For the superlative σεμνοτάτη, see the commentary at GRA I 49. A heroic cult is implied by ll. 38–9, where the official called ὁμολείτωρ is appointed as responsible for the heroon for life: ὁμολείτωρ δὲ ἔ⟦ι⟧στω δ[ιὰ] βίου αὐτο[ῦ] | ὁ ἐπὶ ἡρώου καταλιφθείς. That this was the tomb of the founder of the group (Sokolowski, LSCG 53) is possible, but far from clear.

83 The closest analogy is perhaps provided by the dokimasia in the cult of the Iobacchoi, IG II2 1368 / Jaccottet Reference Jaccottet2003: II 27–35 no 4 / AGRW 7 (CAPInv. 339), ll. 35–7: δοκιμασθῇ ὑπὸ τῶν ἰοβάκχων ψή|φῳ, εἰ ἄξιος φαίνοιτο καὶ ἐπιτήδειος | τῷ Βακχείῳ. This suggests that new members were assessed only for their worthiness or goodness (ἄξιος cf. perhaps ἀγαθός) and their suitability to the Bakcheion (ἐπιτήδειος; and perhaps their serviceable or friendly disposition as potential benefactors). Yet this is also different: there were no overt criteria of religious rectitude, no connotations of purity or piety, in this case; though these may have been implicit to the constitution of the Iobacchoi, they were not explicitly expressed.

84 Ll. 40–4: εἰ δέ τις̣ μά|χας ἢ θορύβ̣ους κεινῶν φαίνοιτο, | ἐκβαλλέσθω τοῦ ἐράνου ζημιού|μενος ⟦ε⟧ Ἀττ[ι]καῖς κεʹ ἢ πληγαῖς αἰκ⟦αικ⟧ιζό|μενος ταῖς διπλαῖς πέ⟦τ⟧ρα κρίσεως.

85 Kloppenborg Reference Kloppenborg, Hodge, Olyan, Ullucci and Wasserman2014: 226, speaking in particular of ‘The Moralizing of Discourse’ or ‘the moralizing of association rules’. Given that morality was such a long-standing preoccupation in Greek society in general, I am not sure that to speak of a ‘moralising’ tendency is a good historical approach, however.

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