062 - Fig 1

PHRC062 : Decree of Mylasa honouring the dynast Olympichos (Labraunda, Sanctuary of Zeus) - Karia (240-200 BC) Decree

This fragmentary decree was issued by the city of Mylasa, probably soon after 240 BC, to honour Seleukos II’s strategos Olympichos for liberating the city. Although the order to give the city freedom and democracy had stemmed from the king, Olympichos and the Mylanians represented the events by stressing their own roles and placing the focus on Olympichos’ benevolence and on the city’s gratitude. For this reason, Olympichos receives a full-scale series of cultic honours by means of which his status closely resembles that of contemporary kings. A sculptural group representing the Demos in the act of crowning Olympichos was flanked by an altar where an annual procession and sacrifice took place, having Olympichos as their cult recipient. The decree prescribes a series of activities (sacrifice of two bulls, banquet of the civic elite, stephanephoria of the citizens and the other inhabitants, singing of hymns) establishing a ritual equation between Olympichos and the most important figures of Mylasa’s past, from Maussollos to the Founders of the city (among which the Hekatomnids should also be counted). The text was republished in the sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos at Labraunda in the late 2nd cent., probably as a way to advertize the identity and the territorial claims of Mylasa at the time of the constitution of the Roman province of Asia.

Permanent ID: http://s.phrc.it/phrc062


Photo 1: Squeeze of the inscription (I.Labraunda 134 + 49), from Isager - Karlsson 2008, fig. 2
Photo 2: Arhchaeological Plan of Labraunda, from Williamson 2021, p. 116

Current location

Milas Museum
Labraunda C401, Inv. No. 2873 (I.Labraunda 134); the current location of fragment I.Labraunda 49 is unknown


Object Type: Stele
Two joining fragments of a marble stele. The first fragment was published by Crampa (I.Labraunda 49). It fits underneath the broken bottom edge of a second larger fragment edited by Isager and Karlsson. The second fragment is broken on the top, on the left-hand side, and on the right-hand bottom corner. The right-hand edge is preserved but worn. The back surface was only roughly worked out for insertion into an architectural structure.
Material: Marble
Height: at least 37 cm
Width: 47 cm
Depth: 13-14.5 cm


The writing is dense and fairly regular, with line length of about 41 characters. Syllabic division is carefully respected, occasionally resulting into the use of vacat at line ending. At lines 14 and 20, this solution is adopted to separate different paragraphs.
Regular writing. A with straight crossbar, Σ with slightly diverging outer bars, Π with right vertical hasta about half the length of the left one. Round letters have a smaller size; Ω is distinctively written with a small circle surrounded by long, marked serifs. All in all, these details are rather conservative and could suggest a higher chronology, but comparison with other inscriptions from Mylasa point to the second half of the 2nd cent.
Letter size between 1 and 1,3 cm; round letters are smaller.


Date: Decree originally issued between 240 and 200 BC, probably closer to the upper chronological limit. The preserved text is a copy of the late 2nd century
Justification: Content and writing
Provenance: Both fragments I.Labraunda 49 and 134 were found reused in the Late Roman South Bath, south of Andron C at the sanctuary of Zeus of Labraunda. The first was discovered in 1953, the second in 2002.


Text constituted from: Isager - Karlsson 2008 (=I.Labraunda 134; SEG LVIII 1220). We have opted to leave a blank space in the lacunae at lines 11 and 23, as in CGRN 150.

Other editions: CGNR 150 (consulted in October 2021), with minor differences from I.Labraunda 134 (see apparatus and commentary); the small fragment had already been published separately in I.Labraunda 49.

See also: on the career of Olympichos and his relationship with Mylasa, see Crampa in I.Labraunda; Virgilio 2001; Dignas 2002, 59-109; Bencivenni 2003, 247-298; Isager - Karlsson 2008; Carless Unwin - Henry 2016.

Images: Isager - Karlsson 2008, Fig. 1-2.

