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p871 Pastophorus

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p871 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.

PASTOPHORUS (παστοφόρος). The shawl, richly interwoven with gold (χρυσόπαστος), and displaying various symbolical or mythological figures, was much used in religious ceremonies to conduce to their splendour, to explain their signification, and also to veil their solemnity. The maidens, who carried the figured peplus in the Panathenaea at Athens, were called ἀῤῥηφόροι. In Egypt, the priests of Isis and Osiris, who probably fulfilled a similar office, were denominated παστοφόροι, and were incorporated (Diod. I.29; Porphyr. de Abstin. IV.8; Apul. Met. XI pp124, 128, ed. Aldi). They appear to have extended themselves together with the extension of the Egyptian worship over parts of Greece and Italy, so that "the College of the Pastophori of Industria," a city of Liguria, is mentioned in an inscription found near Turin (Maffei, Mus. Veron. p230). The Egyptian college was divided into minor companies, each containing ten pastophori, and each having at its head a leader who was called decurio quinquennalis, because he was appointed for five years (Apul. Met. IX ad fin.). Besides carrying the παστός, or sacred ornamental shawl, they performed other duties in connection with the worship of the temple. It was the office of this class of priests to raise the shawl with the performance of an appropriate chaunt, so as to discover the god seated or standing in the adytum (Clem. Alex. Paedag. III.2), and generally to show the temple with its sacred utensils, of which, like modern sacristans, they had the custody (Horapollo, Hier. I.41). In consequence of the supposed influence of Isis and her priesthood in healing diseases, the pastophori obtained a high rank as physicians (Clem. Alex. Strom. VI.4 p758, ed. Potter).

It must be observed, that according to another interpretation of παστός, the pastophori were so denominated from carrying, not a shawl, but a shrine or small chapel, containing the image of the god. Supposing this etymology to be correct, it is no less true that the pastophori sustained the various offices which have here been assigned to them.

It was indispensably requisite, that so numerous and important a body of men should have a residence appropriated to them in the temple to which they belonged. This residence was called παστοφόριον. The common use of the term, as applied by the Greeks to Egyptian temples, led to its application to the corresponding part of the temple at Jerusalem by Josephus (Bell. Jud. IV.12), and by the authors of the Alexandrine version of the Old Testament (1 Chron. ix.26, 33, xxiii.28; Jer. xxxv.4; 1 Macc. iv.3857).

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Page updated: 18 Nov 12