029 - Fig1

PHRC029 : Dedication of the royal collaborator Dionysodoros to Attalos I, Pergamon - Mysia (230-197 BC) Dedication

This marble block was the base of the statue of a dancing Satyr dedicated to Dionysos and King Attalos I by Dionysodoros, a top-ranking member of the Pergamon army and court. The finely inscribed dedicatory epigram testifies to the intellectual activity of the Pergamon court under Attalos I and to the role Dionysos played in it as a god of art, banquets, and of mystery cults. Found reused in the foundations of a late-Hellenistic or early-Imperial building not far from the Asklepieion, this stone and the statue it bore may have originally stood in a building along the Sacred Way connecting the city to the Asklepieion, or perhaps even inside the Asklepieion itself. The paleography and prosopography of the inscription point to the 220s as the most plausible date for the dedication.

Images:
Photo 1: Photo of the base, from Müller 1989, fig. 3
Photo 2: Find spot of the stone, from De Luca 1984, p. 153 and Pl. 70, foundation wall in 'Quadrat 32 A'


Current location

Archaeological Museum of Bergama

Support

Object Type: Statue Base
The stone is damaged on both sides. Some parts are missing, affecting the text at the end of lines 1 and 6. The traces of two holes on the upper surface may be original and have hosted the feet of the statue.
Material: Marble
Dimensions:
Height: 28.5 cm
Width: max. 69 cm
Depth: 50 cm

Layout

The text is elegantly written in 5 lines of the same length. Each line corresponds to a verse of the epigram and is aligned with the left margin of the text.
Elegant letters of the late 3rd cent., with thickening at the end of long hastae. A with horizontal crossbar, Σ with slightly diverging hastae. Θ with central point. Π with slightly shorter second hasta and no horizontal extending. All letters have the same size except for the round letters (O,Ω,Θ), which are smaller and written above the line.
Letter height between 1.2 cm (O) and 1.5 cm.

History

Original Place: Pergamon
Date: Between 230 and 197 BC, probably in the 220s
Justification: Lettering and prosopography: see Commentary
Provenance: Found in October 1966 in the square 32 A of the excavation of the Sacred Way to the Asklepieion, reused in the late-Hellenistic foundations of a building NE of the 'Strassenbrunnen'.

Bibliography

Text constituted from: Lebek 1990, p. 298.

Other editions: Müller 1989 (SEG XXXIX 1334).

See also: On the find spot of the stone, see De Luca 1984, p. 153 and Pl. 70, 'Quadrat 32 A'; Quatember 2008 on the 'Strassenbrunnen'; Pirson 2017, p. 102-106 for the late-Hellenistic and early-Imperial urbanistic development of the area. See also Michels 2011, 134-135, and Caneva 2020, with a focus on the Attalid ruler cults.

Images: Müller 1989, figs 1-4.

Further bibliography: On Dionysodoros, see Savalli-Lestrade 1998, p. 125, no. 3. On Dionysos Kathegemon and the Attalids, see von Prott 1902; Ohlemutz 1968, p. 90-122; Müller - Wörrle 2002; Schwarzer 2006; Schwazer 2008; Michels 2011; Jaccottet 2011; Zimmer 2011; Ventroux 2017, p. 216-220.

Online record: PHI

Edition



Παῖς ὁ Δεινοκράτους με σοί, Θυώνης
κοῦρε, καὶ βασιλῆι τὸν φίλοινον
Ἀττάλωι Διονυσόδωρος εἷσεν
Σκίρτον οὐΞικυῶνος. Ἁ δὲ τέχνα
5 Θοινίου, τὸ δὲ λῆμμα Πρατίνειον.
Mέλοι δ’ἀμφοτέροισιν ὁ ἀναθείς [με].


Translation


(S. Caneva)
The son of Deinokrates, Dionysodoros of Sikyon, has dedicated me, a wine-loving Skirtos, to you, son of Thyone, and to the king. The art is of Thoinias, the idea of Pratinas. May both (Dionysos and the king) have the donor at heart.