Further bibliography: On Zeus Labraundos and Zeus Osogo, or Osogollis, see Blümel 1990; Debord 2001; Parker 2017, 94-95; Williamson 2021, 93-98, 103-110. On the sanctuary of Labraunda, see Hellström 2007 and 2011; Carstens 2009, p. 75-100; Henry - Karlsson - Blid 2012; Karlsson 2015; Henry et al. 2016; Strootman - Williamson 2020, p. 107-114; Williamson 2021, p. 93-178. On (posthumous) cultic honours for Maussollos and the Hekatomnids, see Højlund – Aaris-Søresen 1981; Carstens 2009 and 2016; Rumscheid 2010; Nafissi 2015; Fabiani 2015b.

Online record: SEG LVIII 1220


[9?.........] πάσαι25?.........................]
[ὑπάρχειν δὲ] τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ τος ἐ[γγόνοις αὐτοῦ]· [στῆ] -
[σαι δὲ αὐτο] καὶ εἰκόνα χαλκῆν ἐν τ8?........]
5 [ἐν τῶι ἐπιφανε]στάτωι τόπωι· στῆσαι δὲ καὶ το Δήμ[ου]
[εἰκόνα χαλκῆν πήχε]ων πέντε στεφανοῦσαν τὴν Ὀλυμ -
[πίχου εἰκόνα]· [ἐπ]ιγράψαι δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος "ὁ δῆμος
[Ὀλύμπιχον Ὀλυ]μπίχου εὐεργέτην"· ἱδρύσασθαι δὲ
[καὶ αὐτῶι ἀπέναν]τι τῆς εἰκόνος βωμὸν λευκοῦ λίθου
10 [ὅμοιον? τῶι τοῦ Μαυ]σσώλλου τῶι ἐν τῶ<ι> ἱερῶι τοῦ Δι -
[ὸς] τοῦ [Λαβραύνδου? καὶ] συντελεῖν αὐτῶι πομπὴν καὶ θυσί -
[αν ἐφ’ ἑκάστου ἔ]τους τῆι τεσσαρεσκαιδεκάτηι τοῦ
[8?........ μην]ὸς ἐν ἧι ἡμέραι ὁ δῆμος ἐκομίσατο τήν
[τε ἐλευθερία]ν καὶ τὴν δημοκρατίαν· θύειν δὲ αὐ vv -
15 [τῶι ταύρο?]υς δύο καὶ εὐωχεῖσθαι ἐν τῆι ἡμέραι
[ταύτηι τούς τε ἱε]ρεῖς καὶ τοὺς νενικηκότας τοὺς
[στεφανίτας? ἀγῶ]νας καὶ τὴν συναρχίαν· τοὺς δὲ
[ἱερεῖς ἐπιμελεῖσθα]ι τῆς τε θυσίας καὶ τῆς θοίνης·
[δοῦναι δὲ τοὺς ταμίας τὸ ἀν]άλωμα ἐκ τῶν κοινῶν προσό -
20 [δων]· [εἶναι δὲ ἐκεχει]ρίας πᾶσιν ἐφ’ ἡμέρας τρεῖς· vv
[τοὺς δὲ πολίτας? καὶ] τοὺς ἄλλους πάντας συνεῖ -
[ναι (ἐ)στεφανωμένους ἐν τα]ῖς ἡμέραις ταύταις, ὑμνεῖσθαι
[δὲ καὶ ἐν τῆι 4?....]τηρίδι τοῖς Ταυρείοις κατὰ τὰ αὐ -
[τὰ καὶ τοῖς τῆς πόλεως κτ]ίσταις· τὴν δὲ ἀναγγελίαν ποι -
25 [ήσασθαι ἐν τῶι γυμνι?]κῶι ἀγῶνι τῶι συντελουμέ -
[νωι Διῒ Ὀσογωι, ὅτι στεφα]νοῖ ὁ δῆμος Ὀλύμπιχον Ὀλυμ -
[πίχου εὐεργέτην τῆς π]όλεως χρυσῶι στεφάνωι [καὶ]
[εἰκόνι χαλκῆι ἀρετῆς ἕν]εκεν κα εὐεργεσίας τῆς [εἰς]
[ἑαυτόν]· [ὅπως δὲ πᾶσιν] φανερὸν ἦι, διότι ὁ δῆμος [ὁ Μυ] -
30 [λασέων τιμᾶι τοὺς εὐερ]γετοῦντας αὐτὸν [καὶ ἵνα]
[ὑπόμνημα ὑπάρχηι αὐτῶι ἀναγ]ράψαι τόδε τὸ ψήφισ[μα]
[εἰς στήλας λιθίνας καὶ στῆσ]αι {αὐτὴν} τὴμ μ[ν μίαν]
[ἐν τῶι ἱερῶι τοῦ Διὸς Λαβραύνδου] vacat


