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Glossary of technical terms in documents

Most ancient inscriptions and papyri were not written with the general reader in mind, and they can contain a bewildering number of obscure words - local magistrates, officials and other technical terms. This list gives the meaning of some of the more unusual words, which cannot be found in wikipedia.   There is another, similar glossary of terms on the CGRN website.

The glossary provides links to up to three occurrences of each word. More occurrences can be found by using Search Ancient Texts .



Ager Limitatus   : public land marked out by lines (limites), usually for the purpose of assignment to colonists.   See: CIL_1.636


Agonothete   : an official in charge of the arrangements for public games.   See: Syll_330 , Syll_401 , Syll_410


Agorastes   : "buyer", an official who acted on behalf of foreign states, for instance by arranging funerals for any of their citizens who died while abroad.   See: OGIS_36


Agoratroi   : officials sent to the Amphictyonic council by Greek states, in addition to the hieromnemones; perhaps identical to the officials called "pylagoroi".  See: Syll_399 , Syll_436 , Syll_444


Amphodarchy   : a numbered district (ward or quarter) under the superintendence of an official called an amphodarch.   See: SelPap_2.320


Akaina   : a Thessalian measurement of length, equivalent to 10 feet.   See: SEG_43.311


Anataktes   : "assessor", a financial official in Miletos.   See: THI_98 , OGIS_213 , Syll_633


Anabolicum   : "deferment", an imperial tax levied upon certain of the goods manufactured in Egypt, and payable in kind or in money.   See: SelPap_2.384


Anouchi   : an Egyptian word meaning some kind of brushwood.   See: SelPap_2.348


Antiblemata   : stones inserted in the gaps in the masonry of a building.   See: SelPap_1.19


Antichresis   : substitution of usufruct for interest on a loan.   See: SelPap_1.65


Apomoira   : a tax of one-sixth, or in some cases one-tenth, of the produce of vineyards and orchards, formerly paid to Egyptian temples, which was appropriated by Ptolemaeus II and applied nominally to the maintenance of the cult of the deified Arsinoē.   See: SelPap_2.233 , SelPap_2.377


Archidicastes   : a judicial officer in Alexandria, one of whose functions was to legalise formal agreements.   See: SelPap_1.5


Artisteres   : "adjusters", a board of officials in Phocis.   See: THI_73


Astynomos   : an Athenian magistrate, responsible for enforcing building regulations and cleanliness within the city.   See: Syll_375


Asylia   : "inviolability". This is a complex word, which can apply to individuals, temples or whole cities - K.J.Rigsby has written a book about what it meant in Hellenistic times.   See: Syll_325 , Syll_355 , Syll_357


Athlophoros   : "prize-bearer", the title of an eponymous priestess at Alexandria.   See: THI_18 , SelPap_1.37


Athlothete   : an official in charge of public games, similar to an agonothete.   See: THI_127 , Syll_313


Aulode   : a performer who played a flute, analogous to a citharode or a rhapsode.   See: Syll_457


Basilistai   : "royalists", an association worshipping the Ptolemaic kings as gods.   See: GRA_4747 , OGIS_130


Beneficiarius   : a soldier enjoying a privileged status by favour of his commander.   See: SelPap_1.122 , SelPap_2.232 , SelPap_2.355


Boularchos   : "chairman of the council", an official in Aetolia and some cities of Asia Minor.   See: THI_22 , THI_46


Cancellus   : a measure of capacity, similar to an artaba.   See: SelPap_2.308


Canon   : the regulation concerning the provision of wheat for Constantinople.   See: SelPap_2.308


Catholicus   : "supervisor of accounts", the chief financial official in Egypt during Byzantine times.   See: SelPap_2.227 , SelPap_2.294 , SelPap_2.355


Chalkous   : a copper coin of small value - one tenth obol, one 60th or 40th of a drachma.   See: SelPap_2.372 , SelPap_2.399 , Teles_13


Chrematistai   : in Ptolemaic Egypt, a board of assize judges; in Roman times a tribunal in Alexandria.   See: SelPap_2.210 , SelPap_2.264 , SelPap_2.299


Cleruch   : a holder of a grant of land, usually, but not necessarily, a soldier.   See: SelPap_1.31 , SelPap_2.229 , SelPap_2.412


Cnecus   : safflower, cultivated for the oil extracted from its seeds.   See: SelPap_2.203 ,


