036 - Fig1

PHRC036 : Record of the dedication of a phiale for the festival Philadelpheia, Delos - Cyclades (240/39 BC) Inventory

Delian inventories since 267 mention a phiale dedicated by Hermias, the nesiarch of the League of the Islanders, to Arsinoe Philadelphos, Apollo, Artemis, and Leto on the occasion of the festival Philadelpheia. This inventory is the only one adding King Ptolemy II as a further recipient of the offering. Since the phiale and the festival were financed by the yearly interests of Hermias' endowment, the nesiarch had founded the festival for the deceased and deified Arsinoe one year before, in 268, at the beginning of the Chremonidean War. His personal donation completed the set of cultic honours already granted by the League to Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II and reinforced the message of allegiance to Ptolemy II during the conflict against Antigonos Gonatas. It is possible, although uncertain, that the festival was related to the sanctuary Philadelpheion, which is documented in Delian inventories until the early 2nd century. The decline of Ptolemaic power in the Aegean in that period may have caused the end of the festival as well as a change of function of the sanctuary. Thus, the old Philadelpheion might actually correspond to the later attested sanctuary of Agathe Tyche, which has been archaeologically identified near the Mount Kynthos.

Photo 1: Detail of the plan of Delos, archaeological site, with the location of the sanctuary of Agathe Tyche (no. 89); from Viagallica.com

Current location

Achaeological Museum of Delos
Inv. No. Γ 211


Object Type: Stele
43 fragments of a stele, with large lacunae especially on the left top and in the lower half of the right side.
Material: Marble
Height: 205 cm
Width: 108 cm
Depth (top): 9 cm; bottom: 10,5 cm


Letters of an average height of 0,6 cm, but smaller and more densely written in the last lines.


Date: 240/39 BC
Justification: Content
Provenance: Found by Th. Homolle in 1879 in a building situated west of the Stoa of Antigonos (for the stoa, see Bruneau - Ducat 2005, p. 195, no. 29).


Text constituted from: I.Délos 298 A, of which we reproduce here lines 79-80.

See also: Bruneau 1970, p. 544-545; Caneva 2014, no. 42; Caneva 2020.

Images: IG XI 4, 1303 (fac-simile).

Further bibliography: on the Delian inventories, see Constantakopoulou 2017, p. 172-187, with references. On the Philadelpheion, see Bruneau 1970, p. 533-545; Bruneau - Ducat 2005, p. 103, 283-285 with plan VI; Caneva 2013, p. 292-293; Constantakopoulou 2017, p. 98-100. On the League of the Islanders and their close link with Delos, see Dürrbach 1921, p. 24-35, nos. 17-26; Hauben 2004; Hauben 2010; Meadows 2013; Buraselis 2013; Buraselis 2015; Pfeiffer 2015, p. 35-41; Constantakopoulou 2017, esp. p. 31-56.

Online record: PHI; Trismegistos


ἄλλας φιάλας ἐπιγραφὴν ἐχούσας· [Δ]ηλιάδες, χορεῖα [ἐπιδ]όντος Ἑρμί -
80 [ου τοῦ νησιάρχου Ἀρσινόηι Φιλαδέλ]φοι, Ἀπ[όλλωνι Ἀρτέμιδι Λητοῖ καὶ βασιλεῖ Πτο]λ[ε]μαίωι


Despite the fragmentary state of the text, the repetitive formulae of the Delian inventories make the restorations sure: see Bruneau 1970, p. 528-529.


Other phialai bearing the inscription: "Delian (girls), choral dance; endowment of the nesiarch Hermias to Arsinoe Philadelphos, Apollo, Artemis, Leto, and to King Ptolemy".


Altre phialai recanti l'iscrizione: "(Ragazze) di Delo, danza corale; donazione dal nesiarca Hermias ad Arsinoe Philadelphos, Apollo, Artemis, Letò e al re Tolemeo".


Delian inventories starting from the year 267 BC record the dedication of a phiale by the Delian girls in relation to the celebration of the festival Philaldelpheia. The phiale and the festival were financed by Hermias, the nesiarch of the League of the Islanders (Pros.Ptol. VI 15042; Hauben 2004, p. 41; Constantakopoulou 2017, p. 80-81, 191-192, 232-233). In most inventories mentioning this phiale, the dedication is made to Arsinoe Philadelphos followed by the Delian triad (Apollo, Artemis, Leto). Only in this case, the entry records king Ptolemy II among the recipients (Bruneau 1970, p. 528-531; Caneva 2013, p. 292-293; for the formula 'King Ptolemy and Arsinoe Philadelphos', by which the couple is fererred to after Arsinoe's death, see commentary to PHRC005). Later inventories from the end of the 3rd century explicitly mention the name of the festival as Philadelpheia (Bruneau 1970, p. 529). These changes in the formulary probably do not have a properly ideological meaning but reflect the internal developments of the Delian inventories.