Line 11: [Ὀσογω (?) καὶ] CGRN 150

Line 13: [? Ἀπελλαίου ?] Isager - Karlsson

Line 23: [πενταε]τηρίδι Isager - Karlsson


From Carbon - Peels, CGRN 150; partly adapted
[...] for all [...]. The same (honours) will also [be accorded to his descendants]. A bronze statue of him is [to be set up] in the [...] in the most [conspicuous] place. A [bronze statue] of the Demos measuring five [cubits] is also to be set up, which crowns the [statue] of Olympichos. On the base (of the statues) is to be written: “The Demos (crowns) Olympichos son of Olympichos, Benefactor”. [Opposite to (?)] (the statues) is to be erected an altar of white marble for him, [similar (?)] to the altar of Maussollos which is in the sanctuary of Zeus [Labraundos?]. A procession and a sacrifice addressed to him are to be celebrated [each] year on the fourteenth of the month [...], the day when the people recovered its freedom and democracy. Two [bulls (?)] are to be offered to him in sacrifice; the priests, the victors in the games [where the prize is a crown] and the magistracy shall take part in the meal on [that] day. The [priests are to take care] of the sacrifice and the banquet. The treasurers are to pay for the expense from the public funds. And there is to be a sacred truce during three days. [The citizens] and all the other (inhabitants) are to gather [wearing crowns] on these days. A hymn is to be sung during the […]ennial festival of the Taureia in the same manner as for the Founders [of the city]. During the [gymn]ic contest held [for Zeus Osogo], the announcement is to be made that the Demos crowns Olympichos son of Olympichos, [Benefactor] of the city, with a gold crown and (honors him with) [a bronze statue for his virtue] and beneficence towards itself (i.e. the people). [So that it] be manifest [to everyone] that the people [of Mylasa honours] its benefactors and [so that the memory of it persists for him], this decree is to be written up [on (two?) stone stelae], one (of which) [is to be set up in the sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos?].


(L. Paoletti, S. Caneva)
[…] per tutte […]. I medesimi (onori) [siano accordati] anche ai [suoi discendenti]. Sia eretta una sua statua bronzea nella […], nel luogo più [in vista]; si eriga anche una statua bronzea alta cinque cubiti del Demos che incorona la [statua] di Olympichos. Sulla base sia iscritto: “Il Demos (incorona) [Olympichos] figlio di Olympichos, Benefattore”. [Di fronte] (alle statue) sia inoltre costruito un altare di marmo bianco [simile?] a quello di Maussollos nel santuario di Zeus [Labraundos?]; si celebrino una processione e un sacrificio a lui rivolti [ogni] anno nel quattordicesimo (giorno) del mese di […], il giorno in cui il popolo ha ottenuto la [libertà] e la democrazia. Gli siano offerti in sacrificio due [tori?] e partecipino al banchetto in quel giorno i sacerdoti, i vincitori negli agoni [a corona] e l’insieme dei magistrati; i sacerdoti sovrintendano il sacrificio e il banchetto; [i tesorieri] mettano a disposizione la somma dalle entrate pubbliche. Per tutti [siano fissati] tre giorni di sospensione delle attività consuete. [I cittadini e] tutti gli altri (abitanti) si riuniscano [indossando corone] in questi giorni. Si canti un inno in occasione dell’edizione […]ennale dei Taureia, allo stesso modo che per i Fondatori [della città]. Durante l’agone [ginni]co delle (feste) celebrate [per Zeus Osogo] si faccia l’annuncio [che] il Demos incorona Olympichos figlio di Olympichos, [Benefattore] della città, con una corona d’oro [e] (lo onora) con una statua di bronzo [per la sua virtù] e beneficenza [nei suoi confronti. Affinché] sia evidente [a tutti] che il popolo [dei Milasei] onora i suoi benefattori [e affinché di ciò rimanga ricordo per lui], questo decreto sia iscritto [su steli di pietra] e una (di queste sia eretta) [nel tempio di Zeus Labraundos?].