Comarch   : "village officer".   See: SelPap_2.203 , SelPap_2.390 , SelPap_2.430


Cosmetes   : "director", a municipal magistrate during Roman times, with responsibility for superintending the ephebi.   See: SelPap_1.15 , SelPap_2.241 , SelPap_2.359


Curetes   : a group of officials, connected to the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.   See: Syll_353


Decadarch   : "leader of ten ", in Ptolemaic times, a foreman of workmen or other employees, but in Roman times usually a military title.   See: SelPap_1.157


Decemprimi   : "ten leaders", members of the local senates elected to supervise the collection of the corn dues and for other services.   See: SelPap_1.146 , SelPap_2.294 , SelPap_2.355


Decuria   : "group of ten", a body of citizens, nominally ten in number, represented by a decurion.   See: CIL_1.1313


Decussis   : "figure ten", an X shape, two lines crossing.   See: CIL_1.639


Defensor   : a municipal magistrate in the Byzantine period, whose nominal duty was to protect the citizens against oppression.   See: SelPap_1.9 , SelPap_2.297


Demarch   : the chief magistrate of a deme in Attica.   See: THI_39 , SEG_41.75 , Syll_356


Demiourgos   : a public magistrate in some Greek states (damiorgos in the Doric spelling).   See: SEG_17.639 , Syll_360 , Syll_594


Diadochi   : "successors", an honorific title under the later Ptolemaic rulers.   See: OGIS_100 , OGIS_102 , SelPap_1.83


Dicaeodotes   the chief judge in Roman Egypt, who acted as assistant to the praefect.   See: SelPap_1.117


Dies Augustus   : anniversary of a birthday or other notable event in the life of the Imperial family.   See: SelPap_1.12 , SelPap_2.380


Dioiketes   : "treasurer", the chief minister of finance in Egypt during Ptolemaic times; in Roman Egypt, a financial administrator of more restricted scope; and in the Seleucid kingdom, a local financial official.   See: SelPap_1.39 , SelPap_2.397 , SelPap_2.430


Duplicarius   : a soldier receiving double pay.   See: SelPap_2.387


Ekklesiastikon   : payment for attending popular assemblies.   See: SEG_40.959 , and also Arist:AthPol_41


Elogium   : a brief summary of a person's achievements, for an epitaph or the base of a statue.   See: Elogia


Epidamiorgos   : an official in the cities of Delphi, Ithaca and Sparta.   See: Syll_532.B , Syll_558 , OGIS_305


Epigonus   : "offspring", a soldier's son enrolled in the Ptolemaic army in a special class.   See: SelPap_2.391


Epimeletes   : "superintendent", a title of various officials at various periods.   See: OGIS_46 , SelPap_2.271 , SelPap_2.273


Epimenios   : "monthly officer", a magistrate in some Greek cities.   See: THI_140 , OGIS_4 , SEG_51.1050


Essenes   : priests or functionaries of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus.   See: Syll_352 , Syll_354, Syll_363


Eutheniarch   : "prosperity officer", a municipal magistrate, responsible for the food supply.   See: SelPap_2.237 , SelPap_2.326


Exactor   : superintendent of the collection of taxes.   See: SelPap_2.240


Exegetes   : "adviser", a municipal magistrate during Roman times, exercising various functions and regulating questions of civil status.   See: SelPap_2.241 , SelPap_2.279 , SelPap_2.359


Exetastes   : "examiner, auditor", the name of an official at Athens, and a magistrate in some other Greek cities.   See: Syll_362 , Syll_402 , Syll_412


Exsecutor   : an official who served a summons and saw to the prosecution of a lawsuit.   See: SelPap_2.252


Gnomon   : the Greek word for a list of rules.   See: SelPap_2.206


Hieromnemon   : the official representative of a Greek state in the Amphictyonic council.   See: Syll_405 , Syll_406 , Syll_415


Hieropoios   : "overseer of sacred rites", a magistrate in various Greek states.   See: Syll_340 , Syll_583 , Syll_584


Hierothytes   : "sacrificing priest", the title of a priest or magistrate in some Greek cities.   See: Syll_492 , THI_62


Hipparchy   : a regiment of cavalry in the Ptolemaic army.   See: SelPap_2.270 , SelPap_2.275 , SelPap_2.349


Hyparchy   : a subdivision of a satrapy in the Seleucid empire.   See: OGIS_238


Hypomnematographus   : "memorandum-writer", in Ptolemaic times one of the royal secretaries; in Roman times usually an Alexandrian magistrate who assisted the praefect in his judicial functions.   See: SelPap_2.237 ,SelPap_2.307


