Fortunate Healer

Funny. I was just talking about fish, and I come across this inscription from Olbia:

Those belonging to the group of seven who take care of the offering receptacle (thēsauros): Herodotos son of Pantakleus, Epichares son of Dionysophanes, Poseidonios son of Eukrates, Ademantos son of Apatourios, Histikon son of Metrodoros, Leontomenes son fo Heroson, and Herakleides son of Eubios.

Those who offer sacrifice are to contribute into the offering receptacle: 1200 for a bull, 300 for a victim or a goat, and 60 for a fish. (IOlbiaD 88)

Now I’m wondering what kind of fish was sacrificed, and what procedure was employed. Sturgeon, perhaps?

According to Philip Harland:

It is not clear whether this group of people in charge of the offering receptacle are an official board of a temple or a sub-group of an association. Offering receptacles are attested in connection with associations on Delos and elsewhere.

Speaking of fish, in that post fish are associated with Anthesteria. I’d always interpreted that as the fish coming out to honor the dead along with the celebrants, but Tetra of Stone Pillar just wrote with the following comment which has me completely rethinking that:

Didn’t think this was appropriate to comment on your post so I thought I’d ask.

So I’m guessing fish are dead people? Because if that city’s Anthesteria coincided with the large presence of fish (just like how it tends to coincide with flowers blooming) then I can only presume that these fish are the souls of the dead emerging from a watery Underworld. Which would explain why you can’t eat them. You can’t eat grandma!

A theme touched on by Eric Csapo in The Dolphins of Dionysus.

One thought on “Fortunate Healer

  1. The idea of fish celebrating Anthesteria just sounds so adorable. Imagine a family of fish wearing robes and garlands pouring a libation for their ancestors. Kala Anthesteria, fishy friends!

    I bet they drink like fish too!

    But in all seriousness, it really sounds like the fish are bringers of the Underworld’s fertility. Which makes sense because of the sexual connotation that the Greeks had for fish


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