D'après Carbon - Peels, CGRN 150 ; partiellement adaptée
[...] pour toutes [...]. Les mêmes (honneurs) seront accordés à ses descendants. Une statue de bronze sera érigée dans la [...], à l'endroit le plus [visible]. Une statue de bronze du Démos, mesurant cinq [coudées] sera également érigée, couronnant la [statue] d'Olympichos. Sur la base (des statues) sera inscrit : “Le Demos (couronne) Olympichos fils d'Olympichos, Évergète”. [En face] (des statues) sera érigé pour lui un autel de marbre blanc, [semblable (?)] à l'autel de Mausole qui se trouve dans le sanctuaire de Zeus [Labraundos ?], et une procession et un sacrifice adressés à Olympichos seront célébrés [chaque] année, le 14e jour du mois de [...], jour où le peuple a retrouvé la [liberté] et la démocratie. Deux [taureaux ?] lui seront offerts en sacrifice ; les prêtres, les vainqueurs dans les concours [stéphanites] et l’ensemble des magistrats participeront au festin [ce] jour-là. Les [prêtres s'occuperont] du sacrifice et du repas. Les trésoriers payeront les dépenses encourues à partir des fonds publics. Et il y aura une trêve sacrée durant trois jours. Les [citoyens] et tous les autres (habitants) se rassembleront [en portant des couronnes] durant ces journées. Un hymne sera chanté durant l’édition [...]énnale des fêtes Taureia, comme il est fait pour les Fondateurs [de la cité]. Lors du concours [gymn]ique qui est célébré [pour Zeus Osogo], on fera l’annonce que le peuple couronne Olympichos fils d'Olympichos, [Bienfaiteur] de la cité, d'une couronne dorée, et (l'honore) [d'une statue de bronze pour sa vertu] et sa générosité à son égard. [Afin qu']il soit évident [pour tous] que le peuple [de Mylasa honore] ses évergètes et [qu’un souvenir en perdure pour lui], le présent décret sera inscrit [sur (deux ?) stèles de pierre], (dont) l'une (sera érigée) [dans le sanctuaire de Zeus Labraundos ?].


This stele provides a remarkable example of how the re-publication of an old civic decree could serve the purpose of supporting a city’s claims for prestige and autonomy in a different political context. The original text was probably issued shortly after 240 BC, when the role of Olympichos in implementing Seleukos II’s order to liberate the city was still a fresh memory. Seleukos’ order must be dated to the early regnal years of this king, during the Third Syrian War, thus roughly at the same period when Seleukos rewarded Smyrna’s loyalty by granting the right of asylia to the city and the sanctuary of Aphrodite Stratonikis (this chronological correspondence is further explored by Bencivenni 2003, 267-269, 277). Olympichos’ recently published letter I.Labraunda 137 possibly reveals that a similar grant of inviolability was also conceded to the sanctuaries in the territory of Mylasa as part of the agreement between the king and the city (Carless Unwin – Henry 2016, 33). The terminus post quem for our decree is provided by I.Labraunda 3, a letter of Olympichos to Mylasa where the governor (lines 1-3) mentions the intention of the Mylasians to honour him with honours adequate of his benefactions. The present decree proves that the Mylasians turned their promise into practice by granting Olympichos ritual honours that acknowledged his seminal political and military presence in the area and thus established him de facto at the level of Hellenistic rulers. As suggested by Isager and Karlsson 2008, the most plausible context for the re-publication of the decree in the late-2nd cent. was the period of crisis started by the end of the Attalid dynasty and the subsequent war of Aristonikos, which resulted into the creation of the Roman Provincia of Asia. In this framework, republishing a copy of this century-old honorary decree in the sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos gave the institutions of Mylasa the chance to advertise their claim for freedom and autonomy and to strengthen civic memory and identity. The place of publication was also highly symbolic as the sanctuary was of paramount importance for Mylasa’s past, both with regard to its Karian identity and its prestigious link with the Hekatomnid dynasty; moreover, the city had been involved in a long dispute for control over the finances of the sanctuary at Labraunda during the second half of the 3rd cent., in which Olympichos had been involved at various stages as a mediator (Dignas 2002, 59-109; Bencivenni 2003, 247-298).