Hypostoloi   : local assistants in the worship of Egyptian gods within Greek cities.   See: THI_154


Hydrophoros   : "water-bearer", a young priestess serving in the temple at Didyma.   See: OGIS_226


Idiologos   "private account", in Roman times the administrator of the private account of the emperor, and (apart from the praefect) the chief financial authority in Egypt.   See: SelPap_2.206 , SelPap_2.301


Irenarch   : "peace officer", an official responsible for public security in his district.   See: SelPap_2.341


Juridicus   : an important judge who acted as assessor to the praefect.   See: SelPap_2.263 , SelPap_2.279


Karpologos   : "produce reckoner", a financial official in some Greek cities   See: THI_90


Katoikos   : in Ptolemaic Egypt, a soldier holding a grant of land; in the Roman period an owner of land which had originally been granted to military settlers.   See: SelPap_1.4 , SelPap_1.40 , SelPap_2.313


Kosmos   : "regulator", a magistrate (or group of magistrates) in the cities of Crete.   See: Syll_524 , THI_34 , OGIS_270


Kypros   : a measurement of grain, approximately equivalent to two modii.   See: Syll_302


Lampadarch   : "torch officer", a special class of young men trained, perhaps for military service, in the gymnasium.   See: SelPap_2.275


Laographi   : "people-listers", officials who kept the register of persons liable to poll-tax.   See: SelPap_2.229


Libellus   : in Roman and Byzantine times, a petition.   See: SelPap_2.250 , SelPap_2.251 , SelPap_2.252


Logistes   : "accountant", in Byzantine times a magistrate having financial and administrative authority over a nome.   See: SelPap_2.227 , SelPap_2.332, SelPap_2.374


Mastroi   : "searchers", originally accountants; but later a name given to councillors, especially at Rhodes.   See: Syll_338 , Syll_339 , Syll_340


Matrona Stolata   : "married woman wearing a stola", a woman belonging to the provincial, usually equestrian, aristocracy.   See: SelPap_1.36


Mnaiaion   : properly, the amount of gold worth a mina of silver, which was probably about an octadrachm.   See: SelPap_1.5


Monarchos   : the eponymous magistrate on the island of Kos.   See: THI_15 , THI_45 , Syll_528.C


Mountain copper   : probably brass, i.e. an alloy of copper and zinc.   See: SelPap_1.86


Myriad   : as a sum of money - 10,000 denarii.   See: SelPap_1.164 , SelPap_2.227


Neopoiēs   : "temple warden", an official in various Greek cities. The Doric form of the word was naopoios.   See: : Syll_352 , Syll_568 , THI_12


Night-strategus   : a minor official, in charge of the night watch.   See: SelPap_2.296


Nomarch   : "district officer", an official exercising various functions in a special district.   See: SelPap_2.203 , SelPap_2.282 , SelPap_2.348


Nomophylax   : "guardian of the law", a village official and kind of policeman.   See: SEG_48.1404 , SelPap_2.243 , Syll_282


Numerus   : "number", in Byzantine times a military force quartered in one of the large towns.   See: SelPap_1.30 , SelPap_1.86, SelPap_2.396


Octadrachm   : a coin equivalent to eight drachmae; also called "mina-piece", because its normal value was reckoned at 1 mina of silver.   See: SelPap_2.234


Oikonomos   : "steward", the chief financial official in nomes and smaller districts of Egypt during Ptolemaic times.   See: SelPap_2.203 , SelPap_2.207 , SelPap_2.397


Olyra   : a grain, which may have been spelt, rye or oats.   See: SelPap_2.264 , SelPap_2.347 , SelPap_2.398


Pagarch   : "district officer", in Byzantine times the administrator of a district, usually a local landowner, appointed by the emperor.   See: SelPap_1.25 , SelPap_2.218 , SelPap_2.240


Panegyriarch   an official in Greek cities, appointed to oversee the conduct of festivals.   See: RC_53


Pentadrachm   : "five drachmae", a gold coin in Ptolemaic times, with a nominal value of 3 gold staters or 60 silver drachmae.   See: SelPap_2.409


Poletai   : "sellers", financial officials in some Greek cities, with particular responsility for letting out contracts.   See: SEG_48.1092 , SEG_48.1404 , Syll_528.C