It was common practice for Delian personal foundations that the interests generated during one year in relation to the capital that had been consecrated for the cult would be used during the following year to pay a sacrifice and the dedication of a phiale by a chorus of Delian girls (for this chorus, see Bruneau 1970, p. 35-37). The percentage of the capital used to finance the festival corresponded to 10 % of the total. Since some inventories explicitly refer to a sum of 330 dr. for the yearly costs related to the Philadelpheia (more precisely 100 dr. for the phiale, 230 for the festival including the sacrifice: cf. I.Délos 442 with Bruneau 1970, p. 530), we may infer that Hermias’ foundation consisted of 3.300 drachm.

In order to generate its first phiale in 267, the endowment of Hermias must have been made in 268 BC. It can hardly be a coincidence that the chief of the Aegean League made this proof of allegiance to the Ptolemaic house in the first year of the Chremonidean War, during which the Islanders would fight on the side of Ptolemy II, Athens and Sparta against Antigonos Gonatas (on the beginning of the war in 269/8, see Osborne 2009, p. 89). As early as the 280s, the Islanders had already attributed cultic honours to the living Ptolemy I ( SIG3 390, the ‘Nikouria decree’, with the commentary of Hauben 2010), which were subsequently extended to his son Ptolemy II ( IG XI 4, 1038). Moreover, as stated in the Nikouria decree, around 280 BC the Islanders promptly accepted the request of the new king Ptolemy II to grant Isolympic status to the quadirennial festival Ptolemaia, celebrated in Alexandria in honour of the deceased and deified Ptolemy I. They also celebrated their own yearly Ptolemaia on Delos on the occasion of their annual meetings (Bruneau 1970, p. 531-533; Hauben 2010, p. 111-112). Hermias’ foundation of the Philaldelpheia therefore completes this picture by revealing an interesting interaction between the philo-Ptolemaic cultic initiatives of the League as an institution and of its political leader operating as an individual agent.

The last attestation of documented phiale of Hermias’ Philadelpheia is recorded in the inventory I.Délos 444 B, lines 21 and 112 (177 BC). Interestingly enough, there is another element of the Ptolemaic ruler cult on Delos which approximately shares the same chronological limits as this festival. This is the sanctuary called Philadelpheion in the Delian sacred inventories. We do know whether the initiative leading to the dedication of this sanctuary stemmed from the same Hermias, from the Islanders, the Delians (less probably), Ptolemy II, or perhaps from a combination of various agents (on this issue, see Constantakopoulou 2017, p. 99-100). However, the name of the sanctuary clearly points to the death of Arsinoe II in 270 as the terminus post quem for the foundation of this sanctuary. On the other hand, the inventory I.Délos 400, lines 38-40 (192 BC) provides the last reference to this sanctuary, recording the purchase of roof tiles for the restoration of this and other temples.

The disappearance of the Philadelpheion from the Delian sources and the contemporaneous appearance of the new sanctuary of Agathe Tyche drew the attention of Bruneau 1970, 534-543 (see also Bruneau – Ducat 2005, p. 283, no. 103): he tentatively argued that the withdrawal of the Ptolemaic presence in the Aegean Sea in the early 2nd cent. caused the decline of the cult of Arsinoe Philaldephos, and together with the passage of Delos under Athenian control in 166 BC led to the redenomination of the sanctuary in association with a divine figure which had already played a role in dedications to the deified Ptolemaic queen (on the Agathe Tyche of Arsinoe Philadelphos, see Fraser 1972, I, p. 240-243; Burr Thompson 1983, 51-55; Caneva 2015, p. 103, n. 28). Despite the lack of decisive evidence in favour of the continuity between the Philadelpheion and the sanctuary of Agathe Tyche, Bruneau’s hypothesis provides the most economic treatment of the epigraphic and archaeological dossier and has won large consensus (see e.g. Constantakopoulou 2017, p. 98-100). More problematic is the identification of this sanctuary with the ‘House with the portrait of Arsinoe’ mentioned in some Delian inventories and allegedly located near the Ekklesiasterion (see the sceptical observations of Bruneau 1970, 533-534).

The sanctuary of Agathe Tyche is located on Mount Kynthos. The excavations have delivered remarkable evidence concerning the dedication of seashells and oysters, a detail which may recall the cultic link between Arsinoe Philadelphos and seafaring (Bruneau 1970, p. 534-535). On the dedication of shells in the Arsinoeion at Cape Zephyrion by travellers having survived a risky navigation, see Callimachus, Ep. 5 Pf = 4 GP, with Caneva 2014b, p. 37-38.

Stefano Caneva, on 26.02.2019

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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
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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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