The honours described in the first fragmentary lines cannot be reconstructed, but it is clear that they could be transmitted to Olympichos’ descendants. These may have been ‘profane’ civic honours such as prohedria, tax exemptions, etc. On the other hand, the content of the honours listed from the end of line 3 onwards displays a wide range of ritual initiatives which in the 3rd cent. were usually addressed to rulers and other members of royal houses (for the exceptional bestowal of cultic honours to a non-royal figure in the 260s, see PHRC 060 for Achaios). The first block of text (lines 3-14) concerns the erection of a bronze statue group in a particularly prominent place of the city: this could be the sacred agora, according to the restoration proposed at line 4 in the edition princeps. A statue of the Demos of Mylasa 5 cubits high (c. 2,30 m) was represented in the act of crowing a statue of Olympichos. Sometimes referred to as “parastema” (“standing-next”; Ma 2013, 47-48, 55, 189; Isager – Karlsson 2008, 45), this visual solution is rare but not unparalleled in the Hellenistic period. It allowed the honouring institution to celebrate a benefactor while also stressing the awareness of its own autonomy and prestige. In this case, for instance, Olympichos’ statue was probably a life size portrait, so that the different scale of the two statues highlighted the importance of the Demos as the authority issuing the honours. This hierarchical relationship is also stressed by the syntax of the commemorative text inscribed on the statue base, which portrays the Demos as the agent honouring Olympichos and bestowing the epithet Euergetes upon him (on this type of syntax, and the priority it gives to the honouring institution, see Ma 2013, 24-30; on the epithet Euergetes for Hellenistic political leaders, Muccioli 2013, 178-193). Although the text mentions these statues as honorific eikones rather than as cultic statues (agalmata), the building of an altar of Olympichos in front of the group clarifies that this site could occasionally host a cult addressed to the governor, perhaps together with the Demos. The altar was indeed the focal point of a procession and a sacrifice that should be celebrated annually on the day in which Mylasa had obtained freedom and a democratic regime. Remarkably, the city decided to honour Olympichos for these events even though the order for the liberation of Mylasa originally stemmed from Seleukos II. In doing so, the Mylasians followed Olympichos’ own way of presenting the events by stressing his personal relationship with the city rather than the royal authority he represented. The rituals carried out at the altar and statue group were directly addressed to Olympichos, as clarified by the dative, so that the honorandus was ritually given the place usually reserved to gods (on the occasional use of honorific statues for cultic purposes, see Caneva 2020b, 162-163). It is noteworthy that, following the editors’ plausible restoration of the lacuna at lines 10-11, the decree stipulates some form of similarity between Olympichos’ altar and an existing marble altar of Maussollos in the sanctuary of Zeus. Isager and Karlsson identify the sanctuary with that of Zeus Labraundos at Labraunda, whereas in CGRN 150, Carbon and Peels restore Zeus Osogo, whose sanctuary was in Mylasa. The first option is preferable as the epiclesis Osogo would make the line too short. The reference to Maussollos underlines the high prestige that the city acknowledged to Olympichos, who was depicted as a regional dynast and a continuator of the Karian golden age of the Hekatomnid period (on the close link between the Hekatomnids and Mylasa, see now Williamson 2021, 93-178; on the honours for the Hekatomnids in Mylasa, see the “proto-Maussolleion” discussed in Rumscheid 2010; IK Mylasa 2 for a statue of Hekatomnos, with Nafissi 2015, 82, n. 36).