Praefect   : "prefect", usually denotes the Roman governor of Egypt, appointed by the emperor, but sometimes refers to lesser officers.   See: SelPap_1.119 , SelPap_2.243 , SelPap_2.258


Praepositus pagi   : administrator of a district, appointed by the local senate.   See: SelPap_2.344 , SelPap_2.427 , SelPap_2.345


Praktor   : a financial official, usually with responsibility for exacting fines.   See: PCairZen_59367


Princeps Officii   : in late Roman and Byzantine times, the head of the bureau of the governor (praeses).   See: SelPap_1.190 , SelPap_2.251 , SelPap_2.252


Probouloi   : "(committee of) men deliberating beforehand", the chief magistrates at Eretria and some other cities.   See: Syll_714 , THI_38 , THI_119


Promnamon   : "leader of the recorders", a president in Acarnania.   See: Syll_669


Pythochrestos Exegetes   : an Athenian religious official, supposedly appointed by Pythian Apollo, to advise on purification rituals.   See: Syll_697.E


Quarter   : a weight used in weighing gold, one quarter of a gold stater.   See: SelPap_1.4 , SelPap_1.5 , SelPap_1.187


Quinquevir   : member of a board of five, for the distribution of land and other purposes.   See: CIL_6.1312 , CIL_6.3826


Riparii   : "river-bank men", a class of police officers.   See: SelPap_2.228 , SelPap_2.296 , SelPap_2.408


Schoenion   : a measurement of length, about 50 yards.   See: SelPap_2.346 , SelPap_2.348


Singularis   : an orderly attached to a military commander or to a civil governor.   See: SelPap_2.251 , SelPap_2.252


Sitologi   : "corn-counters", officials who received deliveries of corn and kept account of the amounts delivered and measured out.   See: SelPap_2.243 , SelPap_2.366 , SelPap_2.373


Stathmos   : "stage", official lodgings, or a station on a road, or the distance of a day's journey - equivalent to approximately 4 or 5 Persian parasangs (about 28 kilometres).   See: PCairZen_59344 , Polyaen_4.3'19


Stele   : "pillar", an upright slab (usually of stone) containing engravings or carved inscriptions. Many photographs are available on the CSAD website.


Stemmata   : "garlands", a word of uncertain meaning; perhaps municipal guilds, or it may refer to the crowning of magistrates upon entering office.   See: SelPap_2.292 , SelPap_2.371


Stephanephoros   : "garland-wearer", the eponymous magistrate of Miletus, Magnesia and other cities; the title could also be given to high-ranking priests.   See: Syll_322 , Syll_589 , OGIS_332


Stolistes   : an Egyptian temple attendant who clothed the sacred images.   See: SelPap_1.104 , SelPap_2.425


Strategos   : "general", the governor of a nome or smaller district in Egypt and other Hellenistic kingdoms; also, the chief magistrate in some Greek states.   See: SelPap_2.210 , SelPap_2.241 , SelPap_2.419


Tabularius   : in Roman times, an official clerk.   See: SelPap_1.159


Taktomisthos   : a word of doubtful meaning, applied to a certain class of soldiers in Ptolemaic documents.   See: SelPap_1.1A , SelPap_1.37 , SelPap_2.363


Tarantinarchos   : "commander of the Tarantines", a commander of light cavalry in various Greek states.   See: Syll_697 , THI_127


Techerere   : an Egyptian word for part of a house below the stair.   See: SelPap_1.30


Tesserarius   : an officer of low rank who gave out the watchword.   See: SelPap_2.345


Tetarteus   : a measure of volume, one quarter of a medimnos; equivalent to about 13 litres.   See: THI_131


Tetrarch   : generally, "one of four rulers", but in Macedonia it was a military rank, either the commander of a quarter of a phalanx, or the commander of four lochoi.   See: THI_59


Theokolos   : "servant of god", title of a priest at Dyme in Achaea.   See: Syll_529 , Syll_530


Thesmothete   : a judicial officer at Athens, one of six appointed each year.   See: Syll_347 , Syll_371 , Syll_409


Timouchoi   : "honour bearers", title of magistrates in some Ionian cities.   See: OGIS_309 , SEG_44.949 , THI_44


Toparch   : "local officer", an official serving in a small local district, subordinate to the nomarch.   See: SelPap_1.27 , SelPap_2.322 , SelPap_2.419


Trittyarch   : the leader of a third division of an Athenian tribe [trittys].   See: Syll_362


Vicarianus   : a military official in the service of the vicarius.   See: SelPap_1.30


 


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