Theoroi and Initiates in Samothrace: The Epigraphical Evidence

Charles Watkinson sends word of a new publication from the American School of Classical Studies in Athens:

Theoroi and Initiates in Samothrace: The Epigraphical Evidence, by Nora M. Dimitrova. 208 pp., 132 b/w figs (Hesperia Suppl. 37, ASCSA 2008) ISBN 978-0-87661-537-9 Pb $55.00

The core of this work is an edition of all documents pertaining to sacred ambassadors (theoroi) and initiates (mystai and epoptai) in Samothrace. These documents, which constitute the majority of all Samothracian inscriptions, form a crucial body of evidence for the Samothracian Mysteries of the Great Gods, the most famous mystery cult in antiquity after the Eleusinian Mysteries. All 169 inscriptions that concern theoroi and initiates, both published and unpublished texts, are presented here. The presentation of each document includes the following elements, in accordance with standard epigraphical publications: a physical description of the stone, bibliography, text, epigraphical commentary, and general commentary. Part I comprises documents concerning theoroi in Samothrace, and Part II, those concerning initiates. Each part is prefaced by a discussion of various problems associated these classes of visitor. A major contribution of the volume is prosopographical: The author increases the total number of known theoroi to approximately 250, and that of initiates to some 700. Fourteen new names of eponymous kings, the major Samothracian magistrates, have also been added to the list. A map of the cities who sent visitors to Samothrace demonstrates the site’s wide catchment area.

More information about the book, and a link to buy it, can be found at:

The volume is available to purchase through,, and other fine booksellers.

Update: Charles has provided the cover page, table of contents and introduction as a PDF file.

About Tom Elliott

Associate Director for Digital Programs and Senior Research Scholar, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
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