The ritual activities planned for the festival are better specified in the following sections. Lines 14-20 concern the sacrifice and banquet that shall take place on this occasion. Two animals, probably bulls, are to be sacrificed to Olympichos (on the prestige and value of bulls, which explain their use in public sacrifices of ruler cults, see Caneva 2020b, 155). This section is fragmentary, but it is possible that the sacrifice of these two animals was meant to mirror the dual composition of the sculptural group (the Demos crowning Olympichos), in which case the festival would also host a cult of the Demos itself (as in Athens in the years 220s: see Habicht 2006, 201-202). The sacrifice is followed by a banquet of the civic elite: the allowed participants are the priests, the winners of crown contests, and the magistrates. A series of complementary regulations stipulate that the sacrifice and the following meal shall be paid with public funds and the supervision of their organisation is assigned to the city’s priests acting as a group. The festival will be accompanied by a three-day general suspension of professional activities, a resolution occasionally paralleled in the evidence of Hellenistic ruler cults (cf. Isager – Karlsson 2008, 45).

Lines 20-29 complete the regulations concerning the honours for Olympichos. Both the Mylasian citizens and the rest of the population are allowed/requested to wear garlands during the three days of festival (lines 21-22). Lines 22-24 focus on the singing of hymns addressed to Olympichos “in the same way as to the founders of the city” (on hymns as part of ritual honours for Hellenistic political leaders, see Caneva – Lorenzon 2020). This detail establishes another ritual equation between Olympichos and the illustrious figures of the Mylasian past: in addition to the Karian identity of the city, which is evoked by the similarity between Olympichos’ altar in Mylasa and that of Maussollos at Labraunda, the singing of hymns to Olympichos as to the Ktistai places the strategos in a direct relationship with the civic identity. Given the important role of the Hekatomnids in the creation of Mylasa’s modern centre (Williamson 2021, 96-97), it is plausible that the members of the dynasty were counted among the Ktistai. This detail further reinforces the symbolic association between Olympichos and the powerful dynasty that had made Mylasa a great city. The parallel between Olympichos and the Ktistai of Mylasa also strengthens the hypothesis that the sculptural monument of Olympichos was placed on the agora, a place typically hosting honours for founders (on the epithet Ktistes symbolically bestowed on great political leaders and civic benefactors in Hellenistic cities, see Frölich 2013). The occasion of this poetic performance is the festival Taureia, probably a festival of Zeus Osogo and possibly the same as the Taurophonia mentioned in IK Mylasa 201, line 2. The name of the festival can better explain the choice of bulls for the sacrifice to Olympichos. Isager and Karlsson restore the lacuna at line 23 as a reference to a penteteric edition of the Taureia. Special ritual activities that do not take place in all editions of a festival are generally associated with their most important editions. The major edition of a festival could be celebrated every three or five years. However, since we do not know the calendrical cycle of the Mylasian Taureia, we cannot exclude that the festival had a yearly cycle and that the major edition took place every three years, which makes the integration [trie]teris equally possible (cf. commentary to CGRN 150).

Lines 24-29 informs that the announcement of the sculptural group honouring Olympichos shall take place during a contest at the festival of Zeus Osogo in Mylasa. Finally, the end of the decree stipulates where the text should be published. As observed by the editors, this section shows an odd syntactic structure and only one of the two locations chosen for the publication is mentioned, plausibly restored as the sanctuary of Zeus Labraundos at Labraunda. While the second site can be tentatively identified with the sanctuary of Zeus Osogo at Mylasa, the reason why this section was not copied by the 2nd-cent. stonecutter may depend on a mistake caused by the fact that at that time, only the Labraunda copy had to be re-written.

Lorenzo Paoletti, Stefano Caneva, on 01.10.2021
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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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