Traduzione


(S. Caneva)
Il figlio di Deinokrates, Dionysodoros di Sicione, ha dedicato me, Skirtos amante del vino, a te, figlio di Thyone, e al re. L'arte è di Thoinias, l'idea di Pratinas. A entrambi (Dioniso e il re) stia a cuore colui che mi ha dedicato.

Commentary

The epigram accompanies the dedication of the statue of a dancing Satyr to Dionysos and to King Attalos I by a top-ranking royal collaborator, Dionysodoros of Sikyon. The career of the donor is known from various sources (Müller 1989, p. 508-521; Savalli-Lestrade 1998, p. 125, no. 3), by which we are informed that he was admiral of the Attalid fleet at the battle of Chios against Philip V (201 BC) and that he represented the interests of Attalos I at the negotiations between Philip and Rome in Nikaia (198 BC). Müller's analysis of the lettering and of the chronological implications of the mention of the artist Thoinias of Sikyon as the creator of the statue has allowed to identify the 220s as the most probable date for the dedication, thus shedding light on the early career of Dionysodoros as an Attalid royal collaborator.

This dedication is of particular interest for the information it sheds on the court's cultural and religious life under Attalos I. The reference to the work of Pratinas, considered by Hellenistic philologists as the founder of the Satyrical drama (Müller 1989, p. 527-539), as well as the use of the uncommon denomination of Skirtos for a dansing Satyr reveal that the court of Pergamon was already a lively centre of erudite intellectual activity under Attalos I, and that Dionysodoros claimed to be part of this world. Moreover, the document sheds light on the image of Dionysos cultivated by the court: that of a young (kouros) god related to the pleasures of court life including literature, art, spectacles, and banquets as the prominent moments of social interaction between the king and the upper-ranking courtiers and philoi; last but not least, the reference to Dionysos as the son of Thyone points to the mythic tradition according to which the god’s mother Semele changed her name after being saved from Hades and being deified – a narrative closely related to Dionysiac mystery cults (Müller 1989, p. 543-551).

The epigram therefore highlights the important place of Dionysos in the construction of the Attalid ideology of kingship already under Attalos I – a point confirmed by literary traditions concerning the oracles that associated the first Basileus of Pergamon with Dionysos (Delphi: Diod., 34/35.13 Goukowski; Souda, s.v. Ἄτταλος. The prophetess Phaennis: Paus. 10.15.3; see Michels 2011, p. 131-137; Caneva 2016d, p. 102-103). Moreover, it shows that the mystic dymension of the cult of Dionysos played a role in the relationship between this god and the court of Pergamon already in the late-third century, just as it would still do at the end of the dynasty: see the mention of Dionysos’ mysteries in the letter of Attalos III dated 135 BC ( IvP I 248, lines 38-39 = RC 66, lines 13-14; cf. Müller 1989, p. 547, also drawing attention to the dedication of the Bakchoi to Eumenes II in PHRC026).

The base of the statue dedicated by Dionysodoros was reused in the foundations of a building of the 1st cent. BC (De Luca 1984, p. 153) or perhaps of the 1st cent. AD. Since the function of many buildings in this area between the Hellenistic city walls and the Asklepieion is still difficult to understand (for an overview see Pirsons 2017, p. 102-106), it also remain impossible to evaluate in which kind of structure the statue dedicated by Dionysodoros was originally placed (Müller 1989, p. 500-501). While a location inside the walls cannot be excluded, it seems more probable that this heavy stone was not reused far from its original place. A monument along the processional way towards the Asklepieion would perhaps provide a fitting solution. One cannot exclude either that the statue was originally placed inside the Asklepieion itself, which is situated not far from the find spot of the base and went through a significant process of monumentalisation under Attalos I (see Riethmüller 2005, I, p. 340-352 for the architectural phases of the sanctuary prior to Eumenes II).

Author:
Stefano Caneva, on 29.03.2019
Revisions:
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Travocial - Social Travel & Storytelling Practicalities of Hellenistic Ruler Cults
Marie Curie PISCOPIA project no. PISC14IGRU, University of Padova (2015-2017)
FNRS project no. 98368 (2017-2020)
Stefano Caneva
ste.caneva@gmail.com
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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission, Seventh Framework Programme, under Grant Agreement n° 600376 (2015-2017), and from the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS), Belgium (2017-2020).
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