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The Ctistae or Ktistai (Greek: κτίσται) were a group/class among the Mysians of ancient Thracian culture.

The Mysians avoided consuming any living thing, and therefore lived on such foodstuffs as milk and honey. For this reason, they were referred to as "god-fearing" and "capnobatae" (kapnobatai) or "smoke-treading".

The Ctistae were a class of Mysians who not only observed these dietary restrictions, but abstained from cohabitating with women. They led celibate lives, never marrying. They were held in a place of honor by the Thracians, with their lives being dedicated to the gods. They are described by Strabo, sourcing Poseidonius. [1]

According to Strabo, whether they took up celibacy or not they were collectively called Hippemolgi ("mare-milkers"), Galactophagi ("living on milk") or Abii ("not living (with women)").[2]

Comparative analysis[edit]

Strabo, in the same section notes that the Greeks confounded the Mysians with the Getae (or Geto-Dacians]).[3]

That the Ctistae described by Strabo might be equivalent to the Polistai among the Dacians mentioned by Josephus in the Antiquities of the Jews Book 18, Chapter 1 paragraph 5 has been noted early on by Scaliger (d. 1609). He conjectured that some of the ascetics lived in groups and lived in buildings, hence the distinction of being called Polistai "City-Dwellers" .[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Strabo, Geography VII.3.3: and there are some of the Thracians who live apart from woman-kind; these are called "Ctistae," and because of the honour in which they are held, have been dedicated to the gods and live with freedom from every fear;
  2. ^ Strabo, Geography VII.3.3: , men most just," but he calls them "Abii" more especially for this reason, that they live apart from women, since he thinks that a life which is bereft of woman is only half-complete ;
  3. ^ Strabo, Geography VII.3.3
  4. ^ Josephus Flavius (1826), Whiston, William (ed.), The Works of Flavius Josephus, the Learned and Authentic Jewish Historian and Celebrated Warrior, 3, Edinburgh: T. & J. Allman, p